Agenor /əˈnɔːr/ (Ancient Greek: Ἀγήνωρ Agēnor; English translation: 'heroic, manly')[1] was in Greek mythology and history a Phoenician king of Tyre.[2] Doric Greek historian Herodotus (c. 484–425 BC), born in the city of Halicarnassus under the Achaemenid Empire, estimated that Agenor lived either 1000 or 1600 years prior to his visit to Tyre in 450 BC at the end of the Greco-Persian Wars (499–449 BC).[3][4]


According to Apollodorus, Agenor was born in Memphis of Egypt to Poseidon and Libya and he had a twin brother named Belus.[5] Belus remained in Egypt and reigned over Egypt, while Agenor departed to Phoenicia and reigned there. According to other sources,[6] he was the son of Belus, and possibly Achiroe.

Sources differ also as to Agenor's children; he is sometimes said to have been the father of Cadmus, Europa, Cilix, Phoenix, and Thasus.[7][8][9][10][11][12] Some sources state that Phoenix was Agenor's brother (and Belus's son); and it was Phoenix who was the father of these individuals. Agenor's wife is variously given as Telephassa, Argiope,[13][14] Antiope,[15][12] and Tyro,[16] with the latter giving her name to the city of Tyre. According to Pherecydes of Athens, Agenor's first wife was Damno, daughter of Belus, who bore him Phoenix and two otherwise unknown daughters, Isaia and Melia, who married Aegyptus and Danaus respectively; Agenor then fathered Cadmus with Argiope, daughter of Neilus.[14]

In the Iliad, however, Europa is clearly a daughter of Phoenix.[17] Either Cadmus or Europa are confirmed as children of Phoenix by the Ehoeae attributed to Hesiod[18][19] and by Bacchylides[20] and by various scholia. Cilix and Phineus are also sons of Phoenix according to Pherecydes,[21] who also adds an otherwise unknown son named Doryclus.

Most later sources list Cadmus and Cilix as sons of Agenor directly without mentioning Phoenix. On the rare occasions when he is mentioned, Phoenix is listed as the brother of Cadmus and Cilix. Whether he is included as a brother of Agenor or as a son, his role in mythology is limited to inheriting his father's kingdom and to becoming the eponym of the Phoenicians. All accounts agree on a Phoenician king who has several children, including the two sons named Cadmus and Cilix and a daughter named Europa.

A certain Eidothea, wife of Phineus, was called the sister of Cadmus and thus maybe the daughter of Agenor.[22][23] Taygete, usually one of the Pleiades and mother of Lacedemon by Zeus was also said to be the daughter of Agenor.[24]

Comparative table of Agenor's family
Relation Names Sources
Hes. Pher. Bacc. Euripides Sophoc. Herod. Apollon. Dio. Val. Apollod. Dictys Hyg. Pau. Non. Tzet. Unknown
Ehoiai Dithy. Sch. Phoe. Sch. Anti. Arg. Sch. Fab.
Parents Poseidon and Libya
Wife Damno
Children Phoenix
Phineus [25]


The Rape of Europa, a painting by Jacob Jordaens (1615 version)

Zeus saw Agenor's daughter Europa gathering flowers and immediately fell in love with her. Zeus transformed himself into a white bull and carried Europa away to the island of Crete. He then revealed his true identity and Europa became the first queen of Crete. Agenor, meanwhile, sent Europa's brothers, Cadmus and Cilix in search of her, telling them not to return without her. In some versions of the tale, Agenor sends her other brothers as well: Phineus or Thasus (and of course Phoenix in the versions in which Cadmus's father is Agenor).

As Europa could not be found, none of the brothers returned.[8][26] Cadmus consulted the oracle of Delphi and was advised to travel until encountering a cow. He was to follow this cow and to found a city where the cow would lie down; this city became Thebes. Cilix searched for her and settled down in Asia Minor. The land was called Cilicia after him.

Identity and deedsEdit

Virgil calls Carthage the city of Agenor,[27] by which he alludes to the descent of Dido from Agenor. German philologist Philipp Karl Buttmann points out that the genuine Phoenician name of Agenor was Chnas or Khna, which is the same as Canaan, and upon these facts he builds the hypothesis that Agenor or Chnas is the same as the Canaan in the books of Moses.[2] Quintus Curtius Rufus considered Agenor to have been the founder of Sidon, and he was also popularly supposed to have introduced the Phoenician alphabet, which was later taught by Cadmus to the Greeks and became the foundation of their own writing system.[28]

Argive family treeEdit

Argive genealogy in Greek mythology
Colour key:



  1. ^ ἀγήνωρ. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project
  2. ^ a b Schmitz, Leonhard (1867). "Agenor (1)". In Smith, William (ed.). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. 1. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. p. 68. Archived from the original on 2013-10-12. Retrieved 2008-05-16.
  3. ^ Herodotus (2003) [1954]. Marincola, John (ed.). Histories. Translated by de Sélincourt, Aubrey (Reprint ed.). New York: Penguin Books. p. 155. ISBN 978-0140449082. But from the birth of Dionysus, the son of Semele, daughter of Cadmus, to the present day is a period of about 1000 years only; ...
  4. ^ Herodotus, Histories 2.145.1
  5. ^ Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2.1.4
  6. ^ Nonnus, Dionysiaca, 3. 296-297
  7. ^ Scholiast on Euripides Phoenician Women 5
  8. ^ a b Hyginus, Fabulae 178
  9. ^ Pausanias, Graeciae Descriptio 5.25.7
  10. ^ Scholiast on Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica 2.178 & 3.1186
  11. ^ Herodotus, The Histories 4.147 & 7.91
  12. ^ a b Tzetzes, Chiliades 7.19
  13. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae 6 & 178
  14. ^ a b Gantz, p. 208; Pherecydes fr. 21 Fowler 2000, p. 289 = FGrHist 3 F 21 = Scholia on Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 3.1177-87f
  15. ^ Scholia on EuripidesPhoenician Women 5
  16. ^ Gomme, A. W. (1913). "The Legend of Cadmus and the Logographoi". JHS: 70.
  17. ^ Homer, Iliad 14.321–22
  18. ^ Hesiod, Ehoiai 19a as cited in Oxyrhynchus Papyri 1358 fr. 1
  19. ^ Hesiod, Ehoiai 19 as cited in Scholiast on Homer, Iliad 12.292
  20. ^ Bacchylides, Dithyrambs 5.46
  21. ^ Pherecydes fr. 86 Fowler 2000, p. 320 = FGrHist 3 F 86.
  22. ^ Scholia on Sophocles, Antigone 989
  23. ^ Sir Richard C. Jebb. Commentary on Sophocles: Antigone, 966
  24. ^ Dictys Cretensis, Trojan War Chronicle 1.9
  25. ^ Even though Phineus was called the son of Agenor according to Apollodorus, his mother may be different because only three sons (Cadmus, Phoenix and Cilix) were born to Agenor and Telephassa.
  26. ^ Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3.1.1
  27. ^ Virgil, Aeneid 1.338
  28. ^ Raleigh, Walter; William Oldys (ed.) (1829). The Works of Sir Walter Raleigh. The University press. pp. 224, 274–278.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)