Web Theoi
PALLAS
 
Greek Name Transliteration Latin Spelling Translation
Παλλας Pallas Pallas Spear Brandishing
(pallô)

PALLAS was a nymph of Lake Tritonis in Libya, North Africa. In the mythology of the local tribes, both she and the Libyan Athena were probably daughters of Triton (a Libyan sea-god identified with Poseidon) and Tritonis (goddess of the salt-water lake Tritonis, identified with Amphitrite). In their childhood war games, Athena accidentally slew Pallas. The story was reenacted in an annual festival celebrated by the lakeside tribes.

She was probably related to the Timeosoi Libyes, goat-skin wearing guardian Nymphs of Libya. The sister of Pallas, the Libyan Athena, appears to be related to the Akhaian Nymphe Triteia. She was also identified with Rhode, the Athena of the Rhodes, who was called a daughter of Poseidon and Halia or Amphitrite.

PARENTS
[1.1] TRITON (Apollodorus 3.144)
[1.2] POSEIDON & TRITONIS (Herodotus 4.180, Pausanias 1.14.6)

Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 144 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"They say that after Athene's birth, she was reared by Triton, who had a daughter named Pallas. Both girls cultivated the military life, which once led them into contentious dispute. As Pallas was about to give Athene a whack, Zeus skittishly held out the aegis, so that she glanced up to protect herself, and thus was wounded by Athene and fell. Extremely saddened by what had happened to Pallas, Athene fashioned a wooden likeness of her, and round its breast tied the aegis which had frightened her, and set the statue beside Zeus and paid it honour. Later on, Elektra, after her seduction, sought refuge at this statue, whereupon Zeus threw both her and the palladium into the Ilian land."

Herodotus, Histories 4. 180. 1 ff (trans. Godley) (Greek historian C5th B.C.) :
"[On the tribes of Libya:] Next to the Makhlyes are the Auseans; these and the Makhlyes, separated by the Triton, live on the shores of Lake Tritonis. The Makhlyes wear their hair long behind, the Auseans in front. They celebrate a yearly festival of Athena, where their maidens are separated into two bands and fight each other with stones and sticks, thus, they say, honoring in the way of their ancestors that native goddess whom we call Athena. Maidens who die of their wounds are called false virgins. Before the girls are set fighting, the whole people choose the fairest maid, and arm her with a Korinthian helmet and Greek panoply, to be then mounted on a chariot and drawn all along the lake shore. With what armor they equipped their maidens before Greeks came to live near them, I cannot say; but I suppose the armor was Egyptian; for I maintain that the Greeks took their shield and helmet from Egypt." [N.B. This festival is obviously connected with the myth of Pallas described by Apollodorus above.]

Pausanias, Description of Greece 1. 14. 6 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"The Libyans have a saying that the Goddess [Athene] is the daughter of Poseidon and Lake Tritonis, and for this reason has blue eyes like Poseidon."


Sources:

  • Herodotus, Histories - Greek History C5th B.C.
  • Apollodorus, The Library - Greek Mythography C2nd A.D.
  • Pausanias, Guide to Greece - Greek Geography C2nd A.D.