Billeder på siden


[ocr errors]

anes has humorously portrayed in his comedy of Plutus.

“Having bathed Plutus in the sea," says the servant Cario, “we went to the temple of Æsculapius; and when our wafers and preparatory sacrifices were offered on the altar, and our cakes on the flame of Vulcan, we laid him on a couch, as was proper, and made ready our own mattresses. * * * When the priest, had extinguished the lights, he told us to go to sleep, adding that if any of us heard the hissing we should by no means stir.. We therefore all remained in bed, and made no noise. As for myself, I could not sleep, on account of the odor of a basin of savory porridge which an old woman had at the side of her bed, and which I longed for amazingly. Being, therefore, anxious to creep near it, I raised my head, and saw the sacristan take the cakes and dried figs from the sacred table, and going the round of the altars, put all that he could find into a bag. It occurred to me that it : would be meritorious in me to follow his example, so I arose to secure the basin of porridge, * * fearing only that the priest: might get at it before me, with his garlands on. * * The old woman, on bear

' ing me, stretched forth her hand. But I hissed, and seized her fingers with my teeth, as if I were an Æsculapian snake; then, drawing back her hand again, she lay down and wrapped herself up quickly, *** while I swallowed the porridge, and, when full, retired to rest."

The serpent to which Aristophanes here refers, was the usual emblem of the presiding Numen, or

[ocr errors]

divinity of the temple; though other animals, as the cock and the dog, were occasionally employed for the same purpose. The figure of the serpent sculptured in stone, met the eye of the devotee at the entrance of the temple; and the animal itself was cherished' and preserved within the sacred precincts. The Æsculapian serpent, according to Pau„sanias, was of a peculiar variety, of a yellowish or brown color, and found only at Epidaurus. At the founding of new temples, it was always transferred from the old to the new abodes. Such was the ceremony, as we learn from Livy, when in the year of Rome,.461, for arresting the progress of pestilence in that city, commissioners were sent to transfer the sacred serpent from Epidaurus to the Island of the Tiber, where the first temple to Æsculapius was erected among the Romans.

Æsculapius himself was usually represented as a bearded and aged man; sometimes bare-headed, sometimes crowned; seated, standing erect; or leaning on his staff, around which the serpent is seen winding in spiral folds; occasionally he is bearing a strqbile of the pine ;. sometimes he is seen alone, but more frequently accompanied by one of his daughters, usually Hygeia, who is robed in white, with a serpent in one of her hands and a shallow patella or cup in the other, to which the serpentis directing its attention. Not unfrequently between the figures of Æsculapius and Hygeia, a child is seen standing, the infant Telephorus or the Harpocrates of the Egyptians; * and the cock is usually seen at the feet of

* Schulze, p. 126, 181, et seq.


[ocr errors]

Æsculapius. By the serpent, the Asclepiadæ are supposed to have symbolized circumspection and vigilance, and as Schulze supposes, the power of rejuvenescence; by the cock, their bird of sacrifice, they are thought also to have represented vigilance; and by the dog, fidelity and honesty. The Ægyptian symbols of Serapis, or of Isis and Osiris, and the infant Harpocrates, were occasionally associated with the emblems more properly belonging to the Greeks-a custom adopted after the settlement of Alexandria. For it was a belief among the Ægyptians, that infants bad at times the power of divination; and in the sacred ceremonies of their temples, the sports and gambols of young children were often introduced.* But in the temples of Isis and Osiris the genius of medicine was sometimes also represented by the figure of Silence. “Et quoniam vero in omnibus templis ubi colebantur Isis et Serapis erat etiam simulacrum quod, digito labiis impresso, admovere videretur ut silentium fieret; hoc significere, ut homines illos fuisse taceretur.”+

The Asclepions; however, were not the only temples to which the Greeks resorted for relief from sickness. The temples of Apollo, and of the other gods, were also open to them, but only as places for consulting the gods; not, as at the Asclepions, to be subjected to treatment. I :

4. It is supposed that the priests of Æsculapius,

* Schulze (on the authority of Plutarch and others), p. 126. + Ibid (from St. Augustine), p. 126.

# Herodotus, lib. i. c. 16 and 25; and Xenophon, Memoir of Socrates, book iii. chapter 13. N. Y. edition, p. 576.

[ocr errors]

in the exercise of their art, were originally restricted to these institutions. If such ever were the rule, it must have soon been set aside, or often disregarded. Hippocrates and his disciples practiced as periodeutæ, or itinerants, in different parts of Greece. Apollonides of Cos, practiced at the court of the elder Artàxerxes.* Euryphon of Cnidos, in consultation with Hippocrates, attended Perdiccas, son of Alexander, king of Macedon. Euryximachus is introduced by Plato, among the friends of Socrates, as one of the wits and men of learning of his time; and at the banquet is made to descant.upon the doctrines of his profession, to enforce the virtue of temperance in the use of wine, and, at table, to prescribe for the sudden illness of Aristophanes. I Again, we learn from Xenophon,ş, that by the laws of Lycurgus, the Lacedæmonian physicians. were obliged to accompany the army, to associate with the officers, sooth-sayers, and musicians; and, to be at the immediate service of the king on the battlefield. Xenophon himself, in the memorable expedition into Persia, was accompanied by Ctesias of Cnidos, who, on the defeat of the younger Cyrus, was taken prisoner, and who subsequently rose to great distinction as physician to the court of Persia ; and more so as the historian of that country. In fur

* Le Clerc, Histoire de la Medecine. Lib. ii. chap. 7, from Ctesias. † Soranus, in his Life of Hippocrates. See Kuhn’s'Hippocrates, vol. iii.

p. 851,

# See the Protagoras and Banquet of Plato, Bohn's edition, vol. ii. p. 244, and vol, iii. p. 482-500.

& Lacedæmonian Republic, chapter xiii. See also, Memoir of Socrates, book i. chapter ii.,,N. Y. edition, p. 527–8.



ther evidence of the unrestricted freedom of the Asclepiadæ, we learn from the Laws of Plato,* that there are some persons physicians, and others the ministers of physicians, who are sometimes also called physicians. • Do you not perceive,” he adds, " that when there are both slaves and freemen sick. in the cities, the slaves do for the most part go round and cure the slaves, or remain at home in the medical shops ; and that not one of these slave-physicians either gives or receives any reason respecting the diseases of the slaves; but as if knowing accur: ately from experience, he orders as if he were a self. willed tyrant, what seems good to him, and then goes away, bounding off from one sick domestic to another; and by this means, he affords a facility to his master to attend to other patients? But the free-born physician for the most part attends to, and reflects


the diseases of the free-born; and by exploring these from the beginning, and according to nature, * *.* does at the same time learn some

, thing from, and, as far as be can, teach something to, the sick; and does not order any thing until persuaded of its propriety; and then, after rendering the patient gentle by persuasion, he endeavors to finish the business by bringing him back to health.”

It has also been stated that the Asclepiadæ were first induced to leave the temples by the success of the Pythagorean physicians after the breaking up of their school, and their expulsion from Crotona.

The story of Democedes, already related, has a direct bearing upon this point, and is sufficient, of

* Book iv., c: .

« ForrigeFortsæt »