Cadmus – First Hero of Greek Mythology

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Although most of the stories that are part of Greek mythology involve the gods and goddesses, that isn’t all they are about. The Ancient Greeks loved stories about their favorite heroes, and even though gods and goddesses did make an appearance in most of these tales, the main subjects of interest were the heroes. Of all the heroes, they each stood out in their own way. Cadmus’ claim to fame is that he is officially the first Greek hero and also that he founded the ancient city-state of Thebes. Here’s more information about who Cadmus was and the legends associated with him:

Who Cadmus Was

Before Cadmus became the first hero of Greek mythology and the founder of Thebes, stories actually portray him as a prince of Phoenicia. He was the son of King Agenor and Queen Telephassa. He also had two brothers, Phoenix and Cilix, and a sister., Europa However, unlike his siblings, Cadmus was being groomed to become king. There was just one problem – Cadmus had a bit of a reputation of being a coward. Before he journeyed to Samothrace to retrieve Europa, he had yet to prove himself as a hero and a king.

Cadmus and Europa

One of the stories that Cadmus is most known for also involves his sister, Europa. In one story, Zeus carried Europa away from the family. At first, no one knew where she went and Cadmus frantically looked for her. When they found out that Zeus had taken her, Cadmus’ father told him to search for Europa to get him back. Although Cadmus had two other brothers, it was up to him to find their sister. Cadmus had a history of not being as brave as his father wanted, and his father, the king, hoped that his journey would give him a sense of courage. Cadmus was tasked with traveling to Samothrace to retrieve Europa and although the journey was dangerous, he was ultimately successful. Thus, a hero was created. He was actually unsuccessful at retrieving Europa because he didn’t want to go against Zeus.

Cadmus Founds Thebes

The thing that Cadmus is most known for, however, is that he was the founder and first king of the Thebes in Ancient Greece. Thebes was located near Athens and over time, it grew larger and stronger. However, according to legend, if it weren’t for Cadmus, Thebes wouldn’t have existed. During the journey of looking for Europa, Phoenix, Cadmus’ brother, eventually gave up. He founded a new city that he called Phoenicia in the place where he abandoned his search. Shortly after, Queen Telephassa and Cadmus settled in Thrace where the queen eventually died of a broken heart. After that, Cadmus consulted with the Oracle of Delphi on what to do. Shortly after this conversion, Thebes was born.

Although the story of Cadmus is largely looked at as a myth, it is interesting to note that his life overlapped real events. For example, it is well known that the Phoenician alphabet eventually influenced the creation of the Greek alphabet. While the Ancient Greeks credited Cadmus as gifting the Greeks with this alphabet. Not only that, but they also credited him with the founding of the city-state of Thebes.


Wikipedia – Cadmus

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This post was written by Greek Boston

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