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Classical Studies
Classical Studies 2900
Beate Gundert

Classics Notes – Feb. 9/12 - Hippocrates separated medicine from philosophy and religion. Disease is due to upset or imbalance of natural processes in the body, and balance can be restored through natural treatments. Some people also healed through incantations. There was also the cult of Asclepius, which developed at same time as scientific medicine, and was around from 500 BC to 500 AD. This was called temple medicine. People that came to the cults sought relief from all sorts of problems and illnesses. There were six important cult centres in Epidauros, Corinth, Athens, Cos, Pergamon, and Rome. By 200 AD, there were over 200 cult centres all over the Greco-Roman world. - Asclepius was a physician with skill in medicine that he learned from Cheiron and which he passed on to his sons. This skill has been acquired through learning so he is a human physician during Homer’s time. Asclepius is the son of Apollo, who is his divine parent. Zeus killed him with his thunderbolt when he was paid to bring someone back from the dead. Physicians should not transgress and enter into the realm of the gods. The gods have the ultimate decision about life and death. In the 5 c. BC he was now considered a god. He has a temple and he becomes the most divine healer and he becomes the god of medicine (has surpassed Apollo). - Asclepius is represented bearded and with a facial expression that inspires confidence. He has a staff so he is itinerant. A snake winds around the staff. The staff of Asclepius is the sign of medicine. The snake sheds its skin, so it is a sign if regeneration and it represents the healing power of the earth. Asclepius is often accompanied by a dog and his sons and daughters. His sons Machaon and Podalirius are physicians of the Greek army in Homer. His daughters are hygieia (health), Panaceia (all-heal), and Aceso (healing). Telesphorus (means bringing to completion) is a healing deity associated with Asclepius and it is represented as a boy in a hooded cloak (2 nd c. AD). Patients were more likely to follow the prescription of the god Asclepius, even if their physician had prescribed the same thing. - Pg. 65: Fig. 18 and 19 – Shows a view of the temple, cult. The statue of Asclepius is made of ivory and gold. When a patient goes to a cult it is like a pilgrimage. They leave their ordinary life behind and get into a mood that prepares them for the healing process. They would go to the temple to wash and purify and wash their past off to get reborn in this sanctuary. They enter through the gate into the holy precinct. Death was taboo in this place and people near death were not allowed to enter. Then they would go to the sacrificial pit where they would offer a sacrifice like an animal. They might eat something in the dining room. There were also guest houses which would eventually develop into
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