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CADMOS & HARMONIA - The first mortal wedding ever attended by the Olympian Gods

When Cadmos had served eight years in bondage to Ares, to expiate the murder of the Castalian serpent, Athene secured him the land of Boeotia. With the help of his Sown Men, he guilt the Theban acropolis, named "The Cadmea" in his own honour and after being initiated into the mysteries which Zeus had taught Iasion, married Harmonia, the daughter of Aphrodite and Ares; some say that Athene had given her to him when he visited Samothrace.

This was the first mortal wedding ever attended by the Olympians. Twelve golden thrones were set up for them in Cadmos' house, which stood on the site of the present Theban Market place; and they all brought gifts; Aphrodite presented Harmonia with the famous golden necklace made by Hephaestos - originally it had been Zeus's loving gift to Cadmos' sister Europe - which conferred irresistible beauty on its wearer.

Athene gave her a golden robe, which similarly conferred divine dignity on its wearer, also a set of flutes;

and Hermes a lyre. Cadmos's own present to Harmonia was another rich robe; and Helectra, Iasion's mother, taught her the rites of the Great Goddess; while Demeter assured her a prosperous barley harvest by lying with Iasion in a thrice-ploughed field during the celebrations. The Thebans still show the place where the Muses played the flute and sang on this occasion and where Apollo performed on the lyre.

In his old age to placate Ares, who had not yet wholly forgiven him for killing the serpent, Cadmos resigned the Theban throne in favour of his grandson Pantheos, whom his daughter Agave had borne to Echion the Sown man, and lived quietly in the city.

But when Pantheos was done to death by his mother, Dionyssos foretold that Cadmos and Harmonia, riding in a chariot drawn by heifers, would rule over barbarian hordes.

The same barbarians, he said would sack many Greek cities until at last, they plundered a temple of Apollo, whereupon they would suffer just punishment; but Ares would rescue Cadmos and Harmonia after turning them into serpents and they would live happily for all time in the Islands of the Blessed.

Cadmos and Harmonia therefore emigrated to the land of Encheleans who, when attacked by the Illyrians chose them as their rulers, in accordance to Dionyssos' advice. Agave was now married to Lycotherses, King of Illyria, at whose court she had taken refuge after the murder of Pentheus; but on hearing that her parents commanded the Enchelean forces, she murdered Lycotherses too, and cave the kingdom to Cadmos.

In their old age, when the prophecy had been wholly fulfilled, Cadmos and Harmonia duly became blue-sotted black serpents and were sent by Zeus to the Islands of the Blessed.

But some say that Ares changed them into lions. Their bodies were buried in Illyria, where Cadmos had build the city of Buthoe. He was succeded by Illyrius, the son of his old age.

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