Agave of Thebes

In Greek mythology, Agave (/ˈæɡəvi/; Ancient Greek: Ἀγαύη, romanizedAgaúē, lit.'illustrious' or 'high-born'[1]) was a princess of Thebes and the queen of the Maenads.[2]

Agave
Theban princess, queen of the Maenads
Death Pentheus Louvre G445.jpg
AbodeThebes
Personal information
ParentsCadmus and Harmonia
SiblingsAutonoë, Ino, Semele, Polydorus
ConsortEchion, one of the Spartoi
ChildrenPentheus

FamilyEdit

Agave was the eldest daughter of Cadmus, the king and founder of the city of Thebes, Greece, and of the goddess Harmonia. Her sisters were Autonoë, Ino and Semele, and her brother was Polydorus.[3] She married Echion, one of the five Spartoi, and was the mother of Pentheus, a king of Thebes. She also had a daughter, Epirus. She was the queen of the Maenads, followers of Dionysus (also known as Bacchus).

MythologyEdit

In Euripides' play, The Bacchae, Theban Maenads murdered King Pentheus after he banned the worship of Dionysus because he denied Dionysus' divinity. Dionysus, Pentheus' cousin, lured Pentheus to the woods—Pentheus wanted to see what he thought were the sexual activities of the women—where the Maenads tore him apart and his corpse was mutilated by his own mother, Agave. Agave and Pentheus' aunt, Autonoe, tore his limb from limb in a Bacchic frenzy.[4] Thinking that she and the other women had just killed a lion—for Dionysus had driven them mad—Agave carried her son's head on a stick back to Thebes, only realizing the truth when confronted by her father, Cadmus.

This murder also served as Dionysus' vengeance on Agave (and her sisters Ino and Autonoë). Semele, during her pregnancy with Dionysus, was destroyed by the sight of the splendor of Zeus. Her sisters spread the report that she had only endeavored to conceal unmarried sex with a mortal man, by pretending that Zeus was the father of her child, and said that her destruction was a just punishment for her falsehood. This calumny was afterwards most severely avenged upon Agave. For, after Dionysus, the son of Semele, had traversed the world, he came to Thebes and sent the Theban women mad, compelling them to celebrate his Dionysiac festivals on Mount Cithaeron. Pentheus, wishing to prevent or stop these riotous proceedings, was persuaded by a disguised Dionysus to go himself to Cithaeron, but was torn to pieces there by his own mother Agave, who in her frenzy believed him to be a wild lion.[5]

For this transgression, according to Hyginus,[6] Agave was exiled from Thebes and fled to Illyria to marry King Lycotherses, and then killed him in order to gain the city for her father Cadmus. According to Smith, Hyginus' account is "manifestly transplaced by Hyginus, and must have belonged to an earlier part of the story of Agave".[7]

GenealogyEdit

Argive genealogy in Greek mythology
InachusMelia
ZeusIoPhoroneus
EpaphusMemphis
LibyaPoseidon
BelusAchiroëAgenorTelephassa
DanausElephantisAegyptusCadmusCilixEuropaPhoenix
MantineusHypermnestraLynceusHarmoniaZeus
Polydorus
SpartaLacedaemonOcaleaAbasAgaveSarpedonRhadamanthus
Autonoë
EurydiceAcrisiusInoMinos
ZeusDanaëSemeleZeus
PerseusDionysus
Colour key:

  Male
  Female
  Deity


Family tree of the Theban royal houseEdit

Royal house of Thebes family tree
  • Solid lines indicate descendants.
  • Dashed lines indicate marriages.
  • Dotted lines indicate extra-marital relationships or adoptions.
  • Kings of Thebes are numbered with bold names and a light purple background.
    • Joint rules are indicated by a number and lowercase letter, for example, 5a. Amphion shared the throne with 5b. Zethus.
  • Regents of Thebes are alphanumbered (format AN) with bold names and a light red background.
    • The number N refers to the regency preceding the reign of the Nth king. Generally this means the regent served the Nth king but not always, as Creon (A9) was serving as regent to Laodamas (the 10th King) when he was slain by Lycus II (the usurping 9th king).
    • The letter A refers to the regency sequence. "A" is the first regent, "B" is the second, etc.
  • Deities have a yellow background color and italic names.

Harmonia1.
Cadmus
PolyxoA4.
Nycteus (Regent)
DirceB4 & A6.
Lycus (Regent)
ZeusZeus
InoAgaveEchion3.
Polydorus
NycteisAntiope
SemeleAutonoë
Dionysus2.
Pentheus
Epeiros4.
Labdacus
5a.
Amphion
5b.
Zethus
Menoeceus
EurydiceA7, A8 & A9.
Creon (Regent)
Jocasta6.
Laius
MeropePolybus
HipponomeAlcaeus
Zeus
AlcmeneAmphitryonPerimede7.
Oedipus
MegaraHeraclesIphiclesAnaxo
HeniocheMegareusHaemonAntigone8b.
Eteocles
Argea8a.
Polynices
PyrrhaLycomedesIsmene9.
Lycus II
A12.
Peneleos (Regent)
10.
Laodamas
Demonassa11.
Thersander
Opheltes12.
Tisamenus
14.
Damasichthon
13.
Autesion
15.
Ptolemy
TherasArgeiaAristodemus
16.
Xanthos
EurysthenesProcles


GalleryEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Graves, Robert (2017). The Greek Myths - The Complete and Definitive Edition. Penguin Books Limited. pp. Index s.v. Agave. ISBN 9780241983386.
  2. ^ Bell, Robert E. (1991). Women of Classical Mythology: A Biographical Dictionary. ABC-CLIO. pp. 14–15. ISBN 9780874365818.
  3. ^ Apollodorus, 3.4.2
  4. ^ Roman, L., & Roman, M. (2010). Encyclopedia of Greek and Roman mythology., p. 41, at Google Books
  5. ^ Apollodorus, 3.5.2; Ovid, Metamorphoses 3.725
  6. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae 184 Archived 2014-11-05 at the Wayback Machine, 240, 254.
  7. ^ Smith, "Agave" .

ReferencesEdit