Palladium (shield of Pallas) In Greek and Roman mythology, a token of Athena that was believed to protect the city of Troy. When it was stolen by the clever Odysseus and Diomedes, it signified that Troy would fall to the enemy. It was believed by the Trojans that the statue or image was sent down from heaven by Zeus to Dardanus, Troy’s founder, to ensure Troy’s protection. In a variant myth, the Trojan Aeneas rescued the Palladium from Troy and eventually brought the image to Rome. On several occasions it helped save the city. Homer’s Iliad (book 10), Vergil’s Aeneid (book 2), and Ovid’s Metamorphoses (book 13) all tell of the sacred image. The London Palladium derives its name from the mistaken idea that the Palladium was a circus. In English usage the word is figuratively applied to anything on which the safety of a country or people is believed to depend.
Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition – Written by Anthony S. Mercatante & James R. Dow– Copyright © 2009 by Anthony S. Mercatante