Myths and Folklore Wiki
Myths and Folklore Wiki

Asclepius is the Greek God of Healing, medicine and doctors, was born a demigod, the son of Apollon and Koronis (herself a grandaughter of Ares) of the Lapiths. During her pregnancy, Apollo discovered she was having an affair with Ischys. His sister Artemis, shot her on behalf of her brother. However, Apollo, distraught at the sight of her death, saved his son and gave him to Chiron the centaur to raise.

The goddess Athena gave Asclepius the gift of Medusa's blood. The blood from the veins on the left side of Medusa's head was for the bane of mankind, but Asclepius used the blood from the veins on the right side for saving mankind and for raising the dead. Asclepius' raising of the dead aroused the wrath of Zeus. Not only was Zeus angered to see many of his old enemies, whom he had struck dead with his thunderbolts, returning to life, but his brother Hades, king of the underworld, was complaining about the dearth of new arrivals. And so, Zeus struck Asclepius dead with one of his thunderbolts, fearing the spread of his miraculous art of healing, especially into the wrong hands. Despite the rumors of his death, Asclepius became a living god. Healing sanctuaries, or Asclepions, were dedicated to him at sacred sites throughout ancient Greece. Asclepius often used the art of divination to obtain responses from his father Apollo through oracles. From these auguries he learned much about the natures of many drugs and herbs, and how to use them in treating disease. This knowledge he passed on to his sons, and to his students.

Asclepius is the personification of the miracle working physician of consummate medical skill. This powerful archetype is still invoked today by many patients, desperately praying for their doctor to work them a medical miracle, to snatch life from the jaws of death. Many people place a powerful, almost religious faith in their doctors. While placing a supernatural, blind faith in medicine and physicians, most men actually know very little about life and death, and what they really are. On the whole, their approach to both is rather cursory and superficial. Many men waste their lives away while fearing death, without properly investigating either of them. 

Asclepius' demise at the hands of Zeus shows the ultimate powerlessness of man against the natural order and the forces of decay, destruction, and death. Even the most skillful physician cannot hold death off indefinitely, and in the end, the grim reaper always claims his due.


According to the tragedy titled Alcestis by Euripides, after Asclepius was murderd by Zeus Apollon killed the Cyclopes in retaliation. After the murder, Apollo was forced into the servitude of King Admetus of Pherae for one year. Zeus later returned Asclepius and the Cyclopes from the Underworld.


He was the husband of Epione and father of Hygeia, Iaso, Panaceia, Aegle, and Aceso, all deities involved withaspects of healing.

In Myth

He was a proficient healer who even managed to bring back the dead. Hades, however, complained to Zeus that the number of his subjects was dwindling and Zeus struck Asclepius with a lightning bolt. Apollo, in a fit of rage, killed the Cyclopes that made the bolt, and Zeus sentenced him to serve King Acastus in Iolcus. Zeus also placed Asclepius in the sky as the contellation Ophiuchus. He was later revered as the patron of healers and doctors. His serpent-entwined staff is used as the symbol of the medical profession today.

Staff of Asclepius used as a symbol on the U.S. Medical Corps Branch Plaque

See also

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