Farnell (Cults, p. 275) points out that at the same time she is certainly looked upon as in some way connected with the health-divinities, since in her temple she is grouped with Asclepius and Hygieia (see Hygieia).
Hygieia, goddess of health, passed for his daughter, and is commonly identified with the woman in Greek art who feeds a serpent out of a saucer.
3 In Egypt, he superseded the sage Imhotep at Memphis, and at the temple sacred to Aesculapius and Hygieia at Ptolemais the money-box has been found with the upper part in the form of a great snake .4 Finally among the Phoenicians he was identified with Eshmun, an earlier god of healing, who in turn was already closely associated with Dionysus and with Caelestis-Astarte.'
HYGIEIA, in Greek mythology, the goddess of health.
Her cult was not introduced at .Epidaurus till a late date, and therefore, when in 420 B.C. the worship of Asclepius was introduced at Athens coupled with that of Hygieia, it is not to be inferred that she accompanied him from Epidaurus, or that she is a Peloponnesian importation at all.
The already existing worship of Athena Hygieia had nothing to do with Hygieia the goddess of health, but merely denoted the recognition of the power of healing as one of the attributes of Athena, which gradually became crystallized into a concrete personality.
At first no special relationship existed between Asclepius and Hygieia, but gradually she came to be regarded as his daughter, the place of his wife being already secured by Epione.
The cult of Hygieia then spread concurrently with that of Asclepius, and was introduced at Rome from Epidaurus in 293, by which time she may have been admitted (which was not the case before) into the Epidaurian family of the god.
While in classical times Asclepius and Hygieia are simply the god and goddess of health, in the declining years of paganism they are protecting divinities generally, who preserve mankind not only from sickness but from all dangers on land and sea.
In works of art Hygieia is represented, together with Asclepius, as a maiden of benevolent appearance, wearing the chiton and giving food or drink to a serpent out of a dish.