Budva History - Ancient Budva 01 PDF Print E-mail

The mythical history of Budva begins in ancient, heroic times when mortals founded the first cities of Europe with the help of the gods, wedded their daughters and thus fathered great and important nations or tribes. The region where venerable Budva and its earliest inhabitants, the Enchelei, were first cited, is closely connected with the fate of a famous mortal, Cadmus, founder of Thebes in Boeothia, who came from Phoenicia to Greece several generations before the beginning of the Trojan War. This fortunate soul, whom the gods had given as spouse, Harmonia, blond daughter of Aphrodite and Ares, left Thebes in his old age and settled among the Enchelei, founded Budva, defeated the neighbouring Illyrians and spent the rest of his life together with his wife in this distant, foreign land. These dramatic events all took place on the eastern shores of the Adriatic Sea, between the Bay of Kotor and Diirres, where several places are indicated as the grave of Cadmus and Harmonia and their shrine. These events were favourite themes of Greek, Hellenic and Roman poets - Pindar, Sophocles, Euripides, Callimachus, Apollonius of Rhodes, Lycophron and Ovid, and they were also familiar to the earliest European geographers, historians and students of mythology. Thus, through the myth about Cadmus, Budva and the Enchelei very early assumed an important place among the famous cities and nations of ancient Europe. The reasons that brought Cadmus and Harmonia to the eastern Adriatic coast and their fate there are found in a number of legends, the best known preserved in Euripides' tragedy Bacchae (c. 408 B.C.), in Ovid's narrative poem Metamorphoses (8 A.D.) and in Bibliotheca, a book on mythology from the 1st century A.D., erroneously attributed to Apollodorus. As the story goes, Cadmus ruled Thebes for a long time, but in his old age he was obliged to relinquish the Theban throne to his grandson Pentheus and together with Harmonia settle among the Enchelei, "people of the eels". He travelled there in an ox cart and in his new homeland he founded the city of Butou, present-day Budva. There had been a prophecy that the Enchelei would defeat their neighbours, the Illyrians, if they chose a foreigner as their leader. They did so, and Cadmus triumphed over the Illyrians and took control of their lands. In the new kingdom Harmonia gave birth to a son Illyricus. Shortly thereafter Cadmus led the united Enchelei and Illyrians in an expedition against Greece, and the mighty barbarian army won one victory after another - until they tried to plunder Apollo's shrine at Delphi. Then the Enchelei and Illyrian army suffered defeat, though Cadmus and Harmonia were by divine will spared. When they returned to the Adriatic coast, Cadmus realized that his misfortune was punishment for killing Ares dragon as a young man, and he therefore begged the gods to turn him into a serpent. Harmonia wanted to remain with her unfortunate husband and share his fate; embraced, in the form of blue-spotted black snakes they vanished in a sweet-smelling grove nearby, and since then as favourites of the gods they have enjoyed eternal bliss among the roses and golden pomegranates, constantly refreshed by scented sea breezes. Groves like this, which later became shrines honouring Cadmus and Harmonia, are found all around Budva.The contacts that Cadmus established between Thebes and the Adriatic were not interrupted after his death. In the seventh generation after Cadmus when Thebes was destroyed by the army of Argos, Cadmus' defeated descendents, the Cadmei, set out through the southern Balkan mountains towards the Adriatic to seek help from the Enchelei, their path known as Cadmus' road (via Cadmeia), linking the Aegean Sea with the east coast of the Adriatic.To what extent the myth about Cadmus among the Enchelei reflects real ; events can be judged partly on the basis of early geographical and historical writings, and partly on the basis of archaeological research. It is quite certain that : the Enchelei are not merely a mythical nation; that they were early inhabitants of I Budva and its surroundings can be concluded on the basis of the most reliable j geographical writings of antiquity, primarily pseudo-Peryplus (c. 340 B.C.).It is also true that living in their vicinity were the Illyrians, with whom they later f- mixed and created a united Illyrian kingdom. Therefore in some old geographical and historical writings the Enchelei are identified with the Illyrians, and Budva is cited as an Illyrian city. In that respect, and in connection with the founding of Budva and the origin of its name, an interesting reference is found in the work of Stephanus Byzantinus, a 6th-century Greek grammarian, and in Etymologicum magnum by an anonymous author and of unknown date. Stephanus Byzantinus writes: "Butoa, a city in Illyria... thus called because Cadmus rode in a cart drawn by oxen and swiftly covered the distance to Illyria. Others say that Cadmus called the city after Egyptian Buti, corrupted to Butoa."Further information, also drawing on the mention of Budva in Sophocles tragedy Onomaklo, is found in Etymologicum magnum: "Butoa: a city in Illyria. It is said that Cadmus in an ox cart travelled swiftly fromThebes to the Illyrians and founded a city which he called, after the oxen andbecause he left swiftly, Butoa. Or that after the herb oregano (butes) it was called Butoa and Buthoa... or that Cadmus was a supporter of theIllyrians when he settled among them..."

 All this etymology about the name of Budva was pure fancy on the part of learned classical authors, who did not distinguish between the Enchelei and the Illyrians. It is more likely that ancient Budva was a native settlement given by the Enchelei the name of Butua, which later, because of the connection with Cadmus, was interpreted like formally similar Greek words.

 It is difficult to say how much truth there is in the legend about the founding of Budva and the close contacts of the Enchelei and the Cadmei of Boeothia. Greek myths are often partly based on real events, but in the myth about Cadmus one cannot distinguish for sure what is the fruit of the imagination and what is a reflection of reality. The founder of Budva is described in myth as a great traveller and wanderer: he set out in early youth from Sidon for the distant, unknown world, spent time on the islands of Rhodes and Thera, lived for a long time among the Edones in Thrace and only after visiting Delphi did he found Thebes where he reigned until he was an old man when he left quickly, travelling in an ox cart to present-day Budva. It seems probable that Cadmus' long journey from Sidon to Thebes, and from Thebes to Budva are actually reminiscences of the real movements of people and goods from the Levant to the Aegean, and from the Aegean to the Adriatic. Fortunately, neither myth nor historical sources permit the exact dating of this communication, or when Budva was founded. According to mythical chronology, Cadmus left Phoenicia when the god Zeus in the form of a bull abducted his sister Europa, he ruled Thebes approximately when Minos controlled the island of Crete, and he founded Budva three generations before the birth of Oedipus, at least five generations before the beginning of the Trojan War, which according to legend took place in 1140 B.C. and in reality - probably in the mid-13th century B.C. Since mythical heroes generally lived unnaturally long lives and since their fate is often connected with events of much later periods, these assumed mythical dates for Cadmus' reign and the founding of Budva are most unreliable. Who actually founded ancient Budva and when will be determinined by archaeologists.Archaeological research in Budva has not been systematically published, and its surroundings have not been sufficiently studied. Discovered while digging the foundations for the Hotel Avala in 1936 were artefacts important for the cultural history of Budva, though for the most part they did not reach the hands of archaeologists but private collectors. The results of archaeological excavations since the war have not been published, and lacking are accurate data about many archaeological artefacts accidentally discovered in the Budva area. Only in the last few years, during restoration of earthquake - devastated Budva were fragments of the original city unearthed, and some of the results have been published of diggings at two archaeological sites in the vicinity - the caves of Spile and Vranjaj, which make it possible to reconstruct the earliest cultural history of the area inhabited by the Enchelei and the small rocky point on which Cadmus founded the town of Budva.
The oldest archaeological finds relating to the population of the Budva area date from about 5000 B.C., and they were discovered in the hidden cave of Spile, which is east of Perast on the southwest slope of Sveti Ilija, which commands a splendid view of Risan and the Bay of Kotor. The various artefacts unearthed in this cave illustrate the culture of the inhabitants of the Montenegrin coast during three prehistoric periods: the early phase of the Stone Age (early Neolithic, c. 5000-4500 B.C.), the late phase of the Stone Age (late Neolithic, c. 4500-3000 B.C.) and the Copper Age (3000-2000 B.C.).
Archaeological finds from Spile, which date from the late Neolithic - various clay bowls, arms and tools of chipped and polished stone, and the remains of animal bones - indicate that the first inhabitants of the Bay of Kotor and the neighbouring area belonged to the earliest central Mediterranean population, which left many traces on the east and west coasts of the Adriatic, and especially in southern Italy and Sicily. In the culture of these small communities (jmpresso cultures), which did not change for centuries, one does not find elements that would indicate contacts with distant regions or other populations. It was not until the late Neolithic, c. 4500 and 4000 B.C., that the first contacts were made between communities on the southeast coast of the Adriatic and the Aegean. Among archaeological finds in the Spile cave dating from this period are ceramic vessels decorated with the carved patterns characteristic for the Danilo and Hvar cultures, forms and ornaments that are very much like the ceramic vessels from the southwest Peloponnese and central Greece. On the other hand, there were notable changes in the traditional economy and religious concepts.   


  Dragoslav Srejovic

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