• Understood medicine as a natural treatment and that disease was a natural
process within the body that could be treated
• He separated scientific medicine from magical and religious medicine.
• Diseases were still somehow connected to God and still used magical practices to
Cult of Asklepios
• Much closer to scientific medicine than religious medicine
• Spans 1000 years from 500 B.C. to 500 A.D.
• At this time, there were 200 cult centres spread out all over the ancient world.
• Sought relief in all kinds of ailments that ranged from infertility to fever, blindness...
Who is Asklepios?
• Tribal king, sends his two sons to Troy
• Has a skill in medicine that he learned from Cheiron
• Possesses medicine as a skill that has been acquired from learning and is a human
• Hero for the Greeks is someone with one mortal and one divine parent. His divine
parent is Apollo who has a relationship to medicine. Asklepios is the son of Apol-
lo. He was such an accomplished physician that he bribed a person to relieve
him from death. This was a transgression in the eyes of the Gods so Zeus kills
him with a thunderbolt.
• In the 5th century, we find Asklepios as a God and he has a temple or sanctuary.
• The first temple was in Epidauros. Sometime these temples were pre-existing that
were devoted to Apollo and his function as a healer but he was superseded by
Asklepios because he is the God of Medicine and the most important in terms of
• He is usually represented as bearded with an expression that inspires confidence.
• He has a snake and staff. The snake winds itself around the staff. This is the sign
of Asklepios and still is the sign of medicine today.
• The snake sheds its skin so it is the symbol of rejuvenation. It also is related to the
earth so it represents the healing power of the earth.
• He is often accompanied by a dog who is also an earthy creature.
• He is often accompanied by his children too
◦ 2 daughters which mean health and healing and drugs.
◦ Askesis - healing
• His family exists as personifications that have something to do with healing.
• Sometimes there is a cutting figure beside Asklepios and it is called telesphores.
This is the symbol of the success of medicine.
Fig. 18, Page 65
• Have the view inside the temple. He is bearded, has the staff and the snake around
• They are sometimes out of ivory and gold - it would be awe-inspiring.
• It is like a pilgrimage to go there - you would prepare for the trip and go with friends
or family. It is on a sacred road where there are shops on either sides. You get in
a mood that prepares you for the healing event. • You enter through a gate and would be in the holy precinct - some people who
were not allowed to enter were people who were not allowed to die.
• You might go to a fountain that would be #10 or #6.
• You will find a sacrifice as well - offer a sacrifice to the God.
• Dining rooms and guest houses where people might stay. The healing does not
take place in those places. There is a sec