35. Kadmos and Harmonia become snakes

Once upon a time, Kadmos, the son of Agenor and Telephassa, and Harmonia, the daughter of Ares and Aphrodite, suffered unfathomable sorrows and unbearable disasters. They grieved the death of their daughters, sons-in-law, and grandsons. Being unaware that their daughter Ino and grandson Melicertes had become ocean deities, they left Thebes to travel in exile, and arrived at Illyria.

With hearts weighted with woes, body bowed down with years, and minds filled with sad memories, they recounted their misfortunes. Kadmos recalled, how he had killed the sacred dragon of Ares and sowed its teeth. He prayed to the Gods that if it pleased them, then may his body lengthen, to become long like a serpent.

Even while Kadmos uttered such words, he felt his body being lengthened and taking a serpent’s coiled shape. His skin was covered with scales, and the shiny folds were speckled with azure macules. He fell on his breast and lying supine, his legs fused together gradually, to become a serpent’s tail. Unending tears rolled down his human cheeks, and he called his unhappy wife, to witness his hapless state. As he tried to speak more, only a hissing sound emerged from his forked tongue, as his face had also slowly changed to that of a snake. Harmonia cried while Kadmos with his split tongue, lightly caressed her. Entwining himself from her feet upwards, he embraced her gentle bosom and touched her neck.

Harmonia wept and smiting her breast, agonizingly bewailed how the manly form of Kadmos had changed, how his human limbs and how his color had changed. In utter grief, Harmonia complained to the Gods that may she also be transformed to a serpent. Slowly, Harmonia also became a snake, and the pair took refuge in the nearest grove. There, they remained as gentle serpents, never wounding humans with their poisoned fangs, for they always remembered their sorrowful past.

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

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