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18 April 2012 @ 12:50 pm
100 Myths • 01| Cadmus and the Sown Men  
(I know I was going to do Hades and Persephone, but I've been reading up on the Cadmus myth so much lately that it's monopolized my brain. So here.)

Once upon a time, an unsuspecting lad by the Cadmus was sent out to search for his sister, with an admonition from his father not to return until he had. (Being that his brothers had received the same message, this was awkward and unfair, as they only had the one sister.)

But Cadmus was the smart one, and after some questionable marriage detours and general frolicking about, he took himself off to Delphi to have a chat with the Oracle there.

But Oracles, especially the Oracle at Delphi, have a funny way of going 'Oh, sorry, what did you ask? No, screw that. Your entire life story is about to change. Follow this cow.'

No, really.

The Oracle told him to follow a cow.

More specifically, she told him to follow a cow, and when it finally stopped to rest, that would be where he would found his city. (Sister? What sister? No, forget her. Zeus made off with her in full-on steer seduction mode, you really don't want to know what went down.)

As promised, there was a cow, and Cadmus followed the cow, over hill and dale until it grew tired and had a lie-down, just as predicted.

So, here is where I should found a great city, Cadmus thought.

Because Cadmus was the smart one, and probably a distant ancestor of Good Guy Greg, he decided to sacrifice the cow to Athena, for the wisdom and strength he would need. He sent his men (every hero has ambiguous men following him around) to a nearby spring to fetch water for the sacrifice, and he sat down and leaned against the tired sow and contemplated what the hell he'd gotten himself into.

An hour passed.

And then another.

Okay, really, the spring wasn't that far away.

Cadmus was the smart one, so he made sure to bring his sword on his way to the spring to see just what the hell had happened to his long-time peons buddies.

Now, this is the greatest part of the Cadmus myth. You might've heard it as The Founding of Thebes, Cadmus and the Dragon's Teeth, Cadmus and the Sown Men. In every rendition, this part of the story goes the same way. "So then Cadmus killed the dragon, and - "



So then Cadmus killed the dragon.


Oh fuck is that a dragon? FUCK THAT. DEATH. DEATH BE UPON YE, DRAGON.

Like, shit. Whole entire myths are built around the actual process of slaying a dragon. Cadmus? FUCK NO. He killed that shit so fast it wasn't even memorable.

The sheer size of his balls (clearly visible from outer space/Olympus) sent Athena popping down to say hi, sup, what now, big damn hero?

And you know what he was worried about?

"Uh, I can't build a city on my own."

Excuse me, you just slayed a motherfucking dragon. I'm pretty sure you can do anything. But Athena told him to sow the dragon's teeth into the ground, and he did so, because when a god tells you to do something you damn well do it, unless it's Zeus because let me assure you, you don't know where that thing has been.

He sowed the dragon's teeth into the ground, watered them with the blood of a hundred baby dragons (...okay not really), and waited. Suddenly, from each of the planted teeth, a goddamn warrior appeared, bursting out of the ground and armed to the teeth (ha) and looking every bit as vicious and bloodthirsty and cripplingly badass as the dragon they had spawned from.

Cadmus went to go hide in a ditch, because he was the smart one, and smart men who killed dragons knew when discretion was the better part of valor. He found a stone, aimed carefully, and chucked it - right in the center of all those dragon-born fighting machines. They fell upon each other like desperate starving beasts.

Cadmus waited until there were only five left - five of the fiercest, most cunning, bravest, most stubborn, and smartest warriors he'd ever seen. He stepped among them and quelled their anger with the sheer force of his enormous cojones, recruited them to his cause, and with their help he founded the city of Thebes.

Because one epically badass man wasn't enough, but six? Oh, definitely.

And the jury's still out on whether he actually ever did sacrifice that cow.
(Deleted comment)
telly telly bo bellylusimeles on April 18th, 2012 06:13 pm (UTC)
Oh my god, I am laughing so hard at your interpretation of this myth. I LOVE IT. Cadmus was always one of those myths I just sort of personally glazed over back in Classics 204 or whatever the course code was, but you make it so much more interesting here.
➵ she walks in starlight: pjo / that which we representigrab on April 18th, 2012 06:34 pm (UTC)
Cadmus is the most unsung badass ever. I fully plan to tell a hundred myths about unsung badasses and/or surprise gay.
telly telly bo bellylusimeles on April 18th, 2012 06:35 pm (UTC)
I can't wait.
Tove :)twissie on April 18th, 2012 09:17 pm (UTC)
... this is brilliant! :D I'm looking forward to your next post in this challenge already~
Kirii: Heaven Forbid // Apolloxaefryl on April 19th, 2012 07:54 am (UTC)
I like your version the best of the versions I've seen. *applauds*
Queerlyqueerlyobscure on April 19th, 2012 01:56 pm (UTC)
This is a significantly more interesting retelling than any I've read before. I find that both Greek and Roman founding-myths are kind of strangely... understated, I guess? I assume that they're more impressive if you're in the city in question at the time and therefore the emphasis on how amazing they are is less important? Maybe?

I do like that this follows the Greek tradition of the hero getting terminally distracted, too. I'm pretty sure Odysseus just went out for milk...
➵ she walks in starlight: infected / but i miss youigrab on April 20th, 2012 02:46 am (UTC)
I like taking apart the bones of myths that have survived, analyze different sources and see what they interpret different images to be... and then think about it in terms of 'well what if this was actually happening, how would this person be feeling, what would explain these things?'

basically, i like to take things that seem boring, and try to figure what human component strikes a chord and makes it lasting.
Carla M. Leecarlamlee on April 20th, 2012 02:41 am (UTC)
Found this through the 100 Things sign up post, and I am so glad I did, because this is amazing. AMAZING. Seriously, best version I've ever read, it's left me grinning and laughing and just generally full of joy. Thank you for writing this awesome post.
➵ she walks in starlight: pjo / LATIN MOTHERFUCKERigrab on April 20th, 2012 02:43 am (UTC)
:D thank you! keep watching for more~~~ including many varied and sundry pantheons.
Lordeslordes on April 20th, 2012 09:58 am (UTC)
I was laughing all the way through this story. The way you tell it is just too funny and 9 out of 10 times those were my reactions as well..

Good guy greg? BRILLIANT.

Marry me xD