Asclepius the Healer

Joan Stivala

Abstract

Asclepius was the most popular healing deity of the ancient Graeco-Roman world. There are several reasons for this status. It was believed that he had been born a mortal, had trained in medicine and, in one version of his story, had been killed by Zeus for saving too many lives. Asclepius could thus be thought to have been more sympathetic to human problems than other gods, especially the Olympians.

Testimonials from grateful suppliants record the god’s successful therapies. It is interesting to note that they also preserve the doubts of sceptics, even if only to confound them with stories of Asclepius’ healing miracles. Nevertheless, the fact that refutation was thought to be necessary indicates a degree of sensitivity on the part of temple authorities. Despite the scepticism of some in the ancient world, many, perhaps most, believed in the ability of Asclepius to heal; otherwise, his cult would not have been as popular as it obviously was.

Keywords

Asclepius, testimonials, medical treatment, Aristides

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.26220/ele.3535

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Electra | ISSN: 1792-605X

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