The Serpent Holder. An extensive constellation located in the equatorial regions of the sky at about 17h 20m right ascension, 5° south declination. Although this constellation is not part of the zodiac, the Sun passes through it in December each year. Ophiuchus contains five stars of second magnitude and seven of third magnitude. Other designations: Serpent Bearer, Serpentarius. Abbreviation: Oph, genitive: Ophiuchi.
L. Ophiuchus, from Gk. ophioukhos "holding a serpent," from ophis "serpent" + echein "to hold, have, keep." The most recent interpretation is that the figure represents the great healer Asclepius, a son of the god Apollo, who learned the secrets of keeping death at bay after observing one serpent bringing another healing herbs. To prevent the entire human race from becoming immortal under Asclepius' care, Zeus killed him with a bolt of lightning, but later placed his image in the heavens to honor his good works.
Mâr-afsâ "a tamer or charmer of serpents; one who cures the snake-bitten by incantation," from mâr "snake, serpent" (Mid.Pers. mâr "snake;" Av. mairya- "snake, serpent") + afsâ agent noun of afsâyidan, from afsun "incantation" (Mid.Pers. afsôn "spell, incantation," afsûdan, afsây- "to enchant, protect by spell").