- That stick with the snake curled around it is the staff (the rod) of Aesculapius (also called Asklepios), the ancient god of medicine. His Greek name was Asklepios and his Roman name Aesculapius. In reality, Asklepios may have been a real person who was renowned for his gentle, humane remedies and his humane treatment of the mentally ill. His followers established temples called asclepions, temples of Asklepios, temples of healing. The greatest asklepion was in a grove of trees south of Corinth, Greece where the sick had to spend a night while the proper remedies were revealed during a dream to the priests of the temple and the cured had to make a suitable sacrifice (usually a rooster) to the god. According to mythology, Asculapius had a number of children including Hygieia, the goddess of health (from whose name comes the word "hygiene") and Panaceia, the godess of healing (from whose name comes the word "panacea" for a universal remedy). Today, the staff of Aesculapius is a commonly used symbol of medicine. It is the symbol of the American Medical Association (AMA) and many other medical societies.
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* * *Aescu·la·pi·us (es″ku-laґpe-əs) [L., from Gr. Asklēpios, son of Apollo and Coronis, tutelary god of medicine] the Greek god or deified hero of medicine and healing. See also under staff.
Medical dictionary. 2011.