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AESCULAPIUS, in the more general opinion of mythographers, was regarded by the ancients, as the son of Apollo and of Coronis, daughter of Phlegius, King of Thessaly. According to the same fabulous authority, his reputed father confided his education to the centaur Chiron, who instructed him in medicine and other sciences, comprehending a thorough knowledge of plants. Conformably to the custom of those early ages, he combined the practice of surgery with the faculty of a physician; and with so high a degree of success was his carreer attended, that to him was superstitiously ascribed the power of curing, by words alone, all kinds of wounds, contusions, fevers etc. It was even alleged that he had raised many persons from the dead. So great, in short, was the celebrity he aquired, that divine honours were paid to him after his decease; and he was venerated as the tutelary god of the healing art.Aesculapius had temples in many parts of Greece, Asia Minor etc. He was especially the object of worship at Epidaurus (a city of Agria, in the Peloponnesus), the place of his birth.
This pagan divinity is usually portrayed, under the figure of a sedate-looking, middle-aged man, standing or (but rarely) sitting; wholly or partly covered with a cloak; and holding in his right hand a staff, round which a serpent is entwined. - A denarius of the Roman famili Acilia exhibits, on its obverse, the head of Aesculapius laureated, and on its reverse a serpent coiled round a staff. (Morell). - On a 1st brass of Galba, the God of medicine is represented standing, naked, with right hand extended, and the left resting on his staff, round which the serpentine attribute is enfolded. A brass medallion of L Verus presents him on the same reverse with Hygeia, the goddess of health; and on other medals he is seen attended by the little Telesphorus, who appears to have his origin in Egyptian mythology, and to be identical with Harpocrates, the god of silence. In describing a middle brass of Caracalla, on which Aesculapius stands between Telesphorus and a small globe, Patin observes, that the Romans as well as the Greeks, worshipped him, as the author of the health of Augustus, and afterwards of every reigning emperor, for which reason he often appears on their coins; especially on those of Caracalla, Albinus, and Gallienus. For a representation of Aesculapius, as a young man, making his first assay in the healing art, on the wounded foot of an ox, see DEO AESC SVB or SVBVEN, on a coin of Parium.
Types of Aesculapius also appear on Latin colonial coins of Babba, Corinth, Damascus, Deultum, and Patrae. But it is on the Greek imperial that we find the effigy and the various attributes of this demi-god, most fully developed. And on the medallions, in particular, this object is accomplished, with great beauty of design and display of artistic skill: the figure of Aesculapius being, in these instances, generally grouped with that of some princely petitioner for his tutelary favours, and als with the goddess Hygeia.