Greek Mythology >> Nymphs >> Haliae >> Pallas


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Spear Brandishing (pallô)

PALLAS was a nymph of Lake Tritonis in Libya (North Africa). She was raised with the goddess Athena but during one of their childhood war-games was accidentally killed. The goddess crafted a wooden statue of her friend as a memorial--the so-called Palladium, an artifact which was later ensconsed in the city of Troy.

In the mythology of the Libyan Machyles tribe "Pallas" and the "Libyan Athena" were probably twin daughters of "Triton", a Libyan sea-god identified with Poseidon, and "Tritonis", a goddess of the salt-water lake identified with Amphitrite. The story of Athena slaying Pallas was reenacted in an annual festival by the tribes living on the shores of the Tritonis.

Pallas was probably connected with the Timeosoi Libyes, the goat-skin wearing guardian-nymphs of Libya mentioned by Apollonios of Rhodes. Pallas' sister, the "Libyan Athena", was perhaps identified with Triteia, a warrior-nymph daughter of Triton worshipped in Akhaia, and Rhode, the so-called "Rhodian Athena", a daughter of Poseidon and Amphitrite.


[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, [the Pleiad] Elektra (Electra), after her seduction, sought refuge at this statue, whereupon Zeus threw both her and the palladium into the Ilian land [i.e. Troy]."

Herodotus, Histories 4. 180. 1 ff (trans. Godley) (Greek historian C5th B.C.) :
"[On the tribes of Libya :] Next to the Makhlyes (Machlyes) 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."




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