ASKLEPIOS (or Asclepius) was the god of medicine and reputed ancestor of the Asklepiades, the ancient Greek doctors' guild.
He was the son of Apollon and the Trikkaian princess Koronis. His mother died in labour and was laid out on the pyre to be consumed, but his father rescued the child, cutting him from her womb. From this he received the name Asklepios "to cut open." The boy was raised by the kentauros (centaur) Kheiron who instructed him in the art of medicine. Asklepios grew so skilled in the craft that he was able to restore the dead to life. However, because this was a crime against the natural order, Zeus destroyed him with a thunderbolt. After his death Asklepios was placed amongst the stars as the constellation Ophiochus ("the Serpent Holder"). Some say his mother was also set in the heavens as Corvus, the crow (korônê in Greek). Asklepios' apotheosis into godhood occurred at the same time. He was sometimes identified with Homer's Paion, the physician of the gods.
Asklepios was depicted as a kindly, bearded man holding a serpent-entwined staff. He is almost completely absent from ancient Greek vase painting, but statues of the god are quite common.
AESCULA′PIUS (Asklêpios), the god of the medical art. In the Homeric poems Aesculapius does not appear to be considered as a divinity, but merely as a human being, which is indicated by the adjective amumôn, which is never given to a god. No allusion is made to his descent, and he is merely mentioned as the iêtêr amumôn, and the father of Machaon and Podaleirius. (Il. ii. 731, iv. 194, xi. 518.) From the fact that Homer (Od. iv. 232) calls all those who practise the healing art descendants of Paeëon, and that Podaleirius and Machaon are called the sons of Aesculapius, it has been inferred, that Aesculapius and Paeëon are the same being, and consequently a divinity. But wherever Homer mentions the healing god, it is always Paeëon, and never Aesculapius; and as in the poet's opinion all physicians were descended from Paeëon, he probably considered Aesculapius in the same light. This supposition is corroborated by the fact, that in later times Paeëon was identified with Apollo, and that Aesculapius is universally described as a descendant of Apollo. The two sons of Aesculapius in the Iliad, were the physicians in the Greek army, and are described as ruling over Tricca, Ithome, and Oechalia. (Il. ii. 729.) According to Eustathius (ad Hom. p. 330), Lapithes was a son of Apollo and Stilbe, and Aesculapius was a descendant of Lapithes. This tradition seems to be based on the same groundwork as the more common one, that Aesculapius was a son of Apollo and Coronis, the daughter of Phlegyas, who is a descendant of Lapithes. (Apollod. iii. 10. § 3; Pind. Pyth. iii. 14, with the Schol.)
The common story then goes on as follows. When Coronis was with child by Apollo, she became enamoured with Ischys, an Arcadian, and Apollo informed of this by a raven, which he had set to watch her, or, according to Pindar, by his own prophetic powers, sent his sister Artemis to kill Coronis. Artemis accordingly destroyed Coronis in her own house at Lacereia in Thessaly, on the shore of lake Baebia. (Comp. Hom. Hymn. 27. 3.) According to Ovid (Met. ii. 605, &c.) and Hyginus (Poet. Astr. ii. 40), it was Apollo himself who killed Coronis and Ischys. When the body of Coronis was to be burnt, Apollo, or, according to others (Paus. ii. 26. § 5), Hermes, saved the child (Aesculapius) from the flames, and carried it to Cheiron, who instructed the boy in the art of healing and in hunting. (Pind. Pyth. iii. 1, &c.; Apollod. iii. 10. § 3; Paus. l. c.) According to other traditions Aesculapius was born at Tricca in Thessaly (Strab. xiv. p. 647), and others again related that Coronis gave birth to him during an expedition of her father Phlegyas into Peloponnesus, in the territory of Epidaurus, and that she exposed him on mount Tittheion, which was before called Myrtion. Here he was fed by a goat and watched by a dog, until at last he was found by Aresthanas, a shepherd, who saw the boy surrounded by a lustre like that of lightning. (See a different account in Paus. viii. 25. § 6.) From this dazzling splendour, or from his having been rescued from the flames, he was called by the Dorians aiglaêr. The truth of the tradition that Aesculapius was born in the territory of Epidaurus, and was not the son of Arsinoë, daughter of Leucippus and born in Messenia, was attested by an oracle which was consulted to decide the question. (Paus. ii. 26. § 6, iv. 3. § 2; Cic. De Nat. Deor. iii. 22, where three different Aesculapiuses are made out of the different local traditions about him.) After Aesculapius had grown up, reports spread over all countries, that he not only cured all the sick, but called the dead to life again. About the manner in which he acquired this latter power, there were two traditions in ancient times. According to the one (Apollod. l. c.), he had received from Athena the blood which had flowed from the veins of Gorgo, and the blood which had flowed from the veins of the right side of her body possessed the power of restoring the dead to life. According to the other tradition, Aesculapius on one occasion was shut up in the house of Glaucus, whom he was to cure, and while he was standing absorbed in thought, there came a serpent which twined round the staff, and which he killed. Another serpent then came carrying in its mouth a herb with which it recalled to life the one that had been killed, and Aesculapius henceforth made use of the same herb with the same effect upon men. (Hygin. Poet. Astr. ii. 14.) Several persons, whom Aesculapius was believed to have restored to life, are mentioned by the Scholiast on Pindar (Pyth. iii. 96) and by Apollodorus. (l. c.) When he was exercising this art upon Glaucus, Zeus killed Aesculapius with a flash of lightning, as he feared lest men might gradually contrive to escape death altogether (Apollod. iii. 10. § 4), or, according to others, because Pluto had complained of Aesculapius diminishing the number of the dead too much. (Diod. iv. 71; comp. Schol. ad Pind. Pyth. iii. 102.) But, on the request of Apollo, Zeus placed Aesculapius among the stars. (Hygin. Poet. Astr. ii. 14.) Aesculapius is also said to have taken part in the expedition of the Argonauts and in the Calydonian hunt. He was married to Epione, and besides the two sons spoken of by Homer, we also find mention of the following children of his : Janiscus, Alexenor, Aratus, Hygieia, Aegle, Iaso, and Panaceia (Schol. ad Pind. Pyth. iii. 14; Paus. ii. 10. § 3, i. 34. § 2), most of whom are only personifications of the powers ascribed to their father.
These are the legends about one of the most interesting and important divinities of antiquity. Various hypotheses have been brought forward to explain the origin of his worship in Greece; and, while some consider Aesculapius to have been originally a real personage, whom tradition had connected with various marvellous stories, others have explained all the legends about him as mere personifications of certain ideas. The serpent, the perpetual symbol of Aesculapius, has given rise to the opinion, that the worship was derived from Egypt, and that Aesculapius was identical with the serpent Cnuph worshipped in Egypt, or with the Phoenician Esmun. (Euseb. Praep. Evang. i. 10; comp. Paus. vii. 23. § 6.) But it does not seem necessary to have recourse to foreign countries in order to explain the worship of this god. His story is undoubtedly a combination of real events with the results of thoughts or ideas, which, as in so many instances in Greek mythology, are, like the former, considered as facts. The kernel, out of which the whole myth has grown, is perhaps the account we read in Homer; but gradually the sphere in which Aesculapius acted was so extended, that he became the representative or the personification of the healing powers of nature, which are naturally enough described as the son (the effects) of Helios,--Apollo, or the Sun.
Aesculapius was worshipped all over Greece, and many towns, as we have seen, claimed the honour of his birth. His temples were usually built in healthy places, on hills outside the town, and near wells which were believed to have healing powers. These temples were not only places of worship, but were frequented by great numbers of sick persons, and may therefore be compared to modern hospitals. (Plut. Quaest. Rom. p. 286, D.) The principal seat of his worship in Greece was Epidaurus, where he had a temple surrounded with an extensive grove, within which no one was allowed to die, and no woman to give birth to a child. His sanctuary contained a magnificent statue of ivory and gold, the work of Thrasymedes, in which he was represented as a handsome and manly figure, resembling that of Zeus. (Paus. ii. 26 and 27.) He was seated on a throne, holding in one hand a staff, and with the other resting upon the head of a dragon (serpent), and by his side lay a dog. (Paus. ii. 27. § 2.) Serpents were everywhere connected with the worship of Aesculapius, probably because they were a symbol of prudence and renovation, and were believed to have the power of discovering herbs of wondrous powers, as is indicated in the story about Aesculapius and the serpents in the house of Glaucus. Serpents were further believed to be guardians of wells with salutary powers. For these reasons a peculiar kind of tame serpents, in which Epidaurus abounded, were not only kept in his temple (Paus. ii. 28. § 1), but the god himself frequently appeared in the form of a serpent. (Paus. iii. 23. § 4; Val. Max. i. 8. § 2; Liv. Epit. 11; compare the account of Alexander Pseudomantis in Lucian.) Besides the temple of Epidaurus, whence the worship of the god was transplanted to various other parts of the ancient world, we may mention those of Tricca (Strab. ix. p. 437), Celaenae (xiii. p. 603), between Dyme and Patrae (viii. p. 386), near Cyllene (viii. p. 337), in the island of Cos (xiii. p. 657; Paus. iii. 23. § 4), at Gerenia (Strab. viii. p. 360), near Caus in Arcadia (Steph. Byz. s. v.), at Sicyon (Paus. ii. 10. § 2), at Athens (i. 21. § 7), near Patrae (vii. 21. § 6), at Titane in the territory of Sicyon (vii. 23. § 6), at Thelpusa (viii. 25. § 3), in Messene (iv. 31. § , at Phlius (ii. 13. § 3), Argos (ii. 23. § 4), Aegium (ii. 23. § 5), Pellene (vii. 27. § 5), Asopus (iii. 22. § 7), Pergamum (iii. 26. § 7), Lebene in Crete, Smyrna, Balagrae (ii. 26. § 7), Ambracia (Liv. xxxviii. 5), at Rome and other places. At Rome the worship of Aesculapius was introduced from Epidaurus at the command of the Delphic oracle or of the Sibylline books, in B. C. 293, for the purpose of averting a pestilence. Respecting the miraculous manner in which this was effected see Valerius Maximus (i. 8. § 2), and Ovid. Met. xv. 620, &c.; comp. Niebuhr, Hist. of Rome, iii. p. 408, &c.; Liv. x. 47, xxix. 11; Suet. Claud. 25.)
The sick, who visited the temples of Aesculapius, had usually to spend one or more nights in his sanctuary (katheudein, ineubare, Paus. ii. 27 § 2), during which they observed certain rules prescribed by the priests. The god then usually revealed the remedies for the disease in a dream. (Aristoph. Plut. 662, &c.; Cic. De Div. ii. 59 ; Philostr. Vita Apollon. i. 7; Jambl. De Myst. iii. 2.) It was in allusion to this incubatio that many temples of Aesculapius contained statues representing Sleep and Dream. (Paus. ii. 10. § 2.) Those whom the god cured of their disease offered a sacrifice to him, generally a cock (Plat. Phacd. p. 11 or a goat (Paus. x. 32. § 8; Serv. ad Virg. Georg. ii. 380), and hung up in his temple a tablet recording the name of the sick, the disease, and the manner in which the cure had been effected. The temples of Epidaurus, Tricca, and Cos, were full of such votive tablets, and several of them are still extant. (Paus. ii. 27. § 3; Strab. viii. p. 374; comp. Dict. of Ant. p. 673.) Respecting the festivals celebrated in honour of Aesculapius see Dict. of Ant. p. 103. &c. The various surnames given to the god partly describe him as the healing or saving god, and are partly derived from the places in which he was worshipped. Some of his statues are described by Pausanias. (ii. 10. § 3, x. 32. § 8.) Besides the attributes mentioned in the description of his statue at Epidaurus, he is sometimes represented holding in one hand a phial, and in the other a stalf; sometimes also a boy is represented standing by his side, who is the genius of recovery, and is called Telesphorus, Euamerion, or Acesius. (Paus. ii. 11. § 7.) We still possess a considerable number of marble statues and busts of Aesculapius, as well as many representations on coins and gems. There were in antiquity two works which went under the name of Aesculapius, which, however, were no more genuine than the works ascribed to Orpheus. (Fabricius, Bibl. Graec. i. p. 55, &c.)
The descendants of Aesculapius were called by the patronymic name Asclepiadae. (Asklêpiadai.) Those writers, who consider Aesculapius as a real personage, must regard the Asclepiadae as his real descendants, to whom he transmitted his medical knowledge, and whose principal seats were Cos and Cnidus. (Plat. de Re Publ. iii. p. 405, &c.) But the Asclepiadae were also regarded as an order or caste of priests, and for a long period the practice of medicine was intimately connected with religion. The knowledge of medicine was regarded as a sacred secret, which was transmitted from father to son in the families of the Asclepiadae, and we still possess the oath which every one was obliged to take when he was put in possession of the medical secrets. (Galen, Anat. ii. p. 128 Aristid. Orat. i. p. 80.)
HYMNS TO ASKLEPIOS
Homeric Hymn 16 to Asclepius (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th to 4th B.C.) :
"I begin to sing of Asklepios, son of Apollon and healer of sicknesses. In the Dotian plain fair Koronis, daughter of King Phlegyas, bare him, a great joy to men, a soother of cruel pangs. and so hail to you, lord: in my song I make my prayer to thee!"
Greek Lyric V Anonymous, Fragments 939 (Inscription from Erythrai) (trans. Campbell) (B.C.) :
"Sing, youths, of Paian, skill-famed, Leto’s son, Far-shooter--ie Paian!--who fathered a great joy for mortals when he mingled in love with Koronis in the land of the Phlegyai--ie Paian!--, Asklepios, the most famous god--ie Paian!
By him were fathered Makhaon and Podaleirios and Iaso (Healer)--ie Paian!--and fair-eyed Aigle (Radiance) and Panakea (Cure-all), children of Epione, along with Hygieia (Health), all-glorious, undefiled; ie Paian! Asklepios, the most famous god--ie Paian!
Greetings I give you: graciously visit our widespaced city--ie Paian!--and grant that we look on the sun’s light in joy, approved with the help of Hygieia, all-glorious, undefiled : ie Paian!--Asklepios, the most famous god--ie Paian!"
Greek Lyric V Anonymous, Fragments 937 (Inscription from the shrine of Asclepius at Epidaurus) :
"High-skilled Asklepios; and summon the two Dioskouroi and the august Kharites and glorious Mousai and kindly Moirai and unwearied Helios (Sun) and Selene (Moon) at her full and all the signs with which heaven is crowned. Greetings, all you immortal gods everlasting and immortal goddesses!"
Hippocrates, The Hippocratic Oath (Greek physician C5th to 4th B.C.) :
"I swear by Apollon the physician, and Asklepios, and Hygeia, and Panakeia, and all the gods and goddesses, that, according to my ability and judgment, I will keep this Oath and this stipulation . . . "
Orphic Hymn 67 to Asclepius (trans. Taylor) (Greek hymns C3rd B.C. to 2nd A.D.) :
"To Asklepios, Fumigation from Manna. Great Asklepios, skilled to heal mankind, all-ruling Paian, and physician kind; whose arts medicinal can alone assuage diseases dire, and stop their dreadful rage. Strong, lenient God, regard my suppliant prayer, bring gentle health, adorned with lovely hair; convey the means of mitigating pain, and raging deadly pestilence restrain. O power all-flourishing, abundant, bright, Apollon’s honoured offspring, God of light; husband of blameless Hygeia (Health), the constant foe of dread disease, the minister of woe: come, blessed saviour, human health defend, and to the mortal life afford a prosperous end."
From: Theoi (more info available)CULT TITLES OF ASCLEPIUS
Asklepios had a variety of cult titles, some of which referred to his function as the god of medicine; others to cult locales, founders, religious stories and the cult idol.
Greek Name Transliteration Latin Spelling Translation
IatroV Iatros Iatrus Healer, Physician
HpioV Êpios Epius Soothing
KotulewV Kotyleôs Cotyleus Of the Hip-Joint
FilolaoV Philolaos Philolaus Lover of the People
ArcagetaV Arkhagetas Archagetas Founder
KuroV Kyros Cyrus Supreme Authority
PaidoV Paidos Paedus Boy
AgnitaV Agnitas Agnitas Of the Chaste-Tree
A number were derived from the locations of his cult:--
AulonioV Aulonios Aulonius Of Aulon
(town in Messenia)
KaousioV Kaousios Causius Of Kaous
(town in Arkadia)
LhbenaioV Lêbenaios Lebenaeus Of Lebene
(town in Krete)
TrikkaioV Trikkaios Triccaeus Of Trikka
(town in Thessalia)
GrotunioV Gortynios Gortynius Of Gortyn ?
(town in Krete?
AiguptioV Aigyptios Aegyptius Of Egypt,
DhmainetoV Dêmainetos Demaenetus Of Demainetos
Some general cult terms and festivals included:--
Greek Name Transliteration Latin Spelling
Asklhpieion Asklêpieion Aslcepieium Temple of Asklepios
Lhbenaion Lêbenaion Lebenaeum Temple at Lebene
Epidauria Epidauria Epidauria Festival of Epidauros
For more about his cult and worship see here: Cult & Cult Statues of AsklepiosAsclepius was a Greek hero who later become the Greek god of medicine and healing. The son of Apollo and Coronis, Asclepius had five daughters, Aceso, Iaso, Panacea, Aglaea and Hygieia. He was worshipped throughout the Greek world but his most famous sanctuary was located in Epidaurus which is situated in the northeastern Peloponnese. The main attribute of Asclepius is a physician's staff with an Asclepian snake wrapped around it; this is how he was distinguished in the art of healing, and his attribute still survives to this day as the symbol of the modern medical profession. The cock was also sacred to Asclepius and was the bird they sacrificed as his altar.
The mother of Asclepius, Coronis, was a mortal, the daughter of Phlegyas, a king of Thessaly. Coronis was unfaithful to Apollo, and Artemis, Apollo's twin sister, killed her for her unfaithfulness. Coronis was placed upon a funeral pyre. (One version says that Apollo cast her into the fires of his own anger.) As her body started to burn, Apollo felt sorrow for his unborn son and snatched the child Asclepius from his mother's corpse, saving him from death. Apollo then handed Asclepius to the Centaur Chiron who became his tutor and mentor.
Chiron taught Asclepius the art of healing. According to Pindar (Pythian Odes), Asclepius also acquired the knowledge of surgery, the use of drugs, love potions and incantations, and according to Apollodorus (the Library), Athena gave Asclepius a magic potion made from the blood of the Gorgon. Legend tells that the blood of the Gorgon has a different effect depending from which side the blood was taken. If taken from the right side of the Gorgon, it has a miraculous effect and is said to be able to bring the dead back to life, but taken from the left side it is a deadly poison.
With these gifts Asclepius exceeded the fringes of human knowledge. However, he offended the great god Zeus by accepting money in exchange for raising the dead. (In one version it was the goddess Artemis who implored Asclepius to resurrect Hippolytus, a favourite of hers.) In the eyes of Zeus, Asclepius' action upset the natural order of the universe - a mere mortal helping man evade death. With one swift action, the great Zeus sent down a thunderbolt killing both men. (In some versions Zeus only killed Asclepius.)
Realising the good Asclepius had brought to man, the great Zeus made him into a god, placing him among the stars, transforming Asclepius into the constellation Ophiuchus (the serpent-bearer). The snake was used in the healing ritual; non-poisonous snakes were left in the dormitory where the sick slept overnight on the bare ground.
The cult of Asclepius became very popular during the 300s BCE and the cult centres (known as an Asclepieion) were used by priests to cure the sick. Invalids also came to the shrines of Asclepius to find cures for their ailments (in the same fashion pilgrims visit Lourdes today.) The process of healing was known as incubation. The patient would spend the night in a dormitory. During the night they would supposedly be visited by the god in a dream. Priests would interpret the dreams and then recommend a remedy or give advice on how they could be cured with perhaps a recommended visit to the baths and gymnasiums. There were many centres and schools of medicine, from Trikkis in Thessaly to the island of Cos. It is believed that Hippocrates, a great doctor of antiquity, plied his trade on the island of Cos. It is also said that Hippocrates was a descendant of Asclepius.
The Romans adopted the cult of Asclepius, but changed his name to Latin; they called him Aesculapius.
From: hereAsclepius (pronounced /æsˈkliːpiəs/; Greek Ἀσκληπιός Asklēpiós /askliːpiós/; Latin Aesculapius) is the god of medicine and healing in ancient Greek religion. Asclepius represents the healing aspect of the medical arts; his daughters are Hygieia ("Hygiene"), Iaso ("Medicine"), Aceso ("Healing"), Aglæa/Ægle ("Healthy Glow"), and Panacea ("Universal Remedy"). The rod of Asclepius, a snake-entwined staff, remains a symbol of medicine today, although sometimes the caduceus, or staff with two snakes, is mistakenly used instead. He was associated with the Roman/Etruscan god Vediovis. He was one of Apollo's sons. Like his father the epithet Paean ("the Healer") was applied to Asclepius. Some historians consider that Asclepius probably was a real person, a very good doctor who treated people in Greece in about 1200BC
He was the son of Apollo and 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 labour and was laid out on the pyre to be consumed, but his father rescued the child, cutting him from her womb. From this he received the name Asklepios "to cut open". Apollo carried the baby to the centaur Chiron who raised Asclepius and instructed him in the art of medicine.
 Wives and offspring
Asclepios was married to Epione, with whom he had six daughters: Hygieia, Meditrina (the serpent-bearer),[disambiguation needed] Panacea, Aceso, Iaso, and Aglaea, and three sons: Machaon, Podaleirios and Telesphoros. He also sired a son, Aratus, with Aristodama. The names of his daughters each rather transparently reflect a certain subset of the overall theme of "good health".
Zeus killed Asclepius with a thunderbolt because he raised Hippolytus from the dead and accepted gold for it. Other stories say that Asclepius was killed because after bringing people back from the dead, Hades thought that no more dead spirits would come to the underworld, so he asked his brother Zeus to remove him. This angered Apollo who in turn murdered the cyclops who had made the thunderbolt for Zeus. For this act, Zeus banned Apollo from the night sky and commanded Apollo to serve Admetus, King of Thessaly. After Asclepius' death, Zeus placed Asclepius among the stars as the constellation Ophiuchus ("the Serpent Holder").
Sacred places and practices
The most famous temple of Asclepius was at Epidaurus in north-eastern Peloponnese. Another famous healing temple (or asclepieion) was located on the island of Kos, where Hippocrates, the legendary "father of medicine", may have begun his career. Other asclepieia were situated in Trikala, Gortys (in Arcadia), and Pergamum in Asia.
In honor of Asclepius, snakes were often used in healing rituals and non-venomous snakes were allowed to crawl on the floor in dormitories where the sick and injured slept. From about 300 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.
The original Hippocratic Oath began with the invocation "I swear by Apollo the Physician and by Asclepius and by Hygieia and Panacea and by all the gods ..."
Some later religious movements claimed links to Asclepius. In the 2nd century AD the controversial miracle-worker Alexander claimed that his god Glycon was an incarnation of Asclepius. Justin Martyr, a philosophical defender of Christianity who wrote around 160 AD claimed that the myth of Asclepius foreshadowed rather than served as a source for claims of Jesus's healing powers.
The botanical genus Asclepias (commonly known as milkweed), is named after him, and includes the medicinal plant A. tuberosa or "Pleurisy root".
From: WikiOther sites:While Asclepius the healing god is not a major player in Greek mythology, he is a pivotal one. Since he is numbered among the Argonauts, Asclepius came into contact with many of the major Greek heroes. Asclepius was also a causal figure in the drama played out between Apollo, Death, Zeus and the Cyclops, known to us through Alcestis, by Euripides.
The Parents of Asclepius
Apollo was no more chaste than any of the other gods. His lovers and would-be lovers included Marpessa, Coronis, Daphne, Arsinoe, Cassandra, Cyrene, Melia, Eudne, Thero, Psamathe, Philonis, Chrysothemis, Hyacinthos and Cyparissos. As a result of their union with Apollo (the brother of the virginal goddess Artemis), most of the women produced sons. One of these sons was Asclepius, although there is debate as to whether his mother was Coronis or Arsinoe. Whoever she was, she didn't live long enough to give birth to her healing god son.
The Creation of Asclepius
Apollo was a jealous god who was mightily displeased when a crow revealed that his lover was to marry a mortal, so he punished the messenger by changing the color of the formerly white bird to the now more familiar black. Apollo also punished his lover by burning her, although some say it was Artemis who actually disposed of the "faithless" Coronis (or Arsinoe). Before Coronis was completely incinerated, Apollo rescued the unborn infant from the flames. Asclepius may have been born in Epidauros.
Asclepius' Upbringing - The Centaur Connection
The poor, newborn Asclepius needed someone to bring him up, so Apollo thought of the wise centaur Chiron (Cheiron) who seems to have been around forever -- or at least since the time of Apollo's father, Zeus. Chiron roamed the countryside of Crete when the king of the gods was growing up, in hiding from his own father. Chiron trained several of the great Greek heroes (Achilles, Actaeon, Aristaeus, Jason, Medus, Patroclus and Peleus) and willingly took on the education of Asclepius.
Thus, although Apollo was a god of healing, it wasn't he, but Chiron who taught Apollo's son Asclepius the healing arts. Athena also helped by giving Asclepius the precious blood of the Gorgon Medusa.
The Story of Alcestis
The blood of the Gorgon, which Athena gave Asclepius, came from two very different veins. The blood from the right side could heal mankind -- even from death, while the blood from the left vein could kill, as Chiron would ultimately experience first-hand.
Asclepius matured into a capable healer, but after he brought back to life Capaneus and Lycurgus (killed during the war of the Seven Against Thebes), and Hippolytus, son of Theseus, a worried Zeus killed Asclepius with a thunderbolt.
Apollo was enraged, but getting mad at the king of the gods was futile, so he took out his anger on the creators of the thunderbolts, the Cyclops. Zeus, enraged in his turn, was prepared to hurl Apollo to Tartarus, but another god intervened -- possibly Apollo's mother, Leto. Zeus commuted his son's sentence to a year's term as herdsman to a human, King Admetus.
During his term in mortal servitude, Apollo grew fond of Admetus, a man doomed to die young. Since there was no longer an Asclepius with his Medusa-potion to resurrect the king, Admetus would be gone forever when he died. As a favor, Apollo negotiated a way for Admetus to avoid Death. If someone would die for Admetus, Death would let him go. The only person willing to make this sacrifice was Admetus' beloved wife, Alcestis.
On the day Alcestis was substituted for Admetus and given to Death, Hercules arrived at the palace. He wondered about the display of mourning. Admetus tried to convince him nothing was wrong, but the servants, who missed their mistress, revealed the truth. Hercules set off for the Underworld to arrange for Alcestis' return to life.
The Offspring of Asclepius
Ascelpius left behind progeny to carry on the healing arts. His sons, Machaon and Podalirius, led 30 Greek ships to Troy from the city of Eurytos. It is unclear which of the two brothers healed Philoctetes during the Trojan War. Asclepius' daughter is Hygeia, goddess of health.
Other children of Asclepius are: Janiscus, Alexenor, Aratus, Hygieia, Aegle, Iaso, and Panaceia.
The Name of Asclepius
You may find the name of Asclepius spelled Asculapius or Aesculapius (in Latin) and Asklepios (also, in Greek).
Shrines of Asclepius
The best known shrines of Asclepius were at Epidaurus, Cos, and Pergamum. These were places of healing with sanatoria, dream therapy, snakes, regimes of diet and exercise, and baths. The name of such a shrine to Asclepius is asclepieion/asklepieion (pl. asclepieia). Hippocrates is thought to have studied at Cos and Galen at Pergamum.
Neos Alexandria page
A Weekly Ritual of Devotion to Asklepios by Amanda Sioux Blake
Asklepios the Physician by Amanda Sioux Blake
Hermetic text mentioning him
The Caduceus vs the Staff of Asclepius
Roman statues of him (pics)
Archive.org-- free/download-able book: Greek Hero Cults and Ideas of Immortality (has chapters on him)