The Cult of Asclepius

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Imagine that you are very sick, it's the year 300 B.C., and you're living in ancient Greece. You travel to a healing center where you make an offering to the demi-god Asclepius, and then bed down for the night in the temple, praying for a healing dream. In the morning, you tell the priests your dream, and they prescribe a treatment. Welcome to the Cult of Asclepius, whose practitioners believed that a dream could be creative of cure.

 

Podcast Lecture: The Somniloquy

 

Reading:

Miller, Dreams in Late Antiquity: Ch. 4

 

Questions:

1. How does the literature on Hippocrates represent dreams? How is this different from the Asclepian view?

2. Describe the process of dream therapy at an Asclepian healing center.

3. What meaning could the snake emblem have had in a healing context?

4. What happened to the Cult of Asclepius as Christianity became the dominant religion?

 

Activities:

Documentary--"Apollo and Asclepius": view this clip, excerpted from a History Channel documentary (In Search of History--The Greek Gods, 2005) and think about the following: what are some ways we can interpret or account for the recorded Asclepian healings?