The Cult of Asklepios and the Doctors in Greek Epigraphical Evidence

Cecile Nissen


Greek inscriptions afford several examples of the relationship between Asklepios, the god of medicine, and human doctors in Graeco-Roman Antiquity. Many dedications of steles, statues, altars and even sanctuaries were consecrated to Asklepios by physicians. Other physicians have undertaken the offices of zacorate or priesthood in the worship of Asklepios.

In some cities, notably at Athens and Ephesos, the doctors sacrificed collectively to the physician-god. The aim of this paper is to explain these cult relations between Asklepios and the doctors. After the Asklepiads, doctors at Kos and Knidos, who were believed to be the descendants of Asklepios, all the ancient doctors were connected with Asklepios by their techne; the physician-god was the divine patron of the physicians.

Furthermore although the doctors rejected the divine origin of the diseases, they acknowledged the healing power of the gods, especially Asklepios, and could seek his help.

Key words: Asklepios Doctors Worship - Greek Epigraphy

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