Asclepius

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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").

Sources:

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

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Asclepius (ăsklē´pēəs), Lat. Aesculapius (ĕs´kəlā´pēəs), legendary Greek physician; son of Apollo and Coronis. His first teacher was the wise centaur Chiron. When he became so skillful in healing that he could revive the dead, Zeus killed him. Apollo persuaded Zeus to make Asclepius the god of medicine. The worship of Asclepius is believed to have originated in Thessaly. Temples were built to him at Epidaurus, Cos, Pergamum, and later Rome, where his worship spread after a plague in 293 BC Treatments, including massage and baths, were given to the sick. The serpent and the cock were sacred to Asclepius. People who claimed descent from him and those who followed his teachings were known as Asclepiads.

See E. J. Edelstein, Asclepius (1945, repr. 1988); S. B. Aleshire, The Athenian Asklepieion (1989).

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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.