Aelius Aristides enjoyed enormous popularity for his rhetorical prowess in his own lifetime and thereafter. His canonization as a model of atticist style in antiquity itself and his popularity in the Byzantine period have ensured that very many of his works survive.1 Undoubtedly the most singular side of his character was his devotion to the healing god Asclepius and his long struggle to be well. I have already had occasion to say something about Aristides' obsession with his health in the course of discussing the modern conception of the second sophistic period as an 'age of anxiety'. Aristides' recollections of his struggle were also famous in antiquity. 'He himself speaks of the nature of his disease . . . in the Sacred Books, and these form some sort of diary for him, and such diaries are excellent teachers of how to speak well on any subject.'2. The six Sacred Tales ( Orr.xlvii-lii), as they are normally called, are certainly one of the most interesting works to have come down to us from this period.3 They are records not so much of Aristides' disease as of the treatments suggested for it by Asclepius. The title____________________
Aristides is cited here by the text of Lenz and Behr ( 1976-80) for works i-xvi and by the incomplete edition of Keil ( 1898) for the rest.