Aelius Aristides' Sacred Tales is a complex literary text, and its first book—the diary—puzzles scholars, as it has no parallel in the entire work. This paper offers a justification for this section by arguing for a deliberate contrast between the diary and Books 2–6 of the Sacred Tales, as a result of which the latter section is crafted as a narrative about Asclepius. I will first identify a large series of shifts in the ST: starting with Book 2, change concerns the protagonist, which from Aristides' abdomen turns to Asclepius, the narrator, dream interpretation, genre, and arrangement of the events. Secondly, I discuss the impact of these shifts upon the readers' response: while the diary invites the readers to relive the everyday tension between known past and unknown future, the spatial form of Books 2–6 creates the opposite effect, turning the readers' attention away from the human flow of time towards Asclepius, and leading them to perceive features of his divine time.
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