Which Pallas?

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EL266

Okay, I wasted an inordinate amount of time looking this up. (I take it as a personal insult when someone uses a reference to Greek or to a lesser degree, Roman mythology that I don't immediately get...yes there is something wrong with me.)

Honestly, you can skip this next block of text, where I get derailed and talk about various Pallases from Greco-Roman mythology:

 Anyway, apparently Pallas was the Greco-Roman version of the name "Steve." There are a couple Titon's named Pallas (likely the same character, but with varied lineages, as they were both killed by Athena.) There's also a king named Pallas, in Greek myth, as well as a Roman one, who is the son of King Evander, from the Aenead. The last one was the daughter of Triton, the Greek Sea God, and foster father of Athena....who also killed this Pallas. (Apparently Athena HATED the name Pallas). Though it has NO bearing on, well, anything at all relating to this class, I found the following interesting: "This story inspired a yearly festival in Libya dedicated to Athena. Girls from the Machlyans and Auseans tribes would fight each other, and those who died were labeled false virgins." Just seemed like a strange ritual, that someone might post on wikipedia for fun, but nope, it is actually from Histories by Herodotus.

OKAY....RESUME READING, so, as it turns out, the Pallas, whom the speaker from "The Raven" most likely means is either Simon Pallas who was one of the great physicians of 18th century, and wrote a great many medical texts, or his son, Peter, who was a famed zoologist/botanist. If THIS is the case, it offers a pretty interesting juxtaposition, by perching a bird that is either a "prophet," a "thing of evil" or a "prophet still," atop the bust of a man who is emblematic of medicine/science/reason etc. This contrast goes well with the rest of the poem, as you have the speaker constantly jumping between, "Wow, a sign from God," "oh cool, a birdy," and "Aaah!, a demon." There is a constant shift between a reliance in reason to explain the situation, and a expectation of the supernatural.   

2 Comments

KatieLantz said:

I too, wikipedia(ed) to find the true meaning of Pallas and proceeded to read the many persons encompassed by the name. Also, the Libyan festival threw me for a turn, but I'm intrigued to know that it was a real practice.

I read Kayla Lesko's blog and she mentioned that there was a footnote saying that Pallas was actually referred to as Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom.

So I'm still not entirely sure who Poe had in mind when he included this reference.

DavidWilbanks Author Profile Page said:

That's wierd, that Pallas was refered to as Athena, since Athena was in the habit of killing Pallases (Palli). I'll have to check that out. Everything I found indicated that Pallas was a demi-god she killed or her foster-sister, the daughter of Triton, who she also killed.

I have to go check Kayla's blog out.

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