Tuesday 2 August 2016


                     In Greek mythology, Cadmus was described as the founder and first king of Thebes. Cadmus was the son of King Agenor and Queen Telephassa of the Phoenician city of Tyre, and brother of Phoenix, Thasus, Cilix and Europa. It was believed that he was the person who introduced the Phoenician alphabet to the Greeks, who then adapted it into their own.

                                                                  After  Europa had been carried off by Zeus from the shores of Phoenicia, devastated at the news of his daughter's mysterious disappearance. King Agenor entrusted his four sons, Cadmus, Phoenix, Cilix and Thasus, with the mission to find Europa, charging them never to return without his beloved daughter. The queen Telephassa also accompanied her sons. They searched far and wide for Europa without getting any clue for her disappearance.
                                          Unable to find Europa, Europa's brothers Phoenix, Cilix and Thasus  gave up the search for their sister and settled in regions founding cities that were  named after them: Phoenix, Cilicia, in Asia Minor, and, Thassos, on a small island of the eastern Aegean.
Abduction of Europa by god Zeus in form of white bull...
                                                                  Cadmus along with his mother settled in Thrace where Telephassa soon died of grief at the loss of her daughter. After performing the last rites to his mother, Cadmus went on a pilgrimage to the oracle of Delphi to ask for his sister.  Cadmus was ordered by oracle of Delphi, to give up his quest and follow a special cow, with a half moon on her flank, which would meet him, and to build a town on the spot where she should lie down exhausted. The cow was given to Cadmus by Pelagon, King of Phocis, and it guided him to Boeotia.
                     Having found the place where he was to build a new city, Cadmus decided to sacrifice the cow to goddess Athena. For that purpose, he sent his companions to look for pure water to do the sacrifice. They found the purest water in a lovely spring. As they were filling their vessels with water, a fierce serpent-like dragon, guardian of the spring, emerged from a nearby cave.  Cadmus's companions were slain by the spring's guardian water-dragon, which was in turn destroyed by Cadmus.
Cudmus killing water-dragon

                                                  Cadmus was then instructed by goddess Athena to sow the dragon's teeth in the ground, from which there sprang a race of fierce armed men, called the Spartoi ("sown"). By throwing a stone among them, Cadmus caused them to fall upon one another until only five survived, who assisted him to build the Cadmeia or citadel of Thebes, and became the founders of the noblest families of that city.
Cadmus sowing dragon's teeth
                                    The dragon had been sacred to Ares,or in other version was described as the son of god Ares, so the god punished the Cadmus with servitude for a period of eight years, after which Ares not only forgave Cadmus but also gave him the hand of his daughter, Harmonia, in marriage. The wedding was solemnly celebrated in Cadmea in the presence of all gods. Cadmus gave his lovely bride a golden necklace made by god Hephaestus as a wedding present.
                                   This necklace, commonly referred to as the Necklace of Harmonia, brought misfortune to all who possessed it. Harmonia bore Cadmus five children: Autonoe, Ino, Semele, Agave and Polydorus. Semele later became the mother of Dionysus, the god of wine. However, the curse of the necklace was still clinging over Cadmus and his family. His family members had troubles and were leading a miserable life. Finally, when civil strife assailed the city he founded, Cadmus abdicated his throne and, along with his wife, settled in the land of the Enchelians, to the north of modern Epirus area, who made him their king. The Enchelians were engaged in a war with a neighbouring tribe that time, but with Cadmus as their leader, they managed to win.  Cadmus founded the city of Lychnidos and Bouthoe.
                                     Cadmus had another son while he was there whom he called Illyria. However, the misfortunes and tragedies in his family continued to trouble him profoundly. 
                             Nevertheless, Cadmus was deeply troubled by the ill-fortune which clung to him as a result of his having killed the sacred dragon, and one day he remarked that if the gods were so enamoured of the life of a serpent, he might as well wish that life for himself. Immediately he began to grow scales and change in form. Harmonia, seeing the transformation, thereupon begged the gods to share her husband's fate, which they granted.
Cadmus and Harmonia

                                In another version, the bodies of Cadmus and his wife were changed after their deaths; the serpents watched their tomb while their souls were translated to the fields. In some versions, Cadmus is given a prophecy by Dionysus whereby both he and his wife will be turned into snakes for a period before eventually being brought to live among the blest.


1 comment:

  1. I have seen in a dictionary that Phineus was also one of the sons of Agenor. This fact I later have seen in Argonautica of Apollonius Rhodius.