In Ancient Greece, the dynasty of Iamidai (Latinised as Iamidae) at Olympia were an extended family of seers, the "house of Iamus",[1] one of the two clans from which the administrators of the Olympic Games were drawn, well into the 3rd century CE. At Olympia, they would interpret the entrails of burnt offerings. Like their equals at Olympia,[2] the Klytidai, who claimed descent from Melampous, by way of Klytios, grandson of Amphiaraos, the Iamidai claimed descent from Iamus, a son of Apollo[3] (the central figure of the west pediment)[4] and was the mythical ancestor of the Iamidai. Tisamenos was induced to leave Elis and advise Sparta, in return for which he and his heirs were accorded citizenship, the only outsiders ever to have been honoured in this way; Pausanias noted at Sparta in the 2nd century BCE ""a tomb to the soothsayers from Elis, the so-called Iamidai".[5]


  1. ^ For the cultural context, see Martin P. Nilsson, Cults, Myths, Oracles and Politics in Ancient Greece (Lund) 1951, Ch. II "Myths and Politics".
  2. ^ "The lists of cult personnel identify μάντεις as one or the other". (A. Schachter, "The Seer Tisamenos and the Klytiadai" The Classical Quarterly New Series, 50.1 [2000:292–295], p. 293).
  3. ^ The origin myth is related by Pindar, in the Sixth Olympian ode; Pindar's genealogy for Iamos would place the origins of the genes in northwest Anatolia, among the Leleges of Pitana; Pitana, grandmother of Iamos, is the name of a Lacedaemonian town with a duplicate in northwest Anatolia, according to George Thomson, "The Greek Calendar" The Journal of Hellenic Studies 63 (1943:52–65) p. 62, note 70.
  4. ^ Jeffrey M. Hurwit, "Narrative Resonance in the East Pediment of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia" The Art Bulletin 69.1 (March 1987:6–15).
  5. ^ Pausanias, III.11.5; III.20.3.