Ophiuchus (known as the serpent holder) is one of the 88 constellations, and was also one of the 48 listed by Ptolemy. Of the 13 zodiac constellations (constellations that can contain the Sun during the course of a year), Ophiuchus is the only one which is not counted as an astrological sign. Ophiuchus is depicted as a man supporting a snake, Serpens; the interposition of his body divides the snake into two parts, Serpens Caput and Serpens Cauda, which are nonetheless counted as one constellation.
There are several mythological possibilities for whom the figure represents. The most recent interpretation is that the figure represents the legendary physician Asclepius, who learned the secrets of life and death from one serpent bringing another some herbs which healed it (Asclepius had previously tried to kill it). In order to avoid the human race becoming immortal under Asclepius's care, Zeus eventually killed him with a bolt of lightning, but placed him in the heavens to honour his good works. The involvement in the myth of Chiron may be connected to the nearby presence of the constellation Sagittarius, which was in later times occasionally considered to represent Chiron (who was more usually identified as the constellation Centaurus). Another possibility is that the figure represents the demise during the Trojan War of the Trojan priest Laocoön, who was strangled by a snake or a sea serpent after warning the Trojans against accepting the Trojan Horse. A suggestive statue in the Vatican Museums depicts the tragedy. A third possibility is Apollo wrestling with the Python to take control of the oracle at Delphi.