Survivals of Roman Religion

By Gordon J. Laing | Go to book overview

XV. AESCULAPIUS AND INCUBATION

THE PRACTICE of incubation, referred to in the preceding section, was chiefly associated with Aesculapius, god of healing. He was a Greek divinity whose cult was brought to Rome from Epidaurus in 293 B.C. An outbreak of plague was the immediate occasion of the introduction. The story is that as the ship bearing the envoys who had been sent to Epidaurus in regard to the establishment of the worship, sailed up the Tiber on its return to Rome, the sacred snake which had been brought from the Epidaurian temple slipped overboard and swam to the island in the Tiber. This was regarded as an indication of the divine will and the temple of the god was erected there. A few remains of it may still be seen but they are not sufficient to enable us to visualize it in detail.

While the Roman worship never attained the fame of the cult at Epidaurus and other places in Greece, it seems to have enjoyed a

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