One of the joys of June is the sight of a peony in profligate bloom. It is sure to make anyone feel better, and in fact peonies are named after the ancient Greek word for “doctor”, which came from the name of Paean, the physician of the gods. As time went on, Paean became identified with the god Apollo, to whom hymns of thanksgiving for victory in battle were sung. Since all these songs started with the invocation “O Paean!”, they became known as paeans, and eventually a paean became any expression of praise.
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