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In Roman mythology, Evander was a wise hero and mythical king who was known for bringing the Greek gods, alphabet and laws to Italy, which changed the region. He founded a Pallantium, a city in the area that was to be the future location of Rome, sixty years prior to the Trojan War.
Who Was Evander?
According to the myth, Evander was born to Hermes, the messenger god, and an Arcadian nymph, who was either Nicostrata or Themis. In some accounts, he’s said to be the son of Timandra, the daughter of King Tyndareus, and Echemus, the Arcadian king.
The ancient sources describe Evander as a hero who was wiser than all the Arcadians. He had a son called Pallas who later became a warrior, and a daughter, Lavinia, who had a son with Heracles (Roman equivalent Hercules), the Greek demigod. Some say he had two daughters who were known as Rome and Dyna.
The Founding of Pallantium
According to the myths, Evander led a colony from Arcadia to Italy. He was compelled to leave as his party were defeated in an ongoing feud in the region. Evander decided to leave the country with those who followed him. Some sources state that Evander’s mother made him kill his own father and that they were both banished from Arcadia.
When Evander and the colony arrived in Italy, they docked their ships on the banks of the river Tiber. King Turnus received them and treated them very hospitably. However, the sources state that Evander took over the country by force, killing the King of Praeneste, Herilus. Herilus had had tried to get rid of Evander, because he had felt threatened by him and probably foresaw what was to come. Once he had taken over, Evander built a town which he called Pallantium, which was later incorporated with the city of Rome.
Evander taught the people of Pallantium and his neighbors about law, peace, social life and music. He also taught them the art of writing, which he himself had learned from Heracles, and he introduced them to the worship of Poseidon, Demeter, the Lycaean Pan, Nike and Heracles.
In Arcadia, Evander was worshiped as a hero. A statue of the hero stands in Pallantium next to the statue of his son Pallas, and in Rome there was an altar dedicated to him at the foot of the Aventine.
Evander appeared in the writings of several great authors and poets such as Virgil and Strabo. In Virgil’s Aeneid, it’s mentioned that he was banished from Arcadia with his mother and that he killed the Italian king, Erulus, three times in a single day before he replaced him and became the most powerful king in the country.
Apart from the fact that Evander established the city of Pallantium, not much is known about the mythical Greek hero. He remains a well-respected and admired kings in both Greek and Roman mythologies for his bravery and accomplishments.