classical Latin panacēa, any of various plants reputed to have universal healing powers, also personified as the daughter of Aesculapius < Hellenistic Greek πανάκεια plant reputed to have universal healing powers, universal remedy, already in ancient Greek personified as the daughter of Asclepius, god of healing < Hellenistic Greek πανακής all-healing
- 1 : a remedy for all ills or difficulties : cure-all
In Greek mythology, Panacea (Greek Πανάκεια, Panakeia) was a goddess of healing. She was the daughter of Asclepius and Epione. Panacea and her five sisters each performed a facet of Apollo's art: Panacea was the goddess of cures, Iaso was the goddess of recuperation, Hygieia was the goddess of disease prevention, Aceso was the goddess of recovery, and Aglaea was the goddess of natural beauty.
Panacea also had four brothers – Podaleirus, one of the two kings of Tricca, who had a flair for diagnostics, and Machaon, the other king of Tricca, who was a master surgeon (these two took part in the Trojan War until Machaon was killed by Penthesilea, queen of the Amazons); Telesphoros, who devoted his life to serving Asclepius; and Aratus, her stepbrother, who was a Greek hero and the patron/liberator of Sicyon.
Panacea was said to have a poultice or potion with which she healed the sick. This brought about the concept of the panacea in medicine, a substance meant to cure all diseases. The term is also used figuratively as something intended to completely solve a large, multi-faceted problem.