2004
Volume 56, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 0165-8204
  • E-ISSN: 2667-1573

Abstract

Abstract

The city of Messene was re-founded as the central polis of Messenia after the region’s liberation from Spartan domination in 369 BC. At the end of the third or during the first half of the second century BC, an impressive sanctuary for the healing god Asclepius was built in the city centre. This contribution focuses on the question why the city built such a magnificent Asclepieum at this point in its history. Part of the answer lies in local and regional tradition. The Messenians claimed Asclepius and his sons as their compatriots, a claim dating back to the Late Archaic period, and part of the site of the Hellenistic Asclepieum had been a place of worship for the healing god since the Classical period. But in trying to explain the sanctuary’s grandiose rebuilding in the Hellenistic period, it is also useful to look into the political situation of the city in the early second century, a time when its independence and its dominant position in the region were eroding.

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