Reviews from the Ancient History Bulletin

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Classics Confidential ~ Daniela Manetti: Medicine and Religion in Aelius Aristeides’ Hieroi Logoi

The intro:

A couple of posts ago we featured an interview with Prof. Daniela Manetti who was visiting the Humboldt University of Berlin as part of the research project Medicine of the Mind, Philosophy of the Body. This week we talked to another of the project participants, Dr Georgia Petridou, about her work on the second-century AD text Hieroi Logoi (‘The Sacred Tales’) by Aelius Aristeides, orator and long-term resident of the sanctuary of the healing deity Asklepios at Pergamum (modern Turkey).

As Georgia explains on the Humboldt project website, the Hieroi Logoi ‘point to a close correlation between initiatory experience in some of the most popular mystery cults of the imperial era (like the mystēria of Demeter, Isis and Sarapis) and Aristeides’ portrayal of: a) the exclusivity of the therapeutic experience of the Asklepieion of Pergamum; b) the symbiotic relationship between somatic and psychic suffering and recovery; c) Aristeides’ representing the community of his fellow patients as mystai; and finally d) Aristeides’ depiction of disease as a perpetual near-death experience.’