©Wellcome Library, London

A statue of Asclepius guards the porch leading to the temple's inner sanctuary. The temple complex included a stadium, gymnasium, and banqueting hall for use during festivals. In the open air was a sacrificial altar. Like all Greek temples, it was only open to the public during scheduled sacrifices and annual festivals when individuals and families came from far and wide to participate in the ceremonies. After ritual purification, visitors donned a simple robe before entering the temple precinct where they passed through a succession of religious and healing rites. Most brought animals to be sacrificed or offerings to the god. Permanent gifts were displayed as tokens of power in the healing abilities of Asclepius, and people left records of their illnesses and cures inscribed on stone stelae. One, left by a Roman visitor, Julius Apellas of Idrias, who suffered from indigestion, described how Asclepius told him to take anise oil for headaches and rinse his sore throat with cold water. The god also recommended a laxative of milk with honey, and a diet of bread, cheese, parsley and lettuce. All this was combined with vigorous exercise, hot water baths fortified with wine, salt and mustard massages, and regularly sacrifices to various deities, none of which came cheap.

Watercolour after Defrasse.