Harmonia was the goddess of harmony and concord. In most myths, she is the daughter of Aphrodite and Ares, but in some accounts she is the daughter of Zeus and Elektra. She wed the King of Thebes, Cadmus, and was given a cursed necklace as a wedding gift. The gift would ultimately cause her downfall, as well as cursing each person who inherited it afterwards.
Cadmus had been made King of Thebes by Athena, but he had to serve Ares for eight years after killing a dragon that was sacred to the god. At the end of his sentence, Zeus awarded Harmonia to Cadmus as his bride. All of the gods were in attendance for their wedding.
Cadmus and Harmonia would go on to have six children (Ino, Polydorus, Autonoe, Agave, Semele, and the youngest – Illyrius). Their children would become the leaders of Thebes for several centuries.
As the story goes, Harmonia was born out of an adulterous affair between Aphrodite and Ares. Hephaestus, Aphrodite’s husband and a blacksmith god, forged the necklace to bring misfortune to anyone who possessed it. Even though it was cursed, the necklace supposedly also brought beauty and eternal life to its wearer.
When Cadmus eventually left Thebes, Harmonia went with him, and the pair went to Enchelii. There, they aided in a war against the Illyrians, and Cadmus was crowned King of the Illyrians.
As he was reflecting one day about the dragon he had once slain and the bad luck that had followed him ever since, Cadmus remarked that if the gods cared so much about the life of a serpent, then maybe that’s the kind of life he should want for himself. Instantly, he was changed into a serpent, and Harmonia, distraught by his sudden transformation, begged the gods to let her share his fate. Zeus obliged, and Harmonia was also transformed into a serpent.
The pair were then carried off to the Islands of the Blessed, and there they lived in peace.
The Necklace of Harmonia then passed to her daughter Semele, resulting in a string of catastrophes within the family. The necklace continued to bring misfortune to each new person that inherited it, and is one of the most fabled items in mythology.
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