This illustration, by the French artist Claude Lorrain (c. 1600-1682), depicts the meeting of several legendary and mythological figures. On the left side of the artwork, carrying the spear, is a man called Pallas. According to myth, he was the son of a divine-blooded Greek hero named Evander, who immigrated to Italy and became a civilizing figure. On the right side of the illustration is another deity-descended adventurer of legend who arrived in Italy from abroad. This foreigner, holding the olive branch, is Aeneas—a Trojan refugee seeking a new home after the Trojan War. In the scene playing out in the artwork above, Aeneas has arrived in the realm of Evander to search for allies in a battle he would soon wage against the Latins. This scene was described by the Roman poet, Virgil (c. 70-19 BCE), who wrote:
“As soon as they saw
The tall ships gliding through the shadowed woods
And the rowers bending to pulls the oars in silence—
alarmed by the unexpected sight, all rise as one
to desert the sacred feast. But Pallas forbids them
to cut short the rites, and fearless, seizes a spear
and runs to confront the new arrivals by himself.
‘Soldiers,’ he shouts from a barrow some way off,
‘what drives you to try these unfamiliar paths?
Where are you going? Who are your people?
Where’s your home? Do you bring peace or war?
Then captain Aeneas calls from his high stern,
His hands extending the olive branch of peace:
‘We’re Trojans born. The weapons you see are honed
For our foes, the Latins. They drive us here—as exiles—
With all the arrogance of war. We look for Evander.’”
(Virgil, Aeneid, Book 8, approximately lines 119-134)
As the story goes, Evander indeed agreed to aid Aeneas, and Pallas became a personal companion of the Trojan hero. Unfortunately, like Achilles’ friend Patroclus, Pallas too would die in battle. Aeneas, however, survived his war and was said to have been an ancestor of Rome’s founders, Romulus and Remus.
Written by C. Keith Hansley
- The Aeneid by Virgil, translated by Robert Fagles. New York: Penguin Classics, 2006.
- The Iliad by Homer, translated by E. V. Rieu and edited by Peter Jones. New York: Penguin Classics, 2014.