A Healing God Comes to Rome: Aesculapius and the Effects of the Arrival of His Cult
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The importation of Aesculapius, the Greco-Roman god of medicine, into Rome was a monumental event in Roman history. In order to comprehend the implications of the arrival of Aesculapius as well as the importance of his healing cult to the Romans, this thesis, through careful readings and analyses of various ancient literary works, explores the historical background of Aesculapius, the epigraphy of his importation, the effects that his healing cult had on the Roman world, and the downfall of Aesculapius and his cult mainly effected by the rise of Christianity in antiquity. For many Romans, the healing god’s departure from Epidaurus, his former dwelling, and arrival at Rome signified more than a mere dismissal of the outbreaks of the plague for which they had summoned the deity. The importation – Aesculapius’ "willingness" to come to the aid of the Romans – indicated that the gods favored the Romans and that Rome, now the capital of the world, could find the healing it would need to be the international hub.