Asclepius (/æsˈkliːpiəs/; Greek: Ἀσκληπιός Asklēpiós [asklɛːpiós]; Latin: Aesculapius) or Hepius was a hero and god of medicine in ancient Greek religion and mythology. Asclepius represents the healing aspect of the medical arts; his daughters are Hygieia ("Hygiene", the goddess/personification of health, cleanliness, and sanitation), Iaso (the goddess of recuperation from illness), Aceso (the goddess of the healing process), Aglæa/Ægle (the goddess of the glow of good health), and Panacea (the goddess of universal remedy). He was associated with the Roman/Etruscan god Vediovis and the Egyptian Imhotep. He was one of Apollo's sons, sharing with Apollo the epithet Paean ("the Healer"). The rod of Asclepius, a snake-entwined staff, remains a symbol of medicine today. Those physicians and attendants who served this god were known as the Therapeutae of Asclepius.
God of medicine, healing, rejuvenation and physicians
|Parents||Apollo and Coronis|
|Siblings||half-siblings of Asclepius|
The etymology of the name is unknown. In his revised version of Frisk's Griechisches etymologisches Wörterbuch (Greek Etymological Dictionary), R.S.P. Beekes gives this summary of the different attempts:
Asclepius was married to Epione, with whom he had five daughters: Hygieia, Panacea, Aceso, Iaso, and Aglaea, and three sons: Machaon, Podaleirios and Telesphoros. He also sired a son, Aratus, with Aristodama.
He was the son of Apollo and, according to the earliest accounts, a mortal woman named Coronis. His mother was killed for being unfaithful to Apollo and was laid out on a funeral pyre to be consumed, but the unborn child was rescued from her womb. Or, alternatively, his mother died in labor and was laid out on the pyre to be consumed, but Apollo rescued the child, cutting him from Coronis's womb.
Apollo carried the baby to the centaur Chiron who raised Asclepius and instructed him in the art of medicine. It is said that in return for some kindness rendered by Asclepius, a snake licked Asclepius's ears clean and taught him secret knowledge (to the Greeks snakes were sacred beings of wisdom, healing, and resurrection). Asclepius bore a rod wreathed with a snake, which became associated with healing. A species of non-venomous pan-Mediterranean serpent, the Aesculapian snake (Zamenis longissimus) is named for the god. He was originally called Hepius but received his popular name of Asclepius after he cured Ascles, ruler of Epidaurus who suffered an incurable ailment in his eyes.
Asclepius became so proficient as a healer that he surpassed both Chiron and his father, Apollo. Asclepius was therefore able to evade death and to bring others back to life from the brink of death and beyond. This caused an influx of human beings and Zeus resorted to killing him to maintain balance in the numbers of the human population.
At some point, Asclepius was among those who took part in the Calydonian Boar hunt.
Other stories say that Asclepius was killed because, after bringing people back from the dead like Tyndareus, Hades thought that no more dead spirits would come to the underworld. Because of this, he asked his brother Zeus to stop him. This angered Apollo who in turn killed the Cyclopes who made the thunderbolts for Zeus. For this act, Zeus suspended Apollo from the night sky and commanded Apollo to serve Admetus, King of Thessaly for a year. Once the year had passed, Zeus brought Apollo back to Mount Olympus and revived the Cyclopes that made his thunderbolts. After Asclepius's death, Zeus placed his body among the stars as the constellation Ophiuchus ("the Serpent Holder").
Some sources also stated that Asclepius was later resurrected as a god by Zeus to prevent any further feuds with Apollo. It was also claimed that Asclepius was instructed by Zeus to never revive the dead without his approval again.
The most ancient and the most prominent asclepeion (or healing temple) according to the geographer of the 1st century BC, Strabo, was situated in Trikala. One of the most famous temples of Asclepius was at Epidaurus in north-eastern Peloponnese, dated to the fourth century BC. Another famous asclepeion was built approximately a century later on the island of Kos, where Hippocrates, the legendary "father of medicine", may have begun his career. Other asclepieia were situated in Gortys (in Arcadia), and Pergamum in Asia.
From the fifth century BC onwards, the cult of Asclepius grew very popular and pilgrims flocked to his healing temples (Asclepieia) to be cured of their ills. Ritual purification would be followed by offerings or sacrifices to the god (according to means), and the supplicant would then spend the night in the holiest part of the sanctuary – the abaton (or adyton). Any dreams or visions would be reported to a priest who would prescribe the appropriate therapy by a process of interpretation. Some healing temples also used sacred dogs to lick the wounds of sick petitioners. In honor of Asclepius, a particular type of non-venomous snake was often used in healing rituals, and these snakes — the Aesculapian Snakes — slithered around freely on the floor in dormitories where the sick and injured slept. These snakes were introduced at the founding of each new temple of Asclepius throughout the classical world.
Some later religious movements claimed links to Asclepius. In the 2nd century AD the controversial miracle-worker Alexander claimed that his god Glycon, a snake with a "head of linen" was an incarnation of Asclepius. The Greek language rhetorician and satirist Lucian produced the work Alexander the False Prophet to denounce the swindler for future generations. He described Alexander as having a character "made up of lying, trickery, perjury, and malice; [it was] facile, audacious, venturesome, diligent in the execution of its schemes, plausible, convincing, masking as good, and wearing an appearance absolutely opposite to its purpose." In Rome, the College of Aesculapius and Hygia was an association (collegium) that served as a burial society and dining club that also participated in Imperial cult.
The botanical genus Asclepias (commonly known as milkweed) is named after him and includes the medicinal plant A. tuberosa or "Pleurisy root".
Aceso (Greek: Ἀκεσώ) was the Greek goddess of the healing process.Amphiaraus
In Greek mythology, Amphiaraus (; Ancient Greek: Ἀμφιάραος Amphiaraos, "doubly cursed" or "twice Ares-like") was the king of Argos along with Adrastus and Iphis.Asclepeion
Asclepeions (Ancient Greek: Ἀσκληπιεῖον Asklepieion; Ἀσκλαπιεῖον in Doric dialect; Latin aesculapīum) were healing temples located in ancient Greece (and Rome), dedicated to Asclepius, the first doctor-demigod in Greek mythology. Asclepius was said to have been such a skilled doctor that he could even raise people from the dead. So stemming from the myth of his great healing powers, pilgrims would flock to temples built in his honor in order to seek spiritual and physical healing.
Asclepeion included carefully controlled spaces conducive to healing and fulfilled several of the requirements of institutions created for healing. In addition to these spaces, excavated remains show that sanctuaries included a stadium, gymnasium, library, and theatre; access to these amenities promoted self-therapy through rest, relaxation, and exercise. Treatment at these temples largely centered around promoting healthy lifestyles, with a particular emphasis on a person’s spiritual needs. Signature to Asclepeion was the practice of incubatio, also known as 'temple sleep.' This was a process by which patients would go to sleep in the temple with the expectation that they would be visited by Asclepius himself or one of his healing children in their dream. During this time, they would be told what it is that they needed to do in order to cure their ailment. At the very least, they would wake up having not been directly visited by a deity and instead report their dream to a priest. The priest would then interpret the dream and prescribe a cure, often a visit to the baths or a gymnasium.
Despite these methods being regarded as ‘faith healing,’ they were highly effective, as is evident by the numerous written accounts by patients attesting to their healing and providing detailed accounts of their cure. In the Asclepeion of Epidaurus, three large marble boards dated to 350 BC preserve the names, case histories, complaints, and cures of about 70 patients who came to the temple with a problem and shed it there. Some of the surgical cures listed, such as the opening of an abdominal abscess or the removal of traumatic foreign material, are realistic enough to have taken place, with the patient in a dream-like state of induced sleep known as "enkoimesis" (Greek: ἐγκοίμησις), not unlike anesthesia, induced with the help of soporific substances such as opium.Asclepeions also became home to future physicians as well. Hippocrates is said to have received his medical training at an asclepeion on the isle of Kos. Prior to becoming the personal physician to the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, Galen treated and studied at the famed asclepeion at Pergamon.Caduceus
The caduceus (☤; ; Latin cādūceus, from Greek κηρύκειον kērū́keion "herald's wand, or staff") is the staff carried by Hermes in Greek mythology and consequently by Hermes Trismegistus in Greco-Egyptian mythology. The same staff was also borne by heralds in general, for example by Iris, the messenger of Hera. It is a short staff entwined by two serpents, sometimes surmounted by wings. In Roman iconography, it was often depicted being carried in the left hand of Mercury, the messenger of the gods, guide of the dead, and protector of merchants, shepherds, gamblers, liars, and thieves.Some accounts suggest that the oldest known imagery of the caduceus has its roots in a Mesopotamian origin with the Sumerian god Ningishzida; whose symbol, a staff with two snakes intertwined around it, dates back to 4000 B.C. to 3000 B.C.As a symbolic object, it represents Hermes (or the Roman Mercury), and by extension trades, occupations, or undertakings associated with the god. In later Antiquity, the caduceus provided the basis for the astrological symbol representing the planet Mercury. Thus, through its use in astrology, alchemy, and astronomy it has come to denote the planet and elemental metal of the same name. It is said the wand would wake the sleeping and send the awake to sleep. If applied to the dying, their death was gentle; if applied to the dead, they returned to life.By extension of its association with Mercury and Hermes, the caduceus is also a recognized symbol of commerce and negotiation, two realms in which balanced exchange and reciprocity are recognized as ideals. This association is ancient, and consistent from the Classical period to modern times. The caduceus is also used as a symbol representing printing, again by extension of the attributes of Mercury (in this case associated with writing and eloquence).
The caduceus is often incorrectly used as a symbol of healthcare organizations and medical practice, particularly in North America, due to confusion with the traditional medical symbol, the Rod of Asclepius, which has only one snake and is never depicted with wings.Chiron
In Greek mythology, Chiron ( KY-rən; also Cheiron or Kheiron; Greek: Χείρων "hand") was held to be the superlative centaur amongst his brethren, as he was called as the "wisest and justest of all the centaurs".Epidaurus
Epidaurus was a small city (polis) in ancient Greece, on the Argolid Peninsula at the Saronic Gulf. Two modern towns bear the name Epidavros:Palaia Epidavros and Nea Epidavros. Since 2010 they belong to the new municipality of Epidaurus, part of the regional unit of Argolis. The seat of the municipality is the town Lygourio.Epione
In Greek mythology, Epione (Greek: Ἠπιόνη) is the goddess of soothing of pain; in fact, her name actually means soothing. She is the wife of Asclepius and mother of Panacea, the goddess of medicines, and Hygieia, the goddess of health. She is probably also considered the mother of the physicians Machaon and Podalirius, who are mentioned in the Iliad of Homer.Hygieia
In Greek as well as Roman mythology, Hygieia (also Hygiea or Hygeia; Ancient Greek: Ὑγιεία or Ὑγεία, Latin: Hygēa or Hygīa), was one of the Aeclepiadae; the sons and daughters of the god of medicine, Asclepius, and the goddess of healing, Epione. She was the goddess/personification of health (Greek: ὑγίεια - hugieia), cleanliness and hygiene.
Hygieia as well as her four sisters each performed a facet of Apollo's art: Hygieia ("Hygiene" the goddess/personification of health, cleanliness, and sanitation); Panacea (the goddess of Universal remedy); Iaso (the goddess of recuperation from illness); Aceso (the goddess of the healing process); and Aglaïa (the goddess of beauty, splendor, glory, magnificence, and adornment).
Hygieia also played an important part in her father's cult. While her father was more directly associated with healing, she was associated with the prevention of sickness and the continuation of good health. Her name is the source of the word "hygiene".
Hygieia was imported by the Romans as the goddess Valetudo, the goddess of personal health, but in time she started to be increasingly identified with the ancient Italian goddess of social welfare, Salus.Iaso
Iaso (; Greek: Ἰασώ, Iasō) or Ieso (; Greek: Ἰησώ, Iēsō) was the Greek goddess of recuperation from illness. The daughter of Asclepius, she had five sisters: Aceso, Aglæa/Ægle, Hygieia, Panacea, and Meditrina (Roman). All six were associated with some aspect of health or healing. For more information on the genealogy of Iaso, see Panacea.Machaon (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Machaon (; Ancient Greek: Μᾰχάων Makhāōn) was a son of Asclepius; with his brother Podalirius, he led an army from Thessaly in the Trojan War on the side of the Greeks.Mnemosyne
Mnemosyne (; Greek: Μνημοσύνη, pronounced [mnɛːmosýːnɛː]) is the goddess of memory in Greek mythology. "Mnemosyne" is derived from the same source as the word mnemonic, that being the Greek word mnēmē, which means "remembrance, memory".Mnemosyne is the mother of the nine Muses.Nag Hammadi library
The Nag Hammadi library (also known as the "Chenoboskion Manuscripts" and the "Gnostic Gospels") is a collection of early Christian and Gnostic texts discovered near the Upper Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi in 1945.
Thirteen leather-bound papyrus codices buried in a sealed jar were found by a local farmer named Muhammed al-Samman. The writings in these codices comprise 52 mostly Gnostic treatises, but they also include three works belonging to the Corpus Hermeticum and a partial translation/alteration of Plato's Republic. In his introduction to The Nag Hammadi Library in English, James Robinson suggests that these codices may have belonged to a nearby Pachomian monastery and were buried after Saint Athanasius condemned the use of non-canonical books in his Festal Letter of 367 A.D. The discovery of these texts significantly influenced modern scholarship's pursuit and knowledge of early Christianity and Gnosticism.
The contents of the codices were written in the Coptic language. The best-known of these works is probably the Gospel of Thomas, of which the Nag Hammadi codices contain the only complete text. After the discovery, scholars recognized that fragments of these sayings attributed to Jesus appeared in manuscripts discovered at Oxyrhynchus in 1898 (P. Oxy. 1), and matching quotations were recognized in other early Christian sources. Subsequently, a 1st or 2nd century date of composition circa 80 AD or earlier has been proposed for the lost Greek originals of the Gospel of Thomas. The buried manuscripts date from the 3rd and 4th centuries.
The Nag Hammadi codices are currently housed in the Coptic Museum in Cairo, Egypt.Panacea
In Greek mythology, Panacea (Greek Πανάκεια, Panakeia) was a goddess of universal remedy and the daughter of Asclepius and Epione. Panacea and her four sisters each performed a facet of Apollo's art:
Panacea (the goddess of universal health)
Hygieia ("Hygieneswe" the goddess/personification of health, cleanliness, and sanitation)
Iaso (the goddess of recuperation from illness)
Aceso (the goddess of the healing process)
Aglæa/Ægle (the goddess of beauty, splendor, glory, magnificence, and adornment)Panacea also had four brothers—Podaleirus, one of the two kings of Tricca, who was skilled in diagnostics, and Machaon, the other king of Tricca, who was a master surgeon (these two took part in the Trojan War until Machaon was killed by Penthesilea, queen of the Amazons); Telesphoros, who devoted his life to serving Asclepius; and Aratus, her half-brother, who was a Greek hero and the patron/liberator of Sicyon. However, portrayals of the family were not consistent; Panacea and her sisters each at times appear as Asclepius' wife instead.Panacea may have been an independent goddess before being absorbed into the Asclepius myth.Panacea traditionally had a poultice or potion with which she healed the sick. This brought about the concept of the panacea in medicine, a substance meant to cure all diseases. The term is also used figuratively as meaning "Something used to solve all problems".Panacea is mentioned at the opening of the Hippocratic Oath:
Ὄμνυμι Ἀπόλλωνα ἰητρὸν καὶ Ἀσκληπιὸν καὶ Ὑγείαν καὶ Πανάκειαν καὶ θεοὺς πάντας τε καὶ πάσας ἵστορας ποιεύμενος ἐπιτελέα ποιήσειν κατὰ δύναμιν καὶ κρίσιν ἐμὴν ὅρκον τόνδε καὶ ξυγγραφὴν τήνδε.
I swear, calling upon Apollo the physician and Asclepius, Hygeia and Panaceia and all the gods and goddesses as witnesses, that I will fulfill this oath and this contract according to my ability and judgment.
A river in Thrace/Moesia took its name from the goddess, and is still known in modern Bulgaria as the river Zlatna Panega ("Golden Panega", from Greek panakeia).Podalirius
In Greek mythology, Podalirius or Podaleirius (Ancient Greek: Ποδαλείριος) was a son of Asclepius.Rod of Asclepius
In Greek mythology, the Rod of Asclepius (Greek: Ράβδος του Ασκληπιού, Rábdos tou Asklipioú; Unicode symbol: ⚕), also known as the Staff of Asclepius (sometimes also spelled Asklepios or Aesculapius) and as the asklepian, is a serpent-entwined rod wielded by the Greek god Asclepius, a deity associated with healing and medicine. The symbol has continued to be used in modern times, where it is associated with medicine and health care, yet frequently confused with the staff of the god Hermes, the caduceus. Theories have been proposed about the Greek origin of the symbol and its implications.Soter
Soter derives from the Greek epithet σωτήρ (sōtēr), meaning a saviour, a deliverer; initial capitalised Σωτήρ; fully capitalised ΣΩΤΗΡ; feminine Soteria (Σωτηρία).
Soter has been used as:
as a title of gods: Poseidon Soter, Zeus Soter, Dionysus Soter, Apollo Soter, Athena Soteria, Asclepius Soteri, and Hecate Soteria.
as the name of a distinct mythical figure, Soter (daimon)
any heroized or deified leaders of Hellenistic dynasties, see Hellenistic ruler cult:
Antigonus Monophthalmus, awarded the title for liberating Athens from Cassander
Ptolemy I Soter of Egypt (reigned 323-283 BCE)
Antiochus I Soter of the Seleucid Empire (reigned 281-261 BCE)
Demetrius I Soter of the Seleucid Empire (reigned 161-150 BCE)
Polyxenos Epiphanes Soter
Rabbel II Soter
Seleucus III Ceraunus
as a title of liberators (see also eleutherios (disambiguation)
a title of Jesus of Nazareth, most particularly in the fish acronym
Pope Soter, r. ca. 167-174.Telesphorus (mythology)
In ancient Greek religion, Telesphorus (Greek: Τελεσφόρος Telesphoros) was a son of Asclepius. He frequently accompanied his sister, Hygieia. He was a dwarf whose head was always covered with a cowl hood or cap.
He symbolized recovery from illness, as his name means "the accomplisher" or "bringer of completion" in Greek. Representations of him are found mainly in Anatolia and along the Danube.
Telesphorus is assumed to have been a Celtic god in origin, who was taken to Anatolia by the Galatians in the 3rd century BC, where he would have become associated with the Greek god of medicine, Asclepius, perhaps in Pergamon (an Asclepian cult center) and spread again to the West due to the rise of the Roman Empire, in particular during the 2nd century AD, from the reign of Hadrian.Temple of Eshmun
The Temple of Eshmun (Arabic: معبد أشمون) is an ancient place of worship dedicated to Eshmun, the Phoenician god of healing. It is located near the Awali river, 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) northeast of Sidon in southwestern Lebanon. The site was occupied from the 7th century BC to the 8th century AD, suggesting an integrated relationship with the nearby city of Sidon. Although originally constructed by Sidonian king Eshmunazar II in the Achaemenid era (c. 529–333 BC) to celebrate the city's recovered wealth and stature, the temple complex was greatly expanded by Bodashtart, Yatan-milk and later monarchs. Because the continued expansion spanned many centuries of alternating independence and foreign hegemony, the sanctuary features a wealth of different architectural and decorative styles and influences.
The sanctuary consists of an esplanade and a grand court limited by a huge limestone terrace wall that supports a monumental podium which was once topped by Eshmun's Graeco-Persian style marble temple. The sanctuary features a series of ritual ablution basins fed by canals channeling water from the Asclepius river (modern Awali) and from the sacred "Ydll" spring; these installations were used for therapeutic and purificatory purposes that characterize the cult of Eshmun. The sanctuary site has yielded many artifacts of value, especially those inscribed with Phoenician texts, providing valuable insight into the site's history and that of ancient Sidon.
The Eshmun Temple was improved during the early Roman Empire with a colonnade street, but declined after earthquakes and fell into oblivion as Christianity replaced paganism and its large limestone blocks were used to build later structures. The temple site was rediscovered in 1900 by local treasure hunters who stirred the curiosity of international scholars. Maurice Dunand, a French archaeologist, thoroughly excavated the site from 1963 until the beginning of the Lebanese Civil War in 1975. After the end of the hostilities and the retreat of Israel from Southern Lebanon, the site was rehabilitated and inscribed to the World Heritage Site tentative list.Valle dei Templi
The Valle dei Templi (Italian pronunciation: [ˈvalle dei ˈtɛmpli]; English: Valley of the Temples; Sicilian: Vaddi di li Tempri) is an archaeological site in Agrigento (ancient Greek Akragas), Sicily. It is one of the most outstanding examples of Greater Greece art and architecture, and is one of the main attractions of Sicily as well as a national monument of Italy. The area was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 1997. Much of the excavation and restoration of the temples was due to the efforts of archaeologist Domenico Antonio Lo Faso Pietrasanta (1783–1863), who was the Duke of Serradifalco from 1809 through 1812. The Archaeological and Landscape Park of the Valley of the Temples is the largest archaeological site in the world with 1,300 hectares.The term "valley" is a misnomer, the site being located on a ridge outside the town of Agrigento.
Ancient Greek deities by affiliation
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