The snake-serpent is a very old, cross-cultural symbol. The meanings cover a wide range, from personifying the evil and temptation, to representing the universe, the eternal, fertility, sexuality, wisdom, healing and and rejuvenation.
In ancient Greek mythology, snakes figure in many legends:
- According a legend, Ophion, the serpent, ruled the world until Cronus and Rhea overthrew him.
- In the Minoan civilization, the Goddess with Snakes, holding a snake in each hand, symbolized the source of wisdom and fertility.
- Thyphon, the enemy of the Olympian gods, was represented as a monster with a hundred heads and a hundred snakes emerging from his thighs. His children, the snake-like water beast Lernaea Hydra and Ladon were slain by Hercules.
- Python, the earth-dragon, guardian of Delphi and god Apollo's enemy, was represented as a snake. Apollo slew him and made Delphi his own oracle.
- Medusa and other Gorgons were female monsters with hair of poisonous snakes and they were guardians of ancient ritual secrets.
- Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine, after observing snakes, learnt healing secrets from snakes' behavior and his rod with a snake wrapped around it is the symbol of medicine till now.
Many tales in many cultures and countries, the snake-serpent was and still is a worldwide powerful symbol.
(Photo: Ancient silver (5th BC century) and gold (1st AD century) snake bracelets)