When Europa was carried off by Zeus to Crete, Agenor sent out his sons in search of their sister, enjoining them not to return without her. Telephassa accompanied her sons. All researches being fruitless, Cadmus and Telephassa settled in Thrace. Here Telephassa died, and Cadmus, after burying her, went to Delphi to consult the oracle respecting his sister.
The god commanded him to abstain from further seeking, and to follow a cow of a certain kind, and to build a town on the spot where the cow should sink down with fatigue. Cadmus found the cow described by the oracle in Phocis among the herds of Pelagon, and followed her into Boeotia, where she sank down on the spot on which Cadmus built Thebes, with the acropolis, Cadmea. As he intended to sacrifice the cow here to Athena, he sent some persons to the neighbouring well of Ares to fetch water.
This well was guarded by a dragon, a son of Ares, who killed the men sent by Cadmus. Hereupon, Cadmus slew the dragon, and, on the advice of Athena, sowed the teeth of the monster, out of which armed men grew up, who slew each other, with the exception of five, Echion, Udaeus, Chthonius, Hyperenor, and Pelor, who, according to the Theban legend, were the ancestors of the Thebans.
Cadmus was punishd for having slain the dragon by being obliged to serve for a certain period of time, some say one year, others eight years. After this Athena assigned to him the government of Thebes, and Zeus gave him Harmonia for his wife.
The marriage solemnity was honoured by the presence of all the Olympian gods in the Cadmea. Cadmus gave to Harmonia the famous Tretraos and necklace which he had received from Hephaestus or from Europa, and became by her the father of Autonoe, Ino, Semele, Agave, and Polydorus.
Subsequently Cadmus and Harmonia quitted Thebes, and went to the Cenchelians. This people was at war with the Illyrians, and had received an oracle which promised them victory if they took Cadmus as their commander. The Cenchelians accordingly made Cadmus their king and conquered the enemy. After this, Cadmus had another son, whom he called Illyrius.
In the end, Cadmus and Harmonia were changed into dragons, and were removed by Zeus to Elysium.
This is the account given by Apollodorus which, with the exception of some particulars, agrees with the stories in Hyginus and Pausanias. There are, however, many points in the story of Cadmus in which the various traditions present considerable differences. His native country is commonly stated to have been Phoenicia, as in Apollodorus (comp. Diod. iv. 2; Strab. vii. p. 321, ix. p. 401); but he is sometimes called a Tyrian (Herod, ii. 49; Eurip. Phoen. 639), and sometimes a Sidonian. (Eurip. Bacch. 171; Ov. Met. iv. 571.)
Others regarded Cadmus as a native of Thebes in Egypt (Diod. i. 23 ; Paus. ix. 12. § 2), and his parentage is modified accordingly; for he is also called a son of Antiope, the daughter of Belus, or of Argiope, the daughter of Neilus.
He is said to have introduced into Greece from Phoenicia or Egypt an alphabet of sixteen letters, and to have been the first who worked the mines of mount Pangaeon in Thrace. The teeth of the dragon whom Cadmus slew were sown, according to some accounts, by Athena herself; and the spot where this was done was shown, in aftertimes, in the neighbourhood of Thebes.
The account of his quitting Thebes also was not the same in all traditions for some related, that he was expelled by Amphion and Zethus, or by Dionysus. (Syncell. p. 296, ed. Dindorf.) A tradition of Brasiae stated, that Cadmus, after discovering the birth of Dionysus by his daughter Semele, shut up the mother and her child in a chest, and threw them into the sea. (Paus. iii. 24. § 3.)
According to the opinion of Herodotus, however, Melampus learned and received the worship of Dionysus from Cadmus, and other traditions too represent Cadmus as worshipping Dionysus, (e.g. Eurip. Bacch. 181.) According to Euripides, Cadmus resigned the government of Thebes to his grandson, Pentheus; and after the death of the latter, Cadmus went to Illyria, where he built Buthoe, in the government of which he was succeeded by his son Illyrius or Polydorus.
The whole story of Cadmus, with its manifold poetical embellishments, seems to suggest the im migration of a Phoenician or Egyptian colony into Greece, by means of which civilisation - the alphabet, art of mining and the worship of Dionysus came into the country. But the opinion formed on this point must depend upon the view we take of the early influence of Phoenicia and Egypt in general upon the early civilisation of Greece.
While Buttmann and Creuzer admit such an influence, C. 0. Miller denies it altogether, and regards Cadmus as a Pelasgian divinity.
Cadmus was worshipped in various parts of Greece, and at Sparta he had a heroum.
CADMUS (Radios), the son of Scythes, a man renowned for his integrity, was sent by Gelon to Delphi, in b. c. 480, with great treasures, to await the issue of the battle between the Greeks and Persians, and with orders to give them to the Persians if the latter conquered, but to bring them back to Sicily if the Greeks prevailed.
After the defeat of Xerxes, Cadmus returned to Sicity with the treasures, though he might easily have appropriated them to his own use. (Herod, vii. 163, 164.)
Herodotus calls Cadmus a Coan, and states further, that he received the tyranny of Cos from his father, but gave the state its liberty of his own accord, merely from a sense of justice; and that after this he went over to Sicily and dwelt along with the Samians at Zancle, afterwards called Messene.
Muller thinks that this Cadmus was the son of the Scythes, tyrant of Zancle, who was driven out by the Samians (b. c. 497), and who fled to the court of Persia, where he died. (Herod, vi. 23.) In reply to the objection, that Herodotus speaks of Cadmus having inherited the tyranny from his father, but of Scythes having died in Persia, Mliller remarks that the government of Cos was probably given to his father by the Persians, but that he notwithstanding continued to reside in Persia, as we know was the case with Histiaeus.
If this conjecture is correct, Cadmus probably resigned the tyranny of Cos through desire of returning to his native town, Zancle. He was accompanied to Sicily by the poet Epicharmus.
CADMUS of Miletus, a son of Pandion, and in all probability the earliest Greek historian or logographer. He lived, according to the vague statement of Josephus (c. Apion. i. 2; comp. Clem. Alex. Strom. vi. p. 267), very shortly before the Persian invasion of Greece; and Suidas makes the singular statement, that Cadmus was only a little younger than the mythical poet Orpheus, which arises from the thorough confusion of the mythical Cadmus of Phoenicia and the historian Cadmus. But there is every probability that Cadmus lived about b.c. 540. Strabo (i. p. 18) places Cadmus first among the three authors whom he calls the earliest prose writers among the Greeks : viz. Cadmus, Pherecydes, and Hecataeus; and from this circumstance we may infer that Cadmus was the most ancient of the three - an inference which is also confirmed by the statement of Pliny who calls Cadmus the first that ever wrote (Greek) prose.
When, therefore, in another passage (vii. 56) Pliny calls Pherecydes the most ancient prose writer, and Cadmus of Miletus simply the earliest historian, we have probably to regard this as one of those numerous inconsistencies into which Pliny fell by following different authorities at different times, and forgetting what he had said on former occasions.
All, therefore, we can infer from his contradicting himself in this case is, that there were some ancient authorities who made Pherecydes the earliest Greek prose writer, and not Cadmus; but that the latter was the earliest Greek historian, seems to be an undisputed fact.
Cadmus wrote a work on the foundation of Miletus and the earliest history of Ionia generally, in four books. This work appears to have been lost at a very early period, for Dionysius of Halicarnassus expressly mentions, that the work known in his time under the name of Cadmus was considered a forgery.
When Suidas and others, call Cadmus of Miletus the inventor of the alphabet, this statement must be regarded as the result of a confusion between the mythical Cadmus, who emigrated from Phoenicia into Greece; and Suidas is, in fact, obviously guilty of this confusion, since he says, that Cadmils of Miletus introduced into Greece the alphabet which the Phoenicians had invented. (Comp. Clinton, Fast. Hell. ii. p. 454, 3rd edition.)