greek mythology

In Greek mythology Asclepius is best known for being the god of healing and medicine.  He is the son of the sun god Apollo and the mortal princess of Phlegyas, Coronis. The relationship between Apollo and Coronis was doomed, however, as Coronis fell in love with a mortal man while pregnant with Asclepius.  Apollo, not feeling that he was being respected as a god should, became angered and killed Coronis while she was still pregnant.

Greek Mythology tells us that when Coronis’s body was being burned in a funeral pyre the god Apollo cut open the body and rescued his demigod son, thus performing the first mythical birth by cesarian section.

The boy needed someone to raise him, so Apollo chose the wise centaur Chiron for the job.  In Greek Mythology Chiron is well known for his knowledge of the healing arts, and since Apollo is also known for healing it was only natural that Asclepius would be trained in this field as well.  Unlike the other gods, though, Asclepius’s healing ability was not magical in nature.  He carried a deep knowledge of medicine and acted as a doctor and surgeon to those mortals in need.

The famous symbol of Asclepius is the snake entwined staff - a symbol that is still used in the medical field to this day.  The story goes that a snake whom Asclepius had healed licked his ears and taught him ancient secrets of medicine.  Snakes were believed to be wise in the ways of healing to the ancient Greeks and this was was no exception.  Soon Asclepius was so powerful that he could even raise the dead, which he began to do.

Eventually the gods took notice, most notably Zeus and Hades.  Hades, the god of the Underworld, noticed that his empire of the dead was shrinking and complained to Zeus who also noticed that old enemies he had slain with his thunderbolt were suddenly back up and walking around.  This did not go over well.  In his anger Zeus struck Asclepius dead with his thunderbolt.

But don’t forget - Asclepius was the son of Apollo.  So when Apollo found out that Zeus had killed his son he responded by killing the cyclops that made Zeus’s thunderbolts.  The two had a falling out but eventually made up so that Apollo could return to Mount Olympus, and the world of Greek Mythology moved on without its greatest healer.

For more Greek Gods and Goddesses, visit our list here.

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