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saved the child (Aesculapius) from the flames, and carried it to Cheiron, who instructed the boy in the art of healing and in hunting. (Find. Pyih. iii. 1, &c.; Apollod. iii. 10. § 3 ; Paus. I. c.) According to other traditions Aesculapius was born at Tricca in Thessaly (Strab. xiv. p. 647), and others again related that Coronis gave birth to him during an expedition of her father Phlegyas into Peloponnesus, in the territory of Epidaurus, and that she exposed him on mount Tittheion, which was before called Myrtion. Here he was fed by a goat and watched by a dog, until at last he was found by Aresthanas, a shepherd, wlio saw the boy surrounded by a lustre like that of lightning. (See a different account in Paus. viii. 25. § 6.) From this dazzling splendour, or from his having been rescued from the flames, he was called by the Dorians aiy\arip. The truth of the tradition that Aesculapius was born in the territory of Epi-daunts, and was not the son of Arsinoe, daughter of Leucippus and born in Messeiiia, was attested by an oracle which was consulted to decide the question. (Paus. ii. 26. § 6, iv. 3. § 2 ; Cic. De Nat. Dear. iii. 22, where three different Aesculapiuses are made out of the different local traditions about him.) After Aesculapius had grown up, reports spread over all countries, that he not only cured all the sick, but called the dead to life again. About the manner in which he acquired this latter power, there were two traditions in ancient times. According to the one (Apollod. /. c.), he had received from Athena the blood whicli had flowed from the veins of Gorgo, and the blood which had flowed from the veins of the right side of her body possessed the power of restoring the dead to life. According to the other tradition, Aesculapius on one occasion was shut up in the house of Glaucus, whom he was to cure, and while he was standing absorbed in thought, there came a serpent which twined round the staff, and which he killed. Another serpent then came carrying in its mouth a herb with which it recalled to life the one that had been killed, and Aesculapius henceforth made use of the same herb with the same effect upon men. (Hygin. Poet. Astr. ii. 14.) Several persons, whom Aesculapius was believed to have restored to life, are mentioned by the Scholiast on Pindar (Pyth. iii. 96) and by Apollodorus. (I. c.) When he was exercising this art upon Glaucus, Zeus killed Aesculapius with a flash of lightning, as he feared lest men might gradually contrive to escape death altogether (Apollod. iii. 10. § 4), or, according to others, because Pluto had complained of Aesculapius diminishing the number of the dead too much. (Diod. iv. 71 ; comp. Schol. ad Find. Pyth. iii. 102.) But, on the request of Apollo, Zeus placed Aesculapius among the stars. (Hygin. Poet. Astr. ii. 14.) Aesculapius is also said to have taken part in the expedition of the Argonauts and in the Calydonian hunt. He was married to Epione, and besides the two sons spoken of by Homer, we also find mention of the following children of his : Janiscus, Alexenor, Aratus, Hygieia, Aegle, laso, and Panaceia (Schol. ad Find. Pyth. iii. 14 ; Paus. ii. 10. § 3, i. 34. § 2), most of whom are only personifications of the powers ascribed to their father.
These are the legends about one of the most interesting and important divinities of antiquity. Various hypotheses have been brought forward to explain the origin of his worship in Greece; and,
while some consider Aesculapius to have been originally a real personage, whom tradition had connected with various marvellous stories, others have explained all the legends about him as mere personifications of certain ideas. The serpent, the perpetual symbol of Aesculapius, has given rise to the opinion, that the worship was derived from Egypt, and that Aesculapius was identical with the serpent Cmiph worshipped in Egypt, or with the Phoenician Esmun. (Euseb. Praep. Evang. i. 10 ; comp. Pans. vii. 23. § 6.) But it does not seem necessary to have recourse to foreign countries in order to explain the worship of this god. His story is undoubtedly a combination of real events with the results of thoughts or ideas, which, as in so many instances in Greek mythology, are, like the former, considered as facts. The kernel, out of which the whole myth has grown, is perhaps the account we read in Homer; but gradually the sphere in which Aesculapius acted was so extended, that he became the representative or the personification of the healing powers of nature, which are naturally enough described as the son (the effects) of Helios,—Apollo, or the Sun.
Aesculapius was worshipped all over Greece, and many towns, as we have seen, claimed the honour of his birth. His temples were usually built in healthy places, on hills outside the town, and near wells which were believed to have healing powers. These temples were not only places of worship, but were frequented by great numbers of sick persons, and may therefore be compared to modern hospitals. (Plut. Quaest. Rom. p. 286, n.) The principal seat of his worship in Greece was Epidaurus, where he had a temple surrounded with an extensive grove, within which no one was allowed to die, and no woman to give birth to a child. His sanctuary contained a magnificent statue of ivory and gold, the workofThrasymedes, in which he was represented as a handsome and manly figure, resembling that of Zeus. (Paus. ii. 26 and 27.) He was seated on a throne, holding in one hand a staff, and with the other resting upon the head of a dragon (serpent), and by his side lay a dog. (Paus. ii. 27. § 2.) Serpents were everywhere connected with the worship of Aesculapius, probably because they were a symbol of prudence and renovation, and were believed to have the power of discovering herbs of wondrous powers, as is indicated in the story about Aesculapius and the serpents in the house of Glaucus. Serpents were further believed to be guardians of wells with salutary powers. For these reasons a peculiar kind of tame serpents, in which Epidaurus abounded, were not only kept in his temple (Paus. ii. 28. § 1), but the god himself frequently ap-. peared in the form of a. serpent. (Paus. iii. 23. § 4; Val. Max. i. 8. § 2 ; Liv. Epit. 11 ; compare the account of Alexander Pseudomantis in Lucian.) Besides the temple of Epidaurus, whence the worship of the god was transplanted to various other parts of the ancient world, we may mention those of Tricca (Strab. ix. p. 437), Celaenae (xiii. p. 603), between I)yme and Patrae (viii. p. 386), near Cyllene (viii. p. 337), in the island of Cos (xiii. p. 657 ; Paus. iii. 23. § 4), at Gerenia (Strab. viii. p. 360), near Caus in Arcadia (Steph. Byz. s. v.), at Sicyon (Paus. ii. 10. § 2), at Athens (i. 21. § 7), near Patrae (vii. 21. § 6), at Titane in the territory of Sicyon (yii. 23. § 6), at Thelpusa (viii. 25. § 3), in Messene (iv. 31. § 8), at Phlius (ii. 13.