Asklepios' Arrival at Athens. A Perspective on the Athenian Introduction of the Epidaurian Asklepios Cult (420/419 B.C.E.) in the Context of the Peace of Nikias and the Interstate Relations in Classical Greece.
Wijk, R. van
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This thesis offers a new view on the introduction of the cult of Asklepios from Epidauros into Athens, immediately following the Archidamian War. Previous interpretations focused on the significance of Asklepios as a response to the plague at Athens in the early years of the war and on the role of an individual Athenian, Telemachos, in bringing the cult to Athens and offering the god a home there. However, this thesis follows in the footsteps of recent research by Bronwen Wicckiser (2008), who argues that the decision and implementation of Asklepios' arrival must have been the work of the Athenian demos, ot of Telemachos alone. Though following her line of argument thus far, this thesis confronts Wickkiser's emphasis of imperialist moves on Athens' side in this project and argues for an alternative view, of Athens engaged in deliberate peace-making and reciprocity with Epidauros, emobdied in the welcoming of Epidauros' main deity at the second most prestigious cultic place of Athens, the slope of the Akropolis. To support this view, this thesis draws on the ideas developed by Polly Low (2007) that interstate relations in ancient Greece were not primarily anchored in endless hostility, but rather in policies aiming at reciprocal engagements. The examinations done in this thesis lead to a fundamentally new religio-historical evaluation of the introduction of the cult of Asklepios into Athens. At the same time, they illuminate the high expectations that the Athenians connected with the conclusion of the Peace of Nikias after the first ten years of the Peloponnesian War. In previous research these expectations are often underestimated due to the fragility and relatively short duration of the peacetime.