Aesculapius in Greek Mythology

Instructor: Flint Johnson

Flint has tutored mathematics through precalculus, science, and English and has taught college history. He has a Ph.D. from the University of Glasgow

Learn about Aesculapius (or more commonly, Asclepius) the Greek God of Healing and Medicine and the son of Apollo. When you're done, take the quiz and see what you've learned.

A Crazy Beginning

Asclepius
Asclepius

Asclepius was the son of the Greek god Apollo and a mortal named Coronis. Coronis also took another lover during her pregnancy, a man named Ischys. When Apollo found out about it, he had his sister Artemis kill her.

When Coronis was on her funeral pyre, Apollo had the god Hermes cut out her unborn child. He named the boy Asclepius and brought him to Chiron, a centaur who was considered the best teacher in the world. Chiron knew all about science, athletics, and warfare and was known for teaching all the Greek heroes and demi-gods.

Education

Although most of the boys under Chiron focused on the athletics and warfare lessons, Asclepius was more interested in healing and the sciences. He excelled at both, easily becoming the best doctor Chiron had ever trained.

His success was due in part to his helpful nature (his name means 'unceasingly gentle'). That concern extended to all animals. The myths say that he once came across a snake and either healed it or saved it. To return the kindness, the snake licked his ears and gave him all of its knowledge about healing and resurrection. The story about Asclepius was remembered everywhere; the international symbol for medicine is a caduceus, which is a snake wrapped around a branch.

The Caduceus, International Symbol for Medicine
Caduceus

Career, Death, and Resurrection

Once Asclepius had finished his training, he traveled throughout Greece helping people. He was soon so famous that when the call went out for the famous Calydonian Boar Hunt Asclepius was invited.

Asclepius was so talented at his craft that he eventually learned the secret of bringing people back to from the dead. He brought so many people back to life that when Hades learned about what he was doing, he was afraid that no one would ever stay in the Underworld again. He complained to his brother, Zeus. Zeus, realizing that life and death had to be left to the gods, struck Asclepius with a thunderbolt and killed him.

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