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CLA204H1 - November 13

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Lee Sawchuk

Introduction to Classical Mythology Thebes and Early Theban Kings - Thebes in an important city in the 5th century and beyond - what we know about it is somewhat sketchy - lots of it comes from what Athenians tell us about Thebes - since the two are very antagonistic, this is probably biased - we also learn a lot about it from Greek Tragedy - one of the theories around this is that when Athens wants to talk about things that are going on, they explore issues through Thebes - a lot of Theban myth is adapted to fit Athenian views and mindsets The Founding of Thebes • Cadmus – Son of Agenor (an Eastern King) of Phoenicia • Brother of Europa (woman who Zeus abducted in bull-form) – Searches for sister – Delphic oracle asking how to find the sister - Oracle tells him to found a city • Follow the cow until it collapses, and where that is he is to found a city – Boeotia = “cow-land” – Cadmeia - Thebes - fortified position - this is the name for the Acropolis in Thebes - they have no water, and Cadmus wants to make a sacrifice (the cow) as a thank you - they need water to do the sacrifice - there is a nearby spring; he sends his crew to get water - the spring is protected by a dragon - source of water important to sustainability - monster guarding quest-goal - all of crew is killed, so he goes to investigate – Dragon of Ares - he ends up killing it - common story is he throws a rock at it; in Hyginus he kills it - in Ovid the rock doesn't do anything - eventually kills it - can get water and continue with sacrifice - Athena appears and tells Cadmus to take the teeth and sew them in the ground - out pops warriors - same as in other myths (Jason?)--same teeth • Spartoi = “sown men” (NOT the same as Spartans) - in some myths they fight for no reason, in other versions they fight because Cadmus throws stones at them (they think that they threw them at each other) - these are the first Thebans – Echion (father of Pentheus) – Udaeus (ancestor of Tiresias) – Chthonius (father of Nycteus and Lycus) – Hyperenor – Pelorus - people later associate their families with these original founders • Serves Ares for 8 years because he killed the dragon ***Image: late Classical picture of Cadmus defeating the dragon - typical snake as shown in Greek pictures - Cadmus holding a water jug (going to fetch water) and a stone - strange hat on--could show that he is not native Greek - accompanied by his wife Harmonia on the left (marries her after the service to Ares) - could by symbolic of what is going to happen - on the right--most likely a water nymph to show that they are at a spring ***Image: same scene - Cadmus attacking the snake (holding water jug and stone) - wearing traveller's cloak and hat to show that he is on a quest - Harmonia there with the snake--once you kill the snake, you get this reward - person behind is Ares - beside him is Athena (there supporting heroes and to tell about the snake teeth) • Cadmus – Marries Harmonia after his service to Ares - daughter of Ares and Aphrodite (love and war--harmony) • Robe and necklace (wedding gifts from Hera) - necklace pops up in later myths - sort of "unlucky" - bad things happen to the woman holding the necklace • Children (four daughters) - all unlucky in what happens to them or their offspring - Cadmus has a lot of bad luck around his children – Semele (mother of Dionysos) - she is burnt to a crisp - Dionysos not really considered a god – Agave - mother of Pentheus (guy who snuck out to see the women in their revelry) - they mistake him for an animal and tear him apart - Agave is one of the main instigators
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