Paean (god)

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In Greek mythology, Paean (Ancient Greek: Παιάν), Paeëon or Paieon (Παιήων), or Paeon or Paion (Παιών) was the physician of the gods.[1][2]

Mycenaean Greece[edit]

The name Paean is believed to be first attested in Mycenaean Greek as an alternative name of Apollo; the attested form of the name, written in Linear B, is 𐀞𐀊𐀺𐀚, pa-ja-wo-ne.[3][4][5]

Homer and Hesiod[edit]

A god of healing named Παιήων is mentioned twice in the Iliad.[6] In book 5, the Olympian god of war Ares is wounded by mortal hero Diomedes, who is assisted by Athena. Ares is taken up to Olympus in a hurry, where Paeon applies medicine (Ancient Greek: φάρμακα) that produces an instant relief.[7] Hades too had a similar medical treatment by Paeon when he was shot with an arrow by Heracles.[8] In the Odyssey, Homer says of Egypt, "[T]here the earth, the giver of grain, bears greatest store of drugs, many that are healing when mixed, and many that are baneful; there every man is a physician, wise above human kind; for they are of the race of Paeeon."[9]

Hesiod identifies Paeon as an individual deity: "Unless Phoebus Apollo should save him from death, or Paean himself who knows the remedies for all things."[10][11]

In time, Paeon (more usually spelled Paean) became an epithet of Apollo, in his capacity as a god capable of bringing disease and therefore propitiated as a god of healing.[12] Later, Paeon becomes an epithet of Asclepius, the healer-god.[13] Later, perhaps due to his identification with Apollo, Helios was also invoked as "Paion."[1][14]


  1. ^ a b Παιάν. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project.
  2. ^ Marshall Cavendish Corporation (2005). Gods, Goddesses, and Mythology. Marshall Cavendish. p. 1069. ISBN 978-0-7614-7559-0.
  3. ^ Schofield, Louise (2007). The Mycenaeans. The British Museum Press. p. 160. ISBN 978-0-89236-867-9.
  4. ^ "KN V 52+". Deaditerranean: Minoan Linear A & Mycenaean Linear B. Archived from the original on 2016-03-18. Retrieved 2014-03-08.
  5. ^ Chadwick, John (1976). The Mycenaean World. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 89. ISBN 0-521-29037-6. At Google Books.
  6. ^ Gantz, p. 96.
  7. ^ "Homer, Iliad,Book 5, line 899". Tufts University.
  8. ^ "Homer, Iliad,Book 5, line 363". Tufts University.
  9. ^ "Homer, Odyssey, Book 4, line 219". Tufts University.
  10. ^ Hesiod & Evelyn-White 2007, p. 159.
  11. ^ Graf 2009, p. 66–67.
  12. ^ Graf 2009, pp. 66–67.
  13. ^ Eustathius of Thessalonica, on Homer, §1494; Virgil. Aeneid, vii. 769.
  14. ^ Farnell vol IV, p. 137


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