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were pushed still further into the background by the coming of Esculapius, and even Apollo took second rank as an averter of disease. Nevertheless, writers of the later years of the Republic have little to say concerning Esculapius and his cult, and it is believed that it played a modest part in the religion of this period. Those who appealed to the god were, for the most part, the humbler class of citizens who did not care to pay much (or could not) and the slaves. Many masters sought to escape the burden of slaves who had protracted illnesses by sending them to Esculapius and then neglecting them; and this became such an abuse that a law was passed which freed all slaves who recovered after being sent to the sanctuary (Suetonius, op. cit., 25; Dion Kassios, lx, 29).
During the last centuries of the Republic, several foreign deities with healing cults came to Rome, where they assumed the name and attributes of Esculapius; but his worship was the first to be derived from Greece and was the only genuine Greek foundation in the capital enjoying the authority of the Sibylline Books.217 From the moment of his arrival the god had been the divine protector of the city against pestilence and had applied his therapeutic powers to the individual, whence the Epidaurian Esculapius had precedence and official recognition, and, continuing to be distinguished above all others claiming his name, he retained throughout his supremacy as a healer.
Asklepiads, or physician-priests, from Epidauros accompanied the deity to Rome, where their habit of cultic secrecy, combined with the rule which forbade Romans to become priests of foreign worships, was conducive to the continuance of their rites unchanged. They brought the sacred serpents (Pliny, op. cit., xxix, 22) and dogs with them (Festus, p. 110), so that the cultic practices 217 Fowler, Festivals, p. 340.
were the same as in Greece (Festus, p. 237; Valerius Maximus, I, viii, 2), consisting of ritual purification and fasting, prayers, sacrifice, incubation, magic formulas, and the use of rational remedial measures with a general hygienic regimen. There remains no direct evidence of the use of incubation during the earlier centuries of the cult in Rome, but there can be no doubt that it was practiced there as in Greece, especially since prophetic oracles and divinely inspired dreams were known in the worship of the old native gods and could not fail to have been used at the Esculapium, though positive evidence comes only with the Flavian period (CIL vi, 8).218
The Romans, susceptible to the marvellous, craved miracles, and cures suggestive of such wondrous powers of the divinity were freely noised abroad. In the eyes of the people Esculapius possessed not only the mystic powers of a healer, but also of a preserver, saving in battle, protecting from murder and shipwreck, and finding lost articles. There was a general belief in the healing power of the hand and the sacredness of the altar, and the laying-on of hands was a common practice, as when the hand of a divinity wiped the pest away from the children of Valerius (Valerius Maximus, II, iv, 5). The 'Maffeian Inscriptions' (CIG, 5980) of the Insula Tiberina relate cures effected by applying the directions or oracles given in dreams-they were theurgic in character, and symbolic magic was associated with the chthonic ritual. The dreams and the visions of the nocturnal visitations of the god were interpreted by official coniectores as divine directions for means of cure by internal and external remedies, diet, regimen, and other methods common to the period; but although surgery was practiced by the lay practitioners of the city, as proved by surgical
218 Thrämer, in ERE vi, 555; Preller, op. cit., pp. 607, 609. Deubner, De Incubatione, p. 44.
instruments and appliances of iron and bronze, some beautifully inlaid with silver, now deposited in museums, there is little evidence of its use at the Esculapium.219
Such inscriptions as the following, from the work of Hieronymus Mercurialis, 220 illustrate cultic methods:
In these days the god [Esculapius], admonished by the oracle, answered one Gaius, who was blind, that he should go to the right side of the altar and worship; afterwards, from the right he should go to the left, and place his five fingers upon the altar, and lift up his hands, and lay them upon his own eyes; and he recovered his sight directly, the people standing by and rejoicing together with him that such great miracles were performed under our Emperor Antoninus.
The god [Esculapius] answered by the oracle to Lucius, who had a pleurisy and was despaired of by every man, that he should come and take from the altar some ashes, and mix them together with wine, and put them on his side; and he was cured; and he publicly returned thanks to the god, and the people congratu
The god [Esculapius], by means of the oracle, admonished Iulianus, who vomited blood and was despaired of by every man, to come and take pine berries from the altar, and eat them with honey for three days; and he was cured; and coming forth, he publicly returned thanks before the people (CIG, 5980).221
The god [Esculapius] admonished, by means of the oracle, Valerius Aper, a blind soldier, to come and take the blood of a white cock, to beat it up with honey and collyrium, and for three days to put it on his eyes; and he came forth and gave thanks in a public manner to the god.22
219 Milne, Surgical Instruments in Greek and Roman Times, pp. 1023; also W. H. Buckler and R. Caton, "Medical and Surgical Instruments found at Kolophon," in PRSM, 1913-1914, vii, 235 ff.
220 De Arte Gymnastica, Venetiis, 1573, based on the Farnese collection.
221 W. Wroth, "Hygieia," in JHS, 1884, v, 93 ff.
222 Cf. Besnier, op. cit., p. 213.
A small marble stand, the base of a silver offering, probably of the time of Augustus, was found on the Insula Tiberina with the following inscription:
To Asklepios, the great god, the savior and benefactor, saved by thy hands from a tumor of the spleen, of which this is a silver model, as a mark of gratitude to the god, Neochares Iulianus, a freedman of the Imperial household.223
A dedication, found in front of the Porta Appia, from M. Ulpius Honoratus to Esculapius and Hygia "pro salute sua suorumque et L. Iuli Helicis medici, qui curam mei diligenter egit secundum deos," shows the coöperation of the physician with the god.224
Other inscriptions, in their original form, are as follows:225
Esculapio. et. Hygiæ. L. Sept. Nigrinus. Patro. Coll. Fabr. Col. Apul. pro. Salute. sua. et. suorum. posuit.
Esculapio. et. Hygiæ. ceterisq. huius. loci. salutarib. C. Iul. Frontonianus. vet. ex. B.F. Cos. Leg. U.M.P. redditis. sibi. luminibus. grat. ag. ex. viso. pro. se. et. Carteia. Maxima. coniug. et. Iul. Frontina. Filia. V.S.L.M.
Prov. salute. Iuliæ. Veneriæ. Filiæ. dulcissimæ. deliciæ. suæ. tabellam. hanc. marm. cum. signo. Esculapii. in somno. admonitus. L. Valerius. Capito. Ed. Ann. . . . D.S.P.L.M.D.D.D.
Numini. Esculapi. et. Hygiæ. pro. salute. dominor. N.N. Aug. Antrocius. Verna. ipsor. ex. disp. pos.
Asclepio. et. Saluti. Commilitonum. Sex. Titius. Alexander. Medicus. Coh. V. pr. donum. dedit. Aug. VIII. F. Flavio. Sabino. Cos.
Asclepio. et. Saluti. Commilitonum. Coh. VI. pr. voto. suscepto. Sex. Titius. Medic. Coh. VI. pr. D.D.
223 Hamilton, op. cit., p. 67; cf. Besnier, op. cit., p. 212.
224 Thrämer, in ERE vi, 555.
225 Kissel, in Janus, 1848, iii, 665-666.
Patients leaving the Esculapium were required to pay when able, and many left donaria in gratitude for services, these being hung on the walls of the sanctuary. Along the approaches to the island were shops for the sale of votive offerings which have been disclosed by modern excavations on the embankment of the river at this point and found to contain large numbers of tokensimages, tablets, portraits, and anatomical models in bronze or terra-cotta. Some are of heroic size, others show a correct anatomy, and still others illustrate diseased conditions, these specimens being of almost every part of the human body, occasionally presenting sections of the trunk and internal organs, while a group of father, mother, and child suggests a thank offering for relief of sterility.220
Beginning with the Christian era, the cult of Esculapius appears to have attracted a greater amount of attention, and from the better classes of Rome, so that after the first century A.D. it steadily gained influence until the time of Antoninus Pius, when there was a definite revival of interest in it. This Emperor caused a coin to be struck and inscribed to Esculapius, commemorating the legend of his arrival in Rome and showing the serpent-god springing to the island with the river-deity Tiberinus half-rising from the water to receive him.227 From an inscription, it is learned that during the reign of Antoninus there was a college of Esculapius and Health, composed of individuals who assembled on a certain day of the year, made sacrifices, received small gifts, and partook of a meal.228 The members were limited to sixty and sons succeeded to their fathers. The Esculapium on the
226 L. Sambon, "Donaria of Medical Interest," in BMJ, 1895, ii, 146, 216.
227 Besnier, op. cit., p. 176.
228 Spon, Recherches curieuses d'antiquités, p. 326.