To Asklepios, God of Healing
Divine medium: manna
Ἰητὴρ πάντων, Ἀσκληπιέ, δέσποτα Παιάν,
Healer of all, Asklepios, all-powerful physician,
θέλγων ἀνθρώπων πολυαλγέα πήματα νούσων,
Soothing humanity’s many ailments, miseries, and disease,
ἠπιόδωρε, κραταιέ, μόλοις κατάγων ὑγίειαν
Gently giving powerful means for Hygieia to prevail,
καὶ παύων νούσους, χαλεπὰς κῆρας θανάτοιο,
Ending nauseous agonies of mortal hearts,
αὐξιθαλής, ἐπίκουρ’, ἀπαλεξίκακ’, ὀλβιόμοιρε,
Increasing well-being and youthfulness, staving off evil, and giving a whole life fate.
Φοίβου Ἀπόλλωνος κρατερὸν θάλος ἀγλαότιμον,
O bright Apollo’s mighty scion, gloriously honored
ἐχθρὲ νόσων, Ὑγίειαν ἔχων σύλλεκτρον ἀμεμφῆ,
Enemy of illness, Hygieia’s firm partner above reproach,
ἐλθέ, μάκαρ, σωτήρ, βιοτῆς τέλος ἐσθλὸν ὀπάζων.
Come, blessed savior, life-completing and welcome companion.
Asklepios (Ἀσκληπιός) is the immortal God of healing and medicine.
According to a choral ode by Pindar, Asklepios was the mortal son of Apollo who was so skilled at healing that he was able to bring a dead man back to life. Zeus, enraged, immediately struck down both Asklepios and the man, Hippolytos, with a bolt of lightning. In the late 400 BCE’s Asklepios began to be worshipped as a God, rivalling Apollo’s healing powers. Pindar describes Asklepios’ healing skills:
“All then who came to him, some plagued with sores
Of festering growths, some wounded by the strokes
Of weapons of bright bronze,
Or by the slinger's shot of stone, others with limbs
Ravaged by summer's fiery heat or by the winter's cold,
To each for every various ill
He made the remedy,
And gave deliverance from pain,
Some with the gentle songs of incantation
Others he cured with soothing draughts of medicines,
Or wrapped their limbs around with doctored salves,
And some he made whole with the surgeon's knife.”
Diodorus of Sicily also writes of Asklepios’ reputation as a healer:
“To Apollo and Coronis was born Asclepius, who learned from his father many matters which pertain to the healing art, and then went on to discover the art of surgery and the preparations of drugs and the strength to be found in roots, and, speaking generally, he introduced such advances into the healing art that he is honoured as if he were its source and founder."
“…he healed many sick whose lives had been despaired of, and for this reason it was believed that he had brought back to life many who had died.”
Asklepios’ sanctuary at Epidauros became a healing center where people flocked for recovery from illness. A special day, the Epidauria, was set aside to honor him during the Eleusinian Mysteries. This was a “festival within a festival” marking his arrival in Athens with his daughter, Hygieia (Ὑγίεια), the immortal Goddess of health.
Asklepios’ (Ἀσκληπιός) name may mean: arising above; raising (Ἀ) + skeletons (σκελετός)/hardness (σκληρωσις). Skleero (σκληρόω) means to harden; skleeros (σκληρός) means hard, stiff, unyielding. Skleema (σκλῆμα) means dryness, hardness, sclerosis.
 Pindar, Pythian 3.46, trans. Conway.
 Diodorus of Sicily, Library of History 5.74.6 (trans. Oldfather).
 Diodorus of Sicily, Library of History 4.71.3 (trans. Oldfather).
 Kevin Clinton, "The Epidauria and the Arrival of Asclepius in Athens," in Ancient Greek Cult Practice from the Epigraphical Evidence, edited by R. Hägg (Stockholm, 1994).