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Hygeia (pronounced Hi-je'-a), is the Greek (and later Roman, who named her Salus) minor deity or Goddess of Health and cleanliness (hygiene). She is said to be the daughter of Asclepius, the God of Medicine and granddaughter of the Major God, Apollo. She is also the sister of Panakeia or Panacea (which means All-cures and panceas) Akeso (Goddess of Healing and the process of curing), and Iaso (which means Remedies). Hygeia is usually portrayed as a young woman, who holds a sacred snake (symbolizes resurrection), which is often combined with the rod of Asclepius to form the cadacus, or symbol of medicine. Often this snake is portrayed as drinking from a cup (symbolizing medicine), which has become known as the pharmacist's bowl.

The Hippocratic Oath (first created by Hippocrates, the Greek physician of C5th to C4th B.C.) mentions Hygeia in the line: "I swear by Apollon the physician, and Asklepios, and Hygeia, and Panakeia, and all the gods and goddesses, that, according to my ability and judgment, I will keep this Oath and this stipulation . . ." In the Greek myths Hygeia has a lineage full of ‘the healer’ archetypes. Some say, that in contemporary times, Hygeia signifies the herbalist, the nurse, and the holistic health practitioners.

Hygeia by Gustav Klimt 1907
Hygeia by Gustav Klimt, 1907
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