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Asclepius. 5019: Roman statue, info n/a. Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen.

Asclepius is the god of healing.

His mother dies before he is born

When Asclepius was still in the womb, Apollo killed his mother Coronis 2 for having wedded Ischys. As for the crow who told the god about the wedding, Apollo cursed it, changing its color from white into black. While Coronis 2 was burning in the funeral pyre, Apollo snatched Asclepius from it and brought him to the wise Centaur Chiron, who brought him up, teaching him the arts of healing and hunting. Others have said that it was Artemis who killed Coronis 2, to punish her for having insulted her brother, and that it was Hermes who snatched the child from the pyre.

His art of healing

Asclepius, having become a surgeon, and having carried his art to a great pitch, not only prevented some from dying, but even raised up the dead. For he had received from Athena the blood that flowed from the veins of Medusa 1. And while he used the blood that flowed from the veins on the left side for the bane of mankind, he used the blood that flowed from the right side for salvation, and by those means he raised the dead.

Those raised from the dead by Asclepius

Capaneus, who was killed by Zeus' thunderbolt during the war of the SEVEN AGAINST THEBES, was raised from the dead by Asclepius, and so was the son of King Minos 2 of Crete, Glaucus 4, who had drowned in a jar of honey. Hippolytus 4, son of Theseus, was also raised from the dead by Asclepius, and so was Lycurgus 4—son of Pronax, son of King Talaus of Argos—and King Tyndareus of Sparta. But Zeus did not approve of this, and fearing that men might acquire the healing art from him and so come to the rescue of each other, he smote Asclepius with a thunderbolt.

Consequences of Asclepius' death

Grieved at the death of his beloved son, and not being able to raise his hand against his own father, Apollo, in revenge, slew the CYCLOPES, who had fashioned the thunderbolt for Zeus. On account of this deed, Zeus would have hurled Apollo to Tartarus. But as Leto intervened on behalf of her son, Zeus resolved, as a penalty for having destroyed the CYCLOPES, to let Apollo serve as a thrall to a man for a year. And this man came to be King Admetus 1 of Pherae, husband of Alcestis.

Healing and divination

Now, despite the rumours concerning the death of Asclepius, he remained a living god, which shows that men know very little about life and death, and take both very lightly, often wasting the former and fearing the latter without properly investigating any of them.

Asclepius became the first and greatest of healers because he was the son of Apollo. For, it is said, the art of healing depends on divination, and it was after listening to his father's responses and oracles that he adapted different drugs to different diseases. Thus he taught his own sons and others the use of healing herbs, which to apply them to running wounds and which to dry wounds, and in what doses to administer drugs. But without the forecasts of prophetic wisdom, they say, he had never ventured to mingle with medecines, which are the most deadly of poisons.

6614: Dedication of body parts from the sanctuary of Asklepios, in thanks for miraculous healing. 4C BC. Archaeological Museum, Corinth.


Parentage (two versions)




Apollo & Coronis 2

Apollo & Arsinoe 2

Coronis 2 is a daughter of Phlegyas 1, a Boeotian king, or of Azan, the son of Arcas 1. She was in love with Ischys, who was killed by the thunderbolt of Zeus because he lay with Coronis 2.
Arsinoe 2 is daughter of Leucippus 2, son of Perieres 1, king of Messenia.



For Machaon and Podalirius, see ACHAEAN LEADERS.



Aristodama is otherwise unknown.


Hygia is Health.


Related sections

Apd.3.10.3, 3.10.8; Hyg.Ast.2.14; Hyg.Fab.14, 173, 224; Pau.1.23.4, 2.10.3, 2.29.1, 4.3.2; Phil.VA.3.44; Pin.Pyth.3.6; Ov.Fast.6.759.