The Rod of Asclepius

Asclepius was a deity of healing among the ancient Greeks. A son of Apollo, he was cut from his mother's dead body on her funeral pyre by his father and given to Chiron, a wise centaur, to be raised. Growing to become a master healer, he was too good: Zeus killed him because his craft raised a man from the dead, and the god Hades feared that no more souls would come to his domain. The story of Asclepius is part of the novel MEDUSA.

The symbol of Asclepius was a serpent wrapped around a staff: the rod of Asclepius. A derivation of the rod became the symbol of the medical field in the USA, but was somehow changed to the caduceus, the symbol of the god Hermes that held two intertwined snakes on a staff.

There were healing temples devoted to Asclepius, including large ones in Epidaurus and Kos. These "Asclepieions" would have non-venomous snakes on the temple floor that were believed to having healing powers, thus the origin of the serpent on the rod, which remains a symbol of healing today across the world.