Sunday, April 15, 2012
Rx in drug presciption and Egyptian
FOR YEARS I SAW the symbol Rx and used it without knowing what it meant or symbolized. Finally, I stumbled upon the meaning of it and took note. The symbol Rx is derived from the major lines in the symbol of the Eye of Horus. Horus was an Egyptian god, the god of Nekhen, a village in Egypt, and god of the sky, of light, and of goodness.
As William Osler wrote in 1910, “In a cursive form it is found in mediaeval translations of the works of Ptolemy the astrologer, as the sign of the planet Jupiter. As such it was placed upon horoscopes and upon formula containing drugs made for administration to the body, so that the harmful properties of these drugs might be removed under the influence of the lucky planet.”
There is another theory of Rx’s origin. In that version, Rx is an abbreviation for the Latin word recipere, which means “take” or “take thus.” Long ago, this would not have been a direction to a patient but to a pharmacist, preceding the physician’s “recipe” for preparing a medication.
That may be, but the shape of the symbol is a strong argument in favor of the Eye of Horus as its origin.
If you look closely at the major lines of the eye of Horus, you can see the elements of the symbol Rx.
The sign has its beginnings five thousand years ago in Egypt. At that time, people prayed to Horus, the god of the Sun. It was said that when Horus was a child, he was attacked by Seth, the demon of evil. The evil Seth put out the eye of the young Horus. The mother of Horus called for help. Her cry was answered by Thoth, the god of learning and magic. Thoth, with his wisdom and special powers, healed the eye of Horus. And the child was able to see again. The ancient Egyptians used a drawing of the eye of Horus as a magic sign to protect themselves from disease, suffering and evil. They cut this sign in the stones they used for buildings. And it was painted on the papyrus rolls used for writing about medicine and doctors. For thousands of years, the eye of Horus remained as a sign of the god's help to the suffering and sick. Long after the fall of the ancient Egyptian civilization, doctors and alchemists in Europe continued the custom of showing a sign of the gods' help and protection. But over the years, the sign changed from the eye of Horus to the sign for Jupiter.