ISSN 2409-5834

Asclepius: Cult and Medicine

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Florian Steger


Asclepius can claim to have the most important cult among forms of healing shaped by ritual and cult. In Antiquity, he was venerated in the sanctuaries of Asclepius where patients respectively worshippers were cared for. The Asclepian healing cult included sacrifices, ablutions and incubation. In their dreams, the patients received therapeutic instructions. But not only miraculous cures occurred in the Asclepieia, nor were these sacred sites the last refuge of the seriously ill. Using written and iconic sources a genuine medicine of Asclepius has to be described which was characterized by healing-cult ritual actions and medical therapy parts. Thus, based on the example of Asclepius, the proposition that healing art tries to establish a harmonization of natural and supernatural reality in a religious context can be confirmed. The medicine of Asclepius clearly formed an integral part of a multifaceted healthcare market.

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