Asclepius: The True Origin of Medicine
Jun 26, 22
Asclepius: The True Origin of Medicine
Asclepius is known as the god of healing and medicine. In ancient times, people would pray to Asclepius for his healing powers. Hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities are named after him because of this mythological figure.
According to the Greeks, Asclepius supposedly invented the art of medicine. Even Hippocrates was said to have been one of his sons who also became a famous physician in his own right.
But what is the origin of Asclepus? Why did he come to be associated with medicine? And why do hospitals continue to reference him today?
Asclepius began as a non-Greek god who was introduced into Greek culture through interactions with Egypt, Mesopotamia, and even India. He was an important deity in many cultures around the Mediterranean Sea during this era and took on several different roles in each society he encountered.
Ultimately, he became connected with healing throughout most of these cultures thanks to similar ideas about disease and death from natural causes rather than evil spirits or divine punishment for immoral behaviour.
The Importance of Asclepius in Ancient Greece
Asclepius was a very important deity in ancient Greece. His cult centre and sanctuary at Epidaurus in Greece was one of the most famous sanctuaries of the classical world.
Many people would travel to this sanctuary to receive treatment for their illnesses. Often, they would stay at the sanctuary for weeks at a time while they waited for their condition to improve.
The sanctuary was also known for its famous theatre, where many Greek dramas were performed. Asclepius’ importance to the Greeks is also demonstrated by the large number of temples dedicated to him.
In fact, there were temples dedicated to him in every city-state in Greece with the exception of Sparta. There were also many statues of him throughout the Greek world. These statues were often made of wood and covered with gold.
The Birth of Asclepius
Asclepius was born to Apollo and the mortal woman Coronis. At the time, Apollo was also Zeus’ favourite, leading him to pursue Coronis. Coronis was aware of Apollo’s reputation, though, and promptly rejected his advances.
However, Apollo, who was also the god of prophecy, knew the child she was carrying would be greater than him. So, he asked Zeus to let the child die before he was born.
Zeus agreed and sent one of his ravens to peck out Coronis’ eyes (pregnant women are said to have their eyes turn black in myths like this). Once the child was born, Apollo sent his raven to peck out the child’s eyes. The raven was unable to do so, though, because the child was being protected by the goddess Leto.
Leto claimed that since she had given birth to the great god Zeus and his sister Artemis, she deserved to be given the same respect and reverence. She convinced Apollo to give the child to her to raise so that he could have the respect he deserved.
How did Asclepius become the god of medicine?
After being raised by Leto, Asclepius eventually became a well-known physician. When people saw his skill in healing, they began to associate him with healing and the art of medicine.
Asclepius is also associated with the rising of the Nile. Many cultures explained this phenomenon as the work of gods and goddesses, often by fighting a great serpent. Asclepius was said to kill a giant serpent that lived at the edge of the Nile and caused the river to flood each year.
Asclepius’ association with healing and his role in controlling the Nile’s flooding helped him become one of the most important gods in Egyptian culture.
What is the moral of the story?
The story of Asclepius is a myth, so there is no clear moral. However, some scholars have suggested that the myth of Asclepius can be read as a commentary on ancient Greek society.
This myth may be saying that the gods aren’t as important as people think. It also may be said that healing comes from within people, not from the gods.
Asclepius is an example of how cultures interact and influence each other. He was originally a non-Greek god who was introduced into Greek culture. As the myth shows, the Greeks changed him to fit their needs.
Today, the symbol of Asclepius is still used in medical facilities. Students in the medical field can also still learn about his myth.
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