Marriage of Cadmus and Hermione. A.M. 2511.

WAG 7667


This is part of a group of drawings by British artist and book illustrator Edward Francis Burney, depicting scenes from Greek and Roman history and mythology. This composition was used for a headpiece in 'Le Souvenir', a memorandum book published by Suttaby, Evance, Fox, Richardson/London in 1822, on the page for 1st January. Hermione (Harmonia) was the Greek goddess of harmony and concord. Cadmus was the son of King Agenor, the brother of Europa (see WAG 7666) and the father of Semele (see WAG 7669). He was sent to find his sister after her abduction by Zeus, but had no sucess. He consulted the Delphic Oracle who advised him to give up his search and follow a cow until she lay down. Here he was to found a city. As a result, Cadmus founded the city of Thebes in Boetia. Later he buried the the teeth of a dragon he had killed and from the ground sprang a race of fighting men called the Sparti. They fought each other until only five were left and these five became the noblemen of the city. Cadmus married Hermione and had four children with her: Ino, Autunae, Agave and Semele. Later, they retired to Illyria and were not punished when the Illyrians angered the gods but saved and transformed into black serpents. They were then sent to the Islands of the Blessed, also known as the Elysian Fields. On their wedding day, Hermione was gifted a divine necklace that brought misfortune upon her and all subsequent owners. The couple are the subject of 'Cadmus et Hermione', a French opera by Jean-Baptiste Lully, first performed in 1673.