Asklepios, also Asclepius, Greek god of physicians and healing, whom the Romans named Aesculapius, was worshipped from about 800 BC to 400 AD. His cult centers were at Epidauros; Kos, and the Asklepeion in Pergamon. He was the favorite son of Apollo and mortal consort of Ceronis. Even though he lived effectively with mortals, and died as such, Asklepios was regarded as a deity. He was reared by the centaur Charon who taught him medicine, and fathered two sons, Podaleirios and Machaon, who were also physicians. His daughter was the goddess of health, Hygieia. Asklepios’ symbol is the rod or staff with one snake curled around it. He is also represented in temples by captive snakes.

Asklepius became successfull; part of this success came from his knowledge in resurrecting the dead. This ability came from the blood that Athena had given him from Medusa’s wounds. The blood from the veins on her left side was poisonous, but the blood from her right side could bring the dead back to life. Asklepius used his ability liberally, to the extent of acquiring occasional complaints from Hades. This caused Zeus to be troubled for fear that Asklepius, with his knowledge, might upset the world order, so he killed the god of medicine with a thunderbolt. This outraged Apollo who in turn killed the Cyclopes who had forged Zeus’ thunderbolt. A.G.H.


Jordan, Michael, Encyclopedia of Gods, New York, Facts On File, Inc. 1993, p. 28
Grimal, Pierre, Larousse World Mythology, Secaucus, New Jersey, Chartwell Books, 1965, p. 124