Mythology & Beliefs
Palinurus in Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology
（*Palinou=ros), the son of Jasus, and helmsman of Aeneas. The
god of Sleep in the disguise of Phorbas approached him, sent
him to sleep at the helm, and then threw him down into the
sea. (Verg. A. 5.833, &c.) In the lower world he saw Aeneas
again, and related to him that on the fourth day after his
fall, he was thrown by the waves on the coast of Italy and
there murdered, and that his body was left unburied on the
strand. The Sibyl prophesied to him, that bv the command of an
oracle his death should be atoned for, that a tomb should be
erected to him, and that a cave (Palinurus, the modern Punta
della Spartivento) should be called after him. (Verg. A.
6.337, &c.; Strab. vi. p.252.) - A Dictionary of Greek and
Roman biography and mythology, William Smith, Ed.
Palinurus in Wikipedia
Palinurus, in Roman mythology, is the helmsman of a ship of
the Trojan hero Aeneas, whose descendants would one day
found the city of Rome. As the price for the safe passage of
Aeneas and his people from Sicily to Italy, Palinurus loses
his life, one on behalf of many ('unum pro multis dabitur
caput' according to Vergil's "Neptune" (Aeneid 5.815).
Somnus causes Palinurus to fall asleep and fall overboard.
(Palinurus' own version at Aeneid 6.349 does not blame the
god.) He is then stranded on the coast of Lucania, in
southern Italy, where he is killed by a native tribe, the
Lucani. When Aeneas and the Sibyl meet Palinurus in the
Underworld, the Sibyl promises that the local people will be
moved by signs to provide the helmsman's body with a proper
burial, at what is now Cape Palinuro.
Palinurus is mentioned in Utopia by Sir Thomas More as a
type of careless traveller. "'Then you're not quite right,'
he replied, 'for his sailing has not been like that of
Palinurus, but more that of Ulysses, or rather of Plato.
This man, who is named Raphael.'" This is unfair, as
Palinurus conscientiously refused to let the disguised
Somnus take the tiller, claiming that although the sea was
calm, he could not risk going off duty. Somnus was forced to
use magic to make Palinurus sleep.
Palinurus was the pseudonym chosen by Cyril Connolly for his
book The Unquiet Grave: A Word Cycle, and used to refer
disparagingly to him by Alaric Jacob in Scenes from a
The singer-songwriter Peter Hammill recorded a song called
"Palinurus (Castaway)" on his 1978 album The Future Now,
with lyrics vaguely invoking Palinurus's sea voyage,
including the pun "it's all Greek to me", though Palinurus
was Trojan. - Wikipedia