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Palamedes, marble statue by Antonio Canova

Palamedes ( ancient Greek Παλαμήδης ) is a hero from Euboia or Argolis and a son of Nauplios in Greek mythology . Philyra , Klymene or Hesione are named as his mother .


Palamedes was a student of the Centaur Cheiron and was considered by many to be the brightest of the people. Not only was he ascribed the invention of letters, but also that of numbers, of measure and scales, of coins, the calculation of time and much more.

As the general of the Greeks in the Trojan War , he repeatedly demonstrated his prudence. He led successful forays, warded off famine and often gave the soldiers new courage: he reinterpreted unfavorable omens (such as a solar eclipse) and devised the board game as a pastime. According to Sophocles , the Greek national game Tavli may go back to him.

His cleverness earned Palamedes the envy of Odysseus, famous for his cunning . This envy turned into hatred when Palamedes saw through Odysseus, who wanted to evade participation in the war against Troy: The cunning man pretended madness by plowing with a team of horse and ox and sowing salt in the furrows. Palamedes, however, put Telemachus , Odysseus' little son, in front of the plow; the father lifted the flock over the baby. This proved that Odysseus was very sane, and he had to take part in the campaign.

Then Odysseus took revenge at the siege of Troy. He hid gold in the tent of the Palamedes and wrote a letter in which the Trojan king promised Priam a high reward for betraying the location of the camp. This forged letter and the gold found in the tent were Palamedes' undoing; the other princes sentenced him to death by stoning . "Rejoice, truth, you died before me" should have been his last words.

The crime aroused the wrath of the goddess Nemesis , who decided to avenge this outrage on the Greeks and especially on Odysseus.

In the Aeneid, however, this is just a story told by the Greek Sinon . The Trojans had captured him after the Achaeans had pretended to leave. He claimed to have been the cousin of Palamedes and, after his death, also to have been persecuted by Odysseus. So he won the trust of the Trojans and caused them to bring the legendary horse to the city.


The sophist Gorgias wrote a defense of the Palamedes as a pomp and model speech . Euripides wrote a (not preserved) tragedy entitled Palamedes .


The fortress of Nauplion is called Palamidi . Among chess players Palamedes was until the 19th century as the inventor of this game; therefore chess clubs were sometimes called Palamedes in the past , and the first European chess magazine was called Le Palamède . A backgammon computer game and an asteroid are also named after him. The Baron de Charlus in Marcel Proust's cycle of novels In Search of Lost Time is called Palamède de Guermantes, baron de Charlus, by his full name.


Web links

Commons : Palamedes  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Sophocles, Palamedes , fragment 438 in the edition of August Nauck
  2. Barnhart: The History of Backgammon
  3. ^ Hyginus , Fabulae 95
  4. ^ Servius to Virgil's Aeneid 2.81
  5. Palamedes Backgammon