A speculative play on the myths of Ismene, the nymph of the spring at Thebes, who seems to be a memory, perhaps, of an old, local goddess, who had an oracular shrine. It was guarded by a dragon. Later, Cadmus would slay that serpent, and planting its teeth, raise an army, for which he had to do penance to Ares, for by the time this story comes down, the snake was the son of the god of war. Ismene, whose name seems to be knowledgeable, is said to be the mother of the 100-eyed Argos, who was killed so Zeus could rescue Io, also one of Ismene's descendants. Athene, also a wisdom goddess, who is associated with snakes, but who of all the ancient goddesses got to keep her power and might by becoming the ever maiden daughter of Zeus, was the person who led Cadmus to the serpent, which is why she is in the poem.