Paean (Gk. paian, paiēōn, paiōn, paōn)
- Thomas J. Mathiesen
(Gk. paian, paiēōn, paiōn, paōn)
Ancient Greek choral hymn addressed to Apollo, Artemis, Zeus, Dionysus, Asclepius or Hygieia. Proclus's Useful Knowledge defines it as a species of song specifically assigned to be sung to Apollo and Artemis for the cessation of plagues and maladies but later written for all the gods. The term is also applied to military hymns; hymns composed in honour of an important event, such as the ratification of a treaty; and, later, hymns addressed to prominent persons. In the Iliad (i.472–4) the term appears in connection with a hymn sung to Apollo as a propitiation for the Greek army's offence against the god; and later (xxii.391–4) the term is used to describe a piece sung in celebration of a victory. In addition, the Homeric Hymn to Apollo preserves the famous cry of the Cretan paean singers, ‘Ie Paean’ (iēpaiēon), which was used as an epithet for Apollo in his role as healer. Pseudo-Plutarch (...