So, in a myth, Asclepius cheated death because he brought someone back to life from the dead.

So how did he do it?

Clarifications: I mean the method, like

  • a potion?
  • a incantation?
  • anything of the sort?

2 Answers 2


Ovid's account provides one explanation, as in @Yannis's answer.

Others provide a number of different explanations. For instance, one explanation has the blood of a Gorgon being used:

For he [Asclepius] had received from Athena the blood that flowed from the veins of the Gorgon, and while he used the blood that flowed from the veins on the left side for the bane of mankind, he used the blood that flowed from the right side for salvation, and by that means he raised the dead.
Biblioteca, Pseudo-Appolodorus, 3.10.3

Hyginus relates a story that a particular herb was used to perform the feat, and seems to be related to the story Ovid tells in Fasti:

Later, it is said, another snake came there, bringing an herb in its mouth, and placed it on its head. When it had done this, both fled from the place. Where upon Aesculapius, using the same herb, brought Glaucus, too, back to life.
Astronomica, Pseudo-Hyginus, 2.14

Similarly, Cretan herbs are credited by Propertius:

Asclepius, the Epidaurian god, returned Androgeon to his father’s hearth, by means of Cretan herbs
Elegies, Propertius, 2.1

Many, though, would simply chalk it up to his skill as a doctor, and leave it at that. He was just that good:

Else had he spared the leech Asclepius, skilled to bring man from the dead
Agamemnon, Aeschylus

Note: The word leech here does not refer to the aquatic bloodsucker, but the archaic word for doctor.

Diodorus Siculus would have it, in fact, that he never returned anyone from death after all, his incredible skill as a healer to bring people back from the brink just made it seem that way:

And so far did he advance along the road of fame that, to the amazement of all, he healed many sick whose lives had been despaired of, and for this reason it was believed that he had brought back to life many who had died.
Library of History, Diodorus Siculus, 4.71


Ovid describes the process of bringing Hippolytus back to life, in Book 6 of Fasti:

Hippolytus fell from the car, and, his limbs entangled by the reins, his mangled body was whirled along, till he gave up the ghost, much to Diana’s rage. “There is no need for grief,” said the son of Coronis, “for I will restore the pious youth to life all unscathed, and to my leech-craft gloomy fate shall yield.” Straightway he drew from an ivory casket simples that before had stood Glaucus’ ghost in good stead, what time the seer went down to pluck the herbs he had remarked, and the snake was succoured by a snake. Thrice he touched the youth’s breast, thrice he spoke healing words; then Hippolytus lifted his head, low laid upon the ground.

All other sources of the story I know of don't mention any details of the resurrection process.

  • 3
    Ovid probably made up this version, unless there is some late story lost.
    – cmw
    Commented Feb 27, 2016 at 16:00

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