This paper argues that the cult of Asklepios developed and spread fast due to a shift in mentality in Classical Greece. This change concerned both who might communicate directly with the gods in dreams, as well as the development of a new way of envisaging healing. It is argued that the notion that anybody could receive a godsent dream, as seen in numerous incubation sanctuaries, reflects a change in mentality in Classical times. It is further argued that religious healing in the cult of Asklepios was influenced by the development of Greek medicine in Archaic times, and the ease and low expense of consulting a Hippokratic doctor in Classical times.
First, it will be argued in this article that incubation, as it developed in Greece in Classical times and above all in the numerous Asklepieia, originated in more exclusive dream oracles and developed into large healing cults open to the masses.1 In Archaic times, as far as the evidence goes, to receive an oracle through a dream was not an oracular technique open to the general public: Only priests and other selected men could experience gods communicating with them in dreams. The iamata, healing inscriptions, of Epidauros, attest to help-seekers from all strata in society, also women, children, and slaves. Anyone could communicate directly with the god Asklepios and his helpers through dreams in the sanctuary.2 This article will examine if a shift in mentality with regard to new hierarchies of this type of communication with gods, combined with a new way of envisaging healing (influenced by the ease and low expense of consulting a Hippokratic doctor) in Classical society swayed this popularization of oneiromantic healing. I will argue that without a cultural change in how the Greeks recalled and analyzed their dreams or envisaged cures from illnesses, mass incubations in Asklepieia would not have been possible.
2 Dreams and Land of the Dreams in the Archaic Period
Oneiromancy is a well-known oracular technique, according to Plutarch, “the oldest oracle,” though the testimonia at hand show a slightly different picture.3 Not much is known about oracles in the Geometric period,4 but the divinatory methods of Geometric and Archaic times are usually reconstructed through passages from the works of Homer, in which the interpretation of the flight of birds and inspection of the liver of the sacrificial animal are important.5 Looking at a somewhat different category of advice sent from gods, dreams seen as sent from gods, or dreams where gods appear, “dream-visions,” the evidence coming from Archaic times tells of only kings, queens, and heroes receiving them. Zeus, Athena, and Hermes appeared disguised in dreams to Agamemnon, Rhesos, Penelope, Nausikaa, and Priamos.6 There are important low-ranking characters in Homer too, for instance, the wet nurse of Odysseus, but they never receive significant dreams or visions of gods showing themselves to them. This circumstance is explained by Nestor when he refers to a dream that Agamemnon has retold, saying that if anyone else but the king had had this dream, it should have been discarded as a false thing, but since the king was the dreamer, it was surely sent by the gods (in this case, Zeus).7 The gods valued kings more than other mortals, as seen in the passage when Athena and Hera honor the war-clad Agamemnon by a thunderstrike.8
On the other hand, Penelope says, in a famous passage of her dream of the eagle killing the geese, that there are true and false dreams, passing through the Gates of Horn and Ivory, respectively.9 The passage is preceded by Penelope’s doubts about the dream, thinking that it may be a false dream, having passed through the Gates of Ivory. As the conception of the Gates appears elsewhere in the Odyssey, Amory has conjectured that this was not a literary invention but for sure a well-spread notion.10 Homer placed the Land of the Dreams beyond Okeanos and the Gates of the Sun, but before the Land of the Dead.11 The notion of a hierarchy of true or false dreams in Archaic times cannot easily be compared to this notion in Classical times. There are definite, as we will see, differences as to who could have an epiphany of a god in a dream when one compares Archaic to Classical times, but when comparing the hierarchy of “significant” dreams, dreams with a purport to the future, the believed source of dreams must be taken into account.12 The notion of a Land of Dreams is found in Archaic times.13 Hesiod calls dreams (children of Night) “the Tribe of Dreams.”14 The idea of true or false dreams in Archaic times needs not to mean that all true dreams were god-sent: In Homeric times, the dreams seem to act on their own accord. In one instance, Zeus sends a “Baneful Dream,”
The souls of mortals thus appear to have been considered the same were you a king or a farmer, but all the same, even though the possibility of any mortal receiving a god-sent dream existed, as far as Homer (and all Archaic literature), kings and queens were the most likely recipients of them.
An interesting myth confirming that in Archaic times only important persons were allowed to sleep in the sanctuaries of the gods and contact them through dreams is that of Bellerophon, as recounted by Pindar.16 Pindar tells how Bellerophon, upon an oracle by the seer Koiranos, slept on the altar of Athena, where he, through the epiphany of Athena in a dream, received a bridle with golden bands, which he then used to capture Pegasos. Had just anybody been able to sleep in a temple and talk to a god, the myth would not have made sense; Bellerophon has to do something extraordinary, even for a hero, in order to receive Pegasos.17 In Archaic authors, for example, Hesiod or Pindar, except for the passage on the dream of Bellerophon, there are no dreams where gods appear to mortals. Both William Harris and Angelo Brelich comment on this fact, seeing it as a sign that oneiromancy was not very prominent in Archaic Greece.18 Oneiromancy and epiphany dreams are two different, though linked, phenomena, and even if dreams were a way of communicating with the divine in certain oracles, this needs not entail that people in general thought that the gods visited them or sent messages through dreams.19
To take this chronological investigation further, in early Classical times and in the account of Herodotos (written around 425 BC), kings and generals can see the future through dreams.20 A similar notion of hierarchy of dreams can be traced in Plato’s Timaios, where one of his characters echoes Pythagorean beliefs (fifth-fourth centuries BC), claiming that people with divine inspiration could have prophetic dreams.21 There, it is not kings and heroes that may have god-sent dreams, but rather those inspired by the gods and leading godly lives (as one might expect that the Pythagoreans thought that they were doing themselves).
Xenophon, taking part in the campaign of Kyros the Younger in 401 BC, writes of a dream he had before taking the lead and urging the Greek army to march back through Asia Minor.22 He dreamt that his father’s house was struck by lightning and started to burn. He judged the dream as god-sent and that Zeus had sent it because of the lightning and took it as a fearsome sign of his present peril. Clearly, claiming to have had god-sent dreams helped to confirm his status as a leader, but at the same time, he was no leader when the campaign started, and the habit of seeing dreams as nonsense or as auspicious,
3 Dream Oracles in the Archaic Period
The idea that dreams were a way of opening up a communication with the divine is a prerequisite for the type of oracular consultation that is labelled oneiromancy. As seen through the example of Homer, this belief existed in Geometric and Archaic Greece. A dream oracle was set in a specific place where the god was thought to dwell, and worshippers would come there and communicate with the god in question through dreams. In some cases, the god of the sanctuary could travel and show him- or herself in dreams to people having come to visit previously, but as a general rule, the locality of the consultation was paramount for the communication to occur. Apollo was, of course, the god of mantic activities par preference in the Greek world, and many of his sons shared this ability. Both Trophonios and Amphiaraos, and later, in Classical times, also Asklepios, all sons of Apollo, gave oracular advice through dreams (in the case of Trophonios, even waking visions). Also Podaleirios, a son of Asklepios, could give dream visions.25 In Archaic times, both Trophonios and Amphiaraos had renowned oracles in Boiotia, which gave oracles directly to the enquirers and not through priestly intermediaries. It was not anyone who could consult, though.
What we know of Amphiaraos comes from what Herodotos writes in his Histories about the Persian army staying in Thessaly for the winter before the decisive battle at Plataiai in 479.26 General Mardonios sent envoys to most oracles in the vicinity he was told about in order to better his chances before the decisive battle.27 This exclusivity in who might approach and consult a god is seen not only in the inspirational oracles. When reading the account of Herodotos on all the oracles, the Persian general consulted, the oracles needed to be approached through special means and chosen people. For instance, when the envoy of Mardonios consulted Ptoian Apollo at Lake Kopais, three men especially elected by the state followed him up to the oracle in order to securely note down all that the diviner communicated.28 In other words, the gods were not easily accessible.
A cult related to the oracle of Amphiaraos is that of Trophonios.29 This fascinating cult was renowned in the ancient world, as attested by the many surviving sources on its ritual and consultations. It offered expensive and exclusive consultation methods to the elite men of the Greek world.30 Trophonios was not a dream oracle but closely related to dream oracles. After meticulous and, for some, frightening preparatory rites, they were led down into the “Cave of Trophonios,” where they would stay for a while in the darkness.31 The communication technique with the divine might best be described as waking visions, or visions between a dream and waking state. The oldest evidence for the oracle is again to be found in Herodotos and his account of the Persian war.32 Some years later, the cult is presented in Euripides’ Ion.33 Kreusa, the daughter of former king Erechtheus of Athens, came to the Cave of Trophonios (as well as going to Delphi) together with her husband Xuthos, the new king of Athens, in order to inquire the oracles about childlessness. The two are mythical persons of high rank, and it is Xuthos who consults.34 Possibly because of the narrow access to the Cave of Trophonios, the oracle continued into Roman times to be an elite oracle, where only one person could consult at a time, after costly preparations.35
Another dream oracle that one might conjecture to have existed in Archaic times, but for which the earliest sources are Cicero and Plutarch,36 is that of Pasiphaë in Lakonia. Here, the ephors of Sparta slept in the sanctuary in order to obtain dream oracles. It seems from both accounts that only the ephors could do this. Plutarch cites his source as the Hellenistic historian Phylarchos.37 Knowing the conservative nature of Spartan society, the oracle and the habit of having ephors consult it, might well be older, but of course, one cannot say for sure.38
It is thus dreams of important people, or consultants prepared with elaborate (and expensive) rituals, that could serve as a gateway to the divine world in oneiromantic cults of Archaic times.
4 Need for Oracles and Approachability of Lesser Deities
A somewhat similar but probably not related phenomenon is to be “seized by the nymphs.” Again, it is thanks to Herodotos and his account of the Persian wars that we have knowledge of this interesting phenomenon.39 In the Cave of Sphragidion, overlooking the field of Plataiai, nymphs dwelled and were believed to somehow enter the villagers living close by, giving them mantic abilities. Travelers would then consult the villagers, making the oracle famous. This phenomenon, no doubt with ancient roots, does not relate to dreams but still shows that prophetic inspiration given by gods who would enter the minds of mortals was part of Greek religious imagination. The phenomenon further shows that lesser divinities, like the nymphs, were no doubt easier to approach by ordinary people.40 Everybody in society had the need of receiving help in decision-making, and there must have been alternatives for the poor also in Archaic times, even though they did not communicate directly with the divine through dreams. At Delphi, there was probably a lot-oracle of the nymphs in the Korykian Cave, high above the Temple at Delphi on Mt Parnassos.41 According to Jennifer Larson, this attests to a need for less expensive oracles than the one of Apollo at Delphi.42 The nymphs were just as Amphiaraos, Trophonios and Asklepios closely associated with Apollo, and in the same way as these heroes they were more approachable than Apollo himself. Further, Dodona might illustrate the need for all in society to consult the gods on the best course of action, although most questions and answers on lead tablets date to Classical times.43
5 Classical Times: New Cultic Developments
The cult of Amphiaraos close to Thebes, as retold by Herodotos, was an exclusive cult with dream consultation. Next time we meet the cult of Amphiaraos in Boiotia; his cult is located at Oropos, on the border between Boiotia and Attika. It is not clear if the cult had moved or if this was an old cult, which suddenly started to bloom.44 In the IG VII 235 (IOropos 277), dated 386 BC, intricate instructions are given on how to run the sanctuary. The inscription also gives precise instructions on where the incubants are to sleep: men on the right side of the altar and women on the left; and further, to prevent people who had not paid for incubation from sneaking into the dormitory anyways, the names of all those who had paid were to be inscribed by the entrance. Thus, now also women consulted the god, and more people than the priest could recognize visually came to incubate. The former oracle had developed into a cult more similar to that of Asklepios at Epidauros, where also women could come and incubate, and where there seemed to be a crowd of people. These events and the development of the cult of Amphiaraos from a more exclusive oracle to a healer for the many were no doubt, as argued by Angeliki Petropoulou, influenced by the establishment of the cult of Asklepios in Athens in 420/419.45
What about Oropos’ presumed model, the Asklepieion at Epidauros? Was it always a cult for large numbers of direct consultants, or had it undergone a somewhat similar development into a more accessible cult? Generally considered to be the earliest place of cult to Asklepios (the other contestant being Thessaly),46 its origins are not very clear. Jürgen Riethmüller writes that Asklepios was first worshipped in the cult of Apollo Maleatas on Mt Kynortion, then moved down on the plain with a cult of his own in the sixth century BC.47 Milena Melfi is of the opinion that Apollo Pythios and the Muses were worshipped on the plain first, the cult coming from Delphi originally by way of refugees from Argos, later to be followed by Asklepios.48
The earliest epigraphical evidence of a cult to Asklepios at Epidauros dates to the sixth century BC.49 Also, an inscription to Apollo Pythios comes from the sanctuary on the plain (also from the sixth century).50 Further, an inscription dated to 500–450 BC, dedicated to Machaon, Asklepios’ son, attests to the presence of his family of healers, a feature which will remain prominent in his cult.51
The earliest archaeologically dated building at Epidauros is the altar and a small adjacent rectangular building beneath the Classical building E, as well as a mud-brick stoa found below the Classical abaton, all these of the sixth century.52 A dedication in Building E indicates that Asklepios must have been worshipped here.53 If we accept that Asklepios was worshipped here from the start together with Apollo, the cult had links to Delphi, possibly entailing a divinatory element (Apollo Pythios), as well as a healer cult (Asklepios and Machaon, known mythical doctors from Homer). A mud-brick stoa, if indeed with the same function as the later abaton on top, could indicate numerous worshippers and a similar consultation method as later on, but it is very difficult to tell how incubation began. In the iamata of Epidauros, the earliest healing inscriptions of Asklepios, dating back to ca. 450 BC, it is apparent that anybody in society consulted Asklepios.54 They are characterized by their geographical provenience, and their professions when mentioned, are for instance, soldiers, a fishmonger and former slaves.55 Also women as well as children incubated.56 Characteristically, no one is presented as an elite or famous person, although no doubt women did not travel alone, and some of the paralyzed are mentioned to have been carried on litters or travelling in wagons (no doubt accompanied by servants). The cause of their illnesses, as noted in the iamata, was not seen as divine.57
Just as in the earlier cults of Amphiaraos and Trophonios, the consultation technique was still that of sleeping in the sanctuary and meeting the god in the dream. But now, anybody could do it. What change in society created this new and easily approachable god?
6 Archaic to Classical Times: Changing Hierarchy of Dreams?
The early oneiromantic or inspirational oracles seem to have a limited and select number of consultants or work through specially chosen and trained intermediaries, as in the case of Apollo at Delphi. The evidence from Archaic literature suggests that only (or, at least foremost) the dreams of the elite were considered as entailing god-sent visions or messages. The question begs itself whether the perception of whom in society could receive a god-sent dream had changed before the arrival of mass incubations in the cult of Asklepios or if it was the other way around, that the spread of the cult introduced a new, more open landscape of dreams.
An important distinction needs to be made between dreams that may mean something and dreams that have been sent from gods or where gods visit (in disguise, by messengers, or as they are). Both these notions seem to have existed in Homer, but even though dreams acted on their own, travelling from the Land of Dreams, the high and mighty were considered far more likely to receive truthful dreams. Already in Homer, dream interpreters are mentioned, and the question is whether there was a market for this profession among the elite in society or if a larger part of the society bought their services.58 It might be that many of the dreams interpreted as significant by the dream interpreters were not believed to be directly god-sent. Later on, Herodotos mentions dream interpreters in Athens, who were consulted to interpret the dream of Hipparchos.59 It is known that many books on the interpretation of dreams existed from the fifth century onwards; the works of the sophist Antiphon maybe being the earliest (fifth century BC),60 but only the Oneirokritika of Artemidoros from the Roman period has been preserved. In the age of Aristophanes, dream interpreters seem to have become cheap (costing a couple of obols) and were also consulted by slaves.61 In the Hippokratic writings, especially the Regimen IV, written around 400 BC, dreams were used to diagnose different illnesses, which is, of course, different from using them for mantic purposes, but all the same attest to their perceived importance, and that dreams were treated as the same type of phenomenon for all in society.62
To sum up, many factors must have contributed to incubation becoming such a ubiquitous phenomenon in the fourth century BC and onwards. One factor was surely a belief that any worshipper could be the recipient of a dream sent from the gods. Incubation cults, in the case of Amphiaraos, having developed from more exclusive oracle cults, now turned into large healing sanctuaries, where the ill, men, women, children from all levels of society, even slaves, might stay for months in the sanctuary. Further, if looking at the evidence at hand of a belief that anybody’s dream could have a meaning or be sent by gods, there is a clear shift in how dreams were perceived by people at large. For instance, Plato complains about ordinary people, including women, being obsessed with their dreams, and setting up dedications and altars to different gods according to dreams.63 Here, no doubt, some people believed that the gods appeared in their dreams, and some that the dreams were important and probably the result of divine agency (further elaborated on by dream interpreters). The fact that most extant kat’onar dedications were made to Asklepios seems to indicate that this god was more likely to visit in dreams or that people often feared illness.
7 Greek Medicine and Greek Doctors
Another factor, which might have promoted a fast spread of this type of accessible oneiromantic healing cult, was the identification of Asklepios as a doctor, an identity which worked well with the preceding development, transmission, and openly discussed nature of the techne of medicine. Bronwen Wickkiser has explained the fast spread of the cult as a co-operation of doctors and the cult inasmuch as chronic or seemingly incurable cases were referred to the god, and that also Athenian imperial politics helped spread this originally Peloponnese cult.64 All of this, together with a new hierarchy of dreams, might be contributing factors, as historical phenomena are seldom explained by one factor alone.
Asklepios is a human doctor in the Iliad, together with his sons Machaon and Podaleirios. Homer attests to the existence of skilled surgeons, who also applied herbs to diminish pains.65 As remarked by Wickkiser, evidence for medical healing was scant until the sixth century BC, mainly because there is little evidence for anything until the sixth century.66 How well established was the art of medicine when the cult of Asklepios first came to be? Solon (born ca. 640 BC) honors doctors in his poetry, setting them apart from other healers for their efficiency.67 The epic poet Arktinos of the seventh or sixth century divides doctors into those treating wounds and those healing internal afflictions.68 In other words, already here the profession was so well established that two main specialties had developed. The oldest epigraphical sources of doctors in the Greek world are short epitaphs from the sixth century (Megara Hyblaia) and from 510–500 BC (Athens).69 A relief now in Basel of the late sixth and early fifth century BC shows a sitting doctor, identified by the cupping instruments depicted beside him (Fig. 1).70 These instruments have been numerously found,71 and were used to draw what was believed to be noxious substances and balance the flow of blood.72 As the craft of using cupping instruments was well known enough around 500 BC to make the visual identification of a doctor secure by the depiction of these instruments, some idea of balancing the body’s blood must have been present for a long time.73
Doctors could further reach high recognition. Herodotos tells of a Greek doctor named Demokedes, who treated both the tyrant Polykrates of Samos as well as king Dareios.74 Most of his time was, though, spent as a public physician on Aigina, paid by the state. No doubt, the fame of Greek doctors preceded the time of Herodotos back into the sixth century, as this kind of skill and knowledge takes many generations to accumulate.75 It is also noteworthy that doctors, as well as being asked for by rulers, also were paid by Greek states to take care of all citizens’ illnesses. Somewhat later, in the Plutos of Aristophanes, a character complains that Wealth has gone blind and that the state of Athens no longer can afford to pay a physician to cure normal people.76 As the play was written for a good number of Athenians to enjoy, it would have made no sense if the state did not have a public doctor.
Apparently, doctors existed as a specialization of healers already in Homer, were praised by Solon, and were well-known and travelled around for the best pay at the time of Herodotos. How did their presence and well-appreciated skills influence society as a whole, especially considering the habit of Greek states of employing a public doctor?
When we read about the doctors in Herodotos, it is apparent that certain geographical areas were well-known for their doctors, a bit like the fame of certain philosophical schools was attached to certain areas. Kroton, the hometown of Demokedes, is one such example. The Pythagoreans originated from this city. It is Wickkiser’s hypothesis, following observation by Lesley Dean-Jones, that medical method and observations of the human body played a vital role in inspiring the different models of the world of the pre-Sokratics.77 Further, Laurence Totelin argues that medical knowledge and natural philosophy developed within the same scholarly circles and that the transmission of both natural and medical knowledge developed at the same time, at the end of the sixth century BC.78 This is contrary to most previous research, where it is seen that the natural philosophers influenced the art of medicine, perhaps because the extant medical texts are later than the pre-Sokratic ones.79 One needs not to exclude the other, but the mutual benefit may have refined the investigations of both disciplines. The art of medicine, at its best, was a systematic study for the sake of better patient recovery, where empirical experience and observation were vital for the success of the doctor.80 This art, attested in Homer (and before that in Mesopotamia and Egypt), preceded the pre-Sokratics, and quite possibly influenced their approach of investigating and asking questions concerning the world around them.
While the existence of natural philosophers depends on a society of surplus, the art of healing is always in demand, and people are willing to pay practitioners, who have acquired the ability to cure.
To further highlight the common intellectual sphere in which both medicine and natural philosophy developed, some of these early philosophers may have been doctors as well. As for the Pythagorean school in Kroton, the father of Demokedes, the famous doctor mentioned above, was a pupil of Pythagoras.81 As professions in the ancient world often passed from father to son, it is possible that the father was a doctor as well. Also, the natural philosopher Alkmaion of Kroton (early fifth century BC) was allegedly a doctor famous for having dissected an eye (at least according to the sixth century AD ophthalmologist Aëtios of Amida).82 Further, Empedokles (ca. 490–430 BC) was possibly a doctor himself (this would explain his interest in the growth of nails and lactation).83 Not unimportantly, the father of Aristotle was a doctor, having no doubt conferred to his son a method of observing and examining the world linked to his professional training.
Now we come to the question of whether doctors as a group and medicine as a more or less established art influenced the contemporary Greek perception of how healing was to be effected. First of all, did the doctors exist as a group, and did they share a common theory before the coming of the cult of Asklepios, that is, in the sixth and early fifth centuries?
At some point, different “schools” of doctors offered and debated a shared view on how to best practice medicine, and a techne, art of medicine, was formed. It is unknown how and to what degree the different medical practitioners came together in associations.84 Recognized skilled surgeons and doctors of internal medicine existed already in the age of Homer. Possibly groups formed because of the itinerant nature of most of this profession, comparable to that of other skilled craftsmen, such as architects and artists, moving around the Greek-speaking world, creating this new sense of professional identity and loyalty across kinship and city borders.85 Plato saw Asklepios as the founder of this techne,86 and describes Hippokrates as an Asklepiad, interpreted as a member of a hereditary priesthood, and further writes that Hippokrates was the first to separate medicine from philosophy, creating a techne of medicine at Kos.87 The medical schools at Kroton and Kyrene appear to have been earlier than those at Kos and Knidos,88 and it has been convincingly argued by Longrigg that Plato forms a myth on the doctors and their connection to Asklepios rather than trying to puzzle together a series of historical events.89 In other words, the cult came later than the art of medicine.
As the medical profession was well established and even divided into two specialties (surgery and internal medicine) by the sixth century, and as cupping instruments were depicted as a mark of identification by 500 BC,90 some medical notions of balancing the blood in order to cure illness must have existed before the Hippokratic texts were written. The first medical texts to be written down seem to have worked as an aid for the practitioners, being lists of recipes.91 The art of medicine was considered old when On Ancient Medicine was written in 420–410.92 The Knidian Sentences were already being read in a revised version when the author of Regimen in Acute Diseases, dated by Joly to the last third of the fifth century, criticized it.93 Hence, at least some 30 or so years before 430–400 BC, a work of medicine was circulated, discussed, and revised. The Knidian sentences apparently built much on the regulation of humors as well.94 To cite Vivien Nutton, “Medical ideas were discussed freely whether among a small group of acquaintances or in a public place, and once writing had become widespread, by 500 BC, medical books were available in towns like Athens, Corinth or Miletos for anyone who wished to buy them.”95 In other words, not only doctors were easy to employ by this time,96 but there was a medical discourse which was not only meant for an intellectual elite, but had begun to spread to a wider audience. If it can be shown that a large part of the population adhered to new ideas about how healing should be administered, then these ideas must have also influenced the religious landscape of the time. At the beginning of the sixth century, medicine and philosophy debated some of the same questions, and intellectuals seem to have gathered in certain cities.97
In a seldom quoted study, Harold C. Baldry makes the claim that pre-Sokratic cosmology was influenced by early medical beliefs in embryology, not extant today but preceding the later extensive interest in Hippokratic writings in the subject.98 Indeed, many “primitive” cultures resemble the creation of the world with the creation of a fetus. Baldry examines the extant pre-Sokratic texts, showing how certain terms and ideas in Anaximander and the Pythagoreans make the most sense if they are seen in the context of contemporary interest in embryology.99 The methodological problem is that we do have some fragments of texts of the pre-Sokratics, but no medical texts remain that are prior to the Hippokratic corpus. The focus of the Corpus Hippocraticum, though, on embryology, and indeed the great focus on this subject by most “primitive” peoples (the development of the fetus and the cosmic egg), leads Baldry to conclude that previous ideas, studies, and works on embryology must have circulated at the time of the pre-Sokratics.100 The foremost work on embryology in the Hippokratic corpus, On the Nature of the Child, is dated to around 420 BC.101 Iain M. Lonie, commenting on the text, writes that chapter 12 is Archaic in style and has a parallel in Empedokles.102 Lonie adds that the author’s theory that heat combined with moisture produces breath and, once breath has been produced in the embryonic mass, it forces an exit is modelled on commonly accepted theories, present among others in Anaximander.103 Lonie states that, as for the account of the formation of the embryo, the general model is the egg, a model, which, he writes, is probably found in Anaximander, and: “There are good grounds for supposing that the same model was applied by the pre-Socratics to the larger process of cosmogony.”104 Here, he does not comment on the hypothesis of Baldry, but indeed one wonders whether sixth-century doctors did not look for the obvious analogy of the egg when trying to explain human procreation. Another parallel is the concept of humors, often believed to have sprung from the pre-Sokratic notion of the four elements.105 Regimen I, II and III of the late fifth and early fourth centuries BC are other Hippokratic texts where a strong pre-Sokratic influence has been seen, to quote J. Wilkins, as “synthesized in a complex and sometimes confusing form.”106 Hypothetically, these texts did not only draw on separate pre-Sokratic writings, but intellectual concepts present in Classical Greece and earlier, which many traditions, medical as well as philosophical, could make use of. Lonie believes that the humors are as old as medicine itself and present already in Egyptian medicine and can be seen in the notion of bile and phlegm in the oldest Greek medical texts.107 On the other hand, when commenting on the relation between On the Nature of the Child and pre-Sokratic texts, Lonie makes the general assumption that the pre-Sokratics were the first to produce a theory, such as Empedokles’ theory on the growth of nails, which was then re-shaped by other pre-Sokratics and later appeared in the text concerning the growth of hair.108 It is not known in which intellectual context Empedokles formed his theory, but it is possible that he was influenced by early medical concepts of the time. As the medical profession was well established and even divided into two specialties (surgery and internal medicine) by the sixth century, and cupping instruments were depicted as mark of identification by 500 BC, medical ideas on balancing the flow of blood must have circulated before the Hippokratic texts were written. It is likely that the fifth-century Hippokratic interest in embryology and humors was preceded by an interest in the same subject in the medical theory of the sixth century. Procreation is at the center of any society if it is going to survive. Homer described Egypt as a source of pharmaka.109 One obvious source of influence concerning medical knowledge and theory would be Egypt, as Lonie also acknowledges. Elizabeth Craik has argued that Cyrene, founded in 630 BC, served as a hub for the spread of Egyptian skills and ideas (alongside trade goods) to Greece.110 Her analysis of the Hippokratic text On the Organ of Sight (De videndi acie), a surgical manual, places it close to an Egyptian tradition, related to Places in Man, dated around 500 BC.111 She argues that it was probably not written by a native Greek speaker and, interestingly, that the author had affiliations with Alkmaion of Kroton and Empedokles, sharing the interest in the function of the eye. If an Egyptian doctor, drawing on a tradition dating back at least 1000 years,112 came to South Italy, wrote a medical treatise in Greek, and shared ideas with Alkmaion, there existed arguably a two-way communication on medical theory. Literacy, of course, was a factor without which these new ideas would not have been systematized, transmitted, or spread. Additionally, something which is harder to define played a role, a market for medical science. A market entails a buyer, and a buyer has an expectancy of the product which is sold. In other words, if the medical discourse and the ubiquity of doctors influenced ideas on the nature of the world, why could they not also have influenced the perception of divine healing? Might it be that the great spread of medical healing among the general public changed the conception of and expectations of healing and that this new conception also spilled over into the sphere of religious healing?113 It is possible that Greek doctors influenced the religious sphere in how to imagine a healer and also how to imagine cures.
8 Concluding Remarks
The image of Asklepios was remarkably similar to human doctors, both in appearance, apparel, and behavior, something which is also reflected in the iamata cures114 as well as in the Plutos of Aristophanes,115 as it has already been remarked by Lloyd and Edelstein.116 Their hypothesis is that cult officials were inspired by the image of doctors when forming the cult. Another way of looking at it is that the expectancy of the worshippers themselves of a religious healer shaped the image of a doctor god walking about with assistants and his medicine chest, curing not by the laying on hands but by techniques used by human doctors. To enhance this, the iamata of Epidauros partly imitate medical cures of the time.117
A long-standing tradition of Greek medicine preceded the formation of a cult of Asklepios that was separate from the cult of Apollo and popular in its own right. Above all, the spirit that anyone, who could afford, could go and see a doctor, and in some city-states, they were even employed by the state, must have penetrated into the conception of how a religious healer could be approached and would administer cures. Even women, children, and slaves could enter a direct communication with Asklepios in Classical times without too much preparation, and the cause of the disease was rarely seen as divine. Asklepios was fundamentally different from his father Apollo as concerns approachability and cures. This may have been a result of a changing society in which the “expectancy” of the general public on healing methods quite possibly changed also the perception of a divine healer.
I wish to warmly thank the organizers Jesper Tae Jensen, Peter Schultz, Spencer Pope and Kristina Winther-Jacobsen, for inviting me to the conference as well as Jesper Tae Jensen and George Hinge for careful editing. I also wish to thank the Swedish Scientific Council for its financial support. Part of the subject matter in this article overlaps with my dissertation, Greek Incubation Rituals in Classical and Hellenistic Times, Stockholm University 2011, later published in Kernos Supplément (2015). I am grateful to Vinciane Pirenne for allowing me to use the material.
Amandry, P. 1984b. “Le Culte des Nymphes et de Pan à l’Antre Corycien.” In L’Antre Corycien II, edited by P. Amandry, 395–425. BCH Suppl. 9. Paris.
Berger, E. 1970. Das Basler Arztrelief: Studien zum griechischen Grab- und Votivrelief um 500 v. Chr. und zur vorhippokratischen Medizin. Veröffentlichungen der Antikenmuseums Basel 1. Mainz am Rhein.
Boehringer, D. 2001. Heroenkulte in Griechenland von der geometrischen bis zur klassischen Zeit: Attika, Argolis, Messenien. Klio-BH 3. Berlin.
Bonnechere, P. 2003a. Trophonios de Lébadée. Cultes et mythes d’une cité béotienne au miroir de la mentalité antique. Religions in the Graeco-Roman World 150. Leiden and Boston.
Bonnechere, P. 2003b. “Trophonius of Lebadea: Mystery Aspects of an Oracular Cult in Boeotia.” In Greek Mysteries: The Archaeology and Ritual of Ancient Greek Secret Cults, edited by M.B. Cosmopoulos, 169–192. London and New York.
Brelich A. 1966 . “The Place of Dreams in the Religious World Concept of the Greeks.” In The Dream and Human Societies, edited by G.E. von Grunebaum and R. Caillois, 293–301. Berkeley and Los Angeles.
Crahay R. 1956. La littérature oraculaire chez Hérodote. Bibliothèque de la Faculté de philosophie et lettres de l’Université de Liège 138. Paris.
Craik, E. 2005. “The Hippocratic Treatise peri opsios (De videndi acie, On the organ of sight).” In Hippocrates in Context: Papers Read at the XIth International Hippocrates Colloquium. University of Newcastle upon Tyne, 27–31 August 2002, edited by Ph.J. van der Eijk, 191–207. Studies in Ancient Medicine 31. Leiden.
- Search Google Scholar
- Export Citation
Craik, E. . “ 2005 The Hippocratic Treatise peri opsios (De videndi acie, On the organ of sight).” In Hippocrates in Context: Papers Read at the XIth International Hippocrates Colloquium. University of Newcastle upon Tyne, 27–31 August 2002, edited by , Ph.J. van der Eijk 191– 207. Studies in Ancient Medicine 31. Leiden.
Dean-Jones, L. 1995. “Literacy and the Charlatan in Ancient Greek Medicine.” In Written Texts and the Rise of Literate Culture in Ancient Greece, edited by H. Yunis, 97–121. Cambridge.
Dorati, M. 2013. “Il sogno di Bellerofonte: Incubazione e modelli ontologici.” In Corinto. Luogo di azione e luogo di racconto. Atti del convegno internazionale Urbino, 23–25 settembre 2009, edited by P.A. Bernadini, 27–49. Pisa and Rome.
Ehrenheim, H. 2011. “Greek Incubation Rituals in Classical and Hellenistic Times.” Ph.D. diss., Stockholm University.
Floky, A. 2011. “Trophonius the Darkling: Interpretation and Motif in the Myth, Origins and Ritual of Trophonius of Lebadea.” PhD diss., University of Western Australia.
Flower, M.A. 2009. “Spartan ‘Religion’ and Greek ‘Religion.’” In Sparta: Comparative Approaches, edited by S. Hodkinson, 193–229. Swansea.
Fontenrose, J. 1978. The Delphic Oracle: Its Responses and Operation with a Catalogue of Responses. Berkeley, Los Angeles and London.
Friese, W. 2010b. “Facing the Dead: Landscape and Ritual of Ancient Greek Death Oracles.” Time and Mind: The Journal of Archaeology, Consciousness and Culture 3:1:29–40.
Friese, W. 2010c. “Zwischen Kult und Kommerz. Architektur als erfahrbarer Raum in antiken Orakelheiligtümern.” MOSAIKjournal 1:1–31.
Friese, W. 2013. “‘Through the Double Gates of Sleep’ (Verg. Aen. 6.236): Cave-Oracles in Graeco-Roman Antiquity.” In Stable Places and Changing Perceptions: Cave Archaeology in Greece, edited by F. Mavridis and J. Tae Jensen, 228–238. BAR-IS 2558. Oxford.
- Search Google Scholar
- Export Citation
Friese, W. . “ 2013 ‘Through the Double Gates of Sleep’ (Verg. Aen. 6.236): Cave-Oracles in Graeco-Roman Antiquity.” In Stable Places and Changing Perceptions: Cave Archaeology in Greece, edited by , and F. Mavridis J. Tae Jensen 228– 238. . 2558 BAR- IS Oxford.
Georgoudi S. 1998. “Les porte-parole des dieux: réflexions sur le personnel des oracles grecs.” In Sibille e linguaggi oracolari: Mito, storia, tradizione. Atti del convegno internazionale di studi Macerata-Norcia 20–24 Settembre 1994, Università degli Studi di Macerata, 1998 (Pisa-Roma, Istituti Editoriali e Poligrafici Internazionali, 1999), edited by I. Chirassi and T. Seppilli, 315–365. Ichnia. Collana del Dipartimento di Scienze Archeologiche e Storiche dell’Antichità 3. Macerata.
- Search Google Scholar
- Export Citation
Georgoudi S. . “ 1998 Les porte-parole des dieux: réflexions sur le personnel des oracles grecs.” In Sibille e linguaggi oracolari: Mito, storia, tradizione. Atti del convegno internazionale di studi Macerata-Norcia 20–24 Settembre 1994, Università degli Studi di Macerata, 1998 (Pisa-Roma, Istituti Editoriali e Poligrafici Internazionali, 1999), edited by , and I. Chirassi T. Seppilli 315– 365. Ichnia. Collana del Dipartimento di Scienze Archeologiche e Storiche dell’Antichità 3. Macerata.
Giorgianni, F., ed. and trans. 2006. Hippocrates, Über die Natur des Kindes (De genitura und De natura pueri). Serta Graeca. Beiträge zur Erforschung griechischer Texte 23. Wiesbaden.
Gorrini, M.E. “The Hippocratic Impact on Healing Cults: The Archaeological Evidence in Attica.” In Hippocrates in Context: Papers Read at the XIth International Hippocrates Colloquium, edited by P. van der Eijk, 135–156. Leiden.
Grensemann, H. 1975. Knidische Medizin. Teil I. Die Testimonien zur ältesten knidischen Lehre und Analysen knidischer Schriften im Corpus Hippocraticum. Berlin and New York.
Hulskamp, M.A.A. 2013. “The Value of Dream Diagnostics in the Medical Praxis of the Hippocratics and Galen.” In Dreams, Healing, and Medicine in Greece: From Antiquity to the Present, edited by S.M. Oberhelman, 33–68. Farnham.
Joly, R. 1972. “Notice.” In Hippocrate. Tome VI, 2e partie. Du régime des maladies aiguës. Appendice. De l’aliment. De l’usage des liquides, edited by R. Joly, 9–34. Collection des Universités de France. Paris.
Jouanna, J. 1990. “Notice.” In Hippocrate. Tome II, 1re partie. L’ancienne médicine, edited by J. Jouanna, 7–112. Collection des Universités de France. Paris.
Kranz, P. 2006 . Review of Asklepios. Heiligtümer und Kulte. 2. vols. Studien zu antiken Heiligtümern 1, by J. Riethmüller, BJb:316–328.
Kudlien, F. 1967. Der Beginn des medizinischen Denkens bei den Griechen von Homer bis Hippokrates. Die Bibliothek der Alten Welt. Zürich and Stuttgart.
Lambrinoudakis, V. 2002. “Conservation and Research: New Evidence on a Long-living Cult. The Sanctuary of Apollo Maleatas and Asklepios at Epidauros.” In Excavating Classical Culture. Recent Archaeological Discoveries in Greece, edited by M. Stamatopoulou and M. Yeroulanou, 213–224. BAR-IS 1031. Oxford.
- Search Google Scholar
- Export Citation
Lambrinoudakis, V. . “ 2002 Conservation and Research: New Evidence on a Long-living Cult. The Sanctuary of Apollo Maleatas and Asklepios at Epidauros.” In Excavating Classical Culture. Recent Archaeological Discoveries in Greece, edited by , and M. Stamatopoulou M. Yeroulanou 213– 224. . 1031 BAR- IS Oxford.
Lhôte, É. 2006. Les lamelles oraculaires de Dodone. École pratique des Hautes Études. Sciences historiques et philologiques 3. Hautes Études du monde gréco-romain 36. Genève.
LiDonnici, L.R. 1995. The Epidaurian Miracle Inscriptions. Text, Translation and Commentary. Texts and Translations 36, Graeco-Roman Religion Series 11. Atlanta.
Lonie, I.M. 1981. The Hippocratic Treatises, “On Generation”, “On the Nature of the Child”, “Diseases IV”: A Commentary. Ars Medica. Texte und Untersuchungen zur Quellenkunde der Alten Medizin 7. Berlin and New York.
Mavridis, F., J. Tae Jensen and L. Kormazopoulou. 2013. “Introduction.” In Stable Places and Changing Perceptions: Cave Archaeology in Greece, edited by F. Mavridis and J. Tae Jensen, 1–16. BAR-IS 2558. Oxford.
Melfi, M. 2007a. Il santuario di Asclepio in Lebena. Monografie della Scuola Archeologica Italiana di Atene e delle Missioni Italiane in Oriente 19. Rome.
Nissen, C. 2009. Entre Asclépios et Hippocrate. Étude des cultes guérisseurs et des médecins en Carie. Kernos Suppl. 22. Liège.
Pagel, J.F. 2012. “What Physicians Need to Know about Dreams and Dreaming.” Current Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine 18:6:574–579.
Petropoulou, A. 1985. “Pausanias 1.34.5: Incubation on a Ram Skin.” In La Béotie antique. Lyon-Saint-Étienne 16–20 mai 1983, Colloques Internationaux du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, edited by. P. Roesch and G. Argoud, 169–177. Paris.
Raubitschek, A.E. 1949. Dedications from the Athenian Akropolis: A Catalogue of the Inscriptions of the Sixth and Fifth Centuries BC. Cambridge, Mass.
Renberg, G. 2003. “‘Commanded by the Gods:’ An Epigraphical Study of Dreams and Visions in Greek and Roman Religious Life.” PhD diss., Duke University.
Renberg, G. 2017. Where Dreams May Come: Incubation Sanctuaries in the Greco-Roman World. Religions in the Graeco-Roman World 184. Leiden and Boston.
Samama, É. 2003. Les médecins dans le monde grec. Sources épigraphiques sur la naissance d’un corps médical. École Pratique des Hautes Études. Sciences historiques et philologiques 3. Hautes études du monde gréco-romain 31. Genève.
Sourvinou-Inwood, C. 2005. Hylas, the Nymphs, Dionysos and Others: Myth, Ritual, Ethnicity. Martin P. Nilsson Lecture on Greek Religion, delivered 1997 at the Swedish Institute at Athens. SkrAth 8o, 19. Stockholm.
Totelin, L.M.V. 2009. Hippocratic Recipes. Oral and Written Transmission of Pharmacological Knowledge in Fifth- and Fourth-Century Greece. Studies in Ancient Medicine 34. Leiden and Boston.
De Waele, F.J. 1940. “The Corinth Excavation: Asklepieion District.” Unpublished field notebook. Athens: The American School of Classical Studies at Athens.
Waugh, R.L., ed. and trans. 2000. The Ophthalmology of Aëtius of Amida. Jr. Hirschberg History of Ophthalmology Monographs 8. Oostende. Original edition, Leipzig, 1899.
Wickkiser, B.L. 2008. Asklepios, Medicine, and the Politics of Healing in Fifth-Century Greece: Between Craft and Cult. Baltimore.
Wilkins, J. 2005. “The Social and Intellectual Context of Regimen II.” In Hippocrates in Context: Papers Read at the XIth International Hippocrates Colloquium, edited by P. van der Eijk, 121–133. Leiden.
On a conceptual level, the asking for an oracle and the asking for healing are two closely related phenomena. In the ancient world, gods were asked for advice on the proper cure, just as the question could relate to matters on marriage, journeys, or the outcomes of a business transaction. On incubation and Asklepieia, see Deubner 1900; Edelstein and Edelstein 1945; Riethmüller 2005; Melfi 2007a; 2007b; Ehrenheim 2011; 2015; Renberg 2017.
The inscriptions on four large stone slabs are dated to the mid-fourth century, being a compilation of tablets in the sanctuary, the oldest possibly, according to the linguistic analysis of LiDonnici (1995, 80–82), dating back to the mid-fifth century.
Plut. Mor.Conv.Sept.Sap. 15.
See Boehringer 2001, who, though, uses late sources for identification of Geometric and Archaic oracles.
Birds: Il. 1.69; Od. 2.182, 15.160–181; cf. Hdt 3.76; hepatoscopy: Il. 24.221. See, e.g. the synopsis of Jan Bremmer in New Pauly online, s.v. Divination.
Il. 2.1–2.40 (Zeus sends Dream in the guise of a messenger resembling Nestor to Agamemnon); Il. 10.496–497 (Athena appears disguised as Diomedes to Rhesos); Il. 24.673–690 (Hermes appears without disguise to Priamos); Od. 4.795–841 (Athena appears as Penelope’s sister to Penelope); Od. 6.20–51 (Athena appears as a friend of Nausikaa to the latter).
Od. 4.809; Amory 1966, 32.
The distinction between “significant” and “nonsignificant” dreams is one made by Dodds (1951, ch. 4, esp. 107), stating that this distinction runs all through antiquity, starting with Homer and the Gates of Horn and Ivory. The categories are, of course, more complex than that.
Harris 2009, 50–51.
Hes. Theog. 212.
Pind. Ol. 13.61–92.
Dorati (2013) has made the case that the passage is, in fact, the earliest evidence we have on Greek incubation, where the mythical events in the cult of Athena were inspired by incubation practiced already at this date in the cult of Asklepios in Corinth. The early cultic history of Asklepios at Corinth is not clear, though, see Roebuck (1951, 152–159, esp. 154); Riethmüller (2005, I:125 n. 211 and I:126–127) and Kranz (2006 , 318) for different opinions on its start, ranging from the end of the seventh century (due to early terracotta votive deposits) to the latter part of the fifth century (in Roebuck’s opinion). It is not clear if the terracottas were given to Apollo or Asklepios. Forthcoming publications of the excavations might throw light on the situation. Notwithstanding, meeting a god by sleeping in his or her sanctuary might have been a non-institutionalized way of seeking communication, although the account of Pindar indicates that not everyone was dignified to do this.
Brelich 1966, 297; Harris 2009, 142 n. 110.
On the habit of the gods sending messages to mortals in their dreams and otherwise, and its cultural background, see Harris 2009, 37.
Hdt. 1.34.1–2 (Kroisos), 1.107–108 (Astyages), 7.12–18 (Xerxes, as well as his at first unbelieving advisor, had visions in dreams by a “tall and handsome man,” deemed to be sent by a god); cf. Frisch 1968, 66–71. See also Hdt. 5.56, where Hipparchos, on the night before his death, had a vision of a tall and handsome man foretelling him his end in a riddling verse.
Pl. Ti. 71d–72a. See the discussion in Harris 2009, 162 and Slaveva-Griffin 2005 on ways to interpret the Timaios.
Xen. An. 3.1.11–13, 3.1–2.
Xen. Cyr. 8.7.2.
Xen. Cyr. 8.7.21.
The dream-oracle of Podaleirios at Daunia was noted by Timaios of Tauromenion (ca. 350–300 BC), FGrH IIIB, frg. 566, F56.
The oracle of Amphiaraos is also mentioned in Hdt. 1.46 and 1.52, concerning a consultation allegedly made by Kroisos before the Battle at Halys (546 BC). In Herodotos’ account, Kroisos consults oracles popular in the fifth century and not oracles closer to Lydia famous in the sixth century, wherefore the account is not entirely reliable. As Herodotos himself writes that there is no record of a response given to the Lydians by Amphiaraos, indicating that the story might be a construct by the officials of the cult of Amphiaraos, see further Crahay 1956, 195, 292 and Pollard 1965, 18. See further Sineux 2007, Ehrenheim 2015, 160–163, Renberg 2017, 272–294, 310–315.
Other consultants mentioned are Kroisos (Hdt. 1.46 and 1.52, before his defeat by Kyros in 546 BC, see Rhodes 2003, 65). The veracity of this consultation has been questioned, see Crahay 1956, 195 and 292.
On aspects of this cult, see Bonnechere 2003a. For the cult in the Hellenistic and Roman periods, see Bonnechere 2003b. See also Friese 2010a, 50–52, 375–376 cat. no. I.I.II.10; 2010b, 34–37; 2010c, 5–10, 20–23; 2013, 230–233; Ehrenheim 2015, 164.
See Bonnechere 2003a, 228–271.
How the consultants perceived the going down into the cave must have varied from person to person, but the preparations and the solitude in this dark place beneath the earth would not have left anyone without some experience. It is quite possible that many consultants, as analyzed by Bonnechere (2003a, 164–182), perceived the consultation process as a descent of the soul into the underworld. For a short introduction of the katabasis with references, see Friese 2010b. See also Mavridis, Tae Jensen and Kormazopoulou 2013, 5–6 and Bonnechère and Cursaru 2015, 3–13; 2016, 7–14.
Hdt. 8.133–134 (Mys bribed a man of the country to go down into the Cave of Trophonios, as apparently foreigners were not allowed).
Eur., Ion 300, 394.
Eur., Ion 300–302.
Paus. 9.39. See further Bonnechere 2003a, on the complicated and exclusive consultation ritual.
Cic., De Div. 1.43.96; Plut., Vit. Ages. 9; Vit. Cleom. 7.
See Marasco 1981.
See Flower 2009, 214–215, on Spartan religion acting as a factor to conserve and preserve the Lykurgan constitution and Spartan society.
Hdt. 8.20, 8.77, and 9.43; Kleidemos FGrHist IIIB, frg. 323, F22 (ca. 350 BC); Paus. 9.3.9. On the cult of the nymphs and nympholepsy, see Connor 1988; Larson 2001 and Sourvinou-Inwood 2005.
The Greek gods were known to be dangerous to get too close by, cf. the myths of Zeus/Semele, Artemis/Alkaion, Eros/Psyche, Apollo/Koronis, and the account of Apollo and the Pythia the day all went wrong (Plut. Mor. 438b).
Amandry 1984a, 375–378. For a synopsis, see Larson 2001, 234–238. 23,000 astragaloi were deposited there. As there is no parallel for the find of astragaloi at other cave sites, Amandry suggests that they were used for oracular purposes: Amandry 1950, 23–36, 84–85 and 232–233; cf. Larson 2001, 11–12; Johnston 2008, 54, contra: Fontenrose 1978, 220–224. Clear evidence of cult activity begins in the sixth century: Larson 2001, 234. There are scattered finds from the Geometric period and seventh century, again inconclusive as to cult activity. See also Friese 2010, 54 (the cave was used in Neolithic and Mycenean times, though the material is inconclusive on cult activity, see Amandry 1984a and 1984b).
As suggested by Larson (2001, 11–12), those who could not afford the sacrifice required by Apollo at Delphi instead made their way up to the Cave of the Nymphs. There were also the wandering inspirational nympholepts, the Bakides (Bakis according to Larson (2001, 12) being more of a title (like Sibyl) than a personal name). In early Archaic times, Larson writes that these Bakides probably gave oracles first-hand, but that by the fifth and fourth centuries they were replaced by itinerant chresmologues. Herodotos, in fact, quotes many oracles of Bakis, seeming to believe in them (Hdt. 8.20, 8.77, 8.96, and 9.43). The nympholepts, though, were not just anybody, as seen when Peisistratos tries to take on the title for political purposes (Schol. Ar. Pax 1071; Suda s.v.
Out of the 167 inscriptions published by Lhôte (2006), only three date to before 500 BC, and none before 550 BC. Dodona was known already by Homer as an oracle, but it seems never to have entailed divination through dreams (e.g. Georgoudi 1998, 336–340).
Parker 1996, 146–149. Strabon (9.2.10 (404)) writes that the cult of Amphiaraos was transferred from “Knopia” to Oropos; see also the discussion of Parker. See also Friese 2010a, 367–368 cat. no. I.I.I.4.a. See further Sineux 2007; Ehrenheim 2015, 160–163; Renberg 2017, 272–294, 310–315.
Telemachos Stele attesting to the foundation: On the developments of the cult of Amphiaraos being influenced to the arrival of Asklepios to Attika, see Petropoulou 1985.
Wilamowitz-Möllendorff 1931–1932, II:225; Edelstein and Edelstein 1945, II:50, II:238. Contra: Riethmüller 2005, I:91–105, I:148.
Riethmüller 2005, I:173. On incubation at Epidauros, see Ehrenheim 2015, 166–175 and Renberg 2017, 126–132.
Melfi 2007b, 31; Lambrinoudakis 1990 on the fugitives from Argos bringing the cult of Apollo.
IG IV2 1.143.
IG IV2 1.142.
IG IV2 1.151.
On the archaeology of Building E and the mudbrick stoa: Lambrinoudakis 2002, 216–219. For a synopsis of the archaeology of the early Asklepieion, see Riethmüller 2005, I:1, I:158–174 and Melfi 2007b, 23–31.
In this building “E” was also found the earliest evidence with a certain provenience, an inscribed bronze cymbal from Epidauros, “From Mikylos to Asklepios,” dated to 500 BC. IG IV2 1 136 = Peek 1969, no. 60 (dated by Jeffery 1990, 179–181).
The inscriptions were collected and re-edited on four large stelae around 350 BC, but the earliest date back, according to the literary analysis of LiDonnici (1995, 80–82), to around 450 BC (and close to the first cult buildings), see also Melfi 2007b, 35.
Professions of men coming to the sanctuary, when mentioned: baggage carrier: A10, soldier: A12, B10, B12, B20, C15, former slave: A6, A7, fishmonger: C4; men mentioned to have servants accompanying them: A17, B7, B13, C22, further men carried on a litter, this could also have been done by family members: B15, B17–B18 and C21 and winner of pankration at Nemea: B9.
Women: A1, A2, A4, B1, B3, B5 (servants carried her on litter), B11, B14, B19, B21, C2, C3, C17, children (all boys except C1 and C6): A5, A8, A20, B4, B6, C1, C6, C16.
Hdt. 5.56. Here Hipparchos, on the night before his death, had a vision of a tall and handsome man foretelling him his end in a riddling verse. What follows in Herodotos is interesting: he relates that Hipparchos then went to the dream interpreters to lay the matter aside.
Walde 2001, 127–143; Van Lieshout 1980, 224–229 (according to Harris 2009, 138 n. 83). Van Lieshout, though, overestimates the importance of Antiphon. See also Näf 2004, 47. On Antiphon, the orator and the sophist (possibly the same), see DNP, s.v. “Antiphon” [M. Meier et al.] <http://referenceworks.brillonline.com/entries/brill-s-new-pauly/antiphon-e125120>.
Ar. Vesp. 52–53.
Hippoc. Regimen IV, for the date: edition of R. Joly, xiv–xvi. See Hulskamp 2013, 34–54.
Pl. Leg. 10.909e–910a (waking visions and dreams makes all people, women especially and the ill, to dedicate altars. The context does not say that gods appeared in these visions, but the habit of setting up altars to gods implies that at least some gods did or that there was a divine agency involved). Plato, it must be emphasized, did not believe himself that gods sent dreams (Pl. Resp. 9.571c–572b, 574e, focusing rather on wish-fulfillment as a cause for many dreams), but he does comment on the fact that many people, who were in his eyes not dignified such as women, did believe that their dreams were god-sent. A coinciding but not related phenomenon was the habit of setting up altars and votives with the inscription that the dedication was made “according to a dream.” Folkert van Straten has collected most of these inscriptions, and none is earlier than the fifth century: The only ones from this century originating from the Asklepieion at Athens at the South Slope of the Akropolis and the other one from and dedicated to the nymphs at Vari. See Van Straten 1976, see also the more complete collection of Renberg 2003 (non-vidi). See further Hyp. Pro Euxenippo 15; Aeschin. In Ctes. 77 (on a made-up dream where Zeus and Athena inform about king Philip’s death), Theophr. Char. 16.11 (the superstitious man runs to dream interpreters whenever he has a dream, asking which god or goddess to pray to) and 25.2 (the coward man is afraid because of some dream he has had); Diogenes Kynikos ap. Diog. Laert. 6.43 (on the common habit of men being curious and excited about the content of their dreams).
Il. 4.190–218, 5.395–402, cf. 5.445–448, 5.900–904, 11.514–515, 11.518, 11.829–836 (11.804–848), 16.28. On medicine from Homer to the fifth century, see the excellent summaries of Wickkiser (2008, 10–18) and Nutton (2004, 37–41). Cf. Od. 4.230–231 on Egypt exporting medicine.
Wickkiser 2008, 14.
Solon, fr. 13.57–62 W., quoted in Stob. Anthologium 3.9.23, esp. ll. 57–58:
Schol. Il. 11.515; Eust., Il. 11.514. See further Wickkiser 2008, 15.
Samama 2003, nos. 001 and 511.
Antikensammlung Basel, inv. no. BS 236, see the analysis by Wickkiser 2008, 16, 17. fig. 1.1, 18. It is not known whether it is a funerary or votive relief.
DNP s.v. Phlebotomy [V. Nutton]; cf. Craik 2009, 112.
Another early depiction of a doctor is a painted memorial from Piraeus, of the late sixth century, reading
Further, on medicine being an old and established techne when rhetoric was trying to establish itself as one: Wickkiser 2008, 22–23 (with further references) from the debate as shown in Plato.
Ar. Plut. 407–408.
Wickkiser 2008, 15. On the school of Kroton, and its affinity with the Pytagoreans, see Zhmud 2009, 349–364.
Totelin 2009, 97–98.
Lloyd 1979, 32.
Cf. Il. 11.514–515: a doctor is worth many men, as he has the accumulative knowledge and skill of many men before him, which gives him the powers to heal wounds and relieve pain.
FrGH IVA, fasc. 3, frg. 1026 F 21 (Bollansée): a man named Kalliphon, a native of Kroton, was a disciple of Pythagoras. Demokedes’ father was called Kalliphon: Hdt 3.125. According to Herodotos (3.137) Demokedes further married the daughter of a famous Pythagorean athlete, Milon. See further Zhmud 2012 on the Pythagoreans.
See Lloyd 1991, 164–193; DK 24.B4 (Aëtios 5.30.1). Aëtios writes that Alkmaion envisaged the health of the human body as a balance between four elements, but in my view, as the source is so late, it is difficult to say whether this idea was his and existed before Empedokles’ natural philosophy of the four elements.
Diog. Laert. 8.59, 8.61. Though contra: Inwood 1992, 7; Dean-Jones 2003, 101.
Ziebarth 1896, 97–98. On the family tradition of doctors and the opening up of the profession to external apprentices from the fifth century BC, see Samama 2003, 19–20.
Dean-Jones 2003, 116–117.
Asklepios seen as the founder of the art: Pl. Prt. 311b (Hippokrates is an Asklepiad); Pl. Symp. 186d: “Indeed he [sc., the physician] must be able to make the most hostile elements in the body friendly and loving towards each other … It was by knowing how to create love and unanimity in these that, as these poets here say and I [sc., Eryximachus, the physician] believe it, our forefather (
See further the later [Hippoc.], Ep. 20 [IX, p. 386, 14–19L] = T349: “For I have not reached the perfection of the medical art, in spite of the fact that I am already an old man. Indeed, not even the discoverer of this art, Asclepius [reached perfection], but he, too, failed in many instances as the books of the prose writers have imparted to us.” (Trans. by Edelstein and Edelstein 1945.)
Samama 2003, 22: Kroton and Kyrene known from the fifth century BC (Hdt. III.129 and 131).
Longrigg 1993, 21–25.
Totelin 2009, 67–110.
Date of On Ancient Medicine: edition of Jouanna 1990, 81–85.
Joly 1972, 23. Hippoc. Acut. (
Joly 1972, 18–23; Jouanna 1974; Grensemann 1975.
Nutton 2004, 44.
On public doctors employed by the city states: Ar. Plut. 407–408; Ach. 1030. See further Wickkiser 2008, 19–20.
Wickkiser 2008, 15–16; Hankinson 1998, ch. 1; Kudlien 1967.
Three ideas form a first trial of Baldry’s idea: the concept of a membrane,
Baldry 1932, 27–28.
Lonie 1981, 71 (perhaps 20 years later).
Lonie 1981, 147.
Theophrastos on Anaximander: VS 12 A 27, VS 12 A 23, and adopted by Anaximenes, VS 13 A 7 and A 17. See Lonie 1981, 148–149.
Lonie 1981, 155 with further references; Anaximander VS 12 A 30.
E.g. DNP 10 (2001), s.v. Säftelehre, 1208–1210 with further references.
Wilkins 2005, 121–123.
Lonie 1981, 58–59, with ample further references.
Hippoc. Nat. Puer. VII 506–508 Littré (LCL 520, p. 54): Lonie 1981, 62–63. Lonie (1981, 69) also conjectures that the author’s theory on lactation may have its origins in Empedokles.
Hom. Od. 4.227–232.
Craik 2005, 201–202.
Craik 2005, 201–202, esp. 192, 198–199.
As argued by Craik 2005, 200, to the Ebers papyrus of ca. 1500 BC, and the tradition it represents.
See Gorrini 2005 and Nissen 2009, 39–41, on the spread of Hippokratic theory alongside the spread of the cult of Asklepios, and the close relation between rational and irrational medicine.
E.g. Epidaurian iamata, IG IV2 1.121–124, e.g. A4, A9, A12, A13, A19, B3(23), B5(25), B7(27), B8(28), B10(30), B12(32), B20(40), B21(41), C23(66), cf. C5(48), where Asklepios advises against cauterizing, and lets the pus come out naturally.
Ar. Plut. 659–663, 700–741, where the god appears with his helpers carrying his medicine chest – preparing a slave with different herbal ingredients. This is of course a comedy, wherefore the perception of divinity is not to be seen as the general rule.
Lloyd 1979, 40–41; Edelstein and Edelstein 1945, II:112 n. 4.
Ehrenheim 2019, 111–113.