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date: 22 June 2018


Legendary Phoenician founder of Boeotian Thebes (1), whose origins are still disputed: Phoenicia, Egypt, Mycenaean Greece, Archaic Greece, have all been proposed (see bibliog. below).

In Homer, he appears indirectly, as father of Ino-Leucothea (Od. 5. 333), and through the names Cadmeii, Cadmeiones given to the inhabitants of Thebes attacked by the Seven (see seven against thebes) and the Epigoni (Cadmeii: Il. 4. 388, 391, 5. 807, 10. 288, Od. 11. 276; Cadmeiones: Il. 4. 385, 5. 804, 23. 680).

The generally accepted story (see Frazer) is that Cadmus was sent by his father Agenor to find his sister Europa, who had been abducted (by Zeus, as it turned out). He failed in his search (Europa ended up in Crete, while Cadmus went to the Greek mainland), but was ordered by Delphi (see delphic oracle) to be guided by a cow and establish a city where the animal lay down. Thus he founded Thebes, having killed a dragon, and peopled the place with men sprung from the dragon's teeth (Spartoi). His dynasty ended with Thersandrus, son of Polynices.


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F. Vian, Les Origines de Thèbes (1963), chs. 2, 3, 11.Find this resource:

M. Astour, Hellenosemitica (1967), 147–159.Find this resource:

R. B. Edwards, Kadmos the Phoenician (1979), passim.Find this resource:

A. Schachter, in La Béotie antique (1985), 143–152.Find this resource:

Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae 5/1 (1990), 863–882 (in art).Find this resource:

M. Bernal, Black Athena 2 (1991), esp. 497–504.Find this resource:

D. W. Berman, Transactions of the American Philological Association 134 (2004), 1–22.Find this resource:

T. Gantz, in R. Fowler, Early Greek Mythography 1 (2000), 2 (2013), 467–473.Find this resource:

A. Kühr, Als Kadmos nach Boiotien kam (2006), esp. 83–133.Find this resource:

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