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see AsclepiusAsclepius
, Lat. Aesculapius , legendary Greek physician; son of Apollo and Coronis. His first teacher was the wise centaur Chiron. When he became so skillful in healing that he could revive the dead, Zeus killed him.
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in Roman mythology, the god of healing.

The cult of Aesculapius came from Greece, where he was called Asclepius; it penetrated into Rome in the early third century B.C. According to legend, during a plague in Rome in 293 B.C. a prophecy was found in the Sibylline Books predicting that the epidemic would cease if a statue of the god were brought to Rome from the temple of Asclepius in Epidaurus. In 291 B.C. a temple of Aesculapius was built on an island in the Tiber.

Rites in the Aesculapian temples proceeded just as in the Greek temples of Asclepius. Patients slept in the temple and had dreams containing useful advice; those who recovered made votive offerings to the god and left inscriptions of thanks. The priests of the temples of Aesculapius were Greeks. Both the Greek Asclepius and the Roman Aesculapius had animals dedicated to them—the snake, the dog, and the rooster.

The spread of the cult of Aesculapius in Rome contributed to the Roman state’s official recognition of the Greek art of healing; Greek physicians received the rights of Roman citizens, and medicine and medical training were for the most part carried out by Greeks. The cult of Aesculapius was among the most popular and enduring.

The term “Aesculapius” subsequently came to be used as a general and usually ironic term for a physician or medic.



Aesculapius (or Asclepius) was the most popular healing divinity of the Hellenistic world. He was a mortal son of Apollo, who was slain by Zeus for daring to bring people back from the dead. Taught the healing arts by the centaur Chiron, he was a healer by profession. He gradually evolved into a god, and by the end of the classical period he was one of the most popular deities of the Greek pantheon.

The central asclepieion (temple dedicated to Aesculapius) was situated six miles inland from the Greek city of Epidaurus, the birthplace of the legendary healer. This temple was established in the sixth or seventh century B.C.E. and was the focus of Aesculapius worship for over eight hundred years. The cult of Aesculapius was officially transplanted to Rome in 293 B.C.E. when the asclepieion at Epidaurus sent a giant snake regarded as a form of Aesculapius himself to Rome in order to halt a disastrous plague. The subsequent waning of the plague was attributed to Aesculapius, and he became a popular god among the Romans. At least two hundred asclepieions were know to have existed in the Greco-Roman world.

The principal activity at the asclepieions was the seeking of cures via the technique of dream incubation, the practice of seeking dreams for specific purposes—for everything from healing to practical guidance. (Dream incubation was extremely popular in the ancient world and seems to have originated as a method of divination in ancient Mesopotamia.) People went to asclepieions to “camp out” and sleep with the intention of receiving a healing dream from Aesculapius. Particularly in the earliest centuries of the cult, it was believed that the dream directly cured the pilgrim. However, as the cult evolved, it came to be regarded as acceptable if the dream merely provided information that, if followed, would lead to a cure. Aesculapius himself sometimes appeared in the seeker’s dreams, touched the diseased part of the body with his finger, and then disappeared. In other healings, he appeared in the form of a dog or a snake.

The dreamer fasted and engaged in other rituals before lying down to sleep. In cases where the temple was too far away from the person seeking dream guidance, or when the person was too sick to undertake the required fasts, sacrifices, cold baths, or other rituals, a surrogate could go through the rituals for the seeker. Priests assisted pilgrims in performing the proper rituals and were also available to help interpret their dreams.

References in periodicals archive ?
Rossi interpreted the figure on the verso as Pietro Manna in the guise of Aesculapius although the medal is too small to distinguish facial features.
Pater has prepared us for this conclusion from near the beginning of the novel, when Marius returns home, "brown with health" (1:41), from the Temple of Aesculapius, to find that his mother is dying.
The fully fashioned Roman orator who suddenly appeared in their midst could dazzle the citizens of the local community with a speech on the majesty of Aesculapius, or unfold a panoply of learning and quash with his rhetorical brilliance those who knew far less than he.
10, 2013 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- Aesculapius Awards of Excellence for 2013 were announced by Dr.
Previous religious dedications from the site feature deities from the classical pantheon of gods and goddesses, such as the supreme god Jupiter and those associated with healing and good health such as Aesculapius, Salus and Hygeia.
In the words of one of Halsted's assistants, "Venus came to the aid of Aesculapius.
1), told stories about Pythagoras and Thales and announced the singing of a hymn he had composed in Greek and Latin to Aesculapius complete with introductory dialogue.
In pagan Greece patients would make pilgrimages to the shrines of Aesculapius as if to a sanitarium, where they would sleep and have their dreams interpreted as part of their cure.
Paulina's overemphasis on how the assembled "audience" for her conjuring trick will think her a witch (she mentions it repeatedly) runs up against her borrowing the identity of the Greek god Aesculapius (originally a physician of such stunning skill that he was able to raise the dead and consequently, was punished for challenging the deities' power) when she raises Hermione from her sixteen-year state of suspended animation: "I'11 make the statue move indeed, descend / And take you by the hand.
Legend has it that one day Aesculapius saw a snake crawl out of a crack in the earth and entwine itself around his staff.
In the ancient Hippocratic oath, healers swore by Apollo, Aesculapius, Hygeia, Panacea "and all the gods and goddesses.
Winifred who was miraculously restored to life while Hygiea, identified with Pallas Athena, was a goddess of health and daughter of Aesculapius.