Danaë reclining with Zeus as the shower of gold depicted on a vase 450-425 BC
|Parents||Acrisius and Eurydice|
In Greek mythology, Danaë (// or //; Greek: Δανάη) was a daughter of King Acrisius of Argos and his wife Queen Eurydice. She was the mother of the hero Perseus by Zeus. She was sometimes credited with founding the city of Ardea in Latium during the Bronze Age.
Disappointed by his lack of male heirs, Acrisius asked an oracle if this would change. The oracle told him that he would be killed by his daughter's son. She was childless and, meaning to keep her so, he shut her up in a bronze tower or cave. But Zeus came to her in the form of golden rain, that streamed in through the ceiling and down into her womb. Soon after, their child Perseus was born.
Unwilling to provoke the wrath of the gods or the Furies by killing his offspring, Acrisius cast Danaë and Perseus into the sea in a wooden chest. The sea was calmed by Poseidon and at the request of Zeus the pair survived. They washed ashore on the island of Seriphos, where they were taken in by Dictys – the brother of King Polydectes – who raised Perseus to manhood. The King was charmed by Danaë but she had no interest in him. Consequently he agreed not to marry her only if her son would bring him the head of the Gorgon Medusa. Using Athena's shield, Hermes's winged sandals and Hades' helmet of invisibility, Perseus was able to evade Medusa's gaze and decapitate her.
Later, after Perseus brought back Medusa's head and rescued Andromeda, the oracle's prophecy came true. He started for Argos, but learning of the prophecy instead went to Larissa, where athletic games were being held. By chance, an aging Acrisius was there and Perseus accidentally struck him on the head with his javelin (or discus), fulfilling the prophecy. Too shamed to return to Argos he then gave the kingdom to Megapenthes, son of Proetus (Acrisius' twin brother) and took over his kingdom of Tiryns, also founding Mycenae and Midea there.
Another version states that Perseus was angry that he had been sent on a seemingly impossible quest to kill Medusa so that his mother, Danaë, was alone to be pursued by King Polydectes. Perseus took out Medusa's head from a sack and turned Polydectes to stone.
Danae by Alexandre Jacques Chantron, 1891.
Léon Comerre's Danaë and the Shower of Gold, 1908.
Adolf Ulrik Wertmüller Danaë and the Shower of Gold, 1787
- Jones, Daniel; Roach, Peter, James Hartman and Jane Setter, eds. Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary. 17th edition. Cambridge UP, 2006.
- Smith, William; Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, London (1873). "Danae" , Acri'sius
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Danae.|
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Danae.|
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- The asteroid 61 Danaë, named after her
- Danae - Literary character from the Elenium and the Tamuli series by David Eddings
- Warburg Institute Iconographic Database (ca. 100 images of Danae)