Hymn to Hygieia

Health, Illness, Treatment from Homer to Galen

  • From the dawn of our existence, we have striven to improve the conditions of our life. Throughout the course of the centuries and in every period of our civilization, we have struggled to maintain health and searched for the causes of the diseases afflicting us, attributing them sometimes to external factors, such as magic and divine wrath, and sometimes to internal causes, such as an imbalance of the elements of our constitution. Nevertheless, our primary concern and interest has always been discovering how to treat illness.

Orphic hymn
to Hygieia

Queen of all, charming and lovely blooming,
Blessed Hygieia, mother of all, bringer of prosperity, hear me.
Through you vanish the diseases that afflict men,
And through you every house blossoms to fullness of joy,
And the arts thrive; the world desires you, O queen,
And only soul-destroying Hades ever loathes you.
Ever youthful, ever beloved, you are a heaven for mortals.
Apart from you all is without avail for men:
Wealth, sweet to those feast, and giver of abundance, fails,
And man never reaches the many pains of old age,
For you are sole mistress and queen of all.
But, goddess, come, ever helpful to the initiates,
And keep away the accursed distress of harsh disease.




How did ancient Greeks care for their nutrition and bodies? How did they address the issue of public health? What would an athlete do if he got injured 2.500 years ago? Were there any surgical tools? How did they use opium and other pharmaceutical substances and herbs?

From the dawn of its existence, humanity has strived to improve all aspects of living conditions. Achieving and maintaining good health, seeking to understand the causes of diseases and, mainly, searching for solutions to fight and treat illnesses have been a primary concern and interest throughout all periods of civilization.

Landscape view is not supported.
Please rotate your device to portrait view.