The Caesarea Maritima Asklepios and the Question of Glykon

Rivka Gersht*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The resemblance of the small marble head of Asklepios uncovered in Caesarea in 2015 to the portrait of Asklepios holding an egg from Nea Paphos brought me into the dispute concerning the significance of the egg held by the god in many of his images. The evidence examined made it clear that (a) any attempt to link the egg in Asklepios' hand with Glykon's epiphany and cult is incorrect; (b) the interpretation of the egg as a symbol of the universe was not in the mind of the sculptor who first put an egg in the hands of Asklepios and Hygieia; (c) the egg is nothing but the serpent's diet; (d) although Glykon was another aspect of the healing god he was never shown in Asklepios' guise; (e) and that in inscriptions - including those accompanying images of Asklepios serving an egg to his serpent - the god of medicine is associated with other deities than Glykon. Among the Caesarea types of Asklepios - discussed in the supplemental catalogue of images - the Amelung or its related Giustini type could have held an egg in the right hand; yet no evidence associating these images with Asklepios-Glykon in Roman Caesarea exist. Glykon was a rather common name/nickname, even before the invention of the god by Alexander of Abonoteichos. Individuals named Glykon, in Caesarea and elsewhere, had nothing to do with the god who bears the same name. In Caesarea Asklepios was not associated with Glykon but with Serapis; he ensured the health of the people of Roman Caesarea and was venerated in private dwellings and in the public sphere. Asklepios, for exemplifying the functional, hygienic, and medicinal merits of bathing, also served, along with his daughter Hygieia, the Caesarean Christians who used the bath in Insula W2S3 between the fifth and seventh century.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationScripta Classica Israelica
PublisherIsrael Society for the Promotion of Classical Studies
Number of pages32
StatePublished - 2020

Publication series

NameScripta Classica Israelica
ISSN (Print)0334-4509


  • Asklepios
  • Asklepios-Glykon
  • Caesarea asklepios types
  • Caesarea maritima
  • Egg
  • Glykon as a proper name
  • Hygieia
  • Inscriptions
  • Isis
  • Pinecone
  • Roman sculpture
  • Serapis
  • Serpent


Dive into the research topics of 'The Caesarea Maritima Asklepios and the Question of Glykon'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this