Saturday, September 27, 2008

Following the Footsteps of St. Paul (23)

The Cult of Asclepius at Epidaurus

The Asklepieion of Epidauros or the Sanctuary of the god Ascelpius was one of the most important and revered Ascelpieia in the ancient world. It flourished as a place of worship and healing from the fifth century B.C. The major festival were the Great Asklepieia which were celebrated every 4 years, 9 days after the Isthmian Games. The worship of Asklepios (Ascelpius) only ended in 426 A.D. when it was outlawed by the Christian Emperor Theodosius II.

This is what the Asclepieia looks like today

a reconstructed view of the Asclepieia
note the Temple of Asklepios in the centre

this is what remains of the Temple of Asklepios

a reconstruction of what the temple looks like

poster in the museum in Epidaurus

The god's cure was based on the faith of the patient. After the ceremony of purification and the appropriate sacrifices made, the patient went to sleep in the precinct of the sanctuary. The god would appear to the patient personally or in the patient's dream. He then gave instructions for the patient's treatment. The therapy involved the epiphany of the god's appearance as himself or in the form of his sacred creatures which include snakes and dogs.
Archaeological finds from the site include large numbers of surgical instruments indicating that the Sanctuary serves as a hospital and a place of healing.

view of the amphitheater from the top seat

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