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The birth of the seer Iamus (1)

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04 Religious and philosophical literature and poetry

5th century BCE
Greek Classical Age
Greek poets

Euadne was raised, and first touched the sweets of Aphrodite beneath Apollo’s embrace. She did not escape the notice of Aepytus in all the time that she was hiding the offspring of the god; no, he went to Pytho, pressing down the unspeakable anger in his spirit with intense concern, to consult the oracle about this unbearable disaster. And she laid down her purple and saffron girdle, and her silver pitcher, and beneath a blue-shaded thicket gave birth to a god-inspired boy. The golden-haired god sent gentle-minded Eleithuia and the Fates to help her. From her womb and her sweet birth-pangs Iamus came right away into the light. In her distress, she left him on the ground. But by the will of the gods, two gray-eyed serpents nurtured him with the harmless venom of bees, caring for him.

And when the king had driven back from rocky Pytho, he questioned everyone in the household about the child whom Euadne had borne. For he said that he was begotten by Phoebus, and that he would be, for men on earth, a prophet above all mortals, and that his race would never fail. Such was his speech. But they claimed that they had neither seen nor heard the baby, born four days ago. For it had been hidden in the rushes and the boundless thicket, his tender body washed in the golden and purple light of violets. Therefore his mother declared that he should be called for all time by this immortal name, “Iamus.” And when he had attained the delightful fruit of golden-crowned Youth, he went down into the middle of the Alpheus, and called on wide-ruling Poseidon, his grandfather, and on the Archer who watches over god-built Delos, praying that the honor of caring for the people be on his head, under the clear night sky. His father’s voice responded in clear speech, and sought him out: “Rise, my son, and follow my voice here to a place that welcomes all.” They came to the steep rock of the lofty hill of Kronos. There the god gave him a double treasure of prophecy: there and then to hear a voice that did not know how to lie; and when bold-plotting Heracles came, the sacred scion of the Alcidae, and founded for his father a festival frequented by mortals and the greatest ritual of contests, then he commanded him to establish an oracle on the highest altar of Zeus. Since then the race of the sons of Iamus has been very famous throughout Greece.

Source (list of abbreviations) (source links will open in a new browser window)
Pindar, Olympian Ode 6.35-70


West 1997, 539West, Martin L. The East Face of Helicon. West Asiatic Elements in Greek Poetry and Myth. Oxford: Clarendon Press 1997.

Amar Annus

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