The New Student's Reference Work/Æsculapius
Æsculapius (ĕs-ku-lā′pĭ-us), in Greek fable, the god of medicine and patron of physicians, called by Homer the Blameless Physician. He was the son of Apollo. He went about healing and raising from the dead until Pluto, god of the lower world, finding his kingdom was losing its people, appealed to Jupiter, who destroyed Æsculapius by a thunderbolt. Various temples were built in his honor. The most famous was at Epidaurus, where a peculiar breed of snakes was believed to have received healing power from Æsculapius. During a pestilence the Greeks used to send for one of these serpents. The Romans also sent a solemn embassy to bring one of these healing snakes to their city, and later introduced the worship of Æsculapius at Rome. The priests of the temples of this god, called Æsculapius, or sons of Æsculapius, were the only regular physicians of antiquity.