29. Dionysos’ wrath on the Kadmeides

Once upon a time, King Kadmos of Thebes had four daughters named as Agaue, Autonoe, Ino, and Semele, who were known as the Kadmeides.

Zeus secretly bedded Semele, but due to a trick by Hera, Zeus’s godly form burnt the mortal Semele and she died. From her womb, Zeus took his unformed babe and sewed the babe in his thigh, where the babe completed his time. Then Zeus gave the babe to the nymph Nysos for caring, and thus, the babe was called as Dionysos.

After Semele was dead, his father Kadmos invented a story that Zeus had fallen in love with Semele, but she had already conceived a child with a mortal man. Hence, Semele ascribed this sin of her bed to Zeus, who for this unholy lie had killed her. Semele’s sisters, Agaue, Autonoe, and Ino, circulated this false story and slandered Semele. This slandering suggested that Dionysos was not the son of Zeus. When Dionysos grew up, he punished his aunts for this slandering by making their sons die.

Agaue’s son Pentheus, while spying on the Bakkhic rites, had his head ripped off by his own mother Agaue, who in a state of bakkhic frenzy, thought she was ripping off the head of a lion. Later, when she came to her senses, she grieved profoundly.
Autonoe’s son Aktaion, was changed to a stag by the chaste goddess Artemis, when he secretly saw Artemis bathing. The hunting dogs of Aktaion did not recognize their master in the form of a stag. Aktaion died as a stag being torn to pieces by his own hunting dogs.

Ino’s son Learkhos, was killed by his own father Athamas, who in a state of madness thought his wife Ino, was a savage lioness and his son Learkhos, her cub. To escape Athamas, Ino while praying to Dionysos, jumped in the Ionian sea, along with her other babe Melicertes.

The wrath of Dionysos made the house of Kadmos, bereft of any male child, to continue the lineage.

Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani

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