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Marble relief of Asclepius and his daughter Hygieia. From Therme, Greece, end of the 5th century BC. Istanbul Archaeological Museums.                    Source:  Prioryman/CC BY-SA 3.0

Asclepius: Greek God of Healing and Medicine (Video)

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Nestled within the eastern Peloponnese, the ancient healing sanctuary dedicated to Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine, flourished as a beacon of hope for the ailing. Initially rooted in myth and poetry, Asclepius emerged from the tales of Homer's Iliad, depicted as a mortal renowned for his curative prowess before ascending to divine status over the centuries.

Asclepius's origin myth intertwines with tales of betrayal, divine intervention, and the nurturing guidance of his father Apollo and the centaur Cheiron. Gifted in the arts of healing, Asclepius transcended mortal boundaries, reputedly capable of resurrecting the dead. Legends abound regarding the source of his extraordinary powers, from the blood of Medusa to a serpentine encounter that unlocked the secrets of resurrection.

Yet, his miraculous feats provoked the ire of Zeus, leading to his eventual demise by lightning. Despite Zeus's wrath, Apollo's plea secured Asclepius's ascension to the pantheon, where he found a place among the stars and wed Epione, goddess of soothing. His legacy endured through his offspring, personifications of healing attributes, and the Asclepiads, who carried forth the mantle of medicine, notably through Hippocrates.

Temples dedicated to Asclepius dotted the Hellenic landscape, embodying sanctuaries of healing and knowledge. Among them, the sanctuary of Epidaurus stood as the pinnacle, welcoming seekers of health and solace. Rituals of purification, dream therapy, and advanced medical treatments awaited the afflicted, fostering a holistic approach to wellness.

Top image:  Marble relief of Asclepius and his daughter Hygieia. From Therme, Greece, end of the 5th century BC. Istanbul Archaeological Museums.                    Source:  Prioryman/CC BY-SA 3.0

By Robbie Mitchell

 
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Robbie

I’m a graduate of History and Literature from The University of Manchester in England and a total history geek. Since a young age, I’ve been obsessed with history. The weirder the better. I spend my days working as a freelance... Read More

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