OPHIUCHUS, The Serpent Holder, is associated with Aescupalius, the noted healer of
Greek legend. His mother Coronis was courted by the god Apollo and she eventually
became pregnant. However, this did not stop her falling for a mere mortal, Ischys
by name. The god had left a white crow to keep watch on Coronis and, when it
reported her infidelity, Apollo was so furious that it had not immediately pecked
out Ischys's eyes that he cursed the bird and turned it black. When Artemis, Apollo's
huntress sister, heard of the behaviour of Coronis, she shot a quiverful of arrows into
her. Apollo saved his unborn son, named him Aesculapius, and took him to Chiron,
the kind and extremely wise centaur, who taught him the art of medicine.
The youth mastered the art completely, so much so that Hades, King of the Underworld,
feeling threatened should Aesculapius be able to raise the dead, complained to Zeus.
The great god regrettably decided that Aesculapius must die, and struck him with a
thunderbolt, thereafter placing him among the stars. To this day, Aesculapius and
the serpent are associated with healing, and all physicians take the Hippocratic oath
(Hippocrates supposedly being a descendant of Aesculapius).