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Cadmus [1]

in Greek legend, was the son of Agenor and of Telphassa or of Antiope. Agenor, king of Phoenicia, had, besides four sons, an extraordinarily beautiful daughter, Europa, whom Jupiter carried off in the form of a bull. When the disheartened father sent his sons and his wife away in search of her, with the command not to return without her, Cadmus and his mother reached Thrace, where the latter died. Having taken friendly leave of the Thracians, he went to Delphi to inquire of the oracle where his sister could probably be found. He was told to follow a cow of a certain description, and to settle there where she would fall exhausted. The cow wandered through Boeotia, and fell on the spot where the city of Thebes was built Then Cadmus desired to sacrifice the cow to Minerva and sent some of his attendants to a spring of Mars to get some water. This spring was guarded by a dragon of the god, who tore several of the attendants to pieces, whereupon Cadmus, assisted by Minerva, slew the dragon, broke his teeth, and, by the advice of the goddess, sowed them. From this seed there grew armed men, who killed one another. Only five of the sowed men (Spartans) were left remaining: Echion, Udeus, Chthonius, Hyperenor, and Pelor, and from them the Thebans derived their five tribes. Cadmus was compelled to serve the god eight years, for his injury to the dragon; at the expiration of which time, however, he had become so fully reconciled to the god that the latter gave him his daughter Harmonia as a wife. Minerva gave him the kingdom. The gods all came to the wedding, which was celebrated with the greatest brilliancy. The children of Cadmus were, Polydorus, Autonoe, Ino, Semele, and Agave. After a number of years Cadmus left Thebes, and in his old age he died, at the same time with his wife, or, as Ovid says, they were changed into snakes. He taught the Greeks the use of ores for weapons, and instituted writing by letters among them. See Smith, Diet. of Gr. and Rom. Biog. and Mythol. s.v.