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Arch Hellen Med, 34(2), March-April 2017, 261-263


Living statues with therapeutic powers: The testimonies of Lucian and Damascius

E. Theodoraki, P. Konstantopoulos, N. Papavramidou
Department of the History of Medicine, School of Medicine, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece

Cases of "living" statues with therapeutic powers are presented, derived from sources in the ancient Greek literature. These cases do not concern miracles or illusion, but are supposed testimonies of people who report having actually witnessed a statue coming alive, functioning like a normal person and having healing powers. This paper studies two cases, one of which was described in Lucian's "Philopseudes" (2nd century A.D.) and the other in Damascius' "Vita Isidori" (5th–6th century A.D.). In the first case, the statue cured its owner of tertian fever, while in the second case the statue offered alternative treatment to a patient. Living statues are studied as a phenomenon of antiquity and an attempt is made to answer the question of whether people actually believed in the therapeutic abilities of these idols. A hypothesis is formulated on the way in which the type of illness that the statues hypothetically cured may be related to the superstitions concerning these healing statues.

Key words: Ancient medicine, Living statues, Miraculous cure.

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