Aesculapius Possibly a Greek mortal around 1200 BCE who, like Heracles, became deified.
In Homer‘s Illiad he is described as “the blameless physician.”
His cult was centered in Epidaurus and emphasized cure through a prototype of contemporary psychoanalysis.
The poets Hesiod and Pindar speak of Aesculapius as the son of Zeus and Corona.
In the Epiduarian myth, his mother Corona dies while he is an infant.
A Messenian variant, however, says Aesculapius’ mother is Arsinoe and other accounts claim that he is the son of Apollo.
Regardless of his ambiguous parentage, Aesculapius became the god of healing and medicine and, according to legend, was educated by the centaur Chiron.
While in hell he raised a dead person, Hippolytus, to life. This vexed Zeus who retaliated by killing Aesculapius with a thunderbolt.
Although illness in ancient Greece was often attributed to the displeasure of the gods and goddesses, it could nevertheless be cured by divine mercy. The afflicted entered a sacred chamber and allowed visionary or “incubated” dreams to guide them towards health.
The postmodern thinker Michel Foucault saw this as an ancient prefiguration of the psychoanalytic couch.
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