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Alexander of Abonouteichos, in Bithynia, on the shore of the Black Sea, having learned magic and sorcery from Apollonios of Tyana, set himself up as a physician after the death of Apollonios; buying a tame snake in Macedonia, and conceiving the idea of establishing an oracle in his native city. He accordingly buried some bronze tablets in the temple of Apollo in Propontis, which, when conveniently discovered, declared that Asklepios was to return to earth and take up his abode in Abonouteichos. A temple was later built there, and Asklepios duly appeared in the form of a snake on the finger of Alexander. Notwithstanding the brazen imposition, he gained adherents and won popularity against violent opposition. A certain Roman senator assisted the cult, and under the name of Glykon it was introduced into Rome, where it had a vogue for nearly a century before it was forgotten. 302 This pretended god of medicine, in the form of dragon with a human head, called Glykon, was proposed for public veneration. ] 308
802 The chief source for this bit of charlatanism is Lucian's Alexandros, or Pseudomantis, passim. It is also summarized by Sir Samuel Dill, in Roman Society from Nero to Marcus Aurelius, pp. 473 et sqq.
303 Besnier, L'Ile tibérine, p. 192; also E. Babelon, "Le faux prophète, Alexandre d'Abonotichos," in RN (1900), 1.
THE HEALING GODS OF ANCIENT ROME
PART I: GENERAL SURVEY
Foreign influences in Roman religion.
influences. During the centuries of her growth and preeminent power, she adopted the gods of other peoples who were brought under her domain, supporting them at their home altars, inviting some within her own walls, welcoming others, and permitting the deities of all countries to find an abode at her capital. She neglected and forgot her native divinities and finally yielded to the moral supremacy of other races of more advanced civilization whose representatives came to her in large numbers as slaves, subjects, and visiting strangers. She held the pantheon of the world, and during the Empire the clashing of interests of many types of religions eventually made Rome the great religious battleground in the final contest between paganism and Christianity. The devotees of many foreign cults, often fanatical and barbaric, sought in many tongues to translate to the masses a great diversity of religious beliefs and customs, and to enlist their support. Thus Roman religion, as it passes in review through the many centuries of the Kingdom, the Republic, and the Empire, presents an ever changing, kaleidoscopic aspect.