The Symbolism Of Paean Apollo In Homer's Odyssey

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Homer also describes the striking arrows of Apollo as a “symbol” recognizable in myth to the “sudden onset of disease” (Phillips, 18). When Apollo is angry his arrows are not only the deliver the plague and pestilence, but may also bring the cure and thus he is sometimes known as Paean Apollo. Paean is the mythical physician of the gods within ancient Greek mythology and appears in the Iliad. When Ares, another casualty of battle is wounded in battle Diomedes moves him to Mount Olympus seeking medical treatment from Paean. Paean also appears in Homer’s Odyssey treating Hades from an arrow shot from Heracles. While Paean was once recognized as the god of medicine and healing that designation would come to be attributed to the god Apollo, hence…show more content…
Homer refers to Machaon and Podalirius as “Divine professors of the healing arts” (Iliad, II. 47). Machaon, who is also described by Pindar, treated primarily arrow wounds by cutting them out along with infected flesh before pouring wine and ground herbs over the wounds. Although Asclepius has come to be considered the son of Apollo and a God, he was originally a leader of Thessaly, located in the central part of Greece. Epione, his wife was a healer as well who was known to be skilled in easing pain. He daughter Hygeia was known as the goddess of disease prevention and it is from her name that hygiene, the modern term for personal cleanliness is derived. Asclepius is described by Pindar as the “craftsman of new health for weary limbs and banisher of pain” and to have the qualities of a “godlike healer of all mortal sickness (Pindar, Pythian Ode I). Asclepius remains with the modern practice of medicine as the adopted medical symbol of Asclepius’ staff, a snake intertwined with a rod representing healing, regeneration, and…show more content…
There were no formal schools offering medical training during the time of the events described in the Iliad and Odyssey. In order to become proficient healer during armed conflict Physicians had to “acquire” medical training and “scientific skills through voluntary efforts” and it was not until the time of Hippocrates that a form of medical training and ethical medical conduct developed (Zuskin, 150). It is likely during events like the Trojan War that in most cases soldiers treated one another to the best of their abilities in the field. However, the ancient Greek warriors did recognize the importance of medical knowledge and the ability to treat wounds. When Machaon, wounded with an arrow to his shoulder, is treated by Idomeneus inside of Nestor’ tent when Idomeneus, pleading the case for physicians, declares that “a healer is worth many other men” and that skill in “cutting out arrows and spreading gentle remedies upon the wound” to be very valuable, especially in battle (Iliad, XI.
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