PAEAN (Gr.,Gr. Ilcuav, epic Ilairio}v),'m Homer (/i. v. 401, 899), the physician of the gods. In other writers the word is a mere epithet of .A.pollo (q.v.) in his capacity as a god of healing (cf. iaTpofjiavTLS oOXios), but it is not known whether Paean was originally a separate deity or merely an aspect of ApoUo. Homer leaves the question unanswered; Hesiod (cf. schol. Hom. Od. iv. 432) definitely separates the two, and in later poetr>- Paean is invoked independently as a health god. It is equally difficult to discover the relation between Paean or Paeon in the sense of " healer " and Paean in the sense of " song." FarneU refers to the ancient association between the healing craft and the singing of spells, and says that it is impossible to decide which is the original sense. At all events the meaning of " healer " gradually gave place to that of " h>Tnn," from the phrase 'I17 Ilaidi'. Such songs were originally addressed to Apollo (cf. the Homeric Hymn to Apollo 272, and notes in ed. by Sikes and Allen), and afterwards to other gods, Dionysus, Helios, Asclepius. About the 4th centur>- the paean became merely a formula of adulation; its object was either to implore protection against disease and misfortune, or to offer thanks after such protection had been rendered. Its connexion with .\pollo as the slayer of the python led to its association with battle and victory; hence it became the custom for a paean to be sung by an army on the march and before entering into battle, when a fleet left the harbour, and also after a victory had been won. The most famous paeans are those of BacchyUdes (q.v.) and Pindar (q.v.). Paeans were sung at the festivals of Apollo (especially the Hyacinthia), at banquets, and later even at pubUc funerals. In later times they were addressed not only to the gods, but to human beings. In this manner the Rhodians celebrated Ptolemy I. of Eg>'pt, the Samians Lysander of Sparta, the .Athenians Demetrius, the Delphians Craterus of Macedon. The word " paean " is nowused in the sense of any song of joj' or triumph.
See A. Fairbanks, ' A Study of the Greek Paean." No. xii. of Cornell Studies in Classical Philology (New York, 1900) ; L. R. FarneU, Cults of the Greek Stales.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)