HARMONIA was the goddess of harmony and concord. She was a daughter of Ares and Aphrodite and as such presided over both marital harmony, soothing strife and discord, and harmonious action of soldiers in war. Late Greek and Roman writers sometimes portrayed her as harmony in a more abstract sense--a deity who presided over cosmic balance.
Harmonia was born of Aphrodite's adulterous affair with the god Ares. She was awarded to Kadmos (Cadmus), hero and founder of Thebes, in a wedding attended by the gods. Hephaistos (Hephaestus), however, was still angry over his wife's betrayal and presented Harmonia with a cursed necklace, dooming her descendants to endless tragedy.
Following a string of family catastrophes the couple emmigrated to Illyria where they battled various local tribes to found a new kingdom. Later the pair were transformed into serpents by the gods and carried off the Islands of the Blessed to live in peace.
In ancient Greek vase painting Harmonia appears in two scenes--firstly as the bride of Kadmos and secondly as a goddess in the retinue of the bridal Aphrodite. Harmonia's opposite number was Eris (Strife).
FAMILY OF HARMONIA
[1.1] ARES & APHRODITE (Hesiod Theogony 933, Apollodorus 3.25, Pausanias 9.5.2, Diodorus Siculus 4.2.1 & 5.48.2, Hyginus Preface, Statius Thebaid 2.265, Nonnus Dionysiaca 3.373)
[1.2] APHRODITE (Aeschylus Suppliants 1035)
[2.1] ZEUS & ELEKTRA (Diodorus Siculus 5.48.2)
[1.1] INO, SEMELE, AGAUE, AUTONOE, POLYDOROS (by Kadmos) (Hesiod Theogony 975, Apollodorus 3.25, Diodorus Siculus 4.2.1, Hyginus Fabulae 179, Nonnus Dionysiaca 5.88)
[1.2] INO, SEMELE (by Kadmos) (Pausanias 9.5.2)
HARMO′NIA (Harmonia), a daughter of Ares and Aphrodite, or, according to others, of Zeus and Electra, the daughter of Atlas, in Samothrace. When Athena assigned to Cadmus the government of Thebes, Zeus gave him Harmonia for his wife, and all the gods of Olympus were present at the marriage. Cadmus on that day made her a present of a peplus and a necklace, which he had received either from Hephaestus or from Europa. (Apollod. iii. 4. § 2.) Other traditions stated that Harmonia received this necklace (hormor) from some of the gods, either from Aphrodite or Athena. (Diod. iv. 48, v. 49; Pind. Pyth. iii. 167; Stat. Theb. ii. 266; comp. Hes. Theog. 934; Hom. Hymn. in Apoll. 195.) Those who described Harmonia as a Samothracian related that Cadmus, on Iris voyage to Samothrace, after being initiated in the mysteries, perceived Harmonia, and carried her off with the assistance of Athena. When Cadmus was obliged to quit Thebes, Harmonia accompanied him. When they came to the Encheleans, they assisted them in their war against the Illyrians, and conquered the enemy. Cadmus then became king of the Illyrians, but afterwards he and Harmonia were metamorphosed into dragons and transferred to Elysium; or, according to others, they were carried thither in a chariot drawn by dragons. (Apollod. iii. 5. § 4; Eurip. Bacch. 1233; Ov. Met. iv. 562, &c.) Harmonia is renowned in ancient story chiefly on account of the fatal necklace she received on her wedding day. Polyneices, who inherited it, gave it to Eriphyle, that she might persuade her husband, Amphiaraus, to undertake the expedition against Thebes. (Apollod. iii. 6. § 2 ; Schol. ad Pind. Pyth. iii. 167.) Through Alcmaeon, the son of Eriphyle, the necklace came into the hands of Arsinoë, next into those of the sons of Phegeus, Pronous and Agenor, and lastly into those of the sons of Alcomaeon, Amphoterus and Acarnan, who dedicated it in the temple of Athena Pronoea at Delphi. (Apollod. iii. 7. §§ 5-7.) The necklace had wrought mischief to all who had been in possession of it, and it continued to do so even after it was dedicated at Delphi. Phayllus, the tyrant, stole it from the temple to gratify his mistress, the wife of Ariston. She wore it for a time, but at last her youngest son was seized with madness, and set fire to the house, in which she perished with all her treasures. (Athen. vi. p. 232; Parthen. Erot. 25.)
Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.
CLASSICAL LITERATURE QUOTES
THE STORY OF HARMONIA
Hesiod, Theogony 933 (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C.) :
"Also Kytherea (Cytherea) [Aphrodite] bare to Ares . . . Harmonia whom high-spirited Kadmos (Cadmus) made his wife."
Hesiod, Theogony 975 ff :
"And Harmonia, the daughter of golden Aphrodite, bare to Kadmos (Cadmus) Ino and Semele and fair-cheeked Agaue (Agave) and Autonoe whom long haired Aristaios (Aristaeus) wedded, and Polydoros (Polydorus) also in rich-crowned Thebe."
Theognis, Fragment 1. 15 (trans. Gerber) (Greek elegiac C6th B.C.) :
"Mousai (Muses) and Kharites (Charites, Graces), daughters of Zeus, who came once to the wedding of Kadmos (Cadmus) [and Harmonia] and sang the lovely verse, ‘What is beautiful is loved, what is not beautiful is not loved.’ This is the verse that went through your immortal lips."
Pindar, Pythian Ode 3. 86 ff (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
"Yet a life free from care came neither to Peleus Aiakos' (Aeacus') son, nor to Kadmos (Cadmus) that godlike king; though they of all men won, so men say, the highest bliss, who heard the Mousai in golden diadems chanting their songs upon the mountain and within the seven gates of Thebes, when one took for his bride Harmonia, the dark-eyed maid, the other glorious Thetis, daughter of wise Nereus. And the gods shared their marriage feasts, and seated upon golden thrones beside them they saw the royal children of Kronos (Cronus), and received from them their wedding-gifts: and by the grace of Zeus were from their former toils uplifted, and peace was in their hearts established.
Yet at another time one of them by the bitter woes of his three daughters saw himself stripped bare of all his happiness, what though to one, Thyone [Semele] the white-armed maiden, Zeus the almighty father came down to her to share her lovely bed."
Pindar, Fragment 29 (trans. Sandys) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :
"Shall we sing of . . . the bridal of white-armed Harmonia."
Pindar, Dithyrambs Heracles the Bold :
"Kadmos (Cadmus) by high design won sage Harmonia, as his wedded wife, who obeyed the voice of Zeus, and became the mother of Semele famed among men."
Euripides, Bacchae 1346 ff (trans. Vellacott) (Greek tragedy C5th B.C.) :
"[The god Dionysos addresses old King Kadmos (Cadmus) of Thebes :] ‘Now Kadmos, hear what suffering Fate appoints for you. You shall transmute your nature, and become a serpent. Your wife Harmonia, whom her father Ares gave to you, a mortal, likewise shall assume the nature of beasts, and live a snake. The oracle of Zeus foretells that you, at the head of a barbaric horde, shall with your wife drive forth a pair of heifers yoked, and with your countless army destroy many cities; but when they plunder Loxias' oracle, they shall find a miserable homecoming. However, Ares shall at last deliver both you and Harmonia, and grant you immortal life among the blessed gods.’"
Euripides, Bacchae 1353 ff :
"[Kadmos (Cadmus) addresses his daughter Agaue (Agave) :] ‘I must set forth from home and live in barbarous lands; further than that, it is foretold that I shall lead a mixed barbarian horde to Hellas. And my wife, Harmonia, Ares' daughter, and I too, must take the brutish form of serpents; and I am to lead her thus at the head of an armed force, to desecrate the tombs and temples of our native land. I am to reach no respite from this curse; I may not even cross the downward stream of Akheron (Acheron) to find peace in death.’"
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 25 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Zeus gave him [Kadmos (Cadmus)] Harmonia, daughter of Aphrodite and Ares, as a wife. And all the gods left the sky for a wedding feast in the Kadmeia (Cadmeia), where they sang hymns. Kadmos gave Harmonia a robe and the necklace fashioned by Hephaistos (Hephaestus), which some say Hephaistos gave to Kadmos, although Pherekydes (Pherecydes) [Greek poet C6th B.C.] says that Europe received it from Zeus and gave it to Kadmos. Kadmos had as daughters Autonoe, Ino, Semele, and Aguae (Agave), and one son Polydoros (Polydorus)."
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 39 :
"Kadmos (Cadmus) and Harmonia left Thebes and went to the Enkhelean (Enchelean) people. They were being harassed by the Illyrians, and learned from the god through an oracle that they would overpower the Illyrians if they had Kadmos and Harmonia as their leaders. Trusting this, they made these two their leaders in the campaign, and did indeed defeat the Illyrians. Kadmos ruled the Illyrians, and fathered a son named Illyrios, Later on, both he and Harmonia were turned into serpents, and were sent by Zeus out to the Elysian field."
Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 4. 518(trans. Rieu) (Greek epic C3rd B.C.) :
"By the deep and dark Illyrian river, where Harmonia and Kadmos (Cadmus) were buried."
Callimachus, Fragment 104 (from Strabo 1. 46) (trans. Trypanis) (Greek poet C3rd B.C.) :
"Some [men] by the Illyrian waters stayed their oars and beside the stone of fair-haired Harmonia of the Snake (Ophios), they founded a town [Polai]."
Callimachus, Aetia Fragment 11 :
"By the Illyrian Strait . . . near the stone of the snake, fair Harmonia."
Parthenius, Love Romances 32 (trans. Gaselee) (Greek poet C1st B.C.) :
"Epiros (Epirus), the daughter of Ekhion (Echion) had left Boiotia (Boeotia) and was journeying with [her grandparents] Harmonia and Kadmos (Cadmus), bearing the remains of [her brother] Pentheus; dying there [in Khaonia (Chaonia)], she was buried in this thicket. That is the reason that country was named Epiros, after her."
Strabo, Geography 7. 7. 8 (trans. Jones) (Greek geographer C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"It was the descendants of Kadmos (Cadmus) and Harmonia who ruled over the Enkheleii (Enchelii) [of Illyria]; and the scenes of the stories told about them are still pointed out there."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 3. 18. 10 - 16 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"[Among the scenes depicted on the throne of Apollon at Amyklai (Amyclae) near Sparta :] There are also reliefs of . . . the gods are bringing gifts to the marriage of Harmonia."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 5. 2 :
"Kadmos (Cadmus) made a brilliant marriage, if, as the Greek legend says, he indeed took to wife a daughter of Aphrodite and Ares. His daughters too have made him a name; Semele was famed for having a child by Zeus, Ino for being a divinity of the sea."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 12. 3 :
"They point out the ruins of the bridal-chamber [at Thebes in Boiotia (Boeotia)] of Harmonia, and of one which they say was Semele's; into the latter they allow no man to step even now. Those Greeks who allow that the Mousai (Muses) sang at the wedding of Harmonia, can point to the spot in the market-place where it is said that the goddesses sang."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 16. 3 :
"At Thebes are three wooden images of Aphrodite, so very ancient that they are actually said to be votive offerings of Harmonia, and the story is that they were made out of the wooden figure-heads on the ships of Kadmos (Cadmus)."
Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 5. 48. 2 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
"There were born in that land [of Samothrake (Samothrace)] to Zeus and Elektra (Electra), who was one of the Atlantides [Pleiades], Dardanos (Dardanus) and Iasion and Harmonia . . . Kadmos (Cadmus), the son of Agenor, came in the course of his quest for Europe [Europa, his sister abducted by Zeus,] to the Samothrakians, and after participating in the initiation [into the mysteries of Samothrake] he married Harmonia, who was the sister of Iasion and not, as the Greeks recount in their mythologies, the daughter of Ares. This wedding of Kadmos and Harmonia was the first, we are told, for which the gods provided the marriage-feast, and Demeter, becoming enamoured of Iasion, presented him with the fruit of the corn, Hermes gave a lyre, Athene the renowned necklace and a robe and a flute, and Elektra the sacred rites of the Great Mother of the Gods [Rhea], as she is called, together with cymbals and kettledrums and the instruments of the ritual; and Apollon played upon the lyre and the Mousai (Muses) upon their flutes, and the rest of the gods spoke them fair and gave the pair their aid in the celebration of the weding. After this Kadmos, they say, in accordance with the oracle he had received, founded Thebes in Boiotia (Boeotia)."
Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 2. 1 :
"When he [Kadmos (Cadmus)] arrived in Boiotia (Boeotia), in obedience to the oracle which he had received he founded the city of Thebes. Here he made his home and marrying Harmonia, the daughter of Aphrodite, he begat by her Semele, Ino, Autonoe, Agaue (Agave), and Polydoros."
Philostratus the Elder, Imagines 1. 18 (trans. Fairbanks) (Greek rhetorician C3rd A.D.) :
"[From a description of an ancient Greek painting depicting the death of Pentheus :] Harmonia and Kadmos (Cadmus) are there, but not as they were before; for already they have become drakones (dragon-serpents) from the thighs down and already scales are forming on them. Their feet are gone, their hips are gone, and the change of form is creeping upward. In astonishment they embrace each other as though holding on to what is left of the body, that this at least may not escape them."
Ptolemy Hephaestion, New History Book 1 (summary from Photius, Myriobiblon 190) (trans. Pearse) (Greek mythographer C1st to C2nd A.D.) :
"He [Hephaestion] says that Kadmos (Cadmus) and Harmonia were changed into lions."
[N.B. In myth Atalanta and Hippomenes were the couple usually transformed into lions, while Kadmos and Harmonia were transformed into serpents, cf. Ovid, Metamorphoses.]
Pseudo-Hyginus, Preface (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"From Venus [Aphrodite] and Mars [Ares] [were born] : Harmonia, and Formido [Deimos."
Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 148 :
"When Mars [Ares] came to the rendezvous, he together with Venus [Aphrodite] fell into the snare so that he could not extricate himself. When Sol [Helios the Sun] had reported this to Vulcan [Hephaistos (Hephaestus)], he saw them lying there naked, and summoned all the gods . . . From their embrace Harmonia was born, and to her Minerva [Athene] and Vulcan [Hephaistos] gave a robe ‘dipped in crimes’ as a gift. Because of this, their descendants are clearly marked as ill-fated."
Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 159 :
"Children of Mars [Ares]. Harmonia by Venus [Aphrodite]."
Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 179 :
"Cadmus, son of Agenor and Argiope, by Harmonia, daughter of Mars [Ares] and Venus [Aphrodite], begat four daughters--Semele, Ino, Agave, Autonoe--and a son, Polydorus."
Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 6 :
"Cadmus, son of Agenor and Argiope, along with Harmonia his wife, daughter of Venus [Aphrodite] and Mars [Ares], after their children had been killed, were turned into snakes in the region of Illyria by the wrath of Mars, because Cadmus had slain the dragon, guardian of the fountain of Castalia."
Ovid, Metamorphoses 3. 131 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Now Thebae (Thebes) stood strong; now Cadmus might have seemed blessed in his exile. He had won for bride [Harmonia] the child of Mars [Ares] and Venus [Aphrodite]. And besides from such a glorious wife a dynasty of so many sons and daughters, grandsons too, dear links of love, by now indeed young men."
Ovid, Metamorphoses 4. 565 ff :
"Cadmus . . . overcome by sorrow and his train of troubles and so many warning signs, he left the city, Thebae (Thebes), that he had founded, as if that city's fortune, not his own, were crushing him, and with his pilgrim wife [Harmonia], after long wanderings reached Illyria. And now, worn by their woes and weight of years, the two were talking of their early times, the fortune of their house and their said toils, and Cadmus said : ‘Was that a sacred Snake my spear transfixed when I had made my way from Sidon's walls and scattered on the soil the Serpent's teeth, those seeds of magic power? If it is he the jealous gods avenge with wrath so surely aimed, I pray that I may be a Snake and stretch along the ground.’
Even as he spoke he was a snake that stretched along the ground. Over his coarsened skin he felt scales form and bluish markings spot his blackened body. Prone upon his breast he fell; his legs were joined, and gradually they tapered to a long smooth pointed tail. He still had arms; the arms he had he stretched, and, as his tears poured down still human cheeks, ‘Come, darling wife [Harmonia]!’ he cried, ‘my poor, poor wife! Touch me, while something still is left of me, and take my hand while there's a hand to take, before the whole of me becomes a snake.’
More he had meant to say, but suddenly his tongue was split in tow; words failed his will; and every time he struggled to protest, he hissed; that was the voice that nature left. Beating her naked breast, his wife cried out ‘Stay, Cadmus, stay! Throw off that monstrous shape! Cadmus, what now? Your feet, your shoulders, hands where are they? And your colour and your shape, and, while I'm speaking, everything? Ye Gods, why don't you turn me too into a snake?’
He licked his poor wife's cheeks, and glided down to her dear breasts, as if familiar there, and coiled, embracing, round the neck he knew. All who were there--and courtiers were there--were terrified; but she caressed and stroked her crested dragon's long neck, and then suddenly there were two, their coils entwined. They crawled for cover to a copse nearby; and still, what they once were, they keeping in mind, quiet snakes, that neither shun nor harm mankind. But ample solace for their altered shape they both found in their grandson [Dionysos], conqueror of India, worshipped in the new-built shrines of Greece."
Statius, Thebaid 2. 265 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"The dread necklace of Harmonia . . . The Lemnian [Hephaistos], so they of old believed, long time distressed at Mars' [Ares'] deceit and seeing that no punishment gave hindrance to the disclosed armour [with his wife Aphrodite], and the avenging chains removed not the offence, wrought this for Harmonia [the child born of the armour] on her bridal day to be the glory of her dower . . . The work first proved its worth, when Harmonia's complaints turned to dreadful hissing, and she bore company to grovelling Cadmus, and with long trailing breast drew furrows in the Illyrian fields."
Statius, Thebaid 3. 288 ff :
"[Aphrodite addresses her lover Ares :] ‘Have I not suffered wrong enough, that my daughter [Harmonia] crawls her length upon the ground, and spews poison on the Illyrian grass [i.e. she was transformed by the god into a serpent].’"
Statius, Thebaid 4. 560 ff :
"[The seer Teiresias (Tiresias) summons the ancestral heroes of Thebes in a necromantic rite :] First from the blood-red lake doth Cadmus raise his strengthless head, and the daughter [Harmonia] of Cytherea [Venus-Aphrodite] follows hard upon her spouse, and from their head twin serpents drink."
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 1. 393 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"[Zeus asks the hero Kadmos (Cadmus) to assist in the recovery of his lightning bolts from the monster Typhoeus :] ‘If the blood of Zeus is in you, and the breed of Inakhian Io, bewitch Typhon's wits by the sovereign remedy of your guileful pipes and their tune! I will give you ample recompense for your service, two gifts: I will make you saviour of the world's harmony, and the husband of the Lady Harmonia.’"
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 2. 660 ff :
"Zeus Kronides (Cronides) did not forget Kadmos (Cadmus) the mastersinger [who had helped him recover his lightning bolts from the monster Typhoeus] ‘. . . Kadmos, you have crowned the gates of Olympos with your pipes! Then I will myself celebrate your bridal [to Harmonia] with heaven's own Harp. I will make you goodson to Ares and Kythereia (Cytherea) [Aphrodite]; gods shall be guests at your wedding-feast on the earth! I will visit your house : what more could you want, than to see the King of the Blessed touching your table?’"
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 3. 38 ff :
"A violent wind drove him [Kadmos (Cadmus)] over a roaring passage to Samos [Samothrake (Samothrace)] . . . where Harmonia still a virgin awaited him safely . . . Then Kypris (Cypris) [Aphrodite] spread out a back of silent calm where no ship could sail, for she meant to unite Harmonia to her mate."
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 3. 84 ff :
"As he [Kadmos (Cadmus) on the island of Samothrake] was going towards Harmonia's house, he was met by Peitho (Persuasion), Lady of the bride-chamber. She had the form of a mortal woman, and like a household drudge, she carried a weight pressed against her bosom by her arm, a rounded silver jug which she had filled with drink from the spring: a presage of things to come, since they drench the bridegroom by time-honoured custom with life-giving water in the bath before the marriage. He was now close by the city . . . Peitho covered Kadmos with a dark mist from heels to head, and led him through the unseeing city in search of the king's hospitable hall, guiding his way by the Paphian's [Aphrodite's] command. There some bird, perched under the delicate shadow of a gray olive-tree,--it was a crow, she opened her loud beak inspired, and reproached the young man for a laggard, that the bridegroom walked to his bride Harmonia with dawdling foot. She flapt her wings and rallied him soundly : ‘So Kadmos is a baby, or only a novice in love! Eros (Love) is a quick one, and knows nothing of slow bride-grooms! Forgive me, Peitho (Persuasion)--your Kadmos dallies, Aphrodite is in haste! Hot Eros (Love) calls you, bridegroom--you plod along like a laggard, and why? . . . Peitho is your guide, not Artemis, Peitho the friend of marriage, the nurse of the baby Erotes (Loves). Cease your toiling and moiling, enjoy Harmonia and leave Europa to her bull! Make hast, and Elektra (Electra) will welcome you; from her hands sure enough you will be laden with a cargo of wedded love, if you leave the business part of the delights to Aphrodite. She is the Kyprian's (Cyprian's) daughter, guarded for your bride-chamber, another Kypris (Cypris) for you to receive. You will thank the crow, and you will call me the bird of marriage, the prophet of the Erotes! No, I am wrong, Kypris inspired me; the Paphian made me foretell your nuptials . . .’
Kadmos walked along the winding highroad; and when the king's allhospitable court came into view, far-seen upon its lofty pillars, Peitho pointed a finger to indicate the corresponding words in her mind, and by this voiceless herald showed the house of shining artistry: then the divinity in another shape rose into the sky, shooting through it with winged shoe."
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 3. 373 - 4. 292 :
"Father Zeus sent his quick messenger Maia's son [Hermes] on outspread wings to Elektra's (Electra's) house, that he might offer Harmonia to Kadmos (Cadmus) for the harmony of wedlock--that maiden immigrant from heaven, whom Ares the wife-thief begat in secret love with Aphrodite. The mother did not nurse it--she was ashamed of the baby which told its own tale of the furtive bed; but away from the bosom of the sky she carried the suckling, lying in her arm, to the fostering house of Elektra [the Queen of Samothrake], when the childbed Horai (Horae, Seasons) had just delivered her baby still wet, when her breasts were tight and swollen with the gushing white sap. Elektra received the bastard daughter with equal rights, and joined the newborn girl on one breast with her newborn Emathion, held with equal love and care her two different nurslings in her arm. So Elektra then with loving breast foster-mothered her brace of newborn babes, the boy and the girl, and cherished them with equal care. Often she pressed to her with open hand and loving arm her baby son and his age-mate girl, on this side and that taking turns of the sap from her rich breast; and she set on her knees the manly boy with the womanly girl, letting out the gold of her lowered gown so as to join thigh parted wide from neighbour thigh; or singing songs for a sleep-charm, lulled both her babies to slumber with foster-mother's art, while she stretched her arm enclosing the children's necks, made her own knee their bed, fluttered the flap of her garment fanning the two faces, to keep the little ones cool, and quenched the waves of heat as the hand-made wind poured outs its breath against it.
While Kadmos sat near the prudent queen, into the house came Hermes in the shape of a young man, unforeseen, uncaught, eluding the doorkeeper with his robber's foot . . . Into a corner of the house he led her in surprise to tell his secrets and spoke in the language of men : ‘. . . From heaven I have been sent by your bedfellow [Zeus], the guests' protector ruling in the heights, on behalf of your own god-fearing guest. Then do you also obey your Kronion, and let your daughter Harmonia go along with her yearsmate Kadmos as his bride, without asking for bridal gifts, Grant this grant to Zeus and the Blessed ones; for when the immortals were in distress, this stranger saved them all by his music [bewitching the monster Typhoeus]. This man has helped your bedfellow in trouble, this man opened the day of freedom for Olympos! Let not your girl bewitch you with mother-loving groans, but give her in marriage to Kadmos our Saviour, in obedience to Kronion (Cronion) [Zeus] and Ares and Kythereia [Aphrodite].’
With these words, finerod Hermes departed, fanning his light wings, and the flat of his extended shoes oared him as quick as the winds of heaven in their course. Nor did the Thrakian (Thracian) lady [Elektra (Electra)], the pilot of the Kabeiroi (Cabeiri), disobey his bidding; but she had respect to Zeus, and curving her extended fingers with a significant movement towards Ares' unwedded daughter, she beckoned Harmonia by this clever imitation of speech. The other strained the answering gleam from her eyelids, and saw the round of Elektra's face unsmiling, as her cheeks like silent heralds boded the heavy load of a new unspoken distress. The maiden leapt up and followed her mother into her high-built chamber. Her mother rolled back the bolt of a sevennookshotten chamber sealed with many seals, and crossed the doorstone: her knees trembled restlessly in loving anxiety and fear. She caught and lifted the girl's hand and rosy arm with her own snow-white hand--you might almost say that you saw white-armed Hera holding Hebe's (Youth's) hand.
But when treading the floor with her crimson shoes she reached the farthest curve of the resplendent room, Atlas' daughter seated the sorrowful maiden upon a handsome chair; then she in her turn sank upon a silver-shining stool, and declared Kronion's [Zeus'] message to the incredulous girl, and explained everything which she had heard from the Olympian herald disguised in human form. When the maiden heard of this marriage of much wandering and this unstable husband, this homeless man under their roof, she declared she would have no stranger, and refused all that Kadmos' patron proposed on Zeus his father's behalf, that cattle-drover Hermes! She would rather have one of her own city as husband, and away with a carryhouse mate and a wedding without wedding-gifts! Then clasping her foster-mother's hand with her won sorrowing palm, bathed in tears she burst into reproachful speech : ‘Mother mine, what has possessed you to cast off your own girl? Do you join your own daughter to some upstart fellow like this? What gift will this sailor man put into my hand? Will he give me the ship's hawser for bride-price? I did not know you were for marriage with a vagrant--you, my kind nurse! I have others to woo me, and better ones, of our own city: why must I have a bedfellow with empty hands, naked and bare, a foreign vagrant, a runaway from his father? But you will say he helped your husband Kronion. Why did not the man get from Zeus an Olympian gift of honour, if indeed he was defender of Olympos, as you say? Why did not Hera the consort of Zeus, betroth virgin Hebe to the champion of Zeus? Your husband Zeus who rules in the heights needs no Kadmos. Kronides (Cronides) forgive me--divine Hermes lied in what he said about Father Zeus. I don't know how I can believe that he neglected furious Ares the pilot of warfare, and called in a mortal man to be partner in the game--he the master of world and sky! Here is a great marvel--he locked up all those Titanes (Titans) in the pit, and then wanted Kadmos, to destroy only one! You know how my fathers wedded--two had their sisters. Zeus my father's father possessed the bed of his sister Hera, by the family rule of marriage; both the parents of Harmonia, Ares and Kythereia (Cytherea) [Aphrodite], who mounted one bed, were of one father, another pair of blood-kindred. What miserable necessity! Sisters may have a brother for bedfellow, I must have a banished man!’
As she spoke, her mother in distress wiped the raindrops from that mourning face: torn between two, she pitied Harmonia and shrank from the threats of Zeus. But now tricky-minded Aphrodite girt her body in the heart-bewitching cestus-belt, and clothing herself in the love-robe of Peitho (Persuasion) she entered Harmonia's fragrant chamber. She had doffed her heavenly countenance, and put on a form like Peisinoe, a girl of the neighbourhood. As though in love with Kadmos and suffering from some hidden sickness, with but little brightness in her pale face, she chased away the maids; and when Harmonia was alone she sat by her side and said as in shame with deceitful tongue :
‘Happy girl! What a handsome stranger you have in the house! What a man to court you, most blessed of women! What a lovely bedfellow you will see, that no other maiden has won! Surely his blood comes from Assyria! That must be his home, beside the river of that enchanting Adonis, for that lovely young man came from Libanos (Lebanon) where Kythereia dances. No, I was wrong! I don't suppose any mortal womb bred Kadmos; no, he is sprung from Zeus and he has concealed his stock! I know where this young Olympian comes from. If Titan Atlas ever begat Elektra as Maia's sister, here's cousin Hermes without wings come as husband for Harmonia. Then that's why we sing hymns to Kadmilos [Cadmilus, i.e. Hermes]! He has only changed his heavenly shape and still he is called Kadmos. Or if he is some other god in human shape, perhaps Apollon is Emathion's guest in this house. World-famed maiden, you are more blessed than your mother for Olympian desire and Olympian marriage! Here is a great marvel! Zeus Allwise wedded Elektra in secret--Apollon himself woes Harmonia in the light! Happy girl, whom Far-shooter desired! I only wish Apollon would be as eager for marriage with Peisinoe too! I don't say no to Apollon, like Daphne, I can tell you! I will not feel like Harmonia! No, I will leave my inheritance and house and the parents whom I love--I will go on my travels to marriage with Apollon! I remember once a carving like him. For I once went with our father into the house of oracle, and there I saw the Pythian image; and when I saw your vagrant, I thought I saw the statue of Phoibos again in this place. But you will say, Phoibos has a goldgleaming diadem. Kadmos is gold in all his body! If you like, take all my serfs innumerable--for him, I will put in your hands all my gold and silver, I will give royal robes of the Tyrian Sea, and the house of my fathers, if you like; accept, if I dare to say it, my father and mother too, accept all my waiting-women, and give me only this man for my bedfellow! Maiden, why do you tremble? You will sail the seas in the spring-time across the narrow water--but with lovely Kadmos I will traverse the infinite Okeanos (Oceanus) stream in winter! Tremble not at the heavy-rumbling briny swell, because love's cargo will be kept safe on the brine by Aphrodite daughter of the brine. Maiden, you have Kadmos, seek not the throne of Olympos! I desire not the shining Erythraian stone of the Indies [rubies], nor the all-golden tree of the Hesperides, I delight not in the amber of the Heliades, so much as one shadowy night in which this vagrant shall hold Peisinoe in his arms. If you fetch your lineage from Ares, from Aphrodite, your provident mother has found you a marriage well worthy of theirs. I have never beheld such a flower; spring itself blooms in Kadmos by nature's gift. I have seen his rosefinger hand, I have seen his glance distilling sweet honey; the cheeks of his lovebegetting face are red as roses; his feet go twinkling, ruddy brown in the middle, and changing colour at the ends into shining snow; his arms are lilywhite. I will pass the hair, or I may provoke Phoibos (Phoebus) [Apollon] by blaming the hue of his Therapnaian iris. Whenever he moved his full eyes with their heart-gladdening glance, there was the full moon shining with sparkling light; when he shook his hair and bared his neck, there appeared the morning star! I would not speak of his lips; but Peitho (Persuasion) dwells in his mouth, the ferry of the Erotes (Loves), and pours out honey-sweet speech. Aye, the Kharites (Charites, Graces) manage his whole body: hands and fingers I shrink to judge, or I may find fault with the whiteness of milk.
‘Accept me for your companion, unhappy me! But if I touch the boy's right hand and stoke his tunic I may find comfortable physic for my secret sickness. I may see his neck bare, or press a finger as if unconsciously while he sits; I could gladly die, if he would only slip a willing hand into the orb of my bosom and press my two breasts, and hold his closed lips upon my lips to delight me with brushing kisses. But if I could still hold the boy in my arms, I will pass even to Akheron (Acheron) the River of Pain of my own free will, and with rapture even amid the many lamentations of all-forgetting Lethe, I will tell the dead of my fate, to awaken pity and envy alike in merciless Persephoneia (Persephone); I will teach those grace-breathing kisses to women unhappy in love who died of that lovely fire, I will make the dead jealous, if women still grudge at the Paphian [Aphrodite] in Lethe after their doom.
‘I will go with you if you wish, even as your companion, I tremble not before unfamiliar wanderings. Hard-hearted girl, become the lawful wife to Kadmos; I would be chambermaid to you both, Harmonia and husband.--But again I tremble before you, lest some time I awaken anger and jealousy for your bed tho' you fain would hide it . . . If you are not jealous to find me a physic for my desire, give me this bedfellow for one dawn, yes I beseech you, for the course of one night too; if you grudge it, kill me with your own hand, that I may know rest from carrying this always night and day, fed on the secret places of my heart, this mighty implacable fire!’
She said her say, and with her girdle drove bedshy Harmonia to her voyage, stung as with a gladfly and now obedient to desire. She changed her mind, and with divided purpose wished both to have the stranger and to live in her own land. So smitten to the heart with the sting, she spoke : ‘Ah me, who has changed my heart? Save you, my country! Farewell, Emathion and all my house! Farewell grottoes of the Kabeiroi (Cabeiri) and Korybantian (Corybantian) cliffs; never again shall I see the revelling companies of my mother's Hekate with their torches in the night. Farewell, maidenhood, I wed my sweet Kadmos! Artemis, be not shocked, I am to cross the swell of the blue brine. But you will say, the deep is pitiless; I care nothing for the maddened surges--let Harmonia and Kadmos drown together, and my mother's sea receive us both. I follow my boy, calling upon the goddesses who have wedded theirs! If my bedfellow carried me to the sunrise this voyage, I will proclaim how Orion loved Erigeneia [Eos the Dawn], and I will recall the match of Kephalos (Cephalus); if I go to the misty sunset, my comfort is Selene (the Moon) herself who felt the same for Endymion upon Latmos.’
Such words the girl uttered in mindwandering plaints, and could not be restrained, her mind ravaged with the sting of desire. With drops of grief her face was wet as she kissed Elektra's hand and eyes, her feet and head and breast, and Emathion's eyes, with shamefast lips although he was her brother. She embraced all her handmaids, and caressed lamenting the rows of the lifeless carven doors all round, her bed and the walls of her maiden chamber. Last the girl took up and kissed the dust of her country's soil.
And then Elektra took Harmonia by the hand, under the witnessing escort of the gods, and took her undowered to Kadmos as his due, wiping the streaming shower from her face. Early in the morning the traveller received the Kyprian's (Cyprian's) [Aphrodite's] daughter with an old waiting-woman, and left the house, having as the queen's gift a servant to guide him through the city to the sea.
When Mene [Selene the Moon] saw the girl following a stranger along the shore above the sea, and boiling under fiery constraint, she reproached Kypris [Aphrodite] in mocking words : ‘So you make war even upon your children, Kypris! Not even the fruit of your womb is spared by the goad of love! Don't you pity the girl you bore, hardheart? What other girl can you pity then, when you drag your own child into passion?--Then you must go wandering too, my darling. Say to your mother, Paphian's child, "Phaethon [Helios the Sun] mocks you, and Selene (the Moon) puts me to shame." Harmonia, love-tormented exile, leave to Mene (the Moon) her bridegroom Endymion, and care for your vagrant Kadmos. Be ready to endure as much trouble as I have, and when you are weary with lovebegetting anxiety, remember lovewounded Selene.’
While she was speaking, Kadmos hastened his companions over the shore. He released the back-running hawsers of the forthfaring ship, and shook out the sail to the mild spring breeze, and guided the timbered sea-car across the sea-swell . . . He remained by the steering-oar, but he kept the girl Harmonia untouched sitting on the poop, his companion . . . So Kadmos finished his voyage to Hellas (Greece) . . . Quickly he set out for the Akhaian (Achaean) cities, and left his seafaring. With Harmonia, he conveyed a swarm of seawandering companions turned travellers by land, in horsecarriages and laden wagons, on the way to the oracular sanctuaries [of Delphoi (Delphi)]."
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 5. 88 ff :
"The daughters of the Aionians [i.e. of the people of the city of Thebes] struck up Harmonia's marriage-hymn with dances: the dancing girls sand the name of the Thrakian bride, in that palace and its fine bridal chamber. The Paphian [Aphrodite] also, her lovely mother, decorated her daughter's newbuilt bower for Kadmos (Cadmus), while she sang of the god-ordained marriage; her father [Ares] danced with joy for his girl, bare and stript of his armour, a tame Ares! And laid his right arm unweaponed about Aphrodite, while he sounded the spirit of the Erotes (Loves) on his wedding-trumpet answering the panspipes: he had shaken off from his helmet head the plumes of horsehair so familiar in the battlefield, and wreathed bloodless garlands about his hair, weaving a merry song for Eros (Love). Dancing with the immortals came Ismenian Apollon to Harmonia's wedding, while he twangled a hymn of love on his sevenstring harp. The nine Mousai (Muses) too struck up a lifestirring melody: Polymnia nursingmother of the dance waved her arms, and sketched in the air an image of a soundless voice, speaking with hands and moving eyes in a graphic picture of silence full of meaning. Nike (Victory) turned a tripling foot for the pleasure of Zeus, and stood as bridesmaid crying triumph for Kadmos the god's champion; about the bridebed she wove the wedding song with her virgin voice, and moved her gliding steps in the pretty circles of the dance, while she fluttered her wings, shamesfast beside the wings of the Erotes (Loves).
A light arose, like a misnamed dawn in the evening, from the splendour no less brilliant of those gleaming torches scattered everywhere. All night long, the merry rout of untiring dancers were singing with clear voices beside the bridal chamber in happy romps; since . . . [text-missing, but probably referring to Hypnos the god of sleep] anxious for a sleepless wedding night had left his familiar wand behind, because that was the rationer of sleep. So Thebes was the Olympian dancing place; and one might see Kadmos and Zeus touching the same table! And now rose the Serpent [the constellation Draco], companion of the northern Waggon, bringing the bride-adorning season to the marriage halls, a messenger with news of things to come: for Harmonia's bridegroom along with his agemate bride was destined to change his human shape for a serpent's.
The Blessed, one after another, brought their gifts of honour to Kadmos as he hastened to the chamber. Zeus gave success in all things. Horsemaster Seabluehair [Poseidon] proffered the gifts of the sea, in honour to his sister Hera the renowned, for she was Ares mother. Hermes gave a sceptre, Ares a spear, Apollon a bow. Hephaistos lifted upon Harmonia's head a crown plumed with precious stones of many colours, a golden circlet hung over her temples. Goldenthrone Hera provided a jewel-set throne. Aphrodite wishing to delight Ares in the deep shrewdness of her mind, clasped a golden necklace showing place about the girl's blushing neck, a clever work of Hephaistos (Hephaestus) set with sparkling gems in masterly refinement [and unbeknowest to the goddess cursed by Hephaistos as punishment for her affair with Ares] . . .
Soon Harmonia yoked by the cestus-girdle that guides wedded desire, carried in her womb the seed of many children whom she brought forth soon one by one: turn by turn she was delivered of her teeming burden by the birth of daughters, after four times nine circuits had been fulfilled. First Autonoe leapt from her mother's fruitful womb, her first birthpangs after nine months' course with child. Then came Ino to be her sister, the beautiful consort of Athamas who bore him two children. Third appeared Agaue (Agave), who afterwards married with the giant stock and bore a son like to her fangform husband [Ekhion (Echion)]. Then Semele fourth of the daughters grew up, the image of the Kharites (Charites, Graces) in her lovestriking looks, preserved for Zeus; although youngest of the sisters, she alone was given by nature the prerogative of unconquerable beauty. Last of all Harmonia added a little son to the brood of sisters, and made Kadmos happy--Polydoros (Polydorus), the morning star of the Aionian [Theban] nation, younger than rosycheek Semele."
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 8. 231 ff :
"Kadmos (Cadmus) will know that heavenly harp [of Apollon] at sight, for he saw it, and heard the melodious tones, when it made music at his festal board for the wedding of Harmonia with a mortal."
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 13. 333 ff :
"Libyans . . . whose home was in the western clime, the cities of wandering Kadmos (Cadmus) near the clouds. For there on a time dwelt Kadmoscarried by contrary winds, on the voyage with his Sithonian bride Harmonia still a maiden. The rumour of her beauty bred war and armed hostile neighbours. The Libyan army named her Kharis (Charis, Grace), for the Bistonian girl bloomed like another Kharis of this world and even more dainty, and the Kharites' (Charites') Hill of Libya had its name from her. So the Maurusian people of the desert because of her beauty were stung with mad lust of robber warfare, and took arms, a horrible barbarian Ares wild with passion. But Harmonia's mate held his shield before her, grasping in hand the spear of Libyan Athena to defend his beloved wife, and put to flight the whole nation of western Aithiopians (Ethiopians), with armed Zeus as ally, with Ares and Kythereia (Cytherea) [Aphrodite].
And there as they say, by the Tritonian Lake, Kadmos the wanderer lay with rosycheek Harmonia, and the Nymphai (Nymphs) Hesperides made a song for them, and Kypris (Cypris) [Aphrodite] together with the Erotes (Loves) decked out a fine bed for the wedding, hanging in the bridal chamber golden fruit from the Nymphai's garden, a worthy lovegift for the bride; rich clusters of their leaves Harmonia and Kadmos twined through their hair, amid the abundance of their bridechamber, in place of the wedding-roses. Still more dainty the bride appeared wearing these golden gifts, the boon of golden Aphrodite. Her mother's [actually her foster mother Elektra's (Electra's)] father the stooping Libyan Atlas awoke a tune of the heavenly harp to join the revels, and with tripping foot he twirled the heavens round like a ball, while he sang a stave of harmony himself not far away. Kadmos too, in memory of the love of his wedded bride, paid his footing in the Libyan land by building a hundred cities, and he gave to each lofty walls inaccessible, with towers of stone."
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 13. 407 ff :
"For there [on the island of Samothrake (Samothrace)] Ares, Zeus and Kythereia (Cytherea) [Aphrodite] gave to Kadmos (Cadmus), the god's ally, Harmonia heaven's kin and sea's blood, to be his lawful wife without brideprice."
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 44. 106 ff :
"[As Kadmos (Cadmus) was sacrificing to Zeus :] A serpent crept with its coils, surrounding the throat of Kadmos like a garland, twining and trailing a crooked swollen collar about it in a lacing circle but doing no harm--the gentle creature crept round his head like a trailing chaplet, and his tongue licked his chin all over dribbling the friendly poison from open mouth, quite harmless; a female snake girdled the temples of Harmonia like a wreath of clusters in her yellow hair. Then Kronion (Cronion) [Zeus] turned the bodies of both snakes to stone, because Harmonia and Kadmos were destined to change their appearance and to assume the form of stone snakes, at the mouth of the snakebreading Illyrian gulf."
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 46. 253 ff :
"[Kadmos (Cadmus) laments the unhappy fates of his children:] ‘Fine bridal gifts Kronion (Cronion) [Zeus god of fate] gave me with Harmonia! They are worthy of Ares and heavenly Aphrodite. [Of the children of Kadmos and Harmonia] Ino is in the sea, Semele was burnt by Kronion, Autone mourns her horned son [Aktaion (Actaeon)], and Agaue (Agave)--what misery for Agaue! She has killed her only son, her own son untimely; and my Polydoros (Polydorus) wanders in sorrow.’"
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 46. 298 ff :
"[Agaue (Agave), daughter of Harmonia, laments :] ‘Now may even Apollon strike his harp again as before, as at the marriage feast where the gods were guests, as by Harmonia's bed, as in the bridechamber of my father Kadmos (Cadmus), let him twangle one dirge for Autonoe and Agaue both, and chant loudly of Aktaion (Actaeon) and Pentheus so quickly to perish.’"
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 46. 364 ff :
"Over the Illyrian country to the land of the Western sea he [Dionysos] sped, and banished Harmonia with Kadmos (Cadmus) her agemate, both wanderers, for whom kreeping Time had in store a change into the shape of a snaky stone."
THE CURSED NECKLACE & ROBE OF HARMONIA
Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 25 (trans. Aldrich) (Greek mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Kadmos (Cadmus) gave Harmonia a robe and the necklace [on her wedding day] fashioned by Hephaistos (Hephaestus), which some say Hephaistos gave to Kadmos, although Pherekydes (Pherecydes) [Greek poet C6th B.C.] says that Europe received it from Zeus and gave it to Kadmos."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 41. 2 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"In Kypros (Cyprus) is a city Amathos, in which is an old sanctuary of Adonis and Aphrodite. Here they say is dedicated a necklace originally given to Harmonia, but called the necklace of Eriphyle . . . the necklace given to Eriphyle was made entirely of gold, according to Homer, who says in the Odyssey :--‘Who received precious gold, the price of her own husband.’"
Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 65. 5 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
"Polyneikes (Polynices) also endeavoured to persuade the seer Amphiaraus to take part with him in the campaign against Thebes; and when the latter, because he knew in advance that he would perish if he should take part in the campaign, would not consent to do so, Polyneikes, they say, gave the golden necklace which, as the myth relates, had once been given by Aphrodite, as a present to Harmonia, to the wife of Amphiaraus, in order that she might persuade her husband to join the others as their ally."
Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 66. 3 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
"[The oracle of Apollon] replied [to Alkmaion (Alcmaeon)] that he should perform both these deeds [the punishment of his mother], not only because Eriphyle [his mother] had accepted the golden necklace in return for working the destruction of his father [Amphiaraus], but also because she had received a robe as reward for securing the death of her son. For Aphrodite, the tale is told, in ancient times had given both the necklace and a robe as presents to Harmonia, the daughter of Kadmos (Cadmus), and Eriphyle had accepted both of them, receiving the necklace from Polyneikes (Polynices) and the robe from Thersandros (Thersander), the son of Polyneikes , who had given it to her in order to induce her to persuade her son to make the campaign against Thebes."
Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 148 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"From their [Ares and Aphrodite's adulterous] embrace Harmonia was born, and to her Minerva [Athene] and Vulcan [Hephaistos (Hephaestus)] gave a robe ‘dipped in crimes’ as a gift. Because of this, their descendants are clearly marked as ill-fated."
Statius, Thebaid 2. 265 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"For thou wast wearing, Argia [at her marriage to Polyneikes (Polynices)], the ill-starred ornament of thy husband's giving, the dread necklace of Harmonia. Far back the story runs, but I will pursue the well-known tale of woes, whence came it that a new gift had such terrible power. The Lemnian [Vulcan-Hephaistos], so they of old believed, long time distressed at Mars' [Ares'] deceit and seeing that no punishment gave hindrance to the disclosed armour, and the avenging chains removed not the offence [of his affair with Hephaistos' then wife Aphrodite], wrought this for Harmonia on her bridal day to be the glory of her dower. Thereat, though taught mightier tasks, the Cyclopes labour, and the Telchines famed for their handiwork helped in friendly rivalry of their skill; but for himself the sweat of toil was heaviest. There forms he a circlet of emeralds glowing with a hidden fire, and adamant stamped with figures of ill omen, and Gorgon eyes, and embers left on the Sicilian anvil from the last shaping of a thunderbolt, and the crests that shine on the heads of green serpents; then the dolorous fruit of the Hesperides and the dread gold of Phrixus' fleece; then divers plagues doth he intertwine, and the king adder snatched from Tisiphone's grisly locks, and the wicked power that commends the girdle [of Aphrodite]; all these he cunningly anoints about with lunar foam, and pours over them the poison of delight. Not Pasithea, eldest of the gracious sisters, nor Decor (Charm) nor the Idalian youth did mould it, but Luctus (Grief) [Penthos], and all the Irae (Passions), and Dolor (Anguish) and Discordia (Discord) [Eris], with all the craft of her right hand. The work first proved its worth, when Harmonia's complaints turned to dreadful hissing, and she bore company to grovelling Cadmus, and with long trailing breast drew furrows in the Illyrian fields [the pair were turned into serpents in Illyria]. Next, scarce had shameless Semele put the hurtful gift about her neck, when lying Juno [Hera] crossed her threshold. Thou too, unhappy Jocasta, didst, as they say, possess the beauteous, baleful thing, and didst deck thy countenance with its praise--on what a couch, alas! to find favour; and many more beside. Last Argia shines in the splendour of the gift, and in pride of ornament and accursed gold surpassed her sister's mean attiring. The wife of the doomed prophet [Eriphyle wife of Amphiaraus] beheld it, and at every shrine and banquet in secret cherished fierce jealousy, if only it might be granted her to possess the terrible jewel, nought profited, alas!"
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 5. 135 ff :
"[At the wedding of Kadmos (Cadmus) and Harmonia :] Aphrodite wishing to delight Ares in the deep shrewdness of her mind, clasped a golden necklace showing place about the girl's [Harmonia] blushing neck, a clever work of Hephaistos (Hephaestus) set with sparkling gems in masterly refinement. This he had made for his Kyprian (Cyprian) bride, a gift for his first glimpse of Archer Eros (Love) [i.e. born to Aphrodite the wife of Hephaistos but fathered by her lover Ares]. For the heavyknee bridegroom always expected that Kythereia (Cytherea) [Aphrodite] would bear him a hobbling son, having the image of his father in his feet. But his though was mistaken; and when he beheld a whole-footed son [Eros, Love] brilliant with wings like Maia's son Hermes, he made this magnificent necklace.
It was like a serpent with starspangled back and coiling shape. For as the twoheaded amphisbaina (amphisbaena) in very sooth winds the coils between and spits her poison from either mouth, rolling along and along with double-gliding motion, and head crawling joins with head while she jumps about with twirling waves of her back sideways: so that magnificent necklace twisted shaking its crooked back, with its pair of curving necks, which came to meet at the midnipple, a flexible twoheaded sperent thick with scales; and by the curving joints of the work the golden circle of the moving spine bent round, until the head slid about with undulating movement and belched a mimic hissing through jaws.
With the two mouths on each side, where is the beginning and the end, was a golden eagle that seemed to be cutting the open air, upright between the serpent's heads, high-shining with fourfold nozzle of the four wings. One wing was covered with yellow jasper, one had the allwhite stone of Selene [i.e. moonstone], which fades as the horned goddess wanes, and waxes when Mene [Selene the Moon] newkindled distils her horn's liquid light and milks out the self-gotten fire of Father Helios (the Sun). A third had the gleaming pearl, which by its gleam makes the gray swell of the Erythraian Sea [the Red Sea] sparkle shining. Right in the middle of the other, the Indian agate spat out its liquid light, gently shining in bright beauty.
Where the two heads of the serpent came together from both sides, the mouths gaped wide and enclosed the eagle with both their jaws, enfolding it from this side and that. Over the shining front, rubies in the eyes shot their native brilliancy, which sent forth a sharp gleam, like a fiery lamp being kindled. Proud with the manifold shapes of stones was a sea, and an emerald stone grass-green welcomed the crystal adjoining like the foam, and showed the image of the white-crested brine becoming dark; here all clever work was fashioned, here all the brinebred herds of the deep sparkled in shining gold as though leaping about, and many a supple traveller danced halfseen, the dolphin skimming the brine which waggled its mimic tail self-moved; flocks of many-coloured birds--you might almost think you heard the windy beat of their flapping wings, when Kythereia [Aphrodite] gave the glorious necklace to her girl, golden, bejewelled, to hang by the bride's neck."
HARMONIA GODDESS OF MARITAL HARMONY
Homeric Hymn 2 to Pythian Apollo 186 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th - 4th B.C.) :
"[As Apollon plays the lyre and the Mousai (Muses) sing :] Meanwhile the rich-tressed Kharites (Charites, Graces) and cheerful Horai (Horae, Seasons) dance with Harmonia (Harmony) and Hebe (Youth) and Aphrodite, daughter of Zeus, holding each other by the wrist."
Aeschylus, Suppliant Women 1035 ff (trans. Weir Smyth) (Greek tragedy C5th B.C.) :
"She [Aphrodite], together with Hera, holds power nearest to Zeus [as gods of marriage], and for her solemn rites the goddess of varied wiles is held in honor. And in the train of their mother are Pothos (Desire) and she to whom nothing is denied, winning Peitho (Persuasion); and to Harmonia has been given a share of Aphrodite, and to the whispering touches of the Erotes (Loves)."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 16. 3 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"Harmonia gave to Aphrodite the surname of Ourania (Urania) to signify a love pure and free from bodily lust; that of Pandemos, to denote sexual intercourse; the third, that of Apostrophia, that mankind may reject unlawful passion and sinful acts. For Harmonia knew of many crimes already perpetrated not only among foreigners but even by Greeks."
Anonymous, Epithalamion Fragment (trans. Page, Vol. Select Papyri III, No. 139) (Greek poetry C4th A.D.) :
"Bridegroom, the sweet Kharites (Charites, Graces) and glory attend you; gracious Harmonia has bestowed honour upon your wedding. Dear bride, great and abiding joy be yours; worthy is the husband you have found yea worthy. May Heaven now give you concord, and grant that you may presently have children, and children's children and reach a ripe old age."
Statius, Silvae 1. 2. 238 (trans. Mozley) (Roman poetry C1st A.D.) :
"[At a wedding :] Leaning against the portal hath Hymen [god of the marriage hymn] sought to utter a new song in honour of their marriage . . . Juno [Hera] brings the holy bonds, and Concordia (Harmony) [Harmonia] marks the union with twofold torch."
Statius, Silvae 5. 1. 43 ff :
"Long-enduring Concordia (Harmony) [Harmonia] bound you [husband and wife] by an unbroken chain in the close union of heart with heart."
HARMONIA GODDESS OF ABSTRACT HARMONY
Plato, Phaedo 95a (trans. Lamb) (Greek philosopher C4th B.C.) :
“Harmonia (Harmony), the Theban goddess, has, it seems, been moderately gracious to us.”
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 7. 7 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"Their [Zeus and Aion god of time] parley done they separated, Aion (Time) to Harmonia's house, the other to the fine-wrought chamber of Hera."
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 41. 263 ff :
"Then Kypris (Cypris) [Aphrodite] saw her [grown-up daughter Beroe] . . . and she decided to design a city named after Beroe, being possessed with a passion to make her city as good as [those of the other gods] . . . With hurrying shoe, she whizzed along the vault of heaven to the hall of Allmother Harmonia, where that Nymphe dwelt in a house, self-built, shaped like the great universe with its four quarters joined in one. Four portals were about that stronghold standing proof against he four Aetai (Winds) [Anemoi]. Handmaids protected this dwelling on all sides, a round image of the universe: the doors were allotted--Anatolia (Rising) was the maid who attended the East Wind's (Euros') gate; at the West Wind's (Zephyros') was Dysis (Setting) the nurse of Selene; Mesembrias (Midday) held the bold of the fiery South (Notos); Arktos the Bear was the servant who opened the gate of the North (Boreas), thick with clouds and sprinkled with hail.
To that place went Kharis (Charis, Grace), fellow-voyager with the Foamborn [Aphrodite], and running ahead she knocked at the eastern gate of Euros. As the rap came on the saffron portal of sunrise, Astynomeia an attendant ran up from within; and when she saw Kypris (Cypris) [Aphrodite] standing in front of the gatehouse of the dwelling, she went with returning feet to inform her mistress [Harmonia] beforehand. She was then busy at Athena's loom weaving a patterned cloth with her shuttle. In the robe she was weaving, she worked first Earth as the navel in the midst; round it she balled the sky dotted with the shape of stars, and fitted the sea closely to the embracing earth; she embroidered also the Rivers in a green picture, shaped each with a human face and bull's horn; and at the outer fringe of the wellspun robe she made Okeanos (Oceanus) run all round the world in a loop. The maid came up to the woman's loom, and announced that Aphrodite stood before the gatehouse. When the goddess heard, she dropt the threads of the robe and threw down the divine shuttle from her hands busy at the loom. Quickly she wrapped a snow-white robe about her body, and brighter that the gold took her place on her usual seat to await Kythereia (Cytherea). As soon Aphrodite appeared in the distance, she leapt from her throne to show due respect. Eurynome in her long robe led the Paphian to a seat near her mistress; Harmonia the Nurse of the world saw the looks and dejected bearing of Kypris (Cypris) that showed her distress, and comforted her in friendly tones : ‘Kythereia, root of life, seedsowing of being, midwife of nature, hope of the whole universe, at the bidding of your will the unbending Moirai (Moirae, Fates) do spin their complicated threads! . . .’
[Aphrodite replied] : ‘Reveal to your questioner, and tell me, as nourisher of life, nurse of immortals, as coeval with the universe your agemate; which of the cities has the organ of sovereign voice? Which has reserved for it the unshaken reins of troublesolving Law? I joined Zeus in wedlock with Hera his sister, after he had felt the pangs of longlasting desire and desired her for three hundred years: in gratitude he bowed his wise head, and promised a worthy reward for the marriage that he would commit the precepts of Justice (Dike) to one of the cities allotted to me. I wish to learn whether the gift is reserved for land of Kypros (Cyprus) or Paphos or Korinthos (Corinth) or Sparta . . . or the noblemen's country of my own daughter Beroe. Have a care then for Justice (Dike), and grant harmony to the world, you who are Harmonia, the saviour of life! For I was sent here in haste by the Virgin of the Stars [Astraia] herself, the nurse of law-abiding men; and what is more, law-loving Hermes has passed on this honour to me, that I alone be enforcing the laws of marriage may preserve the men whom I have sown.’
To these words of hers the goddess replied with an encouraging speech : ‘Be of good cheer, fear not, mother of the Erotes (Loves)! For I have oracles of history on seven tablets, and the tablets bear the names of the seven planets. The first has the name of revolving Selene [the Moon]; the second is called of Hermes [planet Mercury], a shining tabled of gold, upon which are wrought all the secrets of law; the third has your name [Aphrodite the planet Venus], a rosy tablet, for it has the shape of your star in the East; the fourth is Helios [the Sun], cental navel of the seven travelling planets; the fifth is called Ares [the planet Mars], red and fiery; the sixth is called Phaethon [the planet Jupiter], the planet of Kronides [Zeus]; the seventh shows the name of highmoving Kronos (Cronus) [the planet Saturn]. Upon these, ancient Ophion has engraved in red letters all the divers oracles of fate for the universe. But since you ask me about the directing laws, this prerogative I keep for the eldest of cities. Whether then Arkadia (Arcadia) is first or Hera's city [Argos], whether Sardis be the oldest, or even Tarsos celebrated in song be the first city, or some other, I have not been told. The tablet of Kronos (Cronus) will teach you all this, which first arose, which was coeval with Dawn.’
She spoke; and led the way to the glorious oracles of the wall, until she saw the place where Ophion's art had engraved in ruddy vermilion on the tablet of Kronos (Cronus) the oracle to be fulfilled in time about Beroe's country. ‘Beroe came the first, coeval with the universe her agemate, bearing the name of the Nymphe later born, which the colonizing sons of the Ausonians, the consular lights of Rome, shall call Berytos (Beruit), since here fell a neighbour of Lebanon . . .’
Such was the word of prophecy that she learnt. But when the deity had scanned the prophetic beginning of the seventh tabled, she looked at the second, where on the neighbouring wall many strange signs were engraved with varied art in oracular speech: how first Shepherd Pan will invent the syrinx, Helikonian Hermes the harp, tender Hyagnis the music of the double pipes with their clever holes, Orpheus the streams of mystic song with divine voice, Apollon's Linos eloquent speech; how Arkas (Arcas) the traveller will find out the measures of the twelve months, and the sun's circuit which is the mother of the years brought forth by his fourhorse team; how wise Endymion with changing bends of his fingers will calculate the three varying phases of Selene (the Moon); how Kadmos (Cadmus) will combine consonant with vowel and teach the secrets of correct speech; how Solon will invent inviolable laws, and Kekrops (Cecrops) the union of two yoked together under the sacred yoke of marriage made lawful with Attic torch.
Now the Phaphian [Aphrodite], after all these manifold wonders of the Mousa (Muse), scanned the various deeds of the scattered cities; and on the written tabled which lay in the midst on the circuit of the universe, she found the words of wisdom inscribed in many lines of Grecian verse : ‘When Augustus [i.e. historical the Roman Emperor] shall hold the sceptre of the world, Ausonian Zeus will give to divine Rome the lordship, and to Beroe he will grant the reins of law, when armed in her fleet of shielded ships she shall pacify the strife of battlestirring Kleopatra (Cleopatra).’"
CULT OF HARMONIA
I. THEBES Chief City of Boeotia (Central Greece)
Plato, Phaedo 95a (trans. Lamb) (Greek philosopher C4th B.C.) :
"Harmonia (Harmony), the Theban goddess."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 12. 3 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"They point out the ruins of the bridal-chamber [at Thebes] of Harmonia."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 16. 3 :
"At Thebes are three wooden images of Aphrodite, so very ancient that they are actually said to be votive offerings of Harmonia, and the story is that they were made out of the wooden figure-heads on the ships of Kadmos (Cadmus). They call the first Ourania (Urania, Heavenly), the second Pandemos (Common) and the third Apostrophia. Harmonia gave to Aphrodite the surname of Ourania to signify a love pure and free from bodily lust; that of Pandemos, to denote sexual intercourse; the third, that of Apostrophia, that mankind may reject unlawful passion and sinful acts. For Harmonia knew of many crimes already perpetrated not only among foreigners but even by Greeks."
II. THYNIAS Island in Bithynia (Anatolia)
Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 2. 715 ff (trans. Rieu) (Greek epic C3rd B.C.) :
"They [the Argonauts whilst on the island of Thynias in the Bithynian Sea] swore took an oath to stand by one another in unity forever. A temple of Harmonia (Concord) can be seen on the spot to this very day. They built it themselves in honour of the glorious goddess."
ANCIENT GREEK ART
- Hesiod, Theogony - Greek Epic C8th - 7th B.C.
- The Homeric Hymns - Greek Epic C8th - 4th B.C.
- Pindar, Odes - Greek Lyric C5th B.C.
- Pindar, Fragments - Greek Lyric C5th B.C.
- Greek Elegaic Theognis, Fragments - Greek Elegaic C6th B.C.
- Aeschylus, Suppliant Women - Greek Tragedy C5th B.C.
- Euripides, Bacchae - Greek Tragedy C5th B.C.
- Plato, Phaedo - Greek Philosophy C4th B.C.
- Apollodorus, The Library - Greek Mythography C2nd A.D.
- Apollonius Rhodius, The Argonautica - Greek Epic C3rd B.C.
- Callimachus, Fragments - Greek Poetry C3rd B.C.
- Parthenius, Love Romances - Greek Mythography C1st B.C.
- Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History - Greek History C1st B.C.
- Strabo, Geography - Greek Geography C1st B.C. - C1st A.D.
- Pausanias, Description of Greece - Greek Travelogue C2nd A.D.
- Philostratus the Elder, Imagines - Greek Rhetoric C3rd A.D.
- Ptolemy Hephaestion, New History - Greek Mythography C1st - 2nd A.D.
- Nonnus, Dionysiaca - Greek Epic C5th A.D.
- Greek Papyri III Anonymous, Fragments - Greek Poetry C4th A.D.
- Hyginus, Fabulae - Latin Mythography C2nd A.D.
- Ovid, Metamorphoses - Latin Epic C1st B.C. - C1st A.D.
- Statius, Thebaid - Latin Epic C1st A.D.
- Statius, Silvae - Latin Poetry C1st A.D.
A complete bibliography of the translations quoted on this page.