Symbols - What does heaven look like


In both  Greek and Roman mythology , a palladium or palladion was an image of great antiquity on which the safety of a city was said to depend.

The "Palladium", however, had particular signifiance, as it was the  wooden statue of Pallas.

Athena, the daughter of Zeus,  was reared by Triton together with his own daughter Pallas. Pallas and Athene were close friends, but once, as they were practising the arts of war and Pallas was about to strike a blow, Zeus, fearing for his daughter, interposed to protect Athene and when Pallas, caught by surprise, looked up, Athene hit her, and she fell wounded and died.

In order to calm her grief, “Athena  made a three cubits high wooden statue in the likeness of Pallas, with the feet joined together, and holding in its right hand a spear, and in the left a distaff and spindle. And wrapping about its breast the aegis that had frightened her friend, she set the image up beside Zeus, and honoured it in Heaven

The statue then had a somewhat chequered history. The Roman story is related in Virgil’s Aeneid.   But whilst it was in heaven, the statue was housed in a temple – a palace, built round the statue.  In effect, the palace symbolises something of the statue’s essence. 

In English, for example, since circa 1600, the word "palladium" has meant anything believed to provide protection or safety — a safeguard –  safety or protection.

The Palladium. Fabeln der Alten (1754).
Bernard Picart (1673-1733)


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