Sunday, May 11, 2008
According to the ancients, a "palladium" is an image or totem of great age that acted as a defense again marauders, and in turn had to be defended by the citizens itself. The safety of a whole city would depend upon it. In the world of the great city-states, the safety of a city could represent an entire civilizational ethic, not just a locality.
I have labored over Virgil's Aeneid in grade school. I never really kenned its import until I was a man.
I have my own Palladiums now. They are more numerous and ephemeral, perhaps, than the stolen treasure beneath Diomedes' arm. They appear willy-nilly in day to day life, little tableaus played out before me. They are carved into my mind, perhaps written in lightning here and there in the scrapbook to jog my memory from time to time.
The manifestation of a way of life that must be safeguarded if civilization is to be upheld. Hmmm. I am a modern man, despite the likely image some could form of me as a profoundly traditional person. I have a moving picture for my Palladium. If she will pause for a moment sometime, amidst the unending daily care of her family --the little city state we inhabit-- right up to the final sacred ablutions of her children at night, I'll try to remember to bring my worthless offering to her mighty temple and say: Happy Mother's Day.