Pergamum Asclepium Temple


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The Via Tecta led into the propylon, or monumental entrance gate of the Asclepium of Pergamum, in front of which was a courtyard surrounded on three sides by colonnaded stoas. There was an altar to Asclepius in the centre of this courtyard and the entire complex was dedicated to the cult of this serpent god. The road to the Asclepium would have been crowded daily with people seeking healing. This practice was, of course, in direct opposition to the real healing power and salvation, which is only available in Christ. As the other major sanctuary of Asclepius was at Epidaurus in Greece, the shrine in Pergamum was the most important cult site of this pagan worship in Asia and must have been a real threat to the believers in this city. What would a Christian do when he was sick? He needed help, it was supposedly available in the Asclepium hospital. But offering to the serpent god would have been against his conscience! Although the Asclepium itself is not mentioned in the Book of Revelation, the symbol of the snake is used to depict Satan, the “adversary” in Revelation 12.9 and 20.2).