Saturday, March 28, 2020

Temple of Aesculapius

The Buffalo Courier

Week Ending September 20, 1903


Discoveries in the
Temple of Aesculapius.

All over the world the spade of the

archaeologist is unearthing the temple

of lost gods and the palaces of forgotten

kings. Not only centuries, but

thousands of years are turned back as

the excavators turn over the earth, and

the traveler of today can tread the

courts of Priam's palace and read the

writings in the library of Sardanapolus.

The latest important archaeological

discovery is that of Dr. Rudolph Herzog,

who has brought to light the long

lost temple of Aesculapius, the father

of medicine, who was worshiped as a

god in the Island of Cos in the Aegean

Sea. For nearly 2,000 years this, the

greatest of all the temples erected to

Aesculapius, has been lost to the world.

Dr. Herzog discovered it under the

 ruins of a Byzantine church erected

early in the Christian era to the Blessed

Virgin of Tarsus. The earth was rich

above the ruins of the early Christian

church and the ancient Greek temple,

and so covered with plants and shrubs

blooming amid the wrecks of time that

the inhabitants of the island call the

place the "garden of the flower buds."

Digging down, the entrance to the temple

was reached, and over it the explorers

read the inscription placed

there when the world was young:

"Sundry elders from different States

have decided by vote to carry on this

holy Asylum to Aesculapius." Columns

were found, some standing whole

and some thrown down and broken,

and votive offerings left by people who

had been cured of disease by the power

of the god of the shrine. They also

found a statue of Hygela and a serpent

carved In stone, the symbol of

Aesculapius; and other discoveries are

constantly being made as the work


It is expected soon to uncover the

famous tablets on which are recorded

accounts of famous cures and descriptions

which Hippocrates is supposed to have

compiled Bis book on medicine, the

first book an that science ever published

in the world. Aesculapius was the

first medical practitioner of whom we

have any account, and he lived so long

ago that  had already become a god

when authentic history opens. He

formed a little medical trust all by

himself and being the only doctor in

the world at the time, had things pretty

much his own way. He was a

mighty successful practitioner, too suc

cessful for his own good, for he saved

so many lives that Pluto, the god of

the infernal regions, complained to

Jupiter that the lower world was being depopulated

by him, not enough people

coming in to keep up the population.

So Jupiter killed Aesculapius with a

thunderbolt. When the temple at Cos

was in its glory, the sick flocked to it

from all the countries lying on the

eastern shores of the Mediterranean,

and the priests waxed rich on their

votive offerings. The patient was made

to t a k e a bath and then to fast for

twenty-four hours. After this he went

into the temple and gave up his consultation

fee, which was called a votive

offering and was placed before the

statue of the doctor. Then a priest led

him around the temple, explaining

mysteries and telling him the wonderful

cures which had been accomplished.

The doctors of those times believed in

advertising , and all about the temple

were tablets with inscriptions which

must have read much like the patent

medicine advertisements of today. After

taking a dose of physic the patient

sacrificed a rooster of a sheep to

Aesculapius and repeated certain

hymns and prayers, which the doctor priest

having him in charge read to

him. Then, if he was rich, he went to 

 sleep on a cot near the statue of the

god who appeared to him in the course

of the night and prescribed for him.

If he was poor he slept outside in the

temple gardens and the god visited him

there. The doctors of the temple seem

to have been faith curists to some extent,

for they Impressed upon their

patients that unless they had absolute

faith they could not be cured.

When a patient died they said it was

simply a lack of faith that killed him.

Aristides died in the temple of Cos.

He was a sick man when he reached

there, and the god appeared in the

night and prescribed hemlock and gypsum

and blood-letting. The great man

grew worse and the god appeared

again and prescribed more blood-leting,

directing that 120 pounds of blood

should be drawn from him. Aristides,

naturally, died and the doctor-prists

announced that his demise was due to

his lack of faith. It is expected that

a most curious assortment of ancient

surgical instruments will be unearthed

in the temple of Cos, for every man

who invented a new contrivance of

that kind was obliged to deposit it

with the priests, who thus ran a sort

of medical and surgical patent office,

as every inventor of a new remedy was

 obliged to inscribe his discovery on the

 gates or pillars of the temple. This

 celebrated temple was not such a large

 building after all, the explorations

showing that it must have been about

the size of an ordinary city business


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