Viewing Health: Asclepia in their Natural Settings
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In this paper, it is argued that there existed a Greco-Roman perception that the views of the surrounding landscapes from Greek healing sanctuaries contributed towards the heath of the pilgrim who visited the sites. Although much has been written about the religious aspects of the healing event in Asclepia, the physical environment of the sanctuaries has yet to be examined. It is, nonetheless significant, allowing us a further understanding of the pilgrims' experience in these places that extends beyond ritual practice. The Asclepia share similar views, facing the mountains, the sea or both. By comparing the orientation of healing sanctuaries with ancient medical and philosophical literature, it is demonstrated that part of the healing experience in a sanctuary involved the stimulation of the senses. For this study, the focus is on the sense of sight. Pleasant views had a calming effect on the mind, which in turn influenced the health of the viewer. Thus, the healing event was enhanced by the visitor's interactive relationship with the surrounding environment.