Billeder på siden

probably from arthritis, had covered the part with a cloth. A sparrow, sacred to Asklepios, plucked the cloth away and the disease with it. The statues of Theagenes in Thasos, and of Pulydamas at Olympia cured fevers (Frazer, op. cit., iv, 39). The statue of the Corinthian general Pelichos, which possessed healing powers, saved from fevers; and Eukrates was so grateful for his own cure that he plated the breast of the effigy with gold.** Gaining power to cure oneself by touching the image of the god, or his altar, was recognized; and healing by kissing some sacred object, or being touched by the foot of a holy person, is vaguely referred to.

The indirect method.

Accounts of cures by following directions received through dreams and visions are more common and are often more circumstantial. An extant fragment from the shrine at Lebena records cures due to the application of remedies indicated by the god in visions." The remedies prescribed varied widely from mild and innocent purgatives, roots, herbs, diets, fasts, baths, and rubbings with ointments, to gymnastics and general regimen. These various measures were usually applied with some sympathetic magic, or were accompanied by the use of magic formulas and incantations. Sometimes the remedies were heroic, as repeated emetics, bleedings to exhaustion, and plunging into streams in midwinter (Aristeides, op. cit., i, ii). During the third century B.C. Hierophilos remarked that remedies were the gifts of the gods, and, when rightly used, were "the hands of the gods," and, in parts of Greece, an herb, called 'the hand of the mother of god,'

44 Weinreich, op. cit., p. 137.

[ocr errors]

45 J. Zingerle, "Heilinschrift von Lebena," in MAIA, 1896, xxi, 67


Dyer, Studies of the Gods of Greece, p. 219.

was scattered about before and after a birth as a protection to the parturient woman." Purifications and fasting before incubation, followed by prescriptions received by visions or dreams, appear as the ordinary procedure in the cults of many deities, heroes and heroines; exemplified especially in those of Hades, Dionysos, and Amphiaraos, as well as that of Asklepios; the inspired message being received by the patient, or through the medium of a priest, relative, or friend."


Sacred waters.

Many of the waters and streams of Greece, especially the rivers Acheloos and Kephisos, were spiritualized and had remarkable curative virtues (Pausanias, IV, xxxi, 4; V, v, 11; VIII, xix, 3). Mineral springs and baths, many sacred to Herakles, are first mentioned by Ibykos (Frag., 46). Sophokles refers (op. cit., 634) to the hot baths at Mount Eta (near Thermopylai), and the poet Krates and his friends visited a hot bath where there was a sort of hospital, called paioneion, at which Paian was invoked (Belluæ, Frag., 2). All healing sanctuaries were abundantly supplied with water; and although some of these waters appear to have had definite medicinal properties, they were, for the most part, magical. The drinking of the water at the spring at Pergamon gave speech to a mute, while upon another it conferred the gift of prophecy (Aristeides, Oratio in puteum Esculapii, i, 447). The Boiotians divined by means of a drinking well among the

47 Weinreich, op. cit., p. 12, note 3.

48 For further details concerning the cures effected by Greek religious methods and the inscriptions relating them, consult Weinreich, ib.; J. Baunack, "Epigraphische Kleinigheiten aus Griechenland," in Philologus, 1889, xlviii, 385-427; T. Baunack, "Inschriften aus dem kretischen Asklepieion," in ib., 1890, xlix, 577-606; and J. Baunack, "Inschriften aus dem Asklepieion zu Epidauros," in SGAS, 1886, i, 120-144.

ruins of Hysiai, at the half-finished temple of Apollo (Pausanias, IX, ii, 1); and the water from the spring at Kassotis ran underground and inspired women with the spirit of prophecy in the shrine of Apollo at Delphoi (ib., X, xxiv, 7).

Votive offerings.

Fees were paid, and objects of various kinds were presented as thank-offerings for cures, often in compliance with previous vows. Such gifts were of money, sculptured replicas of parts cured, inscriptions on tablets, bas-reliefs depicting the god and his attendants in healing scenes, statues of the deity, or ornaments and relics dedicated to the divinity and his temple. Hymns of praise composed for the deity were offered, and several orations of Aristeides eulogizing Asklepios are supposed to have had a similar origin. Aristarchos was healed by the extended right hand of the god and was required to write a votive drama based upon Asklepian legends." Side by side with tablets relating cures were others warning of dreadful happenings if the suppliant should fail to keep his vows or should neglect to reward the services of the deity.50 Instances are given of cures that were revoked and of punishments that were inflicted upon such recreants.

General evidences of Greek religious healing.

Such are a few of the records illustrative of traditional religious healing that have been found on the sites of the old healing sanctuaries of Asklepios, chiefly at Athens and Epidauros, in inscriptions, and classical literature. Further excavations, especially on the sites of the shrines of other deities, would doubtless corroborate the references made by classical writers indicating that the heal49 Weinreich, op. cit., pp. 4-5.

50 Ib., p. 4, note 2.

ing practices of other cults, as of Herakles at Thermopylai, Dionysos at Amphikleia, Amphiaraos at Oropos, Hades at Acharaka and Nysa, and Trophonios at Lebadeia, were of a similar general character. The religious, magic, and rational elements of practice were probably blended at all such sanctuaries, but the religious features continued to predominate over the practical. The religiosity of the people and their faith in their gods would have prevented those engaged in healing from wholly disregarding religion or even from making a wide departure, if they had so desired. It is known that physicians practicing among the people independently of the cults were not permitted to neglect the healing gods. At Athens, and probably elsewhere, they were obliged to sacrifice to Asklepios and Hygieia twice each year for themselves as healers and for their patients (CIA ii, 352 b).

Miraculous cures.

The character of the cures recorded on the tablets found in the excavations at Epidauros and Athens led Kavvadias to assert that the recoveries at the Asklepieia during the Greek period were entirely of the class of these iamata, or miraculous acts of the god, and that only later, during the Roman period, when the dream-oracles · were more in evidence, was there an infusion of rationality in the treatment of disease. It has been pointed out, however, that in all religions there are tales designed for edification and traditions of miracles illustrative of the divinity and power of the god; and that these records on steles and tablets should not be regarded as historical documents, but rather as collections to influence doubters and for the gratification of the credulous (Frazer, op. cit., ii, 239). Mythical tales were current concerning all


51 Kavvadias, Fouilles d'Épidaure, p. 115; also E. Thrämer, "Health and Gods of Healing (Greek and Roman)," in ERE vi, 542.

Greek divinities, and there were legends of miraculous cures effected by deities who practiced healing occasionally, as well as those definitely identified with therapeutic cults. They were the stock stories of the cults and were freely used to impress the suppliants with the belief that the supernatural powers of the divinity were still available for them. At the sanctuary of Epidauros, as probably at the shrines of other healing gods and heroes, they were diligently used as exhibits to render the mind more susceptible to dreams and visions, as well as to make it more pliable for mental suggestion and for carrying out the practical measures directed by these divine revelations. The records found represent the superstitious elements always present in religious healing, and the cures recited were actual miracles, evidences of the divinity of the healer, or pious frauds, according to the point of view. These testimonials and ex-votos do not in any way negative the cultic traditions and collateral evidence that rational remedies were used in connection with theurgic practice, and in compliance with the interpretations of dreams and visions.

Origin of rational medicine in temple practice.

It has been shown that the use of remedies from plants was a customary practice among the early tribes and their descendants; and it cannot be doubted that this traditional therapeutic folklore was transmitted by the Asklepiads to their brethren of Knidos and Kos, and formed the basis for the observations from which the early endeavors for scientific methods in medicine were developed. There was a current tradition that Hippokrates learned and practiced the dietetic part of medicine from the narratives of cures suspended in the temple at Kos (Strabo, XIV, ii, 19 = p. 657 C; also Pliny, Historia Naturalis, xx, 100). Such legends are upheld by the testi

« ForrigeFortsæt »