Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Phoenicia (fih-NEESH-ah). Homeland of the ancient Phoenicians, in the region along the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea now occupied by Syria and Lebanon. Cadmus, whose Phoenician name means “man from the east,” was a son of Agenor, king of the Phoenician city of Tyre, and brother of Europa, who gave her name to Europe. When Europa is kidnapped by Zeus, Agenor sends all his sons, including Cadmus, out to retrieve her. They eventually give up the search and create permanent colonies around the Mediterranean. Like them, Cadmus and Europa represent geographical locations in human form, and their journey depicts patterns of Bronze Age migration and settlement. The Cadmus myth is somewhat unusual in its combination of elements from both Eastern and Western mythological traditions. This is reflected in the Phoenician connections of Cadmus’ lineage and the probable derivation of his name from a Phoenician or Semitic word meaning “the one from the east.”


*Delphi (DEL-fi). Site of Apollo’s oracle in the Greek province of Boeotia that was known as the “navel,” or center of the Greek world. Delphi was the meeting place between the divine and human realms, where the Pythia conveyed the will of the gods to men. When Cadmus arrives at Delphi while still searching in vain for Europa, oracle tells him to give up his quest, then follow a cow—a symbol of female fecundity—and found a new...

(The entire section is 550 words.)