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Statue of Asklepios

The Legion of Honor - Joy of Museums 5

Statue of Asklepios

This Statue of Asklepios depicts the son of Apollo, the Greek god of medicine and patron of physicians. During the Hellenistic period, there was increased realism in sculpture, which is exemplified in this statue. He was sculptured standing with his weight on his right leg and leaning on his staff.

Asklepios’ right-hand rests on his weight-bearing hip, which is raised in an exaggerated posture over the folds of his draped cloak. The contrasting directions, called the contrapposto pose, representing the planes of the body and the sharp folds of the himation produce a spiral twist and convey a sense of movement.

Asclepius was a hero and god of medicine in ancient Greek religion and mythology. Although Asklepios was the son of the god Apollo, his appeal lasted well into the Christian era. Some of his daughters include:

  • Hygieia, whose name serves as the root of the word “Hygiene”, the goddess of health, cleanliness, and sanitation.
  • Panacea, the goddess of universal remedy.
  • Iaso, the goddess of recuperation from illness.
  • Aceso, the goddess of the healing process.
  • Aglaea, the goddess of beauty, splendour, glory, magnificence, and adornment.

The undamaged Asklepios statue had him leaning on his staff, with a serpent wound around it. You can see the remnants of the snake and staff in the lower right parts of his clothing. The serpent was sacred to Asklepios, and his staff, the caduceus. The rod of Asclepius, a snake-entwined staff, remains a symbol of medicine today. Below

Asklepios - Epidauros

An example of Asclepius with his serpent-entwined staff from the Archaeological Museum of Epidaurus

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Statue of Asklepios

  • Title:                Statue of Asklepios
  • Date:               2nd century BC
  • Period:             Hellenistic Period
  • Media:             Pentelic Marble
  • Dimensions:    36 x 14 1/2 x 9 (91.4 x 36.8 x 22.9 cm)
  • Country:          Greece
  • Museums:       Legion of Honor


“To you, the clever and crafty,
bitter beyond all bitterness,
who have sinned against the gods in bestowing honours upon creatures of a day–to you, thief of fire, I speak.”

– (Hermes addresses Prometheus) Aeschylus


Photo Credit: 1)GM 2) By original file by Michael F. Mehnert [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons