Page last updated on: March 8th, 2021
The Dragon of Ares and the Foundation of Thebes
When Zeus, the king of the gods, abducted Europa, her brother Cadmus began to search everywhere for her. Soon he reached the city of Delphi, where he met the god Apollo, who told Cadmus to stop his search and follow a cow. Wherever Cadmus would see the cow kneeling, that is exactly where he was to found a city.
Later, they approached the area of Thebes where the Greek hero Cadmus came face to face with a dragon and killed it. The dragon was a son of Ares, the god of war, and the Nymph Telphousa and guarded the spring of Ares.
When Ares learned that someone had killed his sacred dragon, he became enraged and forced Cadmus to serve Ares as a slave for eight years in order to be purified. In reconciliation, Ares gave Cadmus the hand of his daughter Harmonia. Their wedding was attended by all the gods, who bestowed the couple with beautiful, precious gifts.
On the advice of the goddess Athena, Cadmus then sowed the dragon's teeth into the earth. Soon fully armed warriors appeared, the Spartoi, who were aggressive and very angry. Cadmus tried to defeat them by throwing stones at them, while the Spartoi thought they were attacking each other and so they began to fight each other in a disorderly fashion until they finally lost their lives.
Only five Spartoi survived: Echion, Oudaios, Chthonius, Hyperenor and Pelorus. It was these five, along with Cadmus, who founded the city of Thebes and became the first citizens of Thebes. The citadel of ancient Thebes was named "Cadmeia" in honor of the hero.