Harmonia in Greek mythology

In Greek mythology, Harmonia is the goddess of harmony and concord. Her Roman counterpart is Concordia.

In essence, Harmonia represents the balance of opposites and the potential for unity even in the face of conflict or contradiction. Image: Harmonia and the serpent by English artist Evelyn De Morgan

Here’s a brief overview of Harmonia in Greek mythological tales:


In the myth, Harmonia is usually described as the daughter of Ares (Mars in Roman mythology), the god of war, and Aphrodite (Venus in Roman mythology), the goddess of love. This union symbolically brought together both war and love to produce harmony.

READ MORE: The Birth of Aphrodite in Greek Mythology

Marriage to Cadmus

Harmonia is best known for her marriage to Cadmus, the founder and first king of Thebes. Their wedding was celebrated with grandeur, attended by many gods and goddesses.

At the wedding, she received several divine gifts, including a robe and necklace made by Hephaestus, which would later be considered cursed due to the misfortunes that befell its wearers.

READ MORE: Most Famous Heroes in Greek Mythology

Cursed Fate

Despite the initial joys of her marriage, Harmonia’s life was filled with tragedies, most of which resulted from the crimes committed by her husband and her father-in-law against the god Ares and the serpent sacred to Ares. As a punishment, she and Cadmus were eventually turned into serpents.

However, there’s a brighter end to their story in some versions, wherein after being turned into serpents, they were transported to the Elysian Fields, a paradise for the blessed.


Harmonia and Cadmus had several children, all of whom faced tragic ends or significant challenges. Their offspring included Agave (who would later, in a frenzied state, kill her own son Pentheus), Ino (who leapt into the sea with her son to escape her crazed husband and was transformed into a sea deity), Semele (the mortal mother of Dionysus by Zeus, who died when she saw Zeus in his true form), and Polydorus (the successor to Cadmus as king of Thebes).

Role and Worship

While Harmonia wasn’t a major deity in the Greek pantheon, she was invoked as a symbol of harmony and unity, especially during times of conflict or discord. In this sense, she embodied the harmony of opposites, fitting given her parentage. There were shrines and cults dedicated to her, particularly in Thebes.

READ MORE: Sons of Zeus, including Ares and Hermes

The Necklace of Harmonia

The necklace given to Harmonia by Hephaestus was said to bring misfortune to its wearer, despite its divine origins. It became a recurring motif in various Greek myths, bringing calamity to multiple generations. For example, it was through this necklace that Queen Jocasta of Thebes, its eventual possessor, became both the wife and mother of Oedipus, leading to the tragic events of the Oedipus tale.

“Cadmus et Hermione” by Jean-Baptiste Lully

Cadmus et Hermione by Jean-Baptiste Lully

“Cadmus et Hermione” is an opera by Jean-Baptiste Lully, the pioneering composer who established the French operatic tradition.

Here are some key points about this work:

  1. Type of Opera: It’s considered a “tragédie en musique” or “tragédie lyrique”. This form was particularly French and was the dominant form of French opera in the late 17th century.
  2. Libretto: The libretto for “Cadmus et Hermione” was written by Philippe Quinault, a frequent collaborator of Lully. The duo produced several other operas together.
  3. Premiere: The opera premiered in 1673 at the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye.
  4. Plot: The story is based on Books III and IV of Latin author Ovid’s “Metamorphoses”. It revolves around the love story of Cadmus, the founder of Thebes, and Hermione (Harmonia in Greek mythology), the daughter of Venus and Mars. The plot includes various challenges that the lovers face, including dragons, gods, and rival suitors.
  5. Significance: “Cadmus et Hermione” holds the distinction of being Lully’s first tragédie lyrique and, by extension, the first major work in that genre. It set the stage for the development of French opera and showcased Lully’s unique style, which combined the grandeur of French courtly dances with dramatic narrative.
  6. Musical Style: In typical Lully fashion, the opera incorporates elegant dance sequences, expressive recitatives, and grand choral scenes. Lully’s genius lay in his ability to seamlessly integrate these elements, offering both musical and dramatic coherence.
  7. Reception and Legacy: The opera was well-received during its time and established Lully as the preeminent composer of French opera. While it might not be as frequently performed today as some other baroque masterpieces, it remains an important work in the canon of early operatic literature.

Statue of Harmonia in the Harmony Society gardens in Old Economy Village, Pennsylvania.

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