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Quote of the week – Inscription on The Temple of Asclepius in Epidaurus

June 4, 2013

Those attending the Temple of Asclepius at Epidaurus would have seen the following statement upon entering:

Pure must be he who enters the fragrant temple; purity means to think nothing but holy thoughts.

 Edelstein Asclepius Testimony 318

I have inferred from the inscription that the priests of the temple and suppliants believed that Asclepius did not judge how people lived their lives. The inscription suggests there may have been a commonly held belief that even those who have not lived blameless lives were entitled to health care. The second half of the quote suggests that the only requirement of Asclepius would have been that a person believed that their condition could be cured.

This is one of my favourite temple inscriptions as it is simple; providing a great sense of serenity.

Bibliography

Edelstein, E. & L. Asclepius: Collection and Interpretation of the Testimonies Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1945.

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2 Comments
  1. Stevie permalink

    Thank you for this; I am visiting Epidaurus once again later in June, after many years absence, and and it will add to my appreciation of of that remarkable place.

    And I hope that you will recover soon, with or without the assistance of Asclepius…

    • I hope you enjoy your trip to Epidaurus, I look forward to going back there some day soon as it has been quite a few years since my last visit. There is a particularly good text called The Epidaurian Miracle Inscriptions: Text, Translation, and Commentary by Lynn R. Lidonnici which provides translations of the steele that stood at Epidaurus which you may find of interest. Thank you for wishing me well.

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