Myths of Greece and Rome Narrated with Special Reference to Literature and Art

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THE ABDUCTION OF EUROPA.—Albani. (Uffizi Palace, Florence.)

Search for Europa.

All unconscious of their sister’s fate, the young princes had [47] returned in haste to their father’s palace to announce her sudden involuntary departure. Agenor, whose favorite she had always been, rent his garments for grief, and bade his sons go forth and seek her, and not to return till they had found her. Accompanied by their mother, Telephassa, they immediately set out on their journey, inquiring of all they met if they had seen their sister. Search and inquiry proved equally fruitless.

At last, weary of this hopeless quest, Phœnix refused his further aid, and allowed his sorrowing relatives to continue without him, remaining in a land which from him was called Phœnicia. Cilix, too, soon followed his example, and settled in a fertile country which they had reached, hence called Cilicia; and finally Telephassa, worn out with grief and fatigue, lay down to die, charging her oldest son to go on alone.

Cadmus wandered on till he came to Delphi, where he consulted the oracle; but, to his great dismay, the only reply he received was, “Follow the cow, and settle where she rests.”

In deep perplexity he left the temple, and, from force of habit, journeyed on, patiently questioning all he met. Soon he perceived a cow leisurely walking in front of him, and, mindful of the oracle, he ceased his search and followed her. Urged by curiosity, many adventurers joined him on the way, and, when the cow at last lay down in the land since called Bœotia, they all promised to aid Cadmus, their chosen leader, to found their future capital, which was to be called Thebes.

Founding of Thebes.

Parched with thirst after their long walk, the men then hastened to a neighboring spring, but, to Cadmus’ surprise, time passed and still they did not return. Armed with his trusty sword, he finally went down to the spring to discover the cause of their delay, and found that they had all been devoured by a huge dragon, which lived in the hollow. The prince raised his sword to avenge their death, and dealt the dragon such a deadly blow upon the head, that he put an immediate end to its existence.

[48] While Cadmus stood there contemplating his lifeless foe, a voice bade him extract the dragon’s teeth, and sow them in the ground already broken for his future city. No human being was within sight: so Cadmus knew the order proceeded from the immortal gods, and immediately prepared to obey it. The dragon’s teeth were no sooner planted, than a crop of giants sprang from the soil, full grown, and armed to the teeth. They were about to fall upon Cadmus, when the same voice bade him cast a stone in the midst of their close-drawn phalanx. Cadmus, seeing the giants were almost upon him, and that no time was to be lost, quickly threw a stone. The effect produced was almost instantaneous; for the giants, each fancying it had been thrown by his neighbor, began fighting among themselves. In a few minutes the number of giants was reduced to five, who sheathed their bloodstained weapons, and humbly tendered their services to Cadmus. With their aid, the foundations of the city were laid; but their labor was not very arduous, as the gods caused some of the public buildings to rise up out of the ground, all complete, and ready for use.