In ancient Greek mythology, the serpent was a symbol of healing and protection. It was associated with the cult of Asklepios, the Greek god of medicine, whose staff was depicted with two interweaving serpents. This symbol is the logo of the British Medical Association and the Army Medical Corps.
The Greeks also feared the serpent as an aggressive defender. The name 'Medusa', the snake-haired Gorgon, translates from the Greek as 'guardian' or 'protectress'. The Romans regarded the snake as the continuing spirit (or 'genius') of the family unit.