The Abduction of Europa

The first of the three elder heroes of greek mythology is Cadmus, son of king Agenor and queen Telephassa of Tyre (the Libanon city known for the unesco world heritage Hippodrome). When his sister Europa is abducted by Zeus in form of a bull, her father Agenor sends his three sons Cilix, Phoenix and Cadmus to find and return their sister. europa and zeus Since Zeus wants Europa for himself the three brothers’ search is hopeless. However, since their father told them not to return to Tyre without their sister, they are forced to leave their home forever.

The fate of three brothers

Cilix, accepting his fate settled in Asia minor, later naming the Cilicia region after himself. Phoenix settled in Asia naming the city of Phoenicia after himself. Cadmus himself is off to greater things and won’t give up searching for Europa.

Delphian Oracle - A Quest to Found a City

Unsure about where to find his sister, he visits Delphi to ask for advice. The oracle responds, that his search can only be in vain; instead, giving him a quest: He should cease searching for his sister and instead found a city. The place where this city was to be founded would be indicated by the place where a cow with a halfmoon on its skin would lie to rest.

Cadmus finds the afore spoken animal purchases it from a shepard and makes it run to exaustion. On the spot where the cow lies down he orders his men to bring water from a nearby spring. When none of his troups return he himself visits the spring to find most of his men killed by a great snake guarding the place. He kills the beast by throwing a great stone at it, crushing it death. When he finally sacrifices the cow to Athena, she advises him to plant the snakes teeth to the earth. When Cadmus does so, men rise from the place where he placed the teeth and begin fighting each other. Cadmus interrupts their fighting when only a few are left throwing a stone between them. cadmus_teeth.jpg The remaining ones, who as well as their offspring wil be called the seeded men argue about who threw the stone. In the end the remaining five worriers decide to help Cadmus found his new city: Thebe. Athena however, tells Cadmus he will have to serve Ares for ten years for killing his beloved snake.

A Wedding Like No Other

Accompanied by his his nephew Thasus and his mother, Cadmus reached the island of Samothrace ( place of discovery [1863, Champoiseau] of the famous Nike/Victory statue ) where he marries Ares’ and Aphrodite’s daughter Harmnoia. The gods approved his doings and were said to bring gifts to their wedding. Demeter, among others brings gifts the new rulers. She sleeps with Iason (not to be confused with the great hero Jason!) in one freshly plowed furrow. When they return to the festivity, Zeus recognizes some earth stains on Demeter’s back and finds out about what happend to his sister. He kills Iasion with one of his thunderbolts.

Harmonia and Cadmus would have multiple children: Semele, Ino, Autonoe, Agava and Polydorus. The last of which became the father of Labdacus and therefore the grandfather of Lauis, the king of Thebes who was killed by his son oedipus

An (un)happy Ending

When Cadmus grows old, he leaves the throne for Pentheus, the son of his daughterAgaue and Echion one of the five seeded men. Cadmus, living an unspectacular life when he receices a prophecy, he and Harmonia would rule over a great army of barbarians which would destroy many greek cities and which would finally be punished for raiding a temple of Appollo. He and his wife however would be saved by being transformed into snakes. After a while Pentheus is killed by his mother, who flees to illyrian king Lykotherses. Cadmus is once more forced to become a military ruler. However, in the end the prophecy is fulfilled and both him and his wife are turned into snakes and brought to the islands of the blessed.