Numism > For the New Ancient Coin Collector

Quiz: Palladium

(1/3) > >>


This should be an historical quiz for our younger members! The idea is from Patricia Lawrence.

Many coins show on its reverse a small figur, called the Palladium. Here are some questions:

1. What figur the Palladium does show?
2. What is the origin of the Palladium or where it comes from?
3. What are the  functions of the Palladium?

Happy puzzling!


OK, I'll bite.

1. The palladium is a statue of Athena/Minerva.
2. I'm not sure of the statue's origin, but it was set up within the citadel of Troy.  The Greeks stole it (Diomedes, I think).
3. The myth held that as long as the palladium stood within Troy, the city could not be taken--hence Diomedes' raid.

In Aeneid Book 2, the crafty Greek liar Sinon claims that the wooden horse is left on the shores of Troy as an offering to Athena/Minerva for the Greeks' having profaned the palladium by stealing it.

One thing I'd like to know, though, is why Aeneas is shown with the Palladium on some Roman reverse types (e.g., the Julius Caesar denarius with Venus on the obverse).  If the Greeks stole it, how do the Trojans get it back, or do they?  Do the myths differ on the details?  

Ha!  The quizzed becomes the quizzer!



--- Quote from: Rhetor on December 15, 2004, 10:28:19 am --- The Greeks stole it (Diomedes, I think).

--- End quote ---

Diomedes stole it together with Ulysses.

One of many at Rome.  Where else?  You all didn't quite finish with the question: answer Rhetor.  P.L.


Here I will give the information I have. Perhaps Patricia may correct me or can add something I have missed!

The Palladium (greek palladion) is the picture/sculpure of a young wife bearing weapons. Pallas means 'young girl' and was a title of the goddess Athena. So there was a distinct relation to Athena. But the Palladium seems to be older than Athena. Indeed there existed many Palladia. Their function was to protect a city. This was not done by the Palladium as an amulet, but as a city goddess. The Palladium always was small and made of wood.

The most famous Palladium was that from Troy. So many cities claimed the identity of its own P. with that from Troy. The myth says it was fallen down from heaven and the fate of Troy was connected with it. The seer Helenos has, as captive or because he didn't get Helena after the death of Paris, made possible the robbery of the P. by betrayal (a variant named Antenor). So Odysseus and Diomedes could rob the Palladium and Troy was without protection. The end is well-known.

In Athens there are two variants about the way of the P. to Attica. The first tells that Diomedes has given the P. to Demophon to keep it, who has send it to Agamemnon, because he want to have it.
The other variant tells of a war between Argivians and Athenians in the darkness (phonos akoysios), and a court procedure which would be necessary after that.

A Palladium was in Amphissa, Alalkomenai, Pellene in Achaia, Lindos,  Siris near Herakleia, and in Arcadia. Clear, that Rome, by the myth connected with the Troyan tradition, claimed to have the real Palladium. It stood in the round temple of Vesta, which only was allowed to enter by the Vestal Virgins. The only exception was by the Pontifex Maximus if he had to save the Palladium from the burning temple. This was not seldom due to the open fire of the Vestals!

On coins a Palladium appears as an attribute of Aeneas, Nobilitas, Roma, Vesta or Victory. It should not be confused with the Victoriola, the small statue of Victory on a globe.

And now to the last question of Rhetor: The problem with the Roman Palladium is, that at the fall of Troy the Palladium was stolen, and how could Aeneas then take it to Italy? The myth has to explain this alogic! So it was said that Troy not only has had one Palladium but several Palladia, brought to Troy from the surrounding regions. And one of these was stolen by the Achaeans during the Trojan War, and the rest were brought by Aeneas to Italy, being otherwise called PENATES. These became the household gods of the Romans, and were represented as two youths holding spears.

Others have said that the Achaeans stole a copy, made on purpose to delude them, and that Aeneas did bring the real Palladium to Italy, where it was kept from the time of Numa (the second king of Rome) by the Vestal Virgins. (BTW that is a clever story, isn't it?)

But still others have said that only one Palladium ever existed, either found by Ilus at the hill of Ate, or given by Zeus to Dardanus, it being the same Palladium that the Achaeans stole. And they argue that Aeneas could not have occasion to rescue the Palladium when Troy fell, since the Palladium, had it been at Troy, would have prevented anyone from taking the city. In any case, the fame of the Palladium was such that several Palladia were kept in many cities, throughout antiquity.

"Whether it was Diomedes, or the guileful Ulysses, or Aeneas, they same someone carried it off; the culprit is uncertain; the thing is now in Rome: Vesta guards it, because she sees all things by her light that never fails" [Ovid, Fasti 4.433]

For the first part "Der kleine Pauly"
For the second part



[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version