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BAKIS, one of the most distinguished seers of Greece, was a diviner and a purifier, while his reputation as a prophet almost equalled that of Melampous. He was said to be possessed by nymphs (Pausanias, X, xii, 11; Aristophanes, Pax, 1071), and his oracles, in hexameters like those of Delphoi and the Sibyl of Cumæ, were later collected (Pausanias, IV, xxvii, 4-5). Though a Boiotian seer, he was held in high esteem in Athens; and since both Athenians and Arkadians boasted of having a seer named Bakis (Suidas, s.v. Bákıs), it is entirely probable that the appellative became a collective for a family or was adopted by others.

The Boiotian Bakis is reputed to have cured a Lakedaimonian of a mental disorder by mysterious ceremonies and he was recommended by Apollo Pythios as one who could purify the Lakedaimonian women of the madness that possessed them (Suidas, loc. cit.).


CHEIRON, one of the most celebrated heroes of ancient Greece, the most just and wise of the centaurs (Il., xi, 830), and a great hunter, lived in a cave on Mount Pelion in Thessaly until driven out by the Lapithai, when he found refuge in the mountains of Lakonia (Apollodoros, ii, 5). Although generally ranked as a hero, he was a local divinity, possibly a very primitive, or pre-Hellenic, god whose cult was absorbed by Asklepios. The name, derived from a root meaning hand, may have referred to his skill in the arts, or the hand which he used with magic healing effect.286 Cheiron was learned in all branches of human knowledge and was the reputed master of such sciences as botany, prophecy, healing, music (Plutarch, de Mus., 286 Weinreich, op. cit., p. 16.

40), astronomy, and legislation; while many of the Greek heroes were his pupils, among them Achilles, Aktaion, Kastor, Polydeukes, Aristaios, Theseus, Amphiaraos, Iason, Nestor, Telamon, Teukros, Peleus, Odysseus, and Aineias. Accidentally wounded by a poisoned arrow from the bow of Herakles, Cheiron transferred his immortality to Prometheus (Apollodoros, loc. cit.) and was placed by Zeus among the stars as Sagittarius, thus being deified and sometimes classed as a god (Sophokles, op. cit., 714715).

Cheiron instructed Herakles and Asklepios in the art of healing. Pindar sings his praises (op. cit., iii, 45-67) and sums up his instructions to Asklepios, whom he received as a babe, as healing by surgery, internal medication, and incantations. He knew the medicinal properties of all plants and roots, as well as their application (Il., iv, 219; xi, 830-832), and was, accordingly, worshipped by the Magnesians, who sacrificed the first fruits of plants to him as a divine physician (Plutarch, Quæstiones conviviales, III, i, 3), and his teachings, as applied by his pupils during the Trojan War, and their descendants, were without magic (Il., ib.). Hesiod wrote a poem concerning the "Precepts of Cheiron for the instruction of Achilles" (Pausanias, IX, xxxi, 5; cf. Frag. hist. Gr., 182-185). Cheiron cured Phoinix of a blindness that was thought to be incurable (Apollodoros, iii, 13); in archaic times he was classed as a birth-god, possibly because of his 'pain-allaying hand' (IG XI, iii, 360); and he was regarded as the discoverer of the healing art (Hyginus, op. cit., 274; Pliny, op. cit., vii, 196). A tribe inhabiting the region of Mount Pelion claimed descent from him and maintained that their knowledge of herbs and healing was hereditary and sacred.

Cheiron was a specialist in herb-lore and represents the true forerunner of the rational school of therapeutics,

in its transition from the occult to practical medicine, which Hippokrates sought to establish.


THE DAKTYLOI were fabulous beings, who, living about Mount Ida in Phrygia or Crete, were superhuman in strength and were numbered from one to one hundred. The discovery of iron on Mount Ida was ascribed to them (Frazer, op. cit., iii, 484), and they were skilled workers of metals by fire; but they were also the servants of RheaKybele and were connected with her orgiastic Phrygian rites, whence they were related to, or identical with, the Kouretes, the Korybantes, and the Telchines (Pausanias, V, vii, 6; Strabo, X, iii, 7, 22 = pp. 466, 473 C). Like these groups the Idaian Daktyloi were famous magicians and practiced the art of healing by magic, possibly after the style of medicine-men.


DEXION was a healing hero who was worshipped with Amynos and Asklepios at the Athenian Amyneion. Sophokles287 had been a priest of Amynos, had been influential in bringing Asklepios to Athens, and, on arrival, had entertained him at his home (which may have been the temenos on the western slope of the Akropolis, at which, it may be assumed, Asklepios was a guest until the Asklepieion on the south slope had been prepared). After death the poet was heroized under the name of Dexion (Etymol. mag., s.v. ▲eğiwv) and gave distinction to the Amyneion-Asklepieion (Marinos, op. cit., 29).


THE DIOSKOUROI, better known as Kastor and Polydeukes, were twin sons of Leda, Zeus being regarded as the 287 Harrison, op. cit., p. 345.

father of Polydeukes and Tyndareus of Kastor, though they are frequently referred to as the sons of either. They excelled in athletics and feats of arms, and were known for their bravery and dexterity; while at Sparta they were the exponents of heroic virtue and valor. In Lakonia and in Arkadia they were ranked as gods (Pausanias, III, xiii, 1; VIII, ii, 4). They were not only given the epithet soteres (e.g., Theokritos, xx, 6), but were also termed 'guardians' (anakes; e.g., Plutarch, Theseus, xxxiii);288 and in this character they were identified with the Kabeiroi as protecting seamen from dangers.289 In Athens their sanctuary was known as the Anakeion (Frazer, op. cit., iii, 164).

The Dioskouroi were healers, and their cult, widely diffused, was very popular in the late period, their cures being performed through incubation and the interpretation of dreams (Frag. hist. Gr., iv, 149, 15). There is a possibility that they were sometimes regarded as helpers in child-birth.290 In the late Roman period their principal temples were in Byzantium and Rome.


HELENA, as her name implies, was a moon-goddess who was worshipped in the Peloponnesos (though possibly as a tree-spirit or a local daimon only),201 and who, in Homeric mythology, was the daughter of Zeus and Leda, sister of Kastor and Polydeukes, and one of the most beautiful women of ancient Greece. Paris stole her from Menelaos, her husband, and carried her off to Ilion, thus causing the Trojan War.

288 For this meaning, see Schulze, op. cit., p. 505.

289 Farnell, in ERE vii, 630.

290 Gruppe, op. cit., pp. 165, 860.

291 Pearson, "Heroes and Hero-Gods (Greek and Roman)," in ERE vi, 654.

Helena was a healer who was skilled in the knowledge of the medicinal qualities of plants and used nepenthe, a soporific akin to opium and relieving sorrow and mourning, of which she learned from the Egyptian Polydama, and which she gave to Telemachos (Herodotos, ii, 116; Odys., iv, 219 ff.). She is said to have changed an ugly child into a beautiful woman (Herodotos, vi, 61).


In the vicinity of the Theseion at Athens was a temple to Heros-Iatros (Demosthenes, Orat., xviii, 129; xix, 249), who is referred to as the Hero of the city in an Eleusinian inscription of the fifth century B.C. (CIA iv, 286 a, p. 145 f.). Whether this dedication was in honor of a definite personality or of an abstract character is not known, but the inscriptions show that the cult was not overshadowed by that of Asklepios and that it was flourishing in the third century B.C. (CIA ii, 403, 404). Silver offerings to the divinity were melted down into sacred vessels from time to time.292


THE KORYBANTES were daimons or a mythical people of uncertain origin who later were intimately connected with the cult of Rhea-Kybele as her servants and priests, especially as regarded her healing functions, probably in the cathartic sense, as medicine-men driving away sickness and evil spirits.293 They were associated, and perhaps identical, with the Kouretes, the Idaian Daktyloi, and the Telchines (Strabo, X, iii, 7, 21, 22 = pp. 466, 473 C), and were prominent in the public festivals and processions of Rhea-Kybele, appearing in women's gar292 Usener, op. cit., pp. 149-153.

298 J. E. Harrison, "The Kouretes and Korybantes," ERE vii, 758

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