A son of Nauplius and Clymene, the daughter of Atreus (or Catreus),1 and brother of Oeax. He joined the Greeks in their expedition against Troy; but Agamemnon, Diomedes, and, envious of his fame, caused a captive Phrygian to write to Palamedes a letter in the name of Priam, and then induced a servant of Palamedes by bribes to conceal the letter under his master's bed. Hereupon they accused Palamedes of treachery; they searched his tent, and as they found the letter which they themselves had dictated, they caused him to be stoned to death. When Palamedes was led to death, he exclaimed, "Truth, I lament thee, for thou hast died even before me."2
According to some traditions, it was Odysseus alone who hated and persecuted Palamedes.3 The cause of this hatred too is not the same in all writers; for according to some, Odysseus hated him because he had been compelled by him to join the Greeks against Troy,4 or because he had been severely censured by Palamedes for returning from a foraging excursion into Thrace with empty hands.5
The manner of Palamedes' death is likewise related differently: some say that Odysseus and Diomedes induced him to descend into a well, where they pretended they had discovered a treasure, and as he was below they cast stones upon him, and killed him;6 others state that he was drowned by them whilst fishing;7 and according to Dares Phrygius8 he was killed by Paris with an arrow. The place where he was killed is either Colonae in Troas, or in Tenedos, or at Geraestus.
The story of Palamedes, which is not mentioned by Homer, seems to have been first related in the Cypria, and was afterwards developed by the tragic poets, especially Euripides, and lastly by the sophists, who liked to look upon Palamedes as their pattern.9 The tragic poets and sophists describe him as a sage among the Greeks, and as a poet; and he is said to have invented light-houses, measures, scales, discus, dice, the alphabet, and the art of regulating sentinels.10
A sanctuary and a statue of Palamedes existed on the Aeolian coast of Asia Minor, opposite to Methymna in Lesbos.11
The phrase he is quite a Palamedes, meaning "an ingenious person," is an allusion to this hero.
- Tzetzes on Lycophron, 384.
- Scholiast on Euripides' Orestes, 422; Philostratus. Heroicus, 10; Ovid. Metamorphoses xiii, 56.
- Hyginus. Fabulae, 105; Xenophon. Memorabilia iv, 2.23; Apology, 26.
- Hyginus. Fabulae, 95; Ovid. Metamorphoses xiii, 58.
- Servius on Virgil's Aeneid ii, 81; comp. Philostratus. Heroicus, 10.
- Dictys Cretensis, ii, 15.
- Pausanias. Description of Greece x, 31.1.
- Pausanias. Description of Greece x, 31.1; Philostratus, l.c.
- Philostratus. Heroicus, 10; Pausanias. Description of Greece ii, 20.3; x, 31.1; Scholiast on Euripides' Orestes, 422.
- Philostratus. Life of Apollonius of Tyana iv, 13; Tzetzes on Lycophron, 384.
- Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.
This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.