In Greek mythology, Caanthus or Kaanthos (//; Ancient Greek: Καάνθου) was the son of Oceanus and Tethys, and the brother of Melia, who was the consort of Apollo, and an important cult figure at Thebes. According to the second-century geographer Pausanias, Caanthus was commanded by his father Oceanus to seek his sister Melia, who had been abducted by Apollo, but being unable to get Melia away from Apollo, Caanthus set fire to the Apollo's sanctuary, and Apollo shot and killed him.
The story of Caanthus is a close parallel to the more famous story of Cadmus, the founder and first king of Thebes. Like Caanthus, Cadmus' sister Europa is abducted by an Olympian god (in this case Zeus), and Cadmus is sent by his father to bring Europa back home, and like Caanthus, Cadmus is unsuccessful. Caanthus' story is perhaps also related to the story of the Theban Amphion. According to Hyginus, Amphion, like Caanthus, was shot and killed by Apollo because of an attack on his temple.
According to Pausanias, Caanthus was buried near a spring above the Ismenion, the Temple of Apollo at Thebes. Pausanias identified the spring as the famous spring of Ares, where Cadmus killed the dragon guarding it.
- Smith, s.v. Caanthus.
- Pausanias, 9.10.5–6.
- Larson, p. 142, describes Caanthus' story as "clearly a doublet of the better-known myth" of Cadmus; Schachter 1967, p. 4, calls Caanthus and Melia's story an "imitation" of the story of Cadmus and Europa; see also Schachter 1981, p. 79; Fontenrose, p. 318.
- Schachter 1967, p. 4.
- Hyginus, Fabulae 9 (Smith and Trzaskoma, p. 99).
- Larson, p. 142; Fontenrose, p. 318; Pausanias, 9.10.5.
- Bryant, pp. 448–449 n. 64
- Bryant, Jacob, A New System; or, An Analysis of Antient Mythology, J. Walker, 1807. Internet Archive
- Fontenrose, Joseph Eddy, Python: A Study of Delphic Myth and Its Origins, University of California Press, 1959. ISBN 9780520040915.
- Hyginus, Gaius Julius, Fabulae in Apollodorus' Library and Hyginus' Fabuae: Two Handbooks of Greek Mythology, Translated, with Introductions by R. Scott Smith and Stephen M. Trzaskoma, Hackett Publishing Company, 2007. ISBN 978-0-87220-821-6.
- Larson, Jennifer, "Greek Nymphs : Myth, Cult, Lore", Oxford University Press (US). June 2001. ISBN 978-0-19-512294-7
- Pausanias, Pausanias Description of Greece with an English Translation by W.H.S. Jones, Litt.D., and H.A. Ormerod, M.A., in 4 Volumes. Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1918. Online version at the Perseus Digital Library.
- Schachter, Albert (1967), "A Boeotian Cult Type" in Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies (BICS), No. 14, pp. 1-16. JSTOR 43646076
- Schachter, Albert (1981), "Cults of Boiotia: 1. Acheloos to Hera.", Bulletin Supplement (University of London. Institute of Classical Studies), 38.1. JSTOR 43768566.
- Smith, William; Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, London (1873). Online version at the Perseus Digital Library