Goddess of Health

If you search through the standard god/goddess index, you're not likely to find the Goddess of Health on your first try. Where did this goddess come from? The Greeks had early gods and goddesses: twelve major deities , the three Fates , the nine Muses , and many minor deities. While the Greek Sun god Apollo and the Roman goddess of wisdom Minerva are well known and written about, the Goddess of Health is one of those minor deities. There are at least twelve gods or goddessess for healing alone; health personified is named Hygeia, pronounced Hi-je'-a. It is derived from the root word hugies or hygies , meaning healthy, which is also the root word for hygiene. The traditional male-dominated medical profession prefers to use the god of Medicine, Asclepius, (or the Roman name Aesculapius) which is much harder to spell and pronounce, and rarely associated with women. To highlight women's health, we couldn't find a better name encompassing all the ideals of mythology, with the focus on women, than Hygeia.

The Twelve Major Deities

The ancient Greek legends tell of forces of nature that were personified and worshipped. They lived on Mount Olympus but came down to Earth to be with humans. The gods and goddesses arose from the Titans, the children of Uranus (the Heavens) and Gaea (the Earth), who struggled among themselves until one Titan, Cronus, became their ruler. Most of the gods were Cronus' offspring.

The most powerful god was the first, Zeus, son of Cronus. He was known as the Just, because of his fairness, and the Thunderer, because of his power with the thunderbolt. Hestia, Zeus' sister, governed the household. His brother Poseidon controlled the waters, while Hades (also known as Pluto) ruled the underworld of the dead. Hera, the goddess of marriage, was the wife of Zeus.

Zeus had several sons: Ares, the god of war; Apollo, the god of light and song; and Hermes, the messenger god. The last god was Hephaestus, the god of fire and skill. Zeus had several daughters: Athena, the goddess of wisdom; Artemis, the twin of Apollo, was the moon goddess and governed vegetation, wild animals and the hunt; and Aphrodite was the goddess of love.

The Nine Muses

The muses were goddesses that were patrons of the arts and sciences. Their name is the root word for music. Each was known for a particular specialty: Calliope (geometry); Clio (history); Erato (poetry of love); Euterpe (lyrical poetry); Melpomene (tragedy); Polyhymnia (song and speech); Terpsichore (dance); Thalia (comedy); and Urania (astrology and astronomy).

The Three Fates

The Fates were known as "the spinners of the thread of life" in the works of Homer. They determined the span of human life: Clotho spun the thread, determining the time of birth; Lachesis measured the thread length, determining the length of life; and Atropos cut the thread, determining the time of death. If the Fates were resisted, the goddess of justice, Nemesis, determined the outcome.