Archaeology Odyssey 8:4, July/August 2005

Asklepios Appears in a Dream

Antiquity’s Greatest Healer

By Bronwen Wickkiser

In the fourth century B.C. a man named Antikrates from Knidos, on the southwest coast of Anatolia, was struck in the face by a spear. The spearhead lodged so deeply in his head that it could not be removed. He lost his vision and lived with the spearhead in his face.

Antikrates probably consulted doctors, magicians, priests, drug vendors and root-cutters—all of whom may have stirred up poultices and (except for the doctors) spoken charms over him.

Eventually, he decided to visit a Greek healing god named Asklepios. The god’s most famous sanctuary was at Epidauros on the east coast of the Peloponnesus. Although the journey across the Aegean Sea and the Greek mainland was perilous and would have taken several days, so great was Antikrates’s desire to be healed that he made the long trip.

Upon reaching Epidauros, Antikrates slept in the sanctuary, as was customary, and dreamed that Asklepios came and healed him. He awoke cured: The spearhead was gone and his vision restored.

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