Asclepius

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Asclepius (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, sharing with Apollo the epithet Paean ("the Healer").[2]

Some historians have proposed that there may have been a historical Asclepius during the Greek Dark Ages, who became the subject of a Hero cult and on whom the mythological character was based.[3]

Contents

Etymology

The etymology of the name is unknown. In his revised version of Frisk's Griechisches etymologisches Wörterbuch (Greek etymological dictionary), R.S.P. Beekes gives this summary of the different attempts:

One might add that even though Szemerényi's etymology (Hitt. asula- + piya-) does not account for the velar, it is perhaps inserted spontaneously in Greek due to the fact that the cluster -sl- was uncommon in Greek: So, *Aslāpios would become Asklāpios automatically.

Mythology

Birth

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".[5] Apollo carried the baby to the centaur Chiron who raised Asclepius and instructed him in the art of medicine.[6]

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