1964 年 16 巻 1 号 p. 12-17
Asclepius was the god of medicine who cured physical ailments of men and lived about 13th century B. C.. After his death, man warshiped him as a god for his medical powers. The legends that grew round him and the tale of his birth and death which the ancient writers have preserved for us were the products of man's imagination and gratitude.
According to the myth, he was the son of Apollo, and learned the art of medicine: and how to cure the many diseases that plagued mankind on Mt. Pelion or Mt. Tithion, and it is told that his 17th descendent in line was Hippocrates the father of medicine. A serpent was the symbol of Asclepius, and it was from this that a serpent has become the symbol of medicine throughout the world due to the fact that just as the snake sheds its skin and regenerates itself, so does sick man regenerate himself when cured of illness (Fig.1. ).
Asclepia were treatment centers and worshipping sites of the cult of Asclepius. The most reknowned of these in antiquity were those of Cos and Epidaurus. The sanctuary of Epidaurus functionated from 600 to 400 B. C., and represents a striking chapter in the civilization of the ancient Greeks.
The road leading to Epidaurus from Athens (172 Km) along Saronic gulf, through Mycenean necropolis, Argolis and the outskirts of Nauplia is very enjoyable. And finally, in a calm town Epidaurus, at the edge of the beautiful forest of pine the remains of the shrine of Asclepius and the museum can be discerned (Fig.3. ). The remains of the famous sanctuary of Asclepius are situated about 12 Kilometres from the ancient and famed city of Epidaurus, which city played an important role in Greek history until the last years of Roman rule in Greece. The remains uncovered to the present date from the 5th century B. C. to the 2nd century A. D.. The ruins the propylaea, the temple of Asclepius, the rotunda or altar, stadium and many other sacred buildings in the sanctuary have been excavated. One of the most sacred and important building was aveton or adyton (or clinic in modern sense) mentioned in inscriptions and in which the patient slept at night and waited for the apparition or dream of Asclepius who cured them.
Another one of the most important and of all the monuments in the Asclepius sanctuary the best preserved by far, is the theater. Even in antiquity it was considered as a wonder. According to the traveller Pausanias (160 A. D. ) it was the most remarkable theater in his time from the point of view of symmetry and beauty. It is awork of the architect Polycleitus (4th Cent. B. C. ) and even to-day the theater can held 14,000 spectators. The striking thing about the theater is its remarkable acoustics. Even a whisper at the centre of the orchestra can be heard in any part of the structure, and the spectators seated in the topmost tiers can hear just as clear as those seated in the first rows (Fig.2. ).
In the Museum, many excavated things, architectual reproductions and important inscriptions can be seen. The most important objects, mainly sculptures of Asclepius and pediments of temples of Asclepius are exhibited in the Archeological Museus of Athens, and casts of them can be found in the Epidaurus Museum. Marble slabs on the wall on which record of cured patients are inscribed and those excavated bronze surgical instruments, coins and some other small articles which are shown in glass cases are much highly appreciated.