Iodama, priestess of Athena, entered the goddess’ sacred precinct at night and encountered Athena with Medusa’s head. Iodama was instantly transformed to stone. She was then venerated in the shrine Athena shared with Hades near Koroneia. Every day, a priestess placed fire before Iodama’s altar, crying out three times, “Iodama lives and wants fire!”

It is a mysterious myth, and Iodama is a mysterious goddess. Who is she? Why was her death so significant that she was enshrined alongside the goddess and propitiated daily? Some interpretations suggest that Iodama wasno ordinary priestess but Athena’s sister who accompanied her from Libya. Did Athena kill her accidentally as she did Pallas, or deliberately as she killed Medusa?

Iodama’s fire is not a continuous flame like that of Hestia. Fresh fire is placed before Iodama daily, as if replenishing a coal pan. Coincidentally or not, some scholars theorize that Athena’s name derives from the same root word as that for the sacred ritual coal pan or fire vessel.


Athena; Hades; Medusa; Pallas


Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by : Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.


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