Asclepius

A Greek god of healing.  He was the son of Apollo and a mortal woman named Coronis.  Later, Apollo was told by a crow that she had been unfaithful.  He then killed her for her infidelity, but saved his unborn child.  Regretting his hasty decision, he changed the crow, which had formerly been white, into its  current black color.

Apollo entrusted Asclepius to Cheiron, who was responsible for raising many other heroes.  From Cheiron, Asclepius learned the art of medicine.  He was so adept that he actually learned how to bring men back from the dead.  According to Virgil, Asclepius brought back to life Hippolytus, a son of Theseus and the Amazon HippolyteZeus, angry at the laws of mortality being broken sent down a lightning bolt and killed Asclepius.

Apollo, angry at the undeserved death of his son, killed the Cyclops who had given Zeus the thunderbolt.  Outraged, Zeus sentenced Apollo to serve a mortal man, Admetus, for one year.

Asclepius was dead but he apparently lived on as a god.  A cult of medicine was established in his name, with its center at Epidaurus in Argos.  Many other cities soon had their own temples established, with trained priests brought in from Epidaurus.  Just how much of the cult was based on practicing medicine and how much was based upon religion is not known, but its healing powers were well thought of in the ancient world.

In 293 BC, after a horrible plague in Rome, the cult of Asclepius, called Aesculapius in Latin, was brought to Rome and a temple placed upon the Isola Tiberina.

Source(s):

  1. ApollodorusBibliotece.

  2. VirgilAeneid.