Delving deeply into ancient medical history, Bronwen L. Wickkiser explores the early development and later spread of the cult of Asklepios, one of the most popular healing gods in the ancient Mediterranean. Though Asklepios had been known as a healer since the time of Homer, evidence suggests that large numbers of people began to flock to the cult during the fifth century BCE, just as practitioners of Hippocratic medicine were gaining dominance. Drawing on close readings of period medical texts, literary sources, archaeological evidence, and earlier studies, Wickkiser finds two primary causes for the cult's ascendance: it filled a gap in the market created by the refusal of Hippocratic physicians to treat difficult chronic ailments and it abetted Athenian political needs. Wickkiser supports these challenging theories with side-by-side examinations of the medical practices at Asklepios' sanctuaries and those espoused in Hippocratic medical treatises. She also explores how Athens' aspirations to empire influenced its decision to open the city to the healer-god's cult. In focusing on the fifth century and by considering the medical, political, and religious dimensions of the cult of Asklepios, Wickkiser presents a complex, nuanced picture of Asklepios' rise in popularity, Athenian society, and ancient Mediterranean culture. The intriguing and sometimes surprising information she presents will be valued by historians of medicine and classicists alike.
Acknowledgments Translations and Abbreviations Introduction Common Perceptions of Asklepios and His Cult The Current Project 1. From Practice to Profession: The Development of Greek Medicine from the Bronze Age to the Fifth Century BC The Bronze Age and Homer Between Homer and Hippocrates Tradition and Change in Fifth-Century Medicine Medicine as a Techne Medicine and Its Limits 2. Searching for a Cure: The Limits of Medicine and the Development of Asklepios' Cult Alternatives to Medicine: What Doctors Condoned Healing Gods The Early Development of Asklepios' Cult The Popularity of Asklepios and His Healing 3. Asklepios and His Colleagues: Doctors and Divine Healers Asklepios as Doctor in Myth and Cult Other Healing Gods and Heroes Doctors and Their Patron God Asklepios' Specialization: Chronic Ailments 4. Documenting Asklepios' Arrival in Athens Sources Desccription, Text, and Translation of Telemachos Moument Reading between the Lines The Eleusinian Cult of Demeter and Kore The Location of Asklepios' Sanctuary 5. Asklepios and the Topography of Athenian Cult The Acropolis and the Greater Panathenaia Dionysos and Demeter Dionysos Eleuthereus and the City Dionysia The Sanctuary of Dionysos Eleuthereus The City Dionysia Eleusinian Demeter and the Mysteries 6. Asklepios and Athenian Empire Epidauros and Athens in the Peloponnesian Wars The Peace of Nicias and Epidaurian Asklepios Athens, Cults, and Politics in the Fifth Century Negotiating Empire Asklepios and the Kerykes in 418 BC Mapping Meaning: The Epidauria Procession Conclusion Notes Bibliography Index