Asclepius was one of the the Greek gods of healing. He was very popular and shows up in a number of various texts, and statues of him were fairly common around Greece.
As you can see from the picture on the left, Asclepius looks very similar in form to Zeus or Poseidon–bearded, probably around young middle age, muscular and tall. He carried a staff and is generally shown with a snake twined around it, the snake being the animal associated with healing and healers.
Myths and Worship
There are few actual myths in which Asclepius is featured, but the details of his life are known. He was considered to be the son of Apollo and a mortal woman Coronis. His mother was unfaithful to Apollo and so was sentenced to death. As her body was lain out on the funeral pyre to be burned, the god rescued his unborn son from the mother’s womb. The baby Asclepius was sent to Chiron by Apollo, the wise centaur, to be educated and looked after. Chiron taught Asclepius medicine and the arts of healing.
Asclepius married Epione, and they had six daughters and three sons: Hygieia, Meditrina, Panacea, Aceso, Iaso, Aglaea, Machaon, Podalierios, and Telesphoros. As minor characters, his wife and children do not feature prominently in mythology.
The death of Asclepius came about by Zeus’s hand and Asclepius’ hubris. There are various versions, but the most widely accepted one is that Asclepius raised Hippolytus from the dead, and then to add insult to injury he accepted gold for the deed. Zeus struck Asclepius down with a thunderbolt and the man was killed. However, because he was the son of Apollo and a great healer in his own right, Zeus placed Asclepius among the stars of heaven as the constellation Ophiuchus.
As a healer, Asclepius had a great gift to heal and to bring life into the world. He was credited with a great many things, and people would put a great deal of faith in the healing power they found in his temples and in his cult. His Light side has a lot of positive energy that is obviously geared toward healing and the benefit of wellness of body and mind.
Like any other deity who can give life, Asclepius could also take it away. His healing skills and medicines could be used to help the ill, but he could also do much more than that, he could raise the dead. Considering his additional “powers”, it would be safe to assume that Asclepius was considered a very strong healer who could also just as strongly take life and health away. The only thing that would stop him are his morals and ethics and the laws of his society that perhaps would govern healing actions. This is part of Asclepius’ dark side: the ability to take away life. His hubris is also on his dark side: if he hadn’t tried to act like a god while he was still mortal, would he have been killed? Probably not, but he behaved in a manner unsuitable to a mortal, and so he was murdered by Zeus for his hubris.