Connecting the Dots: Delphic Oracle and the Cult of Asclepius from the Perspective of Cognitive Historiography



Year of publication 2016
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description In this paper, I argue that the traditional historiography of religions can be posi-tively stimulated by insights coming from the recently established discipline of cognitive historiography. Cognitive historiography tries to apply various theories, which originate in the field of cognitive sciences, to the study of historical phe-nomena and thus to achieve deeper understanding of historical events and practic-es. The merit of cognitive historiography will be demonstrated through two inde-pendent case studies. The first one deals with the mantic procedure performed at the Delphic oracle and focuses especially on the role of Pythiai, female priestesses of Apollo, and their state of consciousness during oracular sessions. The second case study concentrates on healing practices offered to patients in the temples of Asclepius, especially on the possible contribution of incubation (sleeping in the temple in hope of being healed or receiving therapeutic instructions from a deity) to the fidelity of long-term transmission of patients’ memories.

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