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In Greek mythology, Cadmus, grandson of Poseidon, slaughtered a sacred dragon belonging to Ares, and Athena advised Cadmus to plant the dragon's teeth into the soil as though they were seeds. Cadmus planted half of them at Thebes, immediately, and the Spartoi - Σπαρτοί, literally "planted ones" - leapt out of the earth: quarrelsome mighty warriors. Cadmus initially thought the Spartoi were sent to slay him, and in his fear he tossed a stone at one of them, striking him. The warrior believed he had been hit by one of his fellows, and so they began to fight among themselves until only five remained standing: Echion, Cthonios, Peloros, Hyperenor, and Udaeos, who (after they calmed down) offered Cadmus their service. The six of them founded the city of Thebes and became its mythic forefathers. Echion married Cadmus' daughter, Agave, and their son Pentheus became the second king of Thebes after Cadmus. In Hellanicus' version of the story, there were only ever five Spartoi in the first place, and Zeus directly ordered the warriors to protect Cadmus from Ares' retaliation over the dead dragon. Cadmus was induced to serve eight years' indenture to Ares, to atone for the act, and at the end of his labour he was granted Harmonia, goddess of social order and daughter of Ares and Aphrodite, to marry.

The other half of the dragon's teeth were taken from Cadmus by Athena and given to Aeetes, king of Colchis. Aeetes desired to take the golden fleece from Jason. He compelled Jason to sow the teeth in the soil of Colchis, in the hope that the Spartoi would kill Jason and allow Aeetes to claim the fleece as a prize. As Cadmus had done, Jason tossed a rock at the Spartoi, and in the resulting quarrel, every one of the Spartoi killed the others, leaving none standing.


Iron Noder 2016, 24/30

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