Asclepius

Hero-God of Medicine

 

When a sacred crow brings Apollo word that his pregnant lover Coronis has slept with a mortal man, Apollo sends his sister Artemis to kill her.  As Coronis lies on her funeral pyre, Apollo relents and cuts his infant son from her womb.  He sends the baby Asclepius (whose name means "to cut open") to be raised by the wise centaurs and punishes the crow by turning its white feathers black.

 

Asclepius becomes a great healer, but when he uses his skills to bring the dead back to life, Zeus kills him with a thunderbolt.  At the same time, Asclepius is raised to godhood.  One of the most popular cult figures in the ancient world, he was worshipped alongside Demeter and Persephone in the Eleusinian Mysteries.

 

Roman name: Aesculapius

 

Parents: Apollo and Coronis, a mortal princess

 

Attribute: a snake-twined staff

Ascelpius, Roman 2nd century AD

Palazzo Altemps, Rome

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