Or Paeeon (Παιήων) or Paeon (Παιών), that is, "the healing," is according to Homer the designation of the physician of the Olympian gods, who heals, for example, the wounded Ares and Hades.1

After the time of Homer and Hesiod, the word Παιάν (Paian) becomes a surname of Asclepius, the god who had the power of healing.2 The name was, however, used also in the more general sense of deliverer from any evil or calamity,3 and was thus applied to Apollo and Thanatos, or Death, who are conceived as delivering men from the pains and sorrows of life.4 With regard to Apollo and Thanatos however, the name may at the same time contain an allusion to παίειν (paiein) to strike, since both are also regarded as destroyers.5

From Apollo himself the name Paean was transferred to the song dedicated to him, that is, to hymns chanted to Apollo for the purpose of averting an evil, and to warlike songs, which were sung before or during a battle.



  1. Iliad v, 401, 899.
  2. Eustathius on Homer, p. 1494; Virgil. Aeneid vii, 769.
  3. Pindar. Pythian Odes iv, 480.
  4. Sophocles. Oedipus Tyrannus, 154; Pausanias. Description of Greece i, 34.2; Euripides. Hippolytus, 1373.
  5. Eustathius on Homer, p. 137.


  • Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.

This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.