Aegyptus

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This article is about a figure in Greek mythology. For other, see Aegyptus (disambiguation).

According to Greek mythology, Aegyptus (/ˈɪptəs/; Ancient Greek: Αἴγυπτος, Aígyptos) is a descendant of the heifer maiden, Io, and the river-god Nilus, and was a king in Egypt.[1]

Aegyptus, King of Egypt and Arabia[edit]

Aegyptos was the son of Belus[2] and Achiroe, a naiad daughter of Nile. He ruled Arabia and conquered nearby country ruled by people called Melampodes and called it by his name. Aegyptus fathered fifty sons, who were all but one murdered by forty nine of the fifty daughters of Aegyptus' twin brother, Danaus, eponym of the Danaids.

A scholium on a line in Euripides, Hecuba 886, reverses these origins, placing the twin brothers at first in Argolis, whence Aegyptus was expelled and fled to the land that was named after him. In the more common version,[3] Aegyptus commanded that his fifty sons marry the fifty Danaides, and Danaus with his daughters fled to Argos, ruled by Pelasgus[4] or by Gelanor, whom Danaus replaced. When Aegyptus and his sons arrived to take the Danaides, Danaus relinquished them, to spare the Argives the pain of a battle; however, he instructed his daughters to kill their husbands on their wedding night. Forty-nine followed through, but one, Hypermnestra ("greatly wooed"), refused, because her husband, Lynceus the "lynx-man", honored her wish to remain a virgin. Danaus was angry with his disobedient daughter and threw her to the Argive courts. Aphrodite intervened and saved her. Lynceus and Hypermnestra founded the lineage of Argive kings, a Danaid Dynasty.

In some versions, Lynceus later slew Danaus as revenge for the death of his brothers, and the Danaides were punished in the underworld by being forced to carry water through a jug with holes, or a sieve, so that the water always leaked out.

The story of Danaus and his daughters, and the reason for their flight from marriage, provided the theme of Aeschylus' The Supplicants.

Genealogy of Aegyptus[edit]

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
Polydorus
Sparta Lacedaemon Ocalea Abas Agave Sarpedon Rhadamanthus
Autonoë
Eurydice Acrisius Ino Minos
Zeus Danaë Semele Zeus
Perseus Dionysus
Colour key:

     Male
     Female
     Deity


Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Egypt took its name from his, according to folk etymology (see the article Copt); thus for Euripides, in his tragedy Helen, Aegyptus has become Egypt itself: "Proteus, while he lived, was King here, ruling the whole of Aigyptos from his palace on the island of Pharos."
  2. ^ "Belos", "lord", is simply a Hellenized rendition of Baal, a Semitic term, not an Egyptian one.
  3. ^ According to pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheke 2.1.4-5.
  4. ^ An eponym for autochthonous peoples, here represented as pre-Hellenic.

References[edit]

  • Stewart, M. People, Places & Things: Aegyptus (1), Greek Mythology: From the Iliad to the Fall of the Last Tyrant. [1]
  • Jean Vertemont, Dictionnaire des mythologies indo-europeenes, 1997.