Acrisius

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The Death of Acrisius by Sybil Tawse

In Greek mythology, Acrisius (/əˈkrsiəs/; Ancient Greek: Ἀκρίσιος) was a king of Argos.

Family[edit]

Acrisius was the son of Abas and Aglaea[1] (or Ocalea, depending on the author), grandson of Lynceus, great-grandson of Danaus. He was the twin brother of Proetus and the half brother of Lyrcus.[2] Acrisius was father by Eurydice[3] or Aganippe[4][5] of Danae and thus grandfather of the hero Perseus through her. His other daughter was Evarete, wife of King Oenomaus of Pisa in Elis.[6]

Mythology[edit]

Rivalry of Twins[edit]

Acrisius and Proetus was said to have quarreled even in the womb of their mother and when Abas died and Acrisius had grown up, he expelled Proetus from his inheritance. On his exile, Proetus was supported by his father-in-law Iobates, the Lycian, Proetus returned, and Acrisius was compelled to share his kingdom with his brother by giving Tiryns to him, while he retained Argos for himself.

Death[edit]

Disappointed by his lack of luck in having a son, Acrisius consults the Oracle at Delphi, who warns him that he will one day be killed by his daughter Danaë's son. Danaë is childless and to keep her so, he imprisons her in a bronze chamber open to the sky in the courtyard of his palace. Zeus impregnates her in the form of a golden shower (some accounts say it is her uncle, Proetus, who impregnates her).[7] Danaë becomes pregnant with Perseus. Acrisius puts the child and Danaë in a chest and throws it into the sea. Zeus asks Poseidon to calm the water; he does and Danaë and Perseus survive, washing up on the island of Seriphos. A fisherman named Dictys, brother of King Polydectes, finds the pair and takes care of them.[8][9][10]

Perseus grows up to be a hero, killing Medusa and rescuing Andromeda. Perseus and Danaë return to Argos with Andromeda, but King Acrisius has gone to Larissa. When Perseus arrives in Larissa, he participates in funeral games and accidentally strikes Acrisius on the head with a discus, killing him and fulfilling the prophecy.[11]

Founder of Delphic amphictyony[edit]

According to the Scholiast on Euripides,[12] Acrisius was the founder of the Delphic amphictyony. Strabo believes that this amphictyony existed before the time of Acrisius,[13] and that he was only the first who regulated the affairs of the amphictyons, fixed the towns which were to take part in the council, gave to each its vote, and settled the jurisdiction of the amphictyons.[14]

Regnal titles
Preceded by
Proetus
King of Argos Succeeded by
Perseus

Argive genealogy chart[edit]

Argive genealogy in Greek mythology
InachusMelia
ZeusIoPhoroneus
EpaphusMemphis
LibyaPoseidon
BelusAchiroëAgenorTelephassa
DanausPieriaAegyptusCadmusCilixEuropaPhoenix
MantineusHypermnestraLynceusHarmoniaZeus
Polydorus
SpartaLacedaemonOcaleaAbasAgaveSarpedonRhadamanthus
Autonoë
EurydiceAcrisiusInoMinos
ZeusDanaëSemeleZeus
PerseusDionysus
Colour key:

     Male
     Female
     Deity


Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2.2.1
  2. ^ Pausanias, Graeciae Descriptio 2.25.5
  3. ^ Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2.2.2
  4. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae 63
  5. ^ Scholiast, ad Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica iv.1091
  6. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae 84
  7. ^ Smith, William, ed. (1867), "Acrisius", Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, 1, Boston, MA, p. 14, archived from the original on 2007-10-11
  8. ^ Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2.2.1 & 2.4.1
  9. ^ Pausanias, Graeciae Descriptio 2.16.2, 2.25.6 & 3.13.6
  10. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae 63
  11. ^ Schmitz, Leonhard (1867), "Perseus", in Smith, William (ed.), Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, 3, Boston, MA, p. 206
  12. ^ Euripides, Orestes 1087
  13. ^ Strabo, Geographica 9. p. 420
  14. ^ Comp. Libanius, Orat. vol. iii. 472, ed. Reiske.

References[edit]

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSmith, William, ed. (1870). "Acrisius". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.