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The Muse of Commerce appears against a backdrop of unfurled sails and ship's rigging. Symbolized by a winged headdress and carrying a staff with serpents, known as a caduceus, she evokes swift Hermes, Zeus's messenger, also regarded as the god of commerce, trade and the market. To the Greeks and Romans, the caduceus was a symbol of truce and safe passage, necessary for trade. To the Babylonians, however, it represented healing, which is why it was adopted in the sixteenth century as a medical symbol. The muse's hand upon a globe featuring an outline of the Americas suggests a western hemisphere almost with commerce's grasp.

Source: Michigan History Magazine (January/February 1999)