Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Asklipios(Asclepius) sanctuary in Epidaurus

Askleipios the healer god of Ancient Greece. Son of Apollo
Ithmonica an ancient Greek girl from Pellana slept in the altar of the God Asklipios to get pregnant.Through insight Asklipios told her that her wish would be done and indeed after some days she got pregnant.

Someone else had stomach ulcer. When he was in the altar he saw a dream where the god ordered to restrain him while he was trying to go away. When he was caught by the god's servants Asklipios cut his his belly and extracted the ulcer. Afterwards he sew his belly which looked like it was never cut.
The temple of Askleipios

Last Thursday the professor Vasileios Labrinoudakis gave lecture in the music hall of Athens stating various examples such as the aforementioned.He didn't argue about the process of sleeping in the god's altar, but also  the eternal agony of human about his health status and the description of the Epidaurus archaeological complex.

A votive offering from the Roman era by someone called Curtius
Asklipeios was probably a human who had some basic or experiential knowledge on medicine.He became a divine person as generations passed and exaggerated his accomplishments.At the first millenium BC in the area of Epidaurus existed a sanctuary of the god Apollo. From the various archaeological findings in the area such as double axes, swords, sacred pots(in the shape of horn for rituals) and many small clay figurines we find out that since that time the sanctuary was not just of local importance. The ashes. the broken mugs the animal bones and other offerings found near the altar indicated that the ritual involved dinner in the altar and sacrifice of animals.

Towards the end of the 7th century BC the sanctuary was transferred to where the archaeological place is today. The ritual would now be more complex as it would take place in two buildings  through two parallel and concurrent processes. The first one was related with a ritual of eating something that would prepare the candidate for the next phase. Perhaps the food would have some hallucinogenic  ingredients.

The second was the sleeping process.This was the prominent curing process that was connected with Asclipeios' worship.For this process in the 4rth cen. BC a stoa(covered walk) with gradual descent was built. This gradual descent was deliberate and not and architectural mistake. This stoa was leading to a room called avaton(noone could go there without divine permission. The candidate was walking there in midst of religious singing by the priestesses of the temple. In this room he would be prepared to sleep and watch a dream involving his cure.

The Avaton
As the prof. Labrounidakis said: The patient would be affected by the hallucinating process of eating and listening the singing. Afterwards before falling asleep he would proceed in a sacrifice of an animal. In his dream the patient would either be cured by the god or he would be given advice or a drug to cure himself.
Although this process continued until the 2nd century BC in Epidaurus, this didn't obstruct the development of scientific medicine. From findings around the archaeological complex it is proven that physicians dwelled around there with their families offering their services to people with health problems.

The Theater

The theater pf Epidaurus. Nowadays it still hosts performances.

The prosperity brought by the Asklepieion enabled Epidaurus to construct civic monuments too: the huge theatre that delighted Pausanias for its symmetry and beauty, which is used once again for dramatic performances, the ceremonial Hestiatoreion (banqueting hall), baths and apalaestra. The theater was designed by Polykleitos the Younger in the 4th century BC. The original 34 rows were extended in Roman times by another 21 rows. As is usual for Greek theatres (and as opposed to Roman ones), the view on a lush landscape behind the skênê is an integral part of the theatre itself and is not to be obscured. It seats up to 15,000 people.
The theatre is marveled for its exceptional acoustics, which permit almost perfect intelligibility of unamplified spoken word from the prosceniumor skênê to all 15,000 spectators, regardless of their seating (see Ref., in Greek). Famously, tour guides have their groups scattered in the stands and show them how they can easily hear the sound of a match struck at center-stage. A 2007 study by Nico F. Declercq and Cindy Dekeyser of the Georgia Institute of Technology indicates that the astonishing acoustic properties are the result of the advanced design: The rows of limestone seats filter out low-frequency sounds, such as the murmur of the crowd, and amplify high-frequency sounds from the stage

M. Thermou.2013.Ασκληπιείο Επιδαύρου: Εκεί όπου γίνονταν "θαύματα".Το Βήμα.March 30.2013

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