Happy New Year!
We wish you peace and very good health in 2017!
Dove and Peace
The goddess Artemis, twin sister of Apollo, guards her virginity fiercely and perhaps on this account, is the protector of young girls up to the age of marriage and childbirth. At her shrine at Brauron on the east coast of Attica she combines this function with another aspect, her care for birds, animals and all wild creatures. It was said that the shrine was originally built to appease the goddess after her favourite bear was killed. Every five years a particularly charming festival took place, in which young girls between the ages of five and ten years old known as ‘Little bears’ would assemble at the shrine and dance, sometimes remaining there permanently to serve the goddess.
Votive tablet with eyes
In the fifth century BC a native of the island of Cos named Hippocrates established a medical school. He had, of course, no access to technical equipment, so he based his theory of treatment on continual observations of the patients, which were meticulously recorded in case histories, some of which survive. This intelligent approach is as valid today as it was in Hippocrates’ time, but many patients like Eukrates chose to back up practical science with supernatural aid. He appealed to the kindly goddess Demeter for help with his eye problem, but we have no case history to record the success or otherwise of his appeal.
Votive tablet with ears
Well into the Roman world the Greek god Asclepius (Latin Aesculapius), here called Phoebigena (born of Phoebus) was often approached with medical problems. Asclepius was the son of Phoebus Apollo by the mortal princess Coronis. She was unfaithful to the god and was stuck dead by his sister Artemis, but the child was saved and was taught the healing arts as part of his education by the centaur Chiron. This offering of a beautifully carved pair of ears was presented by Cutius the Gaul to commemorate a successful intervention by the god, and clearly records the nature and location of the cure.