Sculpture from Tegea assumed to represent Hygeia, probably a work of Scopas


Hygeia (Ὑγίεια) (Roman equivalent: Salus), in Greek mythology a daughter of Asclepius. She was the goddess of health, cleanliness and sanitation (and later: the moon), and played an important part in her father's cult

Though Hygieia had been the subject of a local cult since at least the 7th century BC, she did not begin to spread out until the Oracle at Delphi recognized her, and after the devastating Athens plague in 429 and 427 BC and in Rome in 293 BC. Her primary temples were in Epidaurus, Corinth, Cos and Pergamon.

Pausanias remarked that, at the asclepieion of Titane in Sikyonia (founded by Alexanor, Asclepius' grandson), statues of Hygieia were covered by women's hair and pieces of Babylonian clothes. According to inscriptions, the same sacrifices were offered at Paros.

Ariphron, a Sikyonian artist from the 4th century BC wrote a well-known hymn celebrating her. Statues of Hygieia were creaed by Skopas, Bryaxis and Timotheos, among others.

She was often depicted as a young woman feeding a large snake that was wrapped around her body.

Hygeieia was accompanied by her brother, Telesforos. Her name is the source of the word "hygiene".

Pindar, Odes 7, 70-71; Homer, Iliad IV,194, II, 731


In Roman mythology, Salus was worshipped extensively by the Romans. Under the name Salus Publica Populi Romani ("goddess of the public welfare of the Roman people"), there was a temple devoted to her on the Quirinal Hill. It was built in 302 BC (Livy X, 1, 9). Salus was depicted with snakes and a bowl in many artistic representations of her. Her festival took place on March 30.


Asclepius and Hygeia around a woman

Hygeia from Epidaurus

Asclepius and Hygeia , Roman Diptych

Asklepios and his daughter Hygieia feeding a snake

Hygeia (Medicine), Gustav Klimt

Asteroid 10 Hygeia


Mythology Images

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