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Telephassa (/ˌtɛlˈfæsə/; Ancient Greek: Τηλέφασσα, "far-shining"), also spelled Telephaassa (/ˌtɛlfiˈæsə/; Τηλεφάασσα) and Telephe (/ˈtɛlfi/; Τηλέφη), is a lunar epithet in Greek mythology that is sometimes substituted for Argiope the wife of Agenor, according to his name a "leader of men"[1] in Phoenicia, and mother of Cadmus.[2][3] In some versions she is the daughter of Nilus, god of the Nile and Nephele, a soft cloud oceanid.[citation needed] She had several children, including Europa, Cilix, Cadmus, Thasus, who gave his name to an island next to Samothrace,[4] and Phoenix. Thasus is sometimes said to be her grandchild by Cilix. Her husband was Agenor or perhaps Phoenix in a version in which Cadmus and Europa and their brothers are children of Phoenix (see Agenor and Phoenix).

Zeus saw Europa gathering flowers, transformed himself into a white bull, and carried her away to the island of Crete. He then revealed his true identity and Europa became the first queen of Crete. Telephassa accompanied her son Cadmus on a quest to find Europa. The mother and son traveled to the islands of Rhodes and Thera before arriving in Thrace, where Telephassa fell ill and died. "On Samothrace... the mother was called Elektra or Elektryone", Karl Kerenyi notes.[5] After burying his mother, Cadmus was told of the oracle of Delphi by the Thracians. Upon consulting the oracle, he 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, Europa's other brother, also searched for her and settled down in southern Asia Minor. The land was called Cilicia after him.


  1. ^ Kerenyi, The Heroes of the Greeks 1959:27.
  2. ^ "She bore the lunar name Telephassa or Telephae, 'she who illuminates afar', or Argiope 'she of the white face'", Karl Kerenyi notes in The Heroes of the Greeks 1959:27.
  3. ^ Other mythic figures were also named Argiope.
  4. ^ Kerenyi 1959:27f.
  5. ^ Kerenyi 1959:27.
Argive genealogy in Greek mythology
Inachus Melia
Zeus Io Phoroneus
Epaphus Memphis
Libya Poseidon
Belus Achiroë Agenor Telephassa
Danaus Pieria Aegyptus Cadmus Cilix Europa Phoenix
Mantineus Hypermnestra Lynceus Harmonia Zeus
Sparta Lacedaemon Ocalea Abas Agave Sarpedon Rhadamanthus
Eurydice Acrisius Ino Minos
Zeus Danaë Semele Zeus
Perseus Dionysus
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