The legend and myth about Asclepius has been passed down through the ages and plays an important role in the history of the Ancient World and the study of the Greek classics. Asclepius was associated with his father, the god Apollo as the god of medicine. His mother was Coronis, one of the numerous lovers of Apollo. The god sent a white raven to watch over her and the raven informed Apollo that she had been unfaithful to him. His sister, the goddess Artemis shot and killed Coronis and in her rage turned the raven black for being the bearer of bad news. Also refer to The Myth of Asclepius, god of Healing.
Asclepius, the god of medicine and healing
Picture of Asclepius with his symbols
Facts about Asclepius
The following information, facts and profile provides a fast overview of Asclepius:
Asclepius Profile & Fact File
Greek Name: Asclepius
Role & Function: The function of Asclepius is described as being the god of medicine and healing
Status: Minor Greek god
Symbols: The Rod of Asclepius, a bowl, a bunch of herbs, a pineapple, a dog, and a snake. The cockerel or rooster was also sacred to the god and was the bird they sacrificed as his altar.
Roman Counterpart: The Roman name for Asclepius was Aesculapius or Vediovis
Name of Consort: Epione
Names of Children: Six daughters called Aceso, Meditrina, Iaso, Panacea, Aglaea and Hygieia. Three sons called Machaon and Podalirius and Telesphoros. Asclepius also had another son, Aratus, with Aristodama
Asclepius (Roman Counterpart was Aesculapius or Vediovis)
When the Roman Empire conquered the Greeks in 146BC, the Romans assimilated various elements from other cultures and civilisations, including the gods and goddesses that were worshipped by the Ancient Greeks. Many of the Greek gods and goddesses were therefore adopted by the Romans but were given Latin names. His Roman counterpart was Aesculapius or Vediovis. Another counterpart was Imhotep the Egyptian god of Healing and Medicine.
The Rod of Asclepius - The Medical Profession
The Rod of Asclepius or the Caduceus have been used as the symbol of the American medical profession for over 100 years. The use of these symbols have created considerable confusion. The famous Hippocratic Oath originally began with the line:
“I swear by Apollo the Physician and by Asclepius and by Hygieia and Panacea and by all the gods…”
So, presumably, the Rod of Asclepius was the symbol that should be used by the medical profession. The Rod of Asclepius and the Caduceus are two different symbols and two different objects.
Hermes holding the caduceus and Asclepius the physician with his staff
One survey suggests that 62% of professional healthcare organisations use the Rod of Asclepius as their symbol whereas 76% of commercial healthcare organisations use the Caduceus as their symbol.
- The Caduceus means “herald’s staff of office” in Greek and is associated with Hermes, the messenger of the gods. The caduceus can be described as two snakes criss-crossed around a staff that is topped by a round knob and flanked by wings. The caduceus has been used as a symbol by printers because it was the staff of Hermes who was the messenger god and the deliverer of information