My father was a god; my grandfather was a god. My aunt killed my mother, and my grandfather plans on killing me. I guess you might call us a dysfunctional family. Some people also say I am a god, but I don’t see it that way. There’s no accounting for what people believe in. The ancient Greeks and Romans liked to make up stories about me; sometimes even I am not sure what is truth and what is fiction. I thought I’d take this chance to tell you about myself. If you are a modern-day proponent of the healing arts, perhaps you will find this of interest.
Dear Old Dad
My father was Apollo, son of Jupiter. He wasn’t a great dad; he was more interested in his godly duties and romantic liaisons than in my upbringing. My mother was a nymph named Coronis. I never met her. She was obviously beautiful and alluring; it’s a nymph thing. She met Apollo, and they spent many happy days in the olive groves. I was conceived on a beautiful hillside above the Aegean Sea.
Apollo soon lost interest in Coronis; he was busy with the family business: causing plagues, driving the chariot of fire across the sky, and so on. Coronis discovered she was pregnant and met a heroic mortal, Ischys; together, they tried to start a new life. There was no way Apollo was going to go along with this. No one leaves a god; it’s supposed to be the other way around. Apollo killed the mortal Ischys and had his sister Diana shoot an arrow into Coronis’ heart. As my mother’s body burned on a funeral pyre, Apollo had a fit of remorse and cut me from my mother’s womb—the first of what would eventually be called cesarean sections. Welcome to my life.
The Early Years
My home was on Mount Pelion. Chiron, a centaur, was my nanny and mentor. He was an expert hunter and was well versed in medicine and music. He was always horsing around. His daughter, Ocyrhoe, prophesied that I would become a great healer; with my heritage, it seemed a safe bet. When Chiron died, years later, Jupiter placed him in the sky; you might recognize him as Sagittarius. One day, millennia later, a company would take his name and would have trouble making influenza vaccine. I grew up under his tutelage and, in time, became an adequate healer myself.
The Wife and Kids
When I grew older, it was time to take a wife. I found a woman with an interest in botanicals. Her name was Epione. We had many children together, but things eroded in our relationship after that. It might have been a postpartum thing, or maybe I spent too much time at work. I’ll never know. She became more interested in soporifics—mandrake especially. She started spending a lot of time in her cave. She and Bacchus were always sitting around our home partying and listening to Pluto’s underworld band, The Dead, and enjoying their favorite song, “The Deadly Nightshade.”
I did pretty well with my children; they all went into the family healing business. My first daughter was named Hygeia. She was always by my side and a great help in my practice. She specialized in preventing disease. My second daughter was Panacea. She was pretty good with a cure and was always in high demand. She started hanging around with some chick named Placebo. Her name in Latin means “I will please,” and she always did. Two of my sons, Machaon and Podalirius, became naval surgeons; one was wounded at Troy but survived. My third son, Telosophorus, was born a dwarf and specialized in rehabilitation.