Evander of Pallene

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In Roman mythology, Evander (from Greek Εὔανδρος Euandros, "good man" or "strong man": an etymology used by poets to emphasize the hero's virtue)[1] was a culture hero from Arcadia, Greece, who brought the Greek pantheon, laws, and alphabet to Italy, where he founded the city of Pallantium on the future site of Rome, sixty years before the Trojan War. He instituted the festival of the Lupercalia. Evander was deified after his death and an altar was constructed to him on the Aventine Hill.


Evander was born to Mercury and Carmenta, and his wisdom was beyond that of all Arcadians. His son Pallas apparently died childless; however, the gens Fabia claimed descent from Evander.

In the Aeneid[edit]

Evander plays a major role in Virgil's Aeneid Books VIII-XII. Previous to the Trojan War, Evander gathered a group of natives[who?] to a city he founded in Italy near the Tiber river, which he named Pallantium.[2] Virgil states that he named the city in honor of his son, Pallas, although Pausanias, Livy[3] and Dionysius of Halicarnassus[4] say that Evander's birth city was Pallantium in Arcadia, after which he named the new city.

The oldest tradition[which?] of its founding ascribes to Evander the erection of the Great Altar of Hercules in the Forum Boarium. In Aeneid, VIII, where Aeneas and his crew first come upon Evander and his people, they were venerating Hercules for dispatching the giant Cacus. Virgil's listeners would have related this scene to the same Great Altar of Hercules in the Forum Boarium of their own day, one detail among many in the Aeneid that Virgil used to link the heroic past of myth with the Age of Augustus. Also according to Virgil, Hercules was returning from Gades with Geryon's cattle when Evander entertained him. Evander then became the first to raise an altar to Hercules' heroism. This archaic altar was destroyed in the Great Fire of Rome, AD 64.

Because of their traditional ties, Evander aids Aeneas in his war against Turnus and the Rutuli: the Arcadian had known the father of Aeneas, Anchises, before the Trojan War, and shares a common ancestry through Atlas with Aeneas's family.


  1. ^ Charlton T. Lewis, Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary at the Perseus Digital Library via the Perseus Hopper, version 4.
  2. ^ Aeneid, viii
  3. ^ Ab Urbe Condita, 1.5.1
  4. ^ Roman Antiquities, i. 31

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