Day Four: A favorite myth or story of this deity
Patients who visited the sanctuaries of Asclepius often brought votive offerings depicting the part of the body in need of healing, and frequently had the testimonial of their successful cure inscribed on a stele (stone tablet) to give praise to the god and to encourage other patients.
Ambrosia, a woman from Athens, was blind in one eye. She travelled to the sanctuary of Asclepius at Epidaurus in search of a cure. While she waited for evening, when patients were taken to the the holiest part of the sanctuary to spend the night, in hopes of dreams or visions that a priest would interpret the next day in prescribing therapy, Ambrosia read the testimonial stelae, and talked to the patients. As she walked around the shrine, she mocked at some of the cures as incredible and impossible, jeering at the possibility that the lame and blind could become whole by having a dream.
In her sleep that night in the temple, she had a vision. It seemed that she saw Asclepius standing by her, and he told her that he would cure her blindness. He extracted her promise to dedicate to the temple a silver pig as a memorial of her unbelief. Saying this, he cut open her diseased eye and poured medicine into it.
When Ambrosia awoke the next day, her blindness had been cured.
– From an inscription at Epidaurus, Stele 1:4
Note: A silver pig was a standard ingot of silver ore.
Image: Model of the Asklepion at Epidaurus, Greece,1936. Science Museum, London.
Some of the stele with inscriptions testifying to cures are visible in front of the tholos temple.