When Zeus stole Europe, grieved her father, the king of Sidon, Agenor. Nothing could comfort him. He called his three sons - Foynix, Kiliks and Kadma - and sent them to find Europe. He forbade his sons, on pain of death, to return home without a sister. The sons of Agenor went in search. Phoinix and Cilix soon left Cadmus. They founded two kingdoms: Phoinix - Phoenicia, and Cilix - Cilicia, and stayed in them.
Cadmus went on alone to look for his sister. He wandered around the world for a long time, asking everywhere about Europe. How could he find his sister, since Zeus himself hid her from everyone! Finally, having lost hope of finding his sister and fearing to return home, Cadmus decided to stay in a foreign land forever. He went to the sacred Delphi and asked there the oracle of the archer Apollo in which country he should settle and found a city. Thus answered the oracle of Apollo to Cadmus:
- In a secluded clearing you will see a cow that has never known a yoke. Follow her, and where she lies on the grass, erect the walls of the city, and name the country Boeotia.
Having received such an answer, Cadmus left the sacred Delphi. As soon as he left the gate, he saw a snow-white cow grazing, unguarded, in a clearing. Cadmus followed her with his faithful Sidonian servants, praising the great Apollo. He has already passed the valley Kefisa, when the cow suddenly stopped, raised her head to the sky, mumbled loudly, looked at the warriors following her and calmly lay down on the green grass. Full of gratitude to Apollo, Cadmus knelt down, kissed the land of his new homeland and invoked the blessing of the gods on unfamiliar mountains and valleys. Cadmus immediately built an altar of stones to offer a sacrifice to the Aegis-bearing Zeus, but since he did not have water for the sacrifice, he sent his faithful Sidonians for water.
Not far away was a century-old grove, which had never been touched by a woodcutter's axe. In the midst of this grove there was a deep grotto, all overgrown with bushes, around it lay huge stones piled up in disorder. A spring with crystal-clear water flowed out of this grotto, murmuring between the stones. In the grotto there lived a huge serpent dedicated to the god of war Ares. His eyes sparkled with fire, a triple sting protruded from his mouth, set with a triple row of poisonous teeth, a golden crest waved menacingly on the serpent's head. When Cadmus' servants came to the spring and had already immersed the vessels in its icy water, a serpent crawled out of the grotto with a menacing hiss, writhing between the stones with its huge body. Cadmus' servants turned pale with fear, the vessels fell out of their hands, chilling horror bound their limbs. The serpent rose on the tail; above the age-old trees of the forest, his head with an open mouth. Before any of the Sidonians could think of flight or defense, a terrible serpent rushed at them. Cadmus' servants were killed.Cadmus waited a long time for the servants to return. The sun has already begun to incline to the west, the shadows on the ground have become longer, and there are still no servants. The son of Agenor wonders where his Sidonians have disappeared, why are they procrastinating. Finally, he followed their footsteps into the grove, covered with a lion's skin like a shell, girded with a sharp sword and with a spear in his hands, and his courage served as an even more reliable protection for the hero. Cadmus entered the grove and saw there the torn bodies of his faithful servants, on their bodies lay a huge serpent. Cadmus exclaimed in grief and anger:
- O faithful servants, I will be your avenger! Either I will avenge you, or I will descend with you into the dark realm of shadows!Cadmus grabbed a rock the size of a rock, and, swinging, threw it at the snake. From the impact of this stone, the fortress tower would have toppled over, but the snake remained unharmed - the scales, hard as steel, covering his entire body protected him. Then Agenor's son shook his spear and, gathering all his strength, plunged it into the monster's back. The serpent was not protected from the spear of Cadmus by his steel scales. Up to the very shaft, a spear was thrust into the snake's body. Writhing, the snake grabbed the spear with its teeth and wanted to pull it out of the wound. His efforts were in vain; the point of the spear remained deep in the wound, only the shaft was broken off by the serpent of Ares. The snake's neck swelled with black venom and rage, foam gushed from its mouth, a ferocious hiss spread far across the country, the whole air was filled with the stench of its breath. Now the serpent is writhing in huge rings on the ground, then, spinning wildly, it rises high. He fells trees, uprooting them, and throws huge stones in all directions with his tail. He wants to grab Cadmus with his poisonous mouth, but, covering himself with a lion's skin as a shield, the hero repels the snake with his sword. A snake bites a sharp sword with its teeth, but only blunts its teeth on its steel. Finally, the son of Agenor pierced the serpent's neck with a mighty blow and nailed him to an oak tree, so strong was the blow of the mighty hero.
A hundred-year-old oak bent under the weight of the monster's body. Cadmus looks with amazement at the serpent he has slain, marveling at its size. Suddenly an unknown voice rang out:
- Why do you stand, son of Agenor, and marvel at the serpent you killed? Soon people will marvel at you, turned into a serpent.Cadmus looks around, he does not know where the mysterious voice came from. The hero shuddered with horror when he heard such a prediction; the hair stood on end on his head. Almost unconscious, he stands in front of the killed snake. Then the beloved daughter of Zeus appeared to Cadmus Athena-Pallas. She told him to pull out the serpent's teeth and sow them like seeds in a plowed field.
Cadmus did what the owl-eyed warrior goddess commanded him. Hardly had he sown the serpent's teeth when-oh, a miracle! - first the spearheads appeared from the ground; then the crests of helmets rose above the arable land, then the heads of warriors, their shoulders, chests encased in armor, arms with shields, finally a whole detachment of armed warriors grew out of the dragon's teeth. Seeing a new unknown enemy, Cadmus grabbed his sword, but one of the earth-born warriors exclaimed:
- Don't grab the sword! Beware of interfering in an internecine battle!A terrible, bloody battle began between the warriors. They struck each other with swords and spears and fell one after another on the land that had just given birth to them. There were only five of them left. Then one of them, at the behest of Pallas Athena, threw his weapon on the ground as a sign of peace. The warriors concluded a close fraternal friendship. These warriors, born of the earth from the dragon's teeth, were Cadmus' assistants when he built Kadmea, the fortress of the seven-fold Thebes. Cadmus founded the great city of Thebes, gave the citizens laws and arranged the whole state. The gods of Olympus gave Cadmus the beautiful daughter of Ares as a wife and Aphrodite, Harmony. The wedding feast of the great founder of Thebes was magnificent. All the Olympians gathered for this wedding and richly presented the newlyweds.
Since then, Cadmus has become one of the most powerful kings of Greece. His riches were incalculable. Numerous and invincible was his army, led by warriors born of the earth from the serpent's teeth. It would seem that eternal joy and happiness should have reigned in the house of Agenor's son, but the Olympians sent him more than one happiness. He had to experience a lot of grief. His daughters, Semela and Eno, died in front of their father. True, after their death they were accepted into the host of the Olympian gods, but still Cadmus lost his dearly beloved daughters. Actaeon, grandson of Cadmus, son of his daughter Autonoi, fell victim to anger Artemis. Cadmus had to mourn his grandchildren as well.
In his old age, dejected by a heavy grief, Cadmus left the seven-fold Thebes. With his wife Harmony, he wandered for a long time in a foreign land and finally came to a distant Illyria. With pain in his heart, Cadmus recalled all the misfortunes that had befallen his house, he remembered his struggle with the serpent and those words that an unknown voice had uttered."Was not that serpent," said Cadmus, "whom I struck with my sword, dedicated to the gods?" If the gods punish me so heavily for his death, it would be better for me to turn into a snake myself.
As soon as Cadmus uttered this, his body stretched out and became covered with scales, his legs fused together and became a long, writhing snake's tail. In horror, he stretches out with tears in his eyes to Harmony still preserved hands and calls her:
- Oh, come to me, Harmony! Touch me, touch my hand, before I turn into a snake!
He calls Harmony, wants to say a lot more to her, but his tongue splits, and the snake's sting is already wavering in his mouth, and only hissing comes out of his mouth. Harmony runs to him:
- Oh, Cadmus! - she exclaims. - Get rid of this image soon! Oh, gods, why didn't you turn me into a snake too!
Cadmus, turned into a huge snake, has wrapped himself around his faithful wife, he licks her face with his forked sting. With sadness, Harmony strokes the snake's scaly back. And the gods turned Harmony into a snake, and now there are two snakes - Harmony and Cadmus.
Cadmus and his wife ended their lives under the guise of snakes.