Asclepius (or Aesculapius)

views updated Jun 27 2018

Asclepius (or Aesculapius)

In Greek mythology, the son of Apollo and Coronis who was instructed in the arts of healing by the centaur Chiron. Asclepius married Epione, who begat Hygeia (health). So successful was Asclepius in the art of healing that Zeus was fearful that he would make mankind immortal, so he killed him with a thunderbolt. Apollo retaliated by attacking the Cyclopes who had forged the thunderbolt, and Zeus was eventually prevailed upon to admit Asclepius to the ranks of the gods.

The worship of Asclepius centered in Epidaurus, and the cock was offered to him in sacrifice. The serpent and the dog were sacred to him, and his symbol of the serpent coiled about a staff still remains as the sign of medical practice. Asclepius is also featured in the Hermetic literature connected with Hermes Trismegistus ("Thrice-greatest Hermes").


Edelstein, Emma Jeanette Levy. Asclepius: a Collection and Interpretation of the Testimonies. New York: Arno Press, 1975.


views updated May 18 2018

Asclepius in Greek mythology, a hero and god of healing, son of Apollo, often represented bearing a staff with a serpent coiled round it. He sometimes bears a scroll or tablet, probably representing medical learning.