Podalirius was the son of Asclepius and Epione, and a brother of Machaon. Like his father, he had medical skills, and according to some accounts it was he, not Machaon, who finally healed Philoctetes' wound (see Phimachus for details of this). His name is rather difficult.

It seems to be composed of pous, podos, 'foot' and leinon, 'lily', which makes him something like 'lily-footed'. Perhaps this refers to the healing properties of the plant, so that Podalirius took his medical skills with him as he walked, or used medicines or drugs derived from the lily in his work.