Name given to an ancient statue of Pallas Athena
made from Meteoric
According to Greek and Roman Mythology, the Palladium fell from the sky at the feet of Dardanos, the king of Troy. Until the Trojan War it was preserved in the city, which according to legend would never fall so long as the statue was kept there.
In the last year of the war, having learned of this legend from the priest Helenos, Odysseus and Diomedes crept into the Trojan temple of Athena under cover of night and stole the statue. The city fell soon after.
According to the Roman version of the legend, told in the Aeneid of Virgil, the statue was subsequently entrusted to the Dardanian prince Aeneas, who alone of the Trojan nobles had been spared for hiding Odysseus during one of his spying missions. He took it with him on his subsequent travels, first to Carthage and then to Latium, where he founded the city of Alba Longa.
When Alba was sacked in the 7th Century BC by Tullus Hostillius, the third King of Rome, the Palladium was brought back to the Eternal City, where it was kept in the Forum temple of the Public Lares.
The statue remained there until 323, when Constantine converted to Christianity. As part of the dedication of the city of Constantinople he buried the statue, symbol of the Empire's pagan past, beneath a large pillar. Assuming that it has not rusted to nothing over the intervening two millennia, it is still there.