|Posted by moodhacker on March 25, 2017 at 4:00 AM|
Medical tourism dates back thousands of years to when Greek pilgrims traveled from all over the Mediterranean to the small territory in the saronic gulf called Epidauria. Epidauria became the original travel destination for medical tourism. Spa towns and sanitarium in Ancient Greece were the form of early medical tourism. People traveled to these destinations for medical benefits.
From the 18th century wealthy Europeans travelled to spas from Germany to the Nile. In 1326, a little village in east Belgium gained overnight fame after the discovery of the iron-rich hot springs. It developed into a full-fledged health resort in 16th century.
What Happened During Epidauria
The Epidauria was a festival of Asklēpiós placed smack in the middle of the Mysteries--exactly six months after the other major festival of Asklēpiós in Athens: the one during the Greater Dionysia.
The day was named after Asklēpiós' healing centre to the south at Epidauros. It was said that on this day, the cult of Asklepios and Hygeia joined the Eleusinian Mysteries rites in Athens.
What, exactly, happened during the Epidauria is unclear as discussing the rites that took place at Eleusis carried a death sentence, but I think we can safely say that the rites at Eleusis involving Asklēpiós were most likely similar to the rites to Asklēpiós that took place at other places--including Epidauros.
What we do know is that the evening rites of sacrifices were held at Demeter’s Eleusinion temple in Athens to honour Asklēpiós, His daughter Hygeia, and Demeter and Persephone, who also were revered as healing deities. Special blessings were invoked for doctors and healers, and perhaps healing practices were offered at Demeter’s Eleusinion temple.
Then started the part that we have to guestimate by way of other practices involving Asklēpiós. Asklēpiós' worship almost always included a 'night watch'; a night time period of meditation and contemplation at a temple to Asklēpiós; the Asklepion.
During the Mysteries, the initiates would most likely sit, contemplate, and cleanse themselves of ailments, distress, and anything that might distract them form the proceedings to follow.
The temple of Asklēpiós was built near the enclosure of a sacred spring in a small cave and it included an abaton, a sleeping hall sacred to Asklēpiós where initiates could sleep while watched over by priests of Asklēpiós who prayed to Asklēpiós to visit these initiates in their sleep and give them messages intended to heal and cleanse. The following morning, initiates would tell their dream to a priest of Asklēpiós or Hygeia, called 'therapeutes'. The initiate would then be encouraged to put the advice he or she had gotten into practice.
The Epidauria took place as a preparatory intermezzo: afterwards, the initiates were cleaned and focussed, ready to be drawn further into the Mysteries. As these proceedings took place late at night, a certain lack of sleep might also occur, leaving the initiates more susceptible to the coming proceedings. Whatever the case, the initiates would soon be enveloped in the hectic but highly ritualized proceedings of the Mysteries, and likely feel far more ready--and worthy--to face them.
(17 Boedromion) This is a festival of Asklepios in the middle of the Eleusinian Mysteries. In theory, it commemorates the late arrival of Asklepios, the god of Healing (with his sacred snake and daughter Hygieia, “Health” from Epidauria to the Mysteries, which then had to be repeated in a rushed form on the fourth day of the observances, the day in which the initiates spent the entire day indoors, perhaps meditating to bring themselves to the right state of mind to observe the following two solemn days.
The Epidauria included a procession with women carrying offerings and a banquet with a couch for the god. In reality, this festival was likely contrived by a clever priesthood working with the Athenian authorities, as it occurs exactly six months after the other festival of Asklepias, which occurs at the same time as the other festival of Athens to which foreigners could come and participate: the City Dionysia. Observances of Asklepios became important after the plague in Athens in 430 BCE.
Source: Parke, H.W., Festivals of the Athenians, 1977, baringtheaegis.blogspot