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Sylloge Inscriptionum Graecarum: 1168


MIRACULOUS CURES AT EPIDAUROS

Greek text:   IG_4.1.121 ,   IG_4.1.122
Date:   late 4th century B.C.
Tags:     epiphanies , medical_care
Format:   see key to translations

The 'miracle cures' {iamata} of Epidauros have survived on four stones; the text of the two best-preserved stones is translated here. Most of the translation (all except a few sections at the end) is taken from L.R. Lidonnici, "The Epidaurian Miracle Inscriptions: Text, Translation, and Commentary", as reproduced by P. Martzavou, "Dream, Narrative and the construction of Hope in the 'healing miracles' of Epidauros" ( academia.edu ).

Much has been written about these cures; for a general introduction, see M.P.J. Dillon, "The didactic nature of the Epidaurian iamata" ( PDF ).


[A]   God. Good Luck. Healings of Apollo and Asklepios.

1 Kleo was pregnant for five years. After the fifth year of pregnancy, she came as a suppliant to the god and slept in the abaton. As soon as she had left it and was outside the shrine, she gave birth to a son who, as soon as he was born, washed himself at the fountain and walked about with his mother. After this success, she inscribed upon her offering: 'The wonder is not the size of the plaque, but the divine: Kleo was pregnant with a burden in her stomach for five years, until she slept here and he made her well'.

2 A three-year pregnancy. Ithmonika of Pellene came to the sanctuary to have children. Sleeping in the shrine, she saw a vision. It seemed that she asked the god if she could conceive a daughter, and Asklepios answered that she would and that if she asked anything else that he would do that as well, but she answered that she didn't need anything more. She became pregnant and bore the child in her stomach for three years, until she came again to the god as suppliant, concerning the birth. Sleeping in the shrine, she saw a vision. The god appeared asking whether everything she had asked had not happened and she was pregnant. She had not asked anything about the birth, and he had asked her to say whether there was anything more she needed and he would do it. But since she had come to him as a suppliant for this, he said he would do it for her. Right after this, she rushed out of the abaton , and as soon as she was outside the shrine, gave birth to a daughter.

3 A man who was paralysed in all his fingers except one came as a suppliant to the god. When he was looking at the plaques in the sanctuary, he didn't believe in the cures and was somewhat disparaging of the inscriptions. Sleeping in the shrine, he saw a vision. It seemed he was playing the knucklebones below the temple, and as he was about to throw them, the god appeared, sprang on his hand and stretched out this fingers one by one. When he had straightened them all, the god asked him if he would still not believe the inscriptions on the plaques around the sanctuary and he answered no. 'Therefore, since you doubted them before, though they were not unbelievable, from now on,' he said, 'your name shall be "Unbeliever".' When day came he left well.

4 Ambrosia from Athens, blind in one eye. She came as a suppliant to the god. Walking about the sanctuary, she ridiculed some of the cures as being unlikely and impossible, the lame and the blind becoming well from only seeing a dream. Sleeping in the shrine, she saw a vision. It seemed to her the god came to her and said he would make her well, but she would have to pay a fee by dedicating a silver pig in the sanctuary as a memorial of her ignorance. When day came she left well.

5 A mute boy. He came to the sanctuary for a voice. He performed the opening sacrifices and did the required things; and then the boy who carries fire for the god, looking over at the boy's father, bid him to promise to sacrifice within a year, if what he came for occurred. Suddenly the boy said, 'I promise'. The father was amazed and told him to repeat it. The boy spoke again and from this he became well.

5 Pandaros of Thessaly, with marks on his forehead. Sleeping here, he saw a vision. It seemed that the god bound a fillet around his marks and told him that when he was outside of the abaton to take off the fillet and dedicate it in the temple. When day came he rose and took off the fillet, and he saw his face clear of the marks. He dedicated the fillet, which had the letters from his forehead, in the Temple.

7 Echedoros received the marks of Pandaros along with those he already had. He had taken money from Pandaros in order to make a dedication to the god at Epidauros for him, but he did not hand it over. Sleeping in the shrine, he saw a vision. It seemed to him that the god came to him and asked whether he had any money of Pandaros' to make a dedication for Athena in the sanctuary. He answered that he had taken nothing of the kind from him, but that if he would make him well, he would have an image inscribed and dedicate it to him. At that the god seemed to tie Pandaros' fillet around his marks and to order him, when he went outside the abaton , to take off the fillet and wash his face at the fountain and to look at his reflection in the water. When day came, he went out of the and took off the fillet, which no longer had the letters, but when he looked into the water, he saw that his own face bore his original marks and had taken on the letters of Pandaros.

8 Euphanes, a boy of Epidauros. Suffering from stone, he slept in the abaton. It seemed to him the god came to him and said, 'What will you give me if I should make you well?' The boy replied, 'Ten knucklebones.' The god laughed and said that he would make it stop. When day came, he left well.

9 Once a man came as a suppliant to the god who was so blind in one eye that, while he still had the eyelids of that eye, there was nothing within them and they were completely empty. Some of the people in the sanctuary were laughing at this simple-mindedness in thinking that he could be made to see, having absolutely nothing, not even the beginnings of an eye, but only the socket. Then in his sleep, a vision appeared to him. It seemed that the god boiled some drug, and then drew apart his eyelids and poured it in. When day came he departed with both eyes.

10 The cup. A baggage carrier was walking to the sanctuary, but he fell down near the ten stades stone. Getting up, he opened his bag and looked at the shattered things. When he saw that the cup from which his master was accustomed to drink was broken into pieces, he grieved and sitting down, tried putting the pieces together. Some passerby saw him. 'Why fool,' he said, 'are you fruitlessly putting that cup together? For not even Asklepios in Epidauros would be able to make that cup whole.' Hearing this the boy, having put the pieces into his bag, walked into the sanctuary. When he arrived he opened the bag and took out the cup, which had become whole. He explained to his master what had happened and what had been said. When he heard it, he dedicated the cup to the god.

11 Aischines, when the suppliants were already sleeping, went up a tree and peered over into the abaton. Then he fell out of the tree and impaled his eyes on some fencing. In a dreadful state, having been blinded, he earnestly prayed to the god, slept in the abaton, and became well.

12 Euhippos bore a spear in his jaw for six years. While he was sleeping in the shrine, the god drew the spearhead from him and gave it to him in his hands. When day came, he walked out well, having the spearhead in his hands.

13 A man from Torone, leeches. When he was sleeping, he saw a dream. It seemed to him that the god ripped open his chest with a knife, took out the leeches and gave them to him in his hands, and sewed his breast together. When day came he left having the animals in his hands, and had become well. He had drunk them down, after being tricked by his stepmother who had thrown them into a potion that he drank.

14 A man had a stone in his penis. He saw a dream. It seemed that he was having sex with a beautiful boy and as he had an orgasm in his sleep, he ejected the stone and picking it up he departed with it in his hands.

15 Hermodikos of Lampsakos, paralysed of body. When he was sleeping in the shrine, he was healed and ordered, when he went out, to carry into the sanctuary the biggest stone that he could. He brought the one which lies in front of the abaton.

16 Nikanor, lame. When he was sitting down, being awake, some boy grabbed his crutch and ran away. Getting up he ran after him and from this he became well.

17 A man's toe was healed by a snake. He was in a terrible condition from a malignant ulceration on his toe. During the day he was carried out of the abaton by the servants and was sitting on a seat. He fell asleep there, and then a snake came out of the abaton and healed the toe with its tongue; and when it had done this it went back into the abaton again. When the man woke up, he was well and he said he had seen a vision: it seemed to him that a good-looking young man had sprinkled a drug over his toe.

18 Alketas of Halieis. This man being blind, saw a dream. It seemed to him that the god came towards him and drew open his eyes with his fingers, and he first saw the trees in the sanctuary. When day came he left well.

19 Heraios of Mytilene. This man had no hair on his head, but plenty on his chin. Ashamed, because he was laughed at by the others, he slept in the abaton. The god anointed his head with a drug and made it have hair.

20 Lyson of Hermione, a blind boy. The boy while awake, had his eyes treated by one of the dogs about the sanctuary, and went away well.

[B]   21 Arata of Lakedaimon, dropsy. For her sake, her mother slept in the abaton, while she remained in Lacedaimon, and she sees a dream. It seemed to her the god cut off the head of her daughter and hung the body neck downwards. After much fluid had run out, he untied the body and put the head back on the neck. Having seen this dream she returned to Lakedaimon and found on her arrival that her daughter was well and that she had seen the same dream.

22 Hermon of Thasos. He came as a blind man, and he was healed. But afterwards when he didn't bring the offering, the god made him blind again. Then he came back and slept in the abaton, and he restored him to health.

23 Aristagora of Troizen. Since she had a worm in her belly, she slept in the temenos of Asklepios in Troizen and she saw a dream. It seemed to her that the sons of the god, while he was not there but was in Epidauros, cut off her head, but they couldn't put it back again so they sent someone to the Asklepieion, so that he would return. Meanwhile the day overtakes them and the priest clearly sees the head removed from the body. When the night finally came again, Aristagora saw a vision. It seemed to her that the god had returned from Epidauros and put the head on ther neck, and after that cut open her belly, took out the worm and sewed it together again, and from this she became well.

24 Under a rock, a boy Aristokritos of Halieis. He had dived and swum away into the sea and then remaining under water he came upon a dry place completely surrounded by rocks, and he couldn't find any way out. Later his father, after he found nothing by searching, slept in the abaton before Asklepios concerning his son and saw a dream. It seemed that the god led him to a certain place and there showed him where his son was. When he left the abaton and cut through the stone he found his son on the seventh day.

25 Sostrata of Pherai, false pregnancy. This woman, borne entirely on a litter, arrived at the sanctuary and slept in the abaton. But since she saw no clear dream she was carried homeward again. Later, around Kornoi, she and her attendants met up with someone, in appearance a hand-some man, who when he heard from them their bad luck, told them to set down the couch on which Sostrata was borne. Then he cut open the belly and took out lots and lots of creatures - two foot-basins full. When he had sewn up her stomach and made the woman well, Asklepios revealed his presence to her and ordered her to send offerings to Epidauros.

26 A dog cured a boy from Aigina. He had a growth on his neck. When he had come to the god, a dog from the sanctuary took care of him with his tongue while he was awake, and made him well.

27 A man with a festering sore inside his belly. Sleeping here, he saw a dream. It seemed to him that the god ordered the servants who accompanied him to seize and restrain him, so that he could cut his belly. He run away, bu they seized him and bound him to an operating table. After that Asklepios cut open his belly, cut out the sore, and sewed him up again, and he was released from his bonds. From this he left well, but the floor of the abaton was covered in blood.

28 Kleinatas of Thebes, who had lice. This man, having a great multitude of lice on his body, came and slept in the abaton, and he sees a vision. It seemed to him the god stripped him and, standing him up straight, naked, cleared the lice from his body with a broom. When day came he left the abaton well.

29 Hagestratos, headache. This man was afflicted with sleeplessness on account of the distress in his head, but when he came into the abaton, he fell fast asleep and saw a dream. It seemed to him the god had cured the pain in his head and then stood him up straight, naked, and taught him the pankration thrust. When day came he left well, and not a long time after won the pankration at Nemea.

30 Gorgias of Herakleia, pus. This man was wounded in the lung by an arrow in some battle, and for a year and six months it was festering so badly that he filled sixty-seven bowls with pus. When he was sleeping in the shrine, he saw a vision. It seemed to him the god drew out the barb from his lung. When day came he left well, carrying the barb in his hands.

31 Andromache from Epirus, concerning children. When she was sleeping in the shrine she saw a dream. It seemed to her that a handsome young boy uncovered her, and after that the god touched her with his hand. From this a son was born to Andromache by Arhybbas.

32 Antikrates of Knidos, eyes. This man had been stuck with a spear through both his eyes in some battle, and he became blind and carried around the spearhead with him, inside his face. Sleeping in the shrine, he saw a vision. It seemed to him the god pulled out the dart and fitted the pupil back into his eyelids. When day came he left well.

33 Thersandros of Halieis, consumption. This man, since he didn't see any vision while sleeping in the shrine, was carried on a wagon back to Halieis. But one of the snakes from the sanctuary had settled down in the wagon and rode for most of the way twined around the axle. When they arrived in Halieis and Thersandros was lying in bed in his house, the snake came down from the wagon and cured Thersandros. The city of Halieis reported what had happened, and the people didn't know what to do about the snake, whether they should carry it back to Epidauros or keep it in their own country. It seemed good to the city to send to Delphi asking which thing they should do. The god proclaimed that the serpent should be right there and that they should dedicate a temenos of Asklepios, and make an image of him and dedicate it in the sanctuary. When the oracle was announced, the city of Halieies dedicated a temenos of Asklepios there, and carried out the things divined by the god.

34 [A woman] from (?)Troizen, about having children . . .

35 [A man] from Epidauros, lame . . .

36 Kaphisias . . .

37 Kleimenes of Argos, paralysed . . .

38 Diaitos of (?) Kyrnos; this man happened to be paralysed at the knees. While he was asleep inside, he saw this dream: the god seemed to order his servants to lift him up and carry him out of the adyton, and to put him down in front of the temple. When they had carried him outside, the god harnassed a chariot with horses and rode three times in a circle around him, and trampled over him with the horses; and his knees immediately regained their strength. When day came, he went away healthy.

39 ...da from Keos. She slept inside, about having children, and she saw this dream: a serpent seemed to her in the dream to lie on her stomach; and after this she had five children.

40 Timon . . . wounded under the eye by a spear. He slept inside and saw this dream: the god seemed to grind a herb, and to sprinkle some of it in his eye; and he became healthy.

41 Erasippa from Kaphyiai . . . she had [(?) an illness in] her stomach, and she was completely (?) burning with fever . . . She slept inside and saw this dream: the god seemed to rub her stomach and to kiss her, and after this he gave her a cup, containing a drug, and he told her to drink it up; then he told her to vomit, and she filled her cloak with the vomit. When day came, she saw that her cloak was completely full of the evil stuff that she had vomited; and after this she became well.

42 Nikasiboula of Messene slept inside, about having children. The god seemed to . . . a serpent, bringing it beside her, and she had intercouse with the serpent. After this she had two male children within a year.

43 . . . of Kios, suffering from gout. While he was awake, a goose bit his feet as he approached the temple, and drawing blood it made him well.


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