Analysis and interpretation of the Epidaurian iamata

Monika Błaśkiewicz 1
1 - Uniwersytet Wrocławski, University of Liverpool
2014; 15 (4):
ICID: 1138963
Article type: Original article
IC™ Value: 3.00
Abstract provided by Publisher
One type of the most important sources for the Epidaurian worship of Asclepius are the
iamata inscriptions engraved on the four stelai that were erected in the fourth century
BC by the authorities of a sanctuary of Asclepius at Epidaurus. The body of the surviving
texts contains approximately seventy tales, which are basically records of the cures and
‘medical therapies’ carried out by Asclepius. However, the iamata inscriptions cannot be
simply considered as an official index of afflictions registered and healed at the Epidaurian
medical centre: the analysis of the particular inscriptions enables modern scholars to reveal
their didactic, moralistic, economic and even advertising role. In my paper, I discuss
different aspects of the iamata: at the beginning, I cite the leading theories concerning
the nature, veracity and authenticity of the iamata, since this particular issue constantly
attracts scholarly attention and remains controversial. Subsequently, I retrace the development
of the Asclepiad worship and explain the phenomenon of the spread of the cult of
Asclepius as healing god. Since the problem of the iamata cannot be discussed without
references to other sources, in my paper I frequently refer to iconographical, architectonic
and literary pieces of evidence. The cited sources enrich my research with diverse
perspectives: visual evidence allows us to comprehend the healing process; accounts left
by the classical authors, in turn, offer us a glimpse of the ancients’ attitudes towards the
phenomenon of the ‘divine healing’ in Epidaurus and other medical sites. Finally, the architectonic
details and reports from archaeological excavations make it possible to reconstruct
to a degree the infrastructure of the most famous medical centre in the Greek and
Roman world. The content of the preserved inscriptions together with the aforementioned evidence reveal a detailed picture of the Asclepiad worship, expressed through the phenomenon
of the iamata inscriptions.
DOI: 10.5604/20842937.1138963

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