Cadmus was a Phoenician prince, son of Agenor and his wife Telephassa, and the founder-king of Thebes. He was married to the goddess Harmonia, with whom he had many children, and he was the grandfather of Dionysus, Greek god of wine, revelry and madness.
Cadmus was not a native Greek but a Phoenician prince, one of many sons born to Agenor and his wife Telephassa, king and queen of the island-city of Tyre. One day, when his siter Europa mysteriously disappeared, having been unknowingly abducted by the god Zeus, King Agenor ordered him and his brothers Kilix, Phoinix and Thasos to go out and search for her, telling them that none of them would be permitted to return home without her.
Heeding their father's word, the sons set off, all of them going in different directions, though none of them were successful in their quest; Kilix settled in southeastern Anatolia, wherein lies the region of Cilicia (Kilikia) and Phoinix settled somewhere in North Africa. Cadmus was accompanied in his search by his mother Telephassa and his brother Thasos, and the three scoured across the Aegean, eventually arriving on the shores of Thrace in northern Greece. There, Telephassa died and Thassos decided to give up on the search, ultimately settling on the island just off the shore.
- Before Herakles, Cadmus was one of the greatest Greek heroes, alongside Perseus and Bellerophon.
- In antiquity, the acropolis of Thebes was named the Cadmeia (in Greek Kadmeia) in honor of Cadmus, it's mythical founder-king.
- Cadmus is the grandfather of the god Dionysus through his daughter Semele. He himself was a grandson and legacy of the god Poseidon, his father Agenor having been born to him and his lover Libya.
- The journeys of Cadmus and his brothers align with the development of Phoenician settlements in the Mediterranean, and Cadmus himself was alleged to have brought the Phoenician alphabet to Greece.