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Form: Lat. Aesculapius.
The Greek god of Medicine, according to the common account a son of the healing god Apollo by Coronis, daughter of a Thessalian prince Phlegyas. Coronis was killed by Artemis for unfaithfulness, and her body was about to be burnt on the pyre, when Apollo snatched the boy out of the flames, and handed him over to the wise centaur Chiron, who instructed him in the cure of all diseases. According to the local legend of Epidaurus, Coronis, having accompanied her father on a campaign to the Peloponnesus, is secretly delivered of the child, and exposes it on a mountain near that town, where it is nourished by a herd of goats. Such was the skill of Asclepius that he brought even dead men to life; so that Zeus, either for fear of his setting men altogether free from death, or at the complaint of Hades, killed him with his thunderbolt. Apollo in revenge slew all the Cyclopes who forged the thunderbolts, as a punishment for which he had to serve Admetus for a time. In Homer and Pindar, Asclepius is still but a hero, a cunning leech, and father of two heroes fighting before Troy, Machaon and Podaleirius. But he was afterwards universally worshipped as the god of healing, in groves, beside medicinal springs, and on mountains. The seats of his worship served also as laces of cure, where patients left thank-offerings and votive tablets describing their complaint and the manner of its cure. Often the cure was effected by the dreams of the patients, who were required to sleep in the sacred building, in which there sometimes stood, as might be expected, a statue of Sleep or Dreaming. His worship extended all over Greece with its islands and colonies; his temples were especially numerous in the Peloponnesus, the most famous being that of Epidaurus, where a great festival with processions and combats was held in his honour every five years. Next in estimation stood the temple at Pergamus, a colony from Epidanrus; that of Tricca in Thessaly enjoyed a reputation of long standing, and in the islands that Cos, the birthplace of the physician Hippocrates. At Rome, the worship of the deity there called Aesculapius was introduced by order of the Sibylline books, on occasion of the plague of 293 B.C., and the god was brought from Epidaurus in the shape of a snake. For in the form of a snake, the symbol of rejuvenescence and of prophecy, he was wont to reveal himself, and snakes were accordingly kept in his temples. He had a sanctuary and a much frequented sanatorium on the island in the Tiber. With him were worshipped his wife Epione ( = soother), his two sons mentioned above, and several daughters, especially Hygieia,(q.v.); also Telesphoros ( = fulness-bringer) the deity of Recovery, who was pictured as a boy. In later times Asclepius was often confounded with the Egyptian Serapis. He is among the most favourite subjects of ancient art; at several places where he was worshipped he had statues of gold and ivory. He is commonly represented with a beard, and resembling Zeus, but with a milder aspect, sometimes with Telesphoros, in a thick veil, or little Hygieia, at his side; his usual attribute is a staff with a serpent coiled round it. The cock was sacrificed to him.

Pictures and Media
ASCLEPIUS.(Paris, Louvre.)
Type: Standard
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