The Teumessian fox was a giant, man-eating fox that could not be caught by any captor. It was sent by the gods to punish the city of Thebes for a crime the people had committed. It preyed on their children, and eventually Amphitryon was tasked with finding a solution for the catching the impossible fox by the regent of Thebes, Creon.
Amphitryon knew it should be an impossible task to kill the fox that could never be caught, but he decided to bring his dog Laelaps for assistance. It just so happened that Laelaps was a magical dog that was destined to always catch any prey that it chased, thus creating a paradox.
As Zeus watched the chase between dog and fox, he realized that it could go on for eternity without resolution. He decided to turn the two creatures into stone, and then he later made them constellations. The Teumessian fox became the Canis Minor constellation, and Laelaps the dog became the Canis Major constellation. Their contest is frozen in time in the night sky.
The Teumessian fox got its name because it was first seen near Teumessus, a village in Thebes. It is also known as the Cadmean Vixen or Cadmean Fox, as Cadmea was another name for Thebes.
The creation of the Teumessian fox is often attributed to the displeasure of one or more gods, Dionysus in particular. When Pentheus was King of Thebes, he banned the worship of Dionysus and rejected her divinity. Dionysus punished Pentheus in many ways, and some suggest that the Teumessian fox was Dionysus’s punishment for the people of Thebes for following the king. Though removed by Zeus, the Teumessian fox would not be the last of the perils that Thebes would face.
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