U.S. History/bust of Pallas


I am wondering whether it was a custom to have a bust of Pallas over one's chamber door as a symbol of protection; i.e., was it a common tradition that Poe was referring to in "The Raven," or was it peculiar to that poem? The reason I ask, is that humorist B.P. Shillaber makes a reference to it in his "Partingtonian Patchwork," in 1873; and I am wondering whether this is a direct reference to Poe's poem, or whether it was actually a reference to a common tradition, which Poe also (incidentally) made use of. I understand that a statue of Pallas once guarded over the city of Athens in ancient Greece, so I'm wondering whether people put them on a shelf over their bedroom doors as an imitation of what the Greeks once did.

Hi Stephen,

I'll be glad to help with your question.

To my knowledge, it was not customary for anyone in 19th century America to seek protection from a bust of Pallas. Victorian America had a pretty strong sense of Christianity and investing any importance in pagan gods would have been widely deplored. Based on the available information, Poe was not reflecting a common tradition but was instead employing his characteristic symbolism. An explanation of the symbolism in this case is at http://thoughtsonpoe.blogspot.com/2009/06/raven-and-bust-of-pallas.html.

I hope this is helpful, Stephen!


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Marc Aperio


I'm able to answer most questions about US History, whether related to political, social, economic, or military issues.


I've studied American history for nearly 20 years. I'm currently volunteering for AllExperts in Medieval and European history.

My newest book WE NEED TO TALK: 27 DIALOGUES ON RACE IN AMERICA is available in the Amazon Kindle store. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01E69CUUI Also the author of AMERICAN REVOLUTION 2016: RATIONALE AND AIMS FOR RADICAL CHANGE http://www.amazon.com/American-Revolution-2016-Rationale-Radical-ebook/dp/B00MI9H9VE

BA History (High Honors)

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