Asclepius (ăsklēˈpēəs) [key], Lat. Aesculapius ĕsˌkəlāˈpēəs, 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 B.C. 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).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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