12 Jul God Love the Greeks Who Gave Us Natural Medicine!
The Myth of the Rod & A Visit to the Isle of Hippocrates Where I Fell in Love
As many of you may know I have recently returned from an archaeological sailing tour of Greece. It was tough. I had to put up with great food, great company and fascinating guides who led our group through the mysteries of the ancient world. (see Peter Sommer Travels).
The myth of the rod tells the tale of the demi-god Asclepius (son of Apollo & a mortal princess called Koronis), examining a man recently struck dead by one of Zeus’ lightning bolts. Startled by an approaching snake, Asclepius kills the snake with his staff. A second snake quickly appears and places some herbs into the dead snake’s mouth, thereby restoring it to life. Asclepius, so the legend goes, quickly follows the snake’s example and revives the man from the dead. As a tribute to the snake, he then adopts the symbol of the snake coiled around the rod as his own emblem.
By the 6th century BC hundreds of temple complexes called Asclepions which acted as centres for medical practice and teaching medicine were in operation. I recently visited the Asclepeion of Kos. Kos is the birthplace of Hippocrates and the second largest Greek island in the Dodecanese. it is 10km from Bodrum on the Turkish coast. I fell in love with the scents of cypress, olives, oranges and rosemary together with the view across the Aegean to Turkey.
For those looking to retire & fed up with the price of a cup of coffee you can purchase a 2000 sqm property with this view within a 20 minute walk of the Asclepeion complete with cypress lined, winding drive with olive grove and beautiful white washed villa for $400,000. Your gardener or house keeper costs $6 per hour, a coffee in the main square is $3 and food is mostly organic & fresh. It is perhaps going to become less expensive.
Hippocrates was born in 460 BC and died in 357 BC. He believed that disease had natural rather than supernatural causes and could be studied and possibly cured according to the workings of nature. Hippocrates’ fame resulted from a collection of 80 medical works known as The Hippocratic Corpus which challenged the methods of physicians who used magic and oracles to treat diseases.
At Kos, the Asclepius was the most famous hospital of its time, consisting of a religious sanctuary, a healing centre, school of medicine and many mineral springs where people came to bathe. On the top tier was a large Doric temple in honour of Asclepius.
God Love the Greeks, who gave us natural medicine and the foundations of modern thinking. Let’s send loving thoughts that they come through this time with grace.