Asclepius is the son of Apollo and the god of medicine. He was born between Apollo and Coronis. According to Scholia in Pindarum, “There is a legend that the raven revealed to Apollo the intercourse of Ischys with Coronis. ” For this reason, Pindarus said that Apollo let Artemis murder Coronis by her golden arrows. As Coronis, however, was burnt on a funeral pyre, Apollo took the unborn child out from her womb. Then, Pindarus argue that Apollo brought his son to centaur Chiron to teach Asclepius the art of medicine.
Therefore, Asclepius had been brought up by Chiron, learning how to heal diseases. After grown up by Chiron, He won a fame not only to heal all kinds of sick, but even to raise the dead. His deed was spread out all of Greek. Scholia in Euripidem insists, “Asclepios healed the dead and returned then to life. ” There is a tradition of which Asklepios obtained his capacity to heal. He got the blood which Athena drew from Gorgo, which make him call the dead.
According to Apollodorus, “For he had from Athena the blood that flowed from the veins of the Gorgon, and while he used the blood that flowed from her left side for the bane of mankind, he used the blood that flowed from her right side for salvation, and by that means he raised the dead. ” Unfortunately, Asclepius was killed by the thunder of Zeus since his capacity to raise the dead made the number of dead decrease in the Underworld.
Servius testifies, “Jupiter slew him because he had restored Hippolytus to life. However, the reason why Zeus killed Asclepius was controversial. Plato claims that Pindar said that Asclepius was killed due to his greed by Zeus, so if Asclepius was really greedy, then he was not the son of a god. Nevertheless, in Greco-Roman culture, Asclepius had a strong recognition as the deity of the medicine, so the most people did not matter how his character for a longtime. It has been delivered that he was buried at Epidaurus. After dying, Zeus raised the dead Asclepius up to the sky as a constellation.
Eratosthenes says that Zeus endowed Asclepius to be the constellation, which is grasping a serpent in his hands in Scorpion to deliver goodwill to Apollo. The Process of Deification After the death of Asclepius, his status underwent the deification from a mortar to a divine nature. There are three elements for getting deification of Asclepius. First, He was the son of god. According to Gregory J. Riley, “Asclepius, eventually elevated to the divine sphere, was the founder of the medical profession because his father was reputed to be Apollo, the god of healing. In ancient Greek, among people, only the demi gods, whose father were gods, had an opportunity to get deification such as Heracles. This is because people believed demi-god could take over the divine power from their parents. Second, his great achievement in his medical art supported him to get honor changing to the divine nature. Many Greek praised his capacity to raise the dead, which was regarded as a virtue.
According to Galenas, “Asclepius and Dionysus are deemed deserving of the highest honors, the one by reason of his medical art, the other because he taught us the art of the vine. From this, it was reasonable that His exceptional medical ability deserved to be endowed the divinity since his medical accomplishment contributed to humanity to escape from incurable diseases like healing the dead. Third, the divine death of Asclepius raised him up on the level of the god. He was murdered by Zeus as he vitalized the deceased. Regardless of why he healed the dead, his medical acting was viewed to help people with his skill, and, consequently, this made him killed by Zeus. For this reason, his death was regarded as the divine death for others.
Additionally, his death and revival by Zeus was considered to the event of releasing his soul from his body to go back to God and to be a god. Porphyrius describes Asclepius’ life and death that he finished the god’s way which was filled with hardships, not filled with pleasure, studying how to sustaining tough life. This idea is based on the journey of the soul. In ancient Greek, “the journey of the soul” was a popular philosophical doctrine from Orphism. Gregory J. Riley notices, “The soul originated in God, became incarnate here on earth, and is destined to return to God.
In this manner, soul comes from outside of the physical realm of the world and it has come to the earth to receive education and maturity and it dies to return back to where it came. Therefore, the death of Asclepius met the journey of the soul, which led him to be a god. Forming The Asclepius Cult Processing the deification of Asclepius, the Asclepius cult started to form at Epidauros in fifth century BC, and it was rapidly spread to all of Mediterranean world. Louise Wells argues, “His healing cult flourished in the Mediterranean world from the fifth century BC to the Fourth Century Ad, and was so widespread.
Asclepius opened the hospital with his family in Epidaurus, and then his family and he gained great fame to heal the sick here. A substantial number of people visited Epidaurus to heal their diseases, and, over time, Epidaurus became the shrine of the healing art, interlocking with deifying Asclepius and his healing power. According to Rene Jesef Ruttimann, “Asclepius has to be considered the most important healing deity among the many healers and healer gods known in the Greco-Roman world. ” In this idea, it is clear that the Asclepius cult was a favorite folk belief dominating Greco-Roman world.
Therefore, a lot of sanctuary of Asclepius was built over Greco-Roman world from the beginning of the Asclepius cult in Epidaurus. The Hieron of Epidaurus Among the many sanctuaries of Asclepius, the center of the Asclepius cult was the Hieron of Epidaurus. According to Rechard Caton, “The Hieron six miles from the town of Epidaurus was the chief seat of the worship of Asklepios, though minor ones existed in Athens, at Delphi, Pergamus, Troezen, Cos, Tricca, and other places. ” Like the temples of other gods, the Hieron had many priest serving the temple, but they were also physicians to cure patients at the same time.
Caton explains that from the Hiereus as the head priest to Hieromnemones and even the Kaniphoroi as the priestesses, there had a hierarchy and various statuses in Hieron, and they served various duties in the temple. “Asklepios and his family became the focus of the healing cult, and practicing physicians claimed the title of Asklepiadae. ” (16, Louise Wells, The Greek language of healing from Homer to New Testament times) The patient Every day, massive crowed came to Epidaurus to get treatments and to participate in the religious rites from all of the Greek world. The temple of Asclepius accepted not only men, but also women patients.
According to Wells, “Male representing 72% of those who approach the god for help, and patients come. ” In addition, the compositions of patients were very diverse. Wells reports that the types of the diseases which the patients had were blindness, paralysis, battle wounds, stigmata, stone, lack of voice, leeches, sores, consumption, internal abscess, lice, baldness, external tumor, insomnia from headaches, gout, and so on. These patients were required to have an interview with the priests and to prepare a certain amount of votive offering so that they participate religious rites, use facilities, and received treatments in the temple.
Especially, the temple of Asclepius emphasized the importance of votive offerings. Caton informs, “The votive tablet frequently show the cakes being presented, or sheep, pig, or other animal. ” In this case, commonly, the poor offered cakes, and the rich offered animals. Healing Methods In the temple of Asclepius, like the other temples of popular gods, people could participate religious ritual for various gods and festivals, but the main attention of the most people was to get healing from the physicians.
The patients had stayed for one to two days to get solutions for their diseases, and, in many case, the patients got the prescriptive visions or dreams while they stayed. According to Wells, “Healing methods are usually recounted as the patient’s vision while he/she is sleeping, and occur in a regular formula: the patient slept and saw a vision/ dream. ” Following their vision or dream with on the interpretation of the priests and physicians, the proper healing methods were chosen. There were diverse ways of healing in the temple of Asclepius.
Wells introduces the examples of treatments prescribed and performed by Asclepius such as surgery, drugs, and touch by his fingers. Furthermore, some patients had an chance to get cured by temple serpents and temple dogs. They were trained to lick the diseased part of the patients with using their tongue as a healing method. In particular, the serpents were the symbol of Asclepius cult as well as it was regarded the god’s incarnation. The optimal place to be healthy The reason why the temple of Asclepius in Epidaurus became the shrine of healing in Greco-Roman world was that many patients visiting the temple factually became to be healed.
Of course, physicians’ medical skill and the healing power of the god would be effective, but it needs to point out that the temple’s environments and structures were optimized for healing. According to Caton, “There can be little doubt that many of the sick benefited greatly by the rest, the pure air, the simple diet, the sources of mental interest, the baths, exercise, massage, and friction, and, in later days by the actual medical treatment adopted. ” Like this, the temple was the optimal place to be healthy.
Faith as the psychological healing access The expectation to be heal of patients is a very strong element of healing like the placebo effect. It is unknown whether Asclepius knew the power of expectation of healing or not, but he and his physicians employed the expectation of patients. According to Wells, “Asklepios said he would not heal the cowardly, but only those who approached him with hope and trust. ” Asclepius emphasized the importance of faith to his patients, and his direction gradually melted into religious rites.
During the healing process, the priests led patients have a hope to get cured in the faith when he or she could not get any improvement. According to Caton, “If there were really nothing the matter, he was proclaimed to be miraculously cured by god, and doubtless his imagination was so impressed that he often himself believed in the cure. ” Synthetically, the Asclepius cult provided many people healing experiences by interlocking medical skills, healthier environments, and religious faith expecting to be healed.
This was so successful that the Asclepius cults could be dominant cult in Greco-Roman world. The function of religion. The focal point of how Asclepius cults suddenly grew up in Greco-Roman world was the poor medical condition in those days, so people were always threatened by diseases. The number of physicians could not cover every people. In this situation, Asclepius and his family started to heal people, and this helped them to get divine authority from people by their healing activities.
Ruttimann argues, “A religion was expected to provide healing for the sick: “In the ancient world it was almost universally believed that the function of a religion was to heal disease” From the harsh world moved by fate given by the god, people could felt emotional healing and the sense of freedom in the healing of the Asclepius cult. Riley argues, “Asclepius was the kindly god of healing and as such could evoke some of the warmest emotions among his worshipers of any of the GrecoRoman deities.
In this setting, Christianity faced social expectations and needs, so they were placed on situation to hether Jesus has a capacity to heal as a real god. Hence, Christianity focused on healing to compete with the Asclepius cult. According to Justin, “But when we say he made well the lame and paralytics and those blind from birth and that he raised the dead, our saying these things will seem to be like the things said to have been done by Asclepius” Like this, Christianity and the Asclepius cult were rivals to each other through healing ministry.
However, Christianity finally superseded Asclepius cult. There were lots of reason for this, but the one of main reason was that the Asclepius cult required excessive payments for their healing as the votive offering. For this reason, the poor could not get an opportunity to be healed. In this circumstance, Christians learned from the case of the Asclepius cult, and they did not require anything for their healing. According to Ruttimann, “the Christians stressed that their god worked for free. ” This healing tradition for free of Christianity had developed to become caring for free.