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King of Tyre or Sidon
Member of the Phoenician Royal Family
AbodeEgypt, later Phoenicia
Personal information
Parents(a) Poseidon and Libya
(b) Belus
Siblings(a) Belus and sometimes Enyalius
(b) Phineus, Phoenix, Aegyptus, Danaus and Ninus
Consort(1) Telephassa
(2) Argiope
(3) Antiope
(4) Tyro
(5) Damno
(6) unknown
(7) unknown
(8) unknown
(9) unknown
(10) unknown
Children(1,2) Europa, Cadmus, Phoenix and Cilix
(3) Cadmus, Phoenix and Cilix
(4) Europa, Cadmus, Phoenix, Cilix and Syros
(5) Phoenix, Isaie and Melia
(6) Europa, Cadmus, Cilix, Thasus and Cepheus
(7) Phoenix, Cilix and Thasus
(8) Phineus
(9) Eidothea
(10) Taygete

Agenor (/əˈnɔːr/; Ancient Greek: Ἀγήνωρ or Αγήνορας Agēnor; English translation: "heroic, manly")[1] was in Greek mythology and history a Phoenician king of Tyre[2] or Sidon. The Greek historian Herodotus (c. 484–425 BC), born in the city of Halicarnassus under the Achaemenid Empire, estimated that Agenor lived either 1000 or 1600 years prior to his visit to Tyre in 450 BC at the end of the Greco-Persian Wars (499–449 BC).[3][4] He was said to have reigned in that city for 63 years.[5]


Agenor was born in Memphis of Egypt to Poseidon and Libya[6] and he had a twin brother named Belus.[7] The latter remained in Egypt and reigned over there while Agenor departed to Phoenicia and reigned there.[8] In a rare version of the myth, Agenor and Belus had another brother named Enyalios.[5] According to other sources, he was the son of Belus and brother of Phineus, Phoenix, Aegyptus and Danaus.[9] This tradition was followed by Tzetzes but he added Ninus as one of the six brothers. The same author claimed that there were two Agenors, the first one being the brother of Belus while the second was the son of the latter, thus uncle of the first Agenor.[10]

Sources differed also as to Agenor's children; he was said to have been the father of Europa,[11] Cadmus,[12] Cilix,[13] Phoenix,[14] Phineus,[15] Thasus[16] and sometimes, Syros[17] and Cepheus.[18] Agenor's wife was variously given as Telephassa,[19] Argiope,[20][21] Antiope,[22] and Tyro,[23] with the latter giving her name to the city of Tyre.[5] According to Pherecydes of Athens, his first wife was Damno, daughter of Belus, who bore him Phoenix and two daughters, Isaia and Melia, who married Aegyptus and Danaus, respectively; Agenor then fathered Cadmus with Argiope, daughter of the river-god Neilus.[21]

In the Iliad, however, Europa was clearly a daughter of Phoenix.[24] Either Cadmus or Europa were confirmed as children of Phoenix by the Ehoeae attributed to Hesiod,[25] Bacchylides,[26] Moschus[27] and various scholia.[28] Cilix and Phineus were also sons of Phoenix according to Pherecydes, who also added an otherwise unknown son named Doryclus.[29]

Most later sources listed Cadmus and Cilix as sons of Agenor directly without mentioning Phoenix. On the rare occasions when he was mentioned, Phoenix was listed as the brother of Cadmus and Cilix. Whether he was included as a brother of Agenor or as a son, his role in mythology was limited to inheriting his father's kingdom and to becoming the eponym of the Phoenicians. All accounts agreed on a Phoenician king who has several children, including the two sons named Cadmus and Cilix and a daughter named Europa.

A certain Eidothea, wife of Phineus, was called the sister of Cadmus and thus maybe the daughter of Agenor.[30][31] Taygete, usually one of the Pleiades and mother of Lacedemon by Zeus was also said to be the daughter of Agenor.[32]

Comparative table of Agenor's family
Relation Names Sources
Hes. Pher. Bacc. Euripides Sophoc. Hdt. Apollon. Dio. Val. Apd. Dic. Hyg. Pau. Non. Tzet. Mal.
Ehoiai Dithy. Sch. Phoe. Sch. Anti. Arg. Sch. Fab.
Parents Poseidon and Libya
Wife Damno
Children Europa
Phineus [33]


The Rape of Europa, a painting by Jacob Jordaens (1615 version)

Zeus saw Agenor's daughter Europa gathering flowers and immediately fell in love with her. Zeus transformed himself into a white bull and carried Europa away to the island of Crete. He then revealed his true identity and Europa became the first queen of Crete. Agenor, meanwhile, sent Europa's brothers, Cadmus and Cilix in search of her, telling them not to return without her. In some versions of the tale, Agenor sends her other brothers as well: Phineus or Thasus (and of course Phoenix in the versions in which Cadmus's father is Agenor).

As Europa could not be found, none of the brothers returned.[34] Cadmus consulted the oracle of Delphi and was advised to travel until encountering a cow. He was to follow this cow and to found a city where the cow would lie down; this city became Thebes. Cilix searched for her and settled down in Asia Minor. The land was called Cilicia after him.

According to the chronicler Malalas, when Agenor was about to die, he ordered that all the land he had conquered be divided among his three sons. Phoenix took Tyre and its hinterland, and called the country Phoenicia after himself. Similarly, Syros call the country allotted to him Syria. Likewise, Cilix called the latitudes allotted to him Cilicia.[35]

Identity and deeds[edit]

Virgil called Carthage the city of Agenor,[36] by which he alluded to the descent of Dido from Agenor. German philologist Philipp Karl Buttmann pointed out that the genuine Phoenician name of Agenor was Chnas or Khna, which was the same as Canaan, and upon these facts he built the hypothesis that Agenor or Chnas was the same as the Canaan in the books of Moses.[37] Quintus Curtius Rufus considered Agenor to have been the founder of Sidon, and he was also popularly supposed to have introduced the Phoenician alphabet, which was later taught by Cadmus to the Greeks and became the foundation of their own writing system.[38]

Argive family tree[edit]

Argive genealogy in Greek mythology
Colour key:



  1. ^ ἀγήνωρ. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project
  2. ^ Schachter 2012, p. 38.
  3. ^ Herodotus (2003) [1954]. Marincola, John (ed.). Histories. Translated by de Sélincourt, Aubrey (Reprint ed.). New York: Penguin Books. p. 155. ISBN 978-0140449082. But from the birth of Dionysus, the son of Semele, daughter of Cadmus, to the present day is a period of about 1000 years only; ...
  4. ^ Herodotus, 2.145.1
  5. ^ a b c Malalas, Chronographia 2.30
  6. ^ Aeschylus, Suppliant Women 317
  7. ^ Apollodorus, 2.1.4 & 3.1.1; Hyginus, Fabulae 157; Tzetzes, Chiliades 7.349–350; Servius ad Virgil, Aeneid 1.338
  8. ^ Apollodorus, 3.1.1; Tzetzes, Chiliades 7.351–352
  9. ^ Nonnus, Dionysiaca 3.296–304 & 363–364
  10. ^ Tzetzes, Chiliades 7.162–163
  11. ^ Diodorus Siculus, 5.78.1; Ovid, Metamorphoses 2.858; Statius, Achilleid 2.72–74; Apollodorus, 3.1.1; Hyginus, Fabulae 155 & 178; Lucian, Dialogi Marini 15 & De dea Syria 4; St. Jerome, Chronicon B1284; Tatian, Address to the Greeks 33; Scholiast on Plato, Timaeus 24e; Malalas, Chronographia 2.30; Varro, De lingua latina libri 5.31; Ampelius, Liber Memorialis 2.1; Rutilius Namatianus, De reditu suo 1.249
  12. ^ Herodotus, 4.147.4; Sophocles, Oedipus Rex 268; Bacchylides, Dithyrambs 19.46–48; Euripides, Bacchae 170–171; Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 3.1186 with scholia; Diodorus Siculus, 3.74.6, 4.2.1, 5.48.5, 5.57.5 & 5.58.2; Ovid, Metamorphoses 3.8, 3.97 & 4.563, Epistulae ex Ponto 1.3.77; Apollodorus, 3.1.1; Hyginus, Fabulae 6, 76, 178, 274 & 275; Lucian, De dea Syria 4; Marmor Parium, Chronicle 8; Malalas, Chronographia 2.30 & 39; Pausanias, 3.15.8; Nonnus, Dionysiaca 2.3, 2.680, 2.699, 3.218 & 44.101; Tzetzes, Chiliades 12.112; Aristophanes, Frogs 1225–1226; Eusebius, Praeparatio evangelica 2.2.1 & 10.4.4
  13. ^ Herodotus, 7.91.1; Scholiast on Euripides, Phoenissae 6; Apollodorus, 3.1.1; Hyginus, Fabulae 178; Nonnus, Dionysiaca 2.685; Malalas, Chronographia 2.3031
  14. ^ Scholiast on Euripides, Phoenissae 6; Apollodorus, 3.1.1; Hyginus, Fabulae 178; Dictys Cretensis, 1.9; Antoninus Liberalis, 40; Malalas, Chronographia 2.3031; Suda, s.v. Phoenician letters
  15. ^ Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 2.178, 2.236–237, 2.240, 2.293–294, 2.426, 2.490, 2.618 & 3.943 with scholia on 2.178; Apollodorus, 1.9.21; Hyginus, Fabulae 14, 19, 76; Dictys Cretensis, 3.5; Orphic Argonautica 680 ff.; Valerius Flaccus, 4.444, 522 & 582
  16. ^ Scholiast on Euripides, Phoenissae 6; Pausanias, 5.25.12; Nonnus, Dionysiaca 2.684
  17. ^ Malalas, Chronographia 2.3031 & 34
  18. ^ Nonnus, Dionysiaca 2.682–683
  19. ^ Apollodorus, 3.1.1
  20. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae 6 & 178
  21. ^ a b Gantz, p. 208; Pherecydes fr. 21 Fowler 2000, p. 289 = FGrHist 3 F 21 = Scholia on Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 3.1177-87f
  22. ^ Scholiast on Euripides, Phoenician Women 5; Tzetzes, Chiliades 7.165–166
  23. ^ Gomme, A. W. (1913). "The Legend of Cadmus and the Logographoi". JHS: 70.
  24. ^ Homer, Iliad 14.321-22
  25. ^ Hesiod, Ehoiai 19a as cited in Oxyrhynchus Papyri 1358 fr. 1 and Scholiast on Homer, Iliad 12.292
  26. ^ Bacchylides, Dithyrambs 17.31
  27. ^ Moschus, Europa 7
  28. ^ Scholiast on Plato, Timaeus 24e; on Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 3.1186; Malalas, Chronographia 2.30
  29. ^ Pherecydes, fr. 86 Fowler 2000, p. 320 = FGrHist 3 F 86
  30. ^ Scholia on Sophocles, Antigone 989
  31. ^ Sir Richard C. Jebb. Commentary on Sophocles: Antigone, 966
  32. ^ Dictys Cretensis, 1.9
  33. ^ Even though Phineus was called the son of Agenor according to Apollodorus, his mother may be different because only three sons (Cadmus, Phoenix and Cilix) were born to Agenor and Telephassa.
  34. ^ Apollodorus, 3.1.1; Hyginus, Fabulae 178
  35. ^ Malalas, Chronographia 2.31
  36. ^ Virgil, Aeneid 1.338
  37. ^ Schmitz, Leonhard (1867). "Agenor (1)". In Smith, William (ed.). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. Vol. 1. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. p. 68. Archived from the original on 2013-10-12. Retrieved 2008-05-16.
  38. ^ Raleigh, Walter (1829). William Oldys (ed.). The Works of Sir Walter Raleigh. Oxford University Press. pp. 224, 274–278.