Wednesday, July 6, 2016

TFBT: Notes on Parada’s “Robe and Necklace of Harmonia”

Maya M[i] and I were discussing the Theban Wars as referenced in the Cypria and wondered about the involvement of the accursed Robe and Necklace of Harmonia   Carlos Parada and Maicar Förlag wrote this thorough article on the topic at Greek Mythology Link. I highly recommend you visit the site and that you read the article.  

I had just a few comments to share;  

·      The Oracle directed Cadmus to build a new city where “the cow resolved to rest”.  Robert Graves tells that “This beast he drove eastward through Boeotia, never allowing her to pause until, at last, she sank down where the city of Thebes now stands”[ii]  (Because…) “A cow’s strategic and commercial abilities are not highly developed.”[iii]

·      “…armed men, called Sparti, who cared for nothing except killing each other. Some say that they did this because Cadmus flung stones at them.” I wonder if the “stones” were pieces of gold that Cadmus used to pay off his mercenaries.

·      “Cadmus had to serve Ares for a whole year for having killed his darling Dragon, which, some say, was this god's offspring.” Aaron Atsma says about this dragon; Ismenian dragon was a giant serpent which guarded the sacred spring of Ares near Thebes... Ares later avenged his draconic son by transforming Kadmos and his wife into serpents.”[iv]

·      I wanted to make an observation about the relationship of Zeus and Europa to Cadmus and Harmonia.  Zeus and Europa had three sons with no indication that they were triplets.  By the standards of the gods, theirs was a marriage.  Which makes Zeus and Cadmus brothers-in-law.   Just a few thoughts here.  If Menelaus ended up on the Elysian Fields simply because he was a son-in-law of Zeus[v], how much more blessed is a brother-in-law?   In Norse mythology the two groups of gods Aesir and Vanir wed “hostages” from the other tribe in order to maintain their alliance.  Same tradition among the Tlingit peoples of Southeast Alaska.   Also Graves and Maicar both claim that Cadmus helped Zeus defeat Typhon.[vi]      

·      New marriage; oracle told him (Alcmaeon) to depart to (the River god) Achelous and to stand another trial on the river bank. So he went to the springs of Achelous, and was purified by him, receiving Achelous' daughter, Callirrhoe to wife. Alcmaeon settled in the region about that river and colonized it.”  I don’t recall where, but I read an explanation of this.  In fact, the “river bank” was in the delta; newly formed land untainted by his crime of matricide.

[i] Maya M is the blogger at Maya Corner  where “ I write about things that interest me, in as politically incorrect style as I like.”  She is a frequent contributer to Bill’s Classical Studies.  She writes “I had some interest in mythology as a child, and "Ancient Greek Legends and Myths" by Nikolay Kun was among my favorite books. However, this interest was nothing out of the ordinary. My education had no leaning to classics, except for the mandatory review of ancient Greek literature in 9th grade. I was truly engaged only about 2 years ago, when a kid to whom I am a teaching aide got to the above mentioned 9th grade. My student seemed just bored by mythology and ancient literature, but I looked at them with new eyes and was fascinated. My background in biology naturally predisposed me to science-fiction rewriting of some myths, but I try also to understand what they meant to their original audience in the pre-scientific, "daimon-haunted" world.
[v] Homer, Odyssey 4.560
[vi] Robert Graves, The Greek Myths, Typhon d. “But some say that it was Cadmus who wheedled the sinews from Delphyne, saying that he needed them for lyre-strings on which to play her delightful music; and Apollo who shot her dead.”  Delphyne here is the mate of the Dragon Python and foster mother of Typhon, to whom he’d entrusted the sinews of Zeus.
 Also, Parada & Förlag wrote “Cadmus helped to defeat Typhon; Some have said that Zeus gave Harmonia  to Cadmus in recompense for having helped him to restore the harmony of the world, destroyed by Typhon's attack on heaven.”


  1. Zeus gave Cadmus Harmonia to be his wife, and she brought along her cursed necklace and robe. In the same way, Zeus gave Epimetheus Pandora to be his wife, and she brought along her jar, another format of the cursed divine gift setting the human condition. So I cannot regard Cadmus as more blessed than Epimetheus in any way. If Cadmus has helped Zeus against Typhon, this only makes his situation more miserable, to have his good deed rewarded with evil.

    1. Maya,

      I love that comparison of Harmonia to Pandora, it supports our suspicion of divine gifts. The names are sort of ironic too, as if the gods had a sinister sense of humor.;


  2. Maya,
    Following this line of logic Helen was given too with disaster in her wake. I will have to think about other daughters of the gods given in marriage