The fatal image of the Guardian Maid

Troy was Holy IIios, the name sake of its founder. He secured his city with the Palladium …

Ilus, scion of Dardanus, had founded a new city
(Ilus was still rich, holding the wealth of Asia)
A sky-born image of armed Minerva (the Palladium) was said
To have fallen on the hillside near …
Apollo Smintheus was consulted, and gave this answer
From truthful lips, in the darkness of his shadowy grove:
‘Preserve the heavenly goddess, and preserve
The City: with her goes the capital of empire.’
Ilus preserved her, closed in the heights of the citadel.

But she was taken …

Priam failed to take like care …
They say it was stolen, …

Odysseus boasted he took her, once told of her power to protect by a local prophet …

The Phrygian prophet to these tents I bore,
Surpriz’d by night, and forc’d him to declare
In what was plac’d the fortune of the war,
Heav’n’s dark decrees, and answers to display,
And how to take the town, and where the secret lay:
Yet this I compass’d, and from Troy convey’d
The fatal image of their guardian-maid;
That work was mine; for Pallas, though our friend,
Yet while she was in Troy, did Troy defend.

and we all know what happened to the city of Ilus.

The men of rebuilt Troy still honored her in absence …

I was anxious to see it: I saw the temple and the site,
That’s all that’s left there (New Ilium): Rome has the Palladium.

Though Greek cities claimed to have her, the very Greek Pausanias admits …

I cannot agree with them when they say that in Argos … there is among them the image of Athena that was brought from Troy, thus causing the capture of that city. For the Palladium, as it is called, was manifestly brought to Italy by Aeneas.

In Rome, remember you pass her …

this is the Sacred Way named from the rites,
here’s Vesta’s temple, guarding the Palladium

Pious Romans would walk through fire to protect her …

How worried the Senate was, when Vesta’s temple
Caught fire: and she was nearly buried by her own roof!
Holy fires blazed, fed by sinful fires,
Sacred and profane flames were merged.
The priestesses with streaming hair, wept in amazement:
Fear had robbed them of their bodily powers.
Metellus rushed into their midst, … so Rome is free of harm.’
He spoke and entered. The goddess he carried away
Was saved by her priest’s devotion, and she approved.
Now sacred flames you shine brightly under Caesar’s rule:
The fire on the Ilian hearths is there, and will remain

But would she remain?

Emperor Constantine secretly took away from Rome the Palladium, as it is called, and placed it in the forum built by him, beneath the column of his monument (in his city, Constantinople)

And Rome fell.

One Response to “The fatal image of the Guardian Maid”

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