Tag Archives: Greek mythology

The snake, the staff, and the healer

Simon Wein Petach Tikvah, Israel   The Rod of Asclepius, graphite on paper, by Daniel Wein, 2021. Introduction In some ancient cultures, especially around the Near East, the snake was involved in healing. Today this seems counterintuitive. There are as many as 130,000 deaths from snake bites worldwide each year and three times that number […]

Omphalos

Margaret Nowaczyk Hamilton, Ontario, Canada   Chambered Nautilus Shell – detail. Photo by Jitze Couperus. 2008. Via Flickr CC BY 2.0 Once, I linked you to the woman who gave birth to you: for forty weeks, a twisted pearly cord, pulsing with two syncopated heartbeats, bound you two together. It fed you and gave you […]

Ancient Greek plague and coronavirus

Patrick Bell Belfast, Northern Ireland   Plague in an Ancient City by Michael Sweerts, ca 1650. Credit Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Introduction Homer’s Iliad, Sophocles’ Oedipus the King, and Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War have been termed “the three earliest, and arguably most influential, representations of the plague in Western narrative.”1 This […]

The trouble with the belly button

Tonse N. K. Raju Gaithersburg, Maryland, United States   It is a simple dimple in the mid-abdomen. Yet for medieval artists, it caused mighty headaches while painting portraits of Adam and Eve. Painting the dimple as a natural anatomic feature could be construed as sacrilegious, implying that Adam and Eve were connected by umbilical cords […]

Medicine in Greek mythology

JMS Pearce Hull, England, UK Fig. 1 Caduceus and Asclepian single serpent Some of the earliest ideas about health and disease lie in Greek mythology. The Greeks of prehistory told, retold, and often remoulded their tales of immortal gods and goddesses that were imaginative, symbolic creations. Stories of the gods probably started with Minoan and […]

“…One must imagine Sisyphus happy”

Katerina Dima Preveza, Greece   “Sysphus, carrying the weight of his agony, forever.” Sisyphus, 1548, Titan Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain. Ancient Greek mythology teems with stories of morality, despair, and the philosophy of the absurd. No story, however, had a greater impact on this young, impressionable medical student than the story of Sisyphus. Sisyphus […]