Greek mythology, like Hindu mythology has oodles of exhilarating tales to tell. One such tale is of “The Necklace of Harmonia.” Unique and powerful, the necklace had an exceptional trait of making a woman appear gorgeous and young forever. However, it had a rider and that was the sole reason for its creation – To cast an evil spirit on the possessor. In this way, it is similar to the modern day Hope Diamond.
The necklace of Harmonia, was gifted to Harmonia (The Goddess of unanimity, concord and harmony), on her wedding day by Hephaestus, the God of Blacksmiths who was also Aphrodite’s husband. Prepared by using solid gold, the necklace had two serpents in a clutch and was studded with diamonds.
Now, why did he give such a necklace to Harmonia?
Aphrodite, the goddess of love was of very rare beauty and loveliness. She was married to Hephaestus in a marriage arranged by the Lords. Hephaestus loved his wife immensely but at the same time was jealous of her amorous affinity. So, when Hephaestus got to know about the sexual affair of Aphrodite and Ares, he vowed to curse the child who was borne out of this union between the two lovers. Aphrodite then bore a daughter from the seeds laid by Ares in the form of Harmonia. The girl grew into a woman as beautiful as her mother. She was betrothed to the Prince of Thebes, Cadmus. On hearing about the wedding, Hephaestus crafted and gifted this exquisite necklace to Cadmus which he accepted wholeheartedly and gifted to Harmonia, without knowing about its evil effects. However, the necklace started showing its evil powers and both Harmonia and Cadmus were transformed into serpents.
The Later Victims of the Necklace
The necklace then automatically passed on to Harmonia’s daughter Semele. Semele wore the necklace the day Hera visited her, only to invite misfortune. She was informed that her spouse was not really Zeus. This led to the downfall of Semele as she thoughtlessly urged Zeus to confirm his identity by presenting himself in all his splendor and magnificence as the Lord of Paradise.
Now, the necklace passed through many hands. However, no matter in whose hand it went, it always brought misfortune. Several generations later, it then passed on to Queen Jocasta. Soon, after wearing she became young and beautiful and after the death of her husband King Laius, she even fell in love with her own son, Oedipus (although not aware about the relationship). Later, she married him. However, when the truth about Oedipus was known, Jocasta committed suicide and Oedipus blinded himself.
The necklace then passed to Polynices, the son of Oedipus and Jocasta, who gifted it to Eriphyle to persuade her husband Amphiaraus to participate in the raids of the Thebes. They soon died. Lastly, through Eriphyle, the necklace was passed on to Acarnan and Amphoterus who finally dedicated the beautiful necklace to the Athena Temple at Delphi, to prevent any further disasters amongst the human wearers.
The necklace was stolen by the warrior Phayllus who gifted it to his ladylove. However, as soon as she possessed it, her own son went mad only to burn the palace where she perished in the fire. And that’s the end of the mysterious tale of the necklace.
Nothing has been known about the Necklace of Harmonia ever since.
By Deepti Verma