The laurelled old man depicted here can be identified as Asclepius, the Greek hero and god of healing and medicine. The Greek inscription on the book - IATRIKE - means 'medicine', and the laurel crown can be seen as an attribute 'inherited' from Apollo (with whom it is more commonly associated), Asclepius' father and also god of healing. The piece of wood beneath the book resembles a miniature staff or caduceus, one of the most constant attributes of the god (often with a snake coiled around it), while the cock is another symbol connected with the hero (see J.E. Cirlot, Diccionario de Simbolos Tradicionales, trans. J. Sage, 3rd ed., London, 1988, p. 51).
Asclepius was the mortal son of Apollo and Coronis. As an unborn child he was snatched from his mother's funeral pyre by Apollo (or Hermes; Pausanias 2:26.6), and entrusted to the centaur Chiron, who instructed him in the art of medicine. Such was his skill that he succeeded in restoring to life Theseus' son, Hippolytus, but he was himself slain by Zeus, who feared that he might render all men immortal.