Roman Mythology





Anno Urbis - The Roman Empire Online

Bulfinch's Age of Fable

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ORACLE OF AESCULAPIUS

There were numerous oracles of Aesculapius, but the most celebrated one was at Epidaurus. Here the sick sought responses and the recovery of their health by sleeping in the temple. It has been inferred from the accounts that have come down to us that the treatment of the sick resembled what is now called Animal Magnetism or Mesmerism.

Serpents 'were sacred to Aesculapius, probably because of a superstition that those animals have a faculty of renewing their youth by a change of skin. The worship of Aesculapius was introduced into Rome in a time of great sickness, and an embassy sent to the temple of Epidaurus to entreat the aid of the god. Aesculapius was propitious, and on the return of the ship accompanied it in the form of a serpent. Arriving in the river Tiber, the serpent glided from the vessel and took possession of an island in the river, and a temple was there erected to his honor.


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