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Palladium (pəlāˈdēəm) [key], in Greek religion, sacred image kept in the temple of Athena at Troy. It was either an image of Athena or an image made by Athena of her unfortunate playmate Pallas (see Pallas1). According to legend, the image was sent by Zeus to Dardanus, the founder of Troy, and it was believed that the city could not be taken while it possessed the Palladium. Thus during the Trojan War two Greeks, Diomed and Odysseus, stole it. Another legend says that during the sack of Troy, Ajax the Lesser carried it off. The Romans, who later claimed to have the true Palladium in their temple of the vestal virgins, said that Aeneas took it when he fled Troy. But many cities, including Argos, Athens, and Luceria, owned such images, all of which came to be known as Palladia.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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