In Greek methodology, Hygiene was the goddess/personification of health, cleanliness and hygiene, one of the Aeclepiadae (the sons and daughters of the god of medicine). She belonged to an illustrious mythological family: daughter of Asclepius, the god of medicine and the goddess of healing, Epione.
Along with her four sisters, each performed a facet of Apollo’s art: Hygieia (the personification/goddess of health, cleanliness and healing), Panacea (the goddess of the universal remedy), Yaso (the goddess of recovery from illness), Aces (the goddess of the healing process), and Aglaya (the goddess of beauty, splendor, glory, magnificence and adornment).
Hygieia also played an important role in his father’s cult. While her father was more directly associated with healing, she was associated with preventing disease and continuing good health.
Her name is the source of the word “hygiene”. She was imported by the Romans as the goddess Valetudo, the goddess of personal health, but over time she began to be increasingly identified with the ancient Italian goddess of social welfare, Salus.
The cult in Athens of the goddess Hygieia dates back to the 7th century BC. Plutarch, related the construction of the Parthenon in Athens saying that the goddess Hygieia was present when a worker fell from a great height while he was building. Doctors could not treat him and that same night, the goddess Hygieia appeared in a dream to Pericles and taught him a treatment to heal the wounded man. The mason recovered and in honor of Hygieia, a statue with her image was placed near the altar.