Hygia. Roman. 1936.36

Who is Hygeia:

            Hygeia is the Greek and Roman Goddess of Health, Cleanliness and Sanitation. She is associated with the prevention of sickness as well as the continuation of good personal health. Although her name is the source word for “Hygiene” today, her name in Greek means "wholeness" or "soundness". Many ancient people believed in the need to keep oneself healthy, one must also practice good cleanliness and staying physically active. She is the daughter of Asclepius, The God of Medicine and was often represented and worshipped along side of her father. She also has two sisters that are linked with medicine and well being named Panacea ("Cure All") and Laso ("Remedy"). Hygeia is usually presented wearing a long robe or dress and holding a serpent, which is eating from a cup that she is holding out. The serpent is a symbol of her father, Asclepius. Hygeia has also been identified as the Goddess of Mental Health. She was later known as the Roman Goddess of Social Welfare, Salus.

    Worshipping Hygeia in Greece became very popular during 400 BCE during the first appearance of a plague. Hygeia, also became very popular in Rome during 100 BCE.


This Specific Sculpture:

            The Worcester Art Museum's sculpture of Hygeia was originally found in the Lost City of Antioch, which is located on the eastern side of the Orontes River and is near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey. This sculpture was found in a Communal Bath at Antioch and was intended for public display. Hygeia was also found near the feet of a sculpture of her father, Asclepius, The God of Medicine and Healing. It is very common that both the Goddess Hygeia and the God Asclepius were near the baths because water was considered to be very important in the healing process and sustaining good health. This sculpture is believed to be a copy of a Hellenistic original created in the 2nd century B.C.