Talk:Palladium (classical antiquity)

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Palladium is as far as I know the building/temple with the statue of Pallas.

  • While this is also true, the Palladium can also refer to the specific, mythic icon of Pallas that was once housed in Troy. Notcarlos 20:27, 13 Mar 2005 (UTC)


Isn't Athena's father Zeus?

I think "the specific statue that Athena, daughter of Triton, erected of her playmate Pallas." should say "the specific statue that Athena erected of her playmate Pallas, daughter of Triton."


I agree, this article should definately be merged with Palladion, that article contains more info on the orgins of the statue. - Ravenous 16:34, 13 April 2007 (UTC)


While Aeneas may have been responsible for taking the Palladium to Italy, he can't have taken it to Rome, which wasn't founded for another four hundred years. Stationary (talk) 17:16, 15 April 2008 (UTC)

Perhaps you'd recast the statement yourself, more closely following your reading of the Aeneid. --Wetman (talk) 02:10, 16 April 2008 (UTC)


This started with BCE at [1] and slowly editors have changed it to BC/AD. Certainly not in the spirit of WP:ERA. Dougweller (talk) 11:53, 28 May 2012 (UTC)

Rejig this article[edit]

The article as it stands is an unsatisfactory treatment of the general topic, though the Palladion or Palladium of Troy (and later Rome) is well covered. I think it would be better to split that off to its own article, and have Palladium (religion) or some better title (NOT including "mythology") for the general phenomenon, about which a lot more can be said. Thoughts? Johnbod (talk) 18:06, 7 April 2013 (UTC)

I don't see how to split the topic. There are surviving statuettes or figurines that seem intended to represent the Palladion, as a matter of typology in art. As in the top image on this article, however, there are scenes representing a/the Palladion in art, in contexts that vary from purely mythological (scenes of Odysseus stealing the Palladion from Troy) to religious (where the Palladion is represented as a religious object in a scene of veneration, but with perhaps a deity standing by to represent that the act of devotion is observed and received). It seems to me that the topic will become incomprehensible if fragmented. The Roman claim to possess the Palladion as one of the pignora imperii only makes sense in the mythological context of their claim to Trojan origins and the journey of Aeneas. Many sources, of course, point out why this is impossible in reality, and even how the mythological chronology can't match up, which is the problem in general with the efforts the Romans made to reconcile the two different founding traditions of Aeneas (which resulted in the absurdity of the genealogy of the Latin kings of Alba Longa), and Romulus and Remus. But the physical existence of the figurines of the type shown in the top image indicates that they were thought to be replicas of "the" Palladion. So they make no cultural sense without the Trojan story as background. I agree, however, with the unsatisfactory nature of the article as it stands, and with the need to rename it. I just can't see the purpose of a split. Cynwolfe (talk) 21:44, 7 April 2013 (UTC)
Wee Minerva among others for a lararium (Vindobona)
You misunderstand me. As the article briefly mentions, the term has a general meaning for any object held to be protective for a city or community, with a long history in the Christian period, and elsewhere. All the Trojan/Roman stuff (the section "The Trojan Palladium") you mention should go off to Palladium of Troy, with a summary & a "main article" link, as it does indeed relate to a single tradition & a single supposed object. But that is just the type specimen of the topic, the general article on which remains to be written. Johnbod (talk) 02:03, 8 April 2013 (UTC)
I thought I might not be understanding you. This article, however, contains nothing about the Christian tradition (with which I'm unfamiliar); it's entirely about classical antiquity. So it seems to me that the correct procedure is to start a new article for any other use, and to consider renaming this article. I don't think the scope can be limited by the mythological palladion from Troy, however, because of the palladion in Athens, and the actual object in Rome on which (presumably) the little figurines for lararia are based, as in the collection from Vindobona. I think I would rather see the article called Palladium (antiquity), but I'm not sure. The Roman palladium was closely connected to Vesta and the Penates, and the mirroring of state cult and household cult is why the little replicas/versions would proliferate in the provinces in the Imperial era. Commons has several of these, which seem more related to the little 6-inch bronze Athena that Walters gives as an Archaic example. That aspect isn't well covered in the current article. Cynwolfe (talk) 13:08, 8 April 2013 (UTC)
No indeed it contains little except for a couple of the one-liners at the end - though the Greeks remained the leading protagonists under Christianity. What I am suggesting is to rename most of this article to specify Troy. Palladium (antiquity) might work, though personally I'd keep the short Athenian section with the general topic, along with a a summary of Troy/Rome, and just have a clean article on Troy/Rome, with a short section giving wider context. I suspect some non-Western examples may be "antique" as well - don't know when Buddhist palladia started. Johnbod (talk) 15:32, 8 April 2013 (UTC)
I'm not sure the Buddhist "palladia" would need to be treated together with the Western ones, since the Christian usage of the word, together with the function, is derived from the Greco-Roman tradition, and it seems misplaced to deal with the unrelated Buddhist tradition as if it were a trivia point in this article. The Christian tradition seems to be part of the replacing of "pagan" icons during the later Empire with acceptably Christian icons; the use of the same word is often quite deliberate, as when Augustine redefines religious terminology (such as res divina) in Christian terms. So I guess it just seems both uninformative and sort of Eurocentric to define the Buddhist objects with a foreign term and to subsume them under a Western cultural heading. I feel as if I'm not expressing this well. Maybe I'm becoming persuaded that the current title is the best, since there is a coherent history of linguistic and religious usage in the West. I suppose what I'm also saying is that today many people seem to view Classical and Christian culture as mutually exclusive and antagonistic, when in fact they're inextricable (as I feel you know). BTW, at pignora imperii, did you mean to introduce a second link to the Palladium and the ancilia in the Servius link? They're already linked in the top part of the article. Cynwolfe (talk) 18:34, 20 April 2013 (UTC)
I don't agree. There was a gap of some centuries between pagan and Christian uses, and the use of the word palladium for the Christian ones is purely post-Renaissance, & originally rather sniffy and coming from outside the churches. JSTOR has plenty of uses of "palladium" within Buddhist contexts, including the Emerald Buddha -scholars on Buddhism don't seem to share your concerns. "Mythology" is 100% the wrong word for even just the Trojan/Roman prototype, never mind the wider concept. The Roman one certainly existed, & even if wholly fictional, the Trojan one was a religious rather than a mythological thing - our use of "mythology" is often pretty sloppy. Johnbod (talk) 02:01, 21 April 2013 (UTC)
Yes, of course, I was being somewhat flippant about "mythology", though of course one meaning of "mythology" is a religious narrative. The point about the Buddhist use is that "palladium" is a translation. We use the Latinate word "temple" for Buddhist temples as well, but that doesn't mean that Buddhist temples should be treated as a subtopic of Roman temple (a deplorable article); Buddhist temples need to be presented on their own merits, not as if the Roman temple is a starting point for the consideration of everything called a "temple" in English. There's a difference between a mere translation, and a cultural transferral of the concept. I haven't looked into this, but it seems that later sources claim that Constantine transferred certain pignora imperii from Rome to Byzantium as part of his refounding. Whatever the historicity of this, the claim indicates that the concept was passing into Christian usage. I'm not sure how medieval or later Christians who were literate enough to serve as sources could've been unaware of what "palladium" had meant in classical culture if they chose to use that word for other pignus-type objects. If this was an undesired association, they would've chosen another word. If the choice of word is a modern label not intended to evoke the classical palladion, then that was an unfortunate and unhelpful choice, if they then want to assert that the classical concept has nothing to do with the Christian usage. Cynwolfe (talk) 13:41, 21 April 2013 (UTC)
We seem to be having trouble getting past my original point some time ago. "Palladium" in English has had since about 1600 a general meaning, used to refer to anything from trial by jury (OED example) to buddha images. That needs coverage in the encyclopedia. Your unhappiness that people have been using the term in this way is frankly neither here nor there. I've said from the start that the general and particular Troy/Rome meanings should be split, and they should, just as many other specific palladia have their own articles. On particular points, the Troy/Rome palladium is not a "religious narrative" but an object, in Troy essentially a fictional one. Nor is Homer a "religious narrative". You won't find sources supporting Constantine "Christianizing" the pignora imperii; it was a political gesture no doubt mainly directed at the large remaining pagan population, & general Roman "nationalist" sentiment. Re: "If this was an undesired association, they would've chosen another word" - it was and they did ("wonder-working icon" etc). I will eventually be considerably further expanding the Christian palladia, & maybe adding on Buddhist ones etc, not to mention modern folk myths like the Ravens of the Tower of London, who HMG still devote money to keeping happy. A combined article will become more and more unwieldy. Johnbod (talk) 14:03, 21 April 2013 (UTC)
I wish you'd quit putting this in terms of my "unhappiness": where do I say I'm "unhappy" about this? Where do I express any sort of mood or emotion? I'm simply pointing out that just as the use of the word "temple" for a Buddhist temple doesn't mean it's a subtopic of the original use of the word "temple" in reference to the Roman religious structure, ditto "palladium": Buddhist palladia aren't subtopics of the classical palladion. The myth of the Trojan palladion, however, can't be divorced from the object the Romans regarded as the palladium. I'm not saying I know anything about the medieval and later palladia; I'm saying that if they have nothing to do with the classical palladia, and are like the Buddhist palladia only a matter of linguistic usage, and there was no intention to replace classical pignora with Christian ones, then they don't belong in this article either, but rather in their own article. Having them here implies that they represent a cultural translation and continuation, not a mere lexicographical use. I don't know what you're trying to say about Constantine. Might it not be that I'm agreeing with your original impulse toward a split, but arguing that the palladia of Western classical antiquity are a coherent topic that need to stay together? In other words, the scope of Palladium (mythology), ill-named or not, is "the various palladia of classical antiquity". You can't divorce the "mythology" from the significance of the real-world object. The Homeric myth can't be divorced from the significance of what the Romans regarded as the palladium in their possession, particularly in light of the Augustan program of religious revivalism and reform, and the role of Trojan mythology in the beginnings of Imperial cult under the Julio-Claudian emperors. The little replica "palladia" in lararia can't be divorced from this chain of development, which involves the Athenian model as well, since artistically images of Athene served as models for creating the physical palladia of the Romans. If this has nothing to do with other palladia than the use of the word, and these others are in no way related, by all means yes, start articles for those. But all the classical uses are conceptually related and form a coherent whole. Cynwolfe (talk) 14:51, 21 April 2013 (UTC)
You are the one who objected to splitting the article! I'm glad to see you are changing your mind. Obviously Buddhist temples are temples, but not Roman temples - I'm puzzled by your argument there. There should, based on the present material, be two articles: one on the term as a general concept, and one on either just the Trojan/Roman example, or classical pagan ones generally. I'd say Athens belongs more with the general concept - "artistically images of Athene served as models for creating the physical palladia of the Romans" is not much of a reason to split it off from the general concept imo, but I won't object either way. The title of the general article should be general - maybe Palladium (protective talisman) - and the title of the classical article should be more specific - perhaps Palladium (Graeco-Roman religion), or Palladium (Troy and Rome). Or we could just go back to Palladion, which might make sense. Can we agree to get on with something like this - no-one else seems interested in the matter? Johnbod (talk) 16:08, 21 April 2013 (UTC)
Yes, and I'm always sorry that you and I seem regularly to have difficulties communicating with each other. (It reminds me of when my husband and I try to build a shelf; he's the visually oriented carpenter and wants a diagram; I can't draw, but know what I want the shelf to accomplish, so it's a painful process.) I understood you originally to say that you wanted to split the Trojan palladion from other palladia in classical antiquity. I do think all these are conceptually and concretely related. My point about "temple" is just by way of comparison: to speak of Buddhist "palladia" may likewise just be a lexical designation, but my wariness (always) has to do with squeezing Buddhist or other Asian religions/philosophies into a Christian or Western frame of reference. So to state it more clearly, I'm fine with treating so-called paladia that have nothing to do with the classical concept as a separate topic, and I don't really care what that article's called. Palladium (talisman) is probably sufficient, since "protective" may be unneeded with talisman. That article could have a summary section that refers to this article. I would rather see this article called Palladium (classical antiquity), and while I recognize the problem with "'classical' antiquity" (whose classicism? as described at classical tradition), it's a conventional periodization rather than an ethnic designation. Cynwolfe (talk) 16:59, 21 April 2013 (UTC)


  • Beard, Charles R., Luck And Talismans: A Chapter of Popular Superstition, 2004 reprint, Kessinger Publishing, ISBN 1417976489, 9781417976485, google books - is a rather outdated source (I can't work out the date but after 1924) which does provide a number of leads to follow up if the new title is being taken seriously - ie other classical instances of palladia in the general sense. Johnbod (talk) 20:14, 25 April 2013 (UTC)


The current text seems contradictory as to whether the Palladion was regarded as a statue representing Pallas (daughter of Triton) or Pallas Athena. If both are possible, or there was a doubled/merged identity of some sort (which Athena doesn't make very clear) that should be said. Johnbod (talk) 13:29, 26 April 2013 (UTC)

I'll try to look at this, or find someone who can. You're right that the confusion is real—that is, it isn't a result of confused editors, though the real confusion may have caused them not to have made the nature of the confusion clear, if you follow me. Cynwolfe (talk) 13:38, 26 April 2013 (UTC)
Yes, that was the impression I got. Thanks. Johnbod (talk) 13:56, 26 April 2013 (UTC)