The Resurrection in Ancient Greece

The Resurrection in Ancient Greece
The Resurrection in Ancient Greece

Glaucus was the son of Minos and Pasiphae. Still a child, chasing a mouse, he fell into a jar full of honey and drowned. After investigations, the body of Glaucus was found with the help of the God Apollo. According to an oracle, little Glaucus could be resurrected by anyone who could describe the color of a cow from Minos’ herd, whose color changed three times a day.

Minos asked his wisest advisors to describe the color of this amazing animal. The riddle was solved by Polyidos, son of Koiranus, saying that this animal had the color of the berry: white at first (unripe), red later and finally black (ripe).

Minos then imprisoned Polyidus with the corpse of Glaucus and ordered him to bring his son back to life.

As Polyidus sat despairingly by the corpse of little Glaucus, he saw a snake coming towards him, he was naturally afraid, and killed it. A little later, however, a second snake appeared which, seeing the first dead, left to return shortly with a grass in its mouth, with which it touched the dead snake and immediately it rose again.

Polyidus then grabbed the grass, touched the dead Glaucus with it and he rose again. Minos, however, was not satisfied, and before letting Polyidus return to his homeland, he asked him to learn the art from Glaucus. Polyidus obeyed, but as he left he spat in Glaucus’s mouth, causing him to forget all he had learned.

However, according to another tradition, Glaucus was resurrected by Asclepius. According to this version, Minos sent his dead son Glaukos, in desperation, to Asklepios in the Asclepion of Epidaurus. And this because they considered Asclepius a mortal hero with healing abilities, which even brought the dead back to life.

Asclepius was the son of Koronis and the God Apollo. Apollo, god of light, medicine and music, fell in love with Koronida, princess of Thessaly. Asclepius was captured by their lover, but Koronida entered into a relationship with a mortal during her pregnancy.

A raven revealed to Apollo that his lover was to marry the mortal. Apollo punished the raven for its evil spells, changing its white plumage to the familiar black one. He then punished his mistress by burning her, although in another version of the myth it was Artemis who exposed the “unfaithful” Coronis (or Arsinoe). Before Koronis was completely incinerated, Apollo rescued the fetus she carried in her womb from the flames.

The newborn Asclepius needed someone to raise him. So Apollo let him grow up and be trained next to the wise centaur Chiron, trainer of many heroes such as Achilles, Jason, Peleus etc.

Asclepius bore the nicknames “epiodoros” meaning the one who bestows peace, “epiodotes” meaning the one who offers pain relief, and “epiophron” meaning the one who provides love, affection and tranquility. Askl- is derived from the word askalavos which means snake, lizard, reptile. According to Plutarch, -epios is the second compound and of course it means that the word epios means, that is, the calm, the meek. So this verbal production results in “the snake that heals, soothes”.

So great was the faith in God Asklepios that he was called “Savior” as he was written on coins and inscriptions. Asclepius is depicted bearded with long hair leaning on a bacteria (club) around which the snake is wrapped, a symbol of the healer-god, an emblem of wisdom and secret knowledge.

Returning to the myth, Asclepius happened to notice that a snake was strangely wrapped around the club he was leaning on. Asclepius was afraid and killed it. Then another snake approached the slain one, bit him and the slain snake came back to life.

Asclepius then realized that snake venom could be used in appropriate, controlled doses as medicine!

Asclepius took Glaucus to the Tomb or Avaton, where the sick lay waiting for him to appear in their sleep to show them how to cure them. With the snake’s venom, Asclepius prepared a substance, which he gave to the dead Glaucus and resurrected him!.. Since then the snake became Asclepius’ companion and symbol…

Glaucus returned alive to Crete and appeared to his surprised father to the glory of Asclepius…

It is even said that after this, Asclepius resurrected other dead, (Capaneus, Lycurgus, and Hippolytus son of Theseus), so that Hades protested to Zeus, and he shot a thunderbolt and killed the god of Medicine!

It is of course no coincidence that the snake wrapped around the club is very similar to the caduceus of God Hermes, for this reason the caduceus of Hermes was also established as a symbol of Medicine.

It is characteristic that after the death of Medusa by Perseus,

her blood was given by Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom, to Asklepios.

According to Peter Graviger, the Serpent of Mercury with the two twisted serpents around a vertical rod represents the fall of primeval matter into the weighting matter of birth and its subsequent return to the original source from which it emanated. The two snakes symbolize the two currents of the primary Chaos, end-infinity, light-darkness or male-female (the snake on the left is the “female” while on the right the “male”). So the central axis is the one that separates and at the same time reconciles the eternal opposites and corresponds to the Axis of the World.

The downward and upward respectively directions of the two snakes also symbolize the two gates of the solstices and by extension the two functions of Mercury as a messenger of the gods to humans and as a soul transmitter, which brings souls back to the source from which they came. Like the Thyrsus of Dionysus, the Sermon of Mercury seems to refer to the Tree of Life and the nervous system of man along the spine, which the mystic must master.

The wings at the top of the shaft, symbolize the individual consciousness uniting with the cosmic, when energy flows unhindered throughout the body until it activates the energy center at the top and this process brings true & complete healing.

There are three main properties of snakes, which contribute to their use as a symbol of medicine or the elixir of life. The periodic shedding of the snake’s old skin and the appearance of the new, the voluntary hypnosis-like slumber into which they fall, and finally its venom, which in proper, controlled doses can be medicinal and medicinal. This is what the rod of Asclepius symbolizes.

The “Ophies” who held the secret of immortality was an allegorical name for the ancient initiates or “Dragons of Wisdom”, who were thought to possess the secrets of Immortality. Overcoming death requires knowledge of the mysteries of hypnotism. This occult knowledge was taught during the initiation ceremonies of Egyptian mysteries that took place in the underground galleries of the Pyramids.

As mentioned above, the treatments in the Asklepiia (there were about three hundred) took place in the Cemetery, where the dreams that the patients saw, after special rituals, played an important role in the treatment of the patients.

When the sick came to the shrine seeking healing, they were not allowed to enter immediately, until after they had been purified.

The process of the rituals was headed by the High Priest or Great Priest and he was assisted by the Pyrophores, who performed the duties of deacon and assistants in medical work, the Hieromnimones and the treating nurses called Asclepiades. Among them there were also women who belonged to the class of Nakoros or Zakoros. Galen mentions that before Asclepius, medicine was completely empirical, and that only through plants people were cured, while he elevated it to a divine science.

The incoming patient in Asclepia, before falling asleep, had to follow a preliminary stage. Part of the preparation was fasting, hot and cold baths, watching plays, musical events, reading in the library, exercise, massages, inhaling various fumes, possibly using certain psychotropic substances. Discussions with the priests and doctors of Asklepiion, psychotherapeutic approaches.

As for the Asclepius of Epidaurus, for which we have more information, the pilgrim – beggar after the Propylaia, followed the sacred road, which led to the temple of Asclepius. After the temple, the supplicant had to stand at the Holy Fountain, the water of which served for the cleansing of the body (symbolic mental cleansing), and symbolic mental purification.

Then he went to the altar to offer the sacrifice. After the sacrifice inside the sanctuary he saw the vows and inscriptions of those who had been healed. After prayers, purifications and sacrifices, the patient had to go through religious tests to strengthen his faith and make his soul ready to approach God. There they anxiously waited for the priest to enter from the entrance of the east and shout three times: “Asclepius wonderworker, we are waiting for you”.

After this preparation, which depending on the case lasted a shorter or longer period, the long time of falling asleep arrived.

On the appropriate day, determined by the priest-healers of Asclepius, the patient was taken to the Avaton or to the chamber of Incarnation. The building had a section of it sunk into the earth a womb-like chamber. There the therapeutic hypnosis took place while the patient was lying on the skin of an animal. During his sleep he would receive for a healing dream – a symbol, the ‘appearance’ of the god. God would touch or caress the sore spot or give advice.

Lucian reports that participants in the healing process took an oath of silence that they would not reveal their medical or other secrets. Only the higher in the hierarchy practiced medicine, the others were limited to religious cures, which showed close connections with the Eleusinian Mysteries.

So sleep and dreams were the means of healing. Many times in the ancient mysteries sleep was part of the formality and constituted a kind of symbolic temporary death, during which the initiate went through important experiences and then returned refreshed, reborn. The next day, the patients recounted what they saw in their dreams to the priests, and depending on the dream, they were given some treatment to follow. There were many times, however, when the patient woke up completely healed and in some cases, the healing reached the limits of a miracle, after long-term illnesses.

The concept of healing for Amblyopia referred to a wider practice than the current concept of treatment. Corresponding to modern holistic medicine, there was the perception of the human being as an energy grid, harmoniously integrated, and interdependent part of the cosmic order.

In this context, Iasi presupposes the overall restoration of dysfunctions, both in the soul and in the body. This involved contact with what psychiatrist Roberto Assagioli, the founder of Psychosynthesis, calls the “higher psychospiritual” part of man. Restoration of health was achieved through supra-individual perception, an attempt to connect with cosmic becoming and the Whole. Modern homeopathy, Indian Ayurveda or Chinese medicine are corresponding approaches that recognize man as an energy being and disease as a blockage or angulation of energy flow. Holistic medicine clearly recognizes the importance of treating diseases within a wider context of relationships and interaction of physical, emotional, mental and more broadly mental energy.

Somnolence was therefore an initiatory mode of treatment that was applied with considerable success in ancient sanatoriums. For those who wanted to go further in these techniques, behind the local sanctuaries there were the Mysteries, which offered a small number of people the possibility of Initiation, that is, of passing to a higher level of consciousness.

The healing art of Asclepius was continued by his sons, Mahaonas and Podalerios. Mahaonas, according to Homer, healed Menelaus, when the latter had been wounded in battle during the Trojan War, by the arrow of a Trojan warrior. Asclepius’ wife, Epione, relieved pain, his daughter Hygeia was the goddess of health, his daughter Panakeia, represented healing and his son, Telesphorus, recovery.

The article is in Greek

Tags: Resurrection Ancient Greece


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