In Greek mythology, the Danaïdes (//; Greek: Δαναΐδες), also Danaides or Danaids, were the fifty daughters of Danaus. In the Metamorphoses, Ovid refers to them as the Belides after their grandfather Belus. They were to marry the 50 sons of Danaus' twin brother Aegyptus, a mythical king of Egypt. In the most common version of the myth, all but one of them killed their husbands on their wedding night and are condemned to spend eternity carrying water in a sieve or perforated device. In the classical tradition, they came to represent the futility of a repetitive task that can never be completed (see also Sisyphus and Ocnus).
Danaus agreed to the marriage of his daughters only after Aegyptus came to Argos with his fifty sons to protect the local population, the Argives, from any battles. The daughters were ordered by their father to kill their husbands on the first night of their weddings, and this they all did except for one, Hypermnestra, who spared her husband Lynceus because he respected her desire to remain a virgin. Danaus was angered that his daughter refused to do as he ordered and took her to the Argives courts. Lynceus killed Danaus as revenge for the death of his brothers, and he and Hypermnestra started the Danaid Dynasty of rulers in Argos. In other versions of the myth, Danaus himself united Hypermnestra and Lynceus instead.
The other 49 daughters buried the heads of their bridegrooms in Lerna and paid funeral honors to their bodies in front of the city. The gods Athena and Hermes purified them at the command of Zeus. Afterward, they remarried by choosing their mates in footraces (or their father bestowed them to the victors of the athletic contest). Some accounts tell that their punishment in Tartarus was being forced to carry a jug to fill a bathtub (pithos) without a bottom (or with a leak) to wash their sins off. Because the water constantly leaked, they would forever try to fill the tub. This myth is probably connected with a ceremony concerning the worship of waters, and the Danaïdes were water-nymphs.
The Danaïds and their husbands
The list in the Bibliotheca preserves not only the names of brides and grooms but also those of their mothers. A lot was cast among the sons of Aegyptus to decide which of the Danaids each should marry, except for those daughters born to Memphis who were joined by their namesakes, the sons of Tyria. According to Hippostratus, Danaus had all these progenies begotten by a single woman, Europa, the daughter of Nilus.
Hyginus' list is partially corrupt, and some of the names are nearly illegible. Nevertheless, this catalog has almost nothing in common with that of Pseudo-Apollodorus. Names with the (†) symbol mean corrupted entries but annotations from various editors were provided to rationalize their possible names.
|No.||Danaïdes||Aegyptus' Sons||No.||Danaïdes||Aegyptus' Sons|
|4||Phicomone †||Plexippus||29||Acamantis or Achamantis †||Echomius †|
|6||?||?||31||Monuste †||Eurysthenes †|
|9||?||Chrysippus||34||Amoeme or Oeme||Polydector|
|10||Hyale †||Perius||35||Polybe||Itonomus †|
|12||Damone †||Amyntor||37||Electra||Hyperantus †|
|13||Hippothoe (possibly Hypothoe)||Obrimus (possibly Bromius)||38||Eubule||Demarchus|
|14||Myrmidone||Mineus † (possibly Oeneus)||39||Daplidice †||Pugnon †|
|16||Cleo||Asterius||41||Europome †||Atlites or Athletes †|
|17||Arcania †||Xanthus||42||Pyrantis †||Plexippus|
|20||Hyparete||Protheon||45||Eupheme or Eupheno †||Hyperbius|
|23||Armo †||asbus †||48||Itea †||Antiochus|
|24||Glaucippe||Niavius †||49||Erato †||Eudaemon|
A third list was provided by the English antiquarian, Henry Ellis, which was derived from Hyginus. The names of the Danaïdes were complete but with new entries and some alterations in the spellings. It can be observed that the names Armoaste and Danaes (Danais) were an addition to complete the list, while Scea (Scaea) and Autonomes (Automate), which were borrowed from Apollodorus' accounts were also added.
|1||Midea or Idea||Idea||11||Trite||Trite||21||Chrysothemis||Chrysothemis||31||Monuste||Monuste||41||Europome||Europomene|
|7||?||Scea||17||Arcadia or Arcania||Vrania||27||Polyxena||Polyxena||37||Electra||Electra||47||Celaeno||Paleno|
|9||?||Autonomes||19||Phila or Philae||Phylea||29||Acamantis||Achamantis||39||Daplidice||Daphildice||49||Erato||Erato|
Several minor female characters mentioned in various accounts unrelated to the central myth of Danaus and the Danaïdes are also referred to as daughters of Danaus. These include:
- Archedice, along with her sister Helice and two others, chosen by lot by the rest, had founded the temple of Lindian Athene where they made offerings on Lindos in Rhodes.
- Anaxithea, mother of Olenus by Zeus.
- Amphimedusa, mother of Erythras by Poseidon
- Astyoche, a nymph who was called the mother of Chrysippus by Pelops.
- Eurythoe, one of the possible mothers of Oenomaus by Ares; alternatively, mother of Hippodamia by Oenomaus
- Hippe, who, like her sister Amymone, gave her name to a freshwater source
- Hippodamia, mother of Olenus by Zeus. (Maybe the same as the above Anaxithea)
- Isonoe or Isione or Hesione, mother of Orchomenus or Chryses by Zeus.
- Phaethusa, one of the possible mothers of Myrtilus by Hermes
- Phylodameia, mother of Pharis by Hermes
- Physadeia, who, like her sister Amymone, gave her name to a freshwater source
- Polydora, nymph-mother of Dryops (Oeta) by the river god Spercheus
- Side, mythical eponym of a town in Laconia
The Daughters of Danaus is also the title of an 1894 novel by Mona Caird, also dealing with imposed marriage although, in this case, it is a single marriage instead of 50, and in 19th-century Great Britain.
Magda Szabó's 1964 novel, A Danaida (The Danaid), is about a woman who lives selfishly for two-thirds of her life without realizing that even she can change the course of history.
Le châtiment des Danaïdes is an essay by the French-Canadian author Henri Paul Jacquesthe applying the Freudian concept of psychoanalysis to studying the punishment imposed on the Danaïdes after they committed their crimes.
In Monday Begins on Saturday, it is mentioned that the Danaïdes had their case reviewed in modern times, and, due to mitigating circumstances (the marriage being forced), had their punishment changed to laying down and then immediately demolishing asphalt.
- Book 10, lines 10–63.
- Apollodorus, 2.1.5
- Apollodorus, 2.1.5
- Tzetzes, Chiliades 7.37 p. 370-371
- Hyginus, Fabulae 170
- Hyginus, Fabulae 170 (Latin ed. Schmidt): possibly can be read as Midea
- Hyginus, Fabulae 170 (Latin ed. Schmidt): possibly can be read as Panthous
- Hyginus, Fabulae 170 (Latin ed. Bunte): possibly can be read as Pandion, see Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2.1.5
- Hyginus, Fabulae 170 (Latin ed. Schmidt): possibly can be read as Iphigomene, or as Iphinoe and Theonoe
- Hyginus, Fabulae 170 (Latin ed. Schmidt): possibly Euchenor compared to Agenor
- Hyginus, Fabulae 170 (Latin ed. Schmidt): possibly can be read as Demodice
- Hyginus, Fabulae 170 (Latin ed. Schmidt): possibly Chrysippe as cited in Apollodorus, 2.1.5 p. 85 Heyne
- Hyginus, Fabulae 170 (Latin ed. Bunte): possibly can read as Pierus
- Hyginus, Fabulae 170 (annotation by Robert Unger): possibly Trete as cited in Statius' Thebaid p. 195
- Hyginus, Fabulae 170 (Latin ed. Bunte): possibly can read as Damno
- compare with Hippothous in Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2.1.5
- Hyginus, Fabulae 170 with annotations by Mauricius Schmidt
- compare with Bromius in Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2.1.5 as cited in Hyginus, Fabulae 170 with annotations by Mauricius Schmidt
- can be read as Myrmydone as cited in Hyginus, Fabulae 170 with annotations by Mauricius Schmidt
- corrected as Oeneus by Bernhardus Bunte in Hyginus, Fabulae 170 and compare to Oeneus in Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2.1.5
- can be read possibly as Cleodora (Mauricius Schmidt) or simply Clio (Bernhardus Bunte) in their annotations of Hyginus, Fabulae 170
- compare with Asteria in Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2.1.5 as cited in Hyginus, Fabulae 170 with annotations by Mauricius Schmidt
- the name was corrupted according to Mauricius Schmidt in his annotations in Hyginus, Fabulae 170 
- can be read possibly as Philinna according to Mauricius Schmidt in his annotations of Hyginus, Fabulae 170
- can be read possibly as Phileas (Phileam) according to Mauricius Schmidt in his annotations of Hyginus, Fabulae 170
- Raphaell Holinshed, William Harrison, Richard Stanyhurst, John Hooker, Francis Thynne, Abraham Fleming, John Stow. Holinshed's Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland, Chapter 3. Henry Ellis' Edition. J. Johnson. London. 1807.
- The Parian Marble, Fragment 9 (March 7, 2001). "Interleaved Greek and English text (translation by Gillian Newing)". Archived from the original on December 25, 2013. Retrieved January 24, 2019.
- Herodotus, Histories 2.182
- Stephanus of Byzantium, Ethnica s.v. Olenos
- Scholia on Homer, Iliad, 2. 499
- Robert Graves. The Greek Myths, section 110 s.v. The Children of Pelops
- Scholia on Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 1.752
- Tzetzes on Lycophron, Alexandra 157
- Callimachus, Hymn 5 to Athena, 47–48
- Clement of Alexandria, Recognitions 10.21
- Scholia on Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 1.230
- Pherecydes, fr. 37a
- Pausanias, Graeciae Descriptio 4.30.2
- Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses, 32
- Pausanias, Graeciae Descriptio 3.22.11
- Issue 5, vol. 1910 of the semimonthly literary journal Nyugat
- The Danaids in Hungarian and in English, translated by Peter Zollman
- The Danaids in Hungarian and in English, translated by István Tótfalusi
- Antoninus Liberalis, The Metamorphoses of Antoninus Liberalis translated by Francis Celoria (Routledge 1992). Online version at the Topos Text Project.
- Apollodorus, The Library with an English Translation by Sir James George Frazer, F.B.A., F.R.S. in 2 Volumes, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1921. ISBN 0-674-99135-4. Online version at the Perseus Digital Library. Greek text available from the same website.
- Callimachus. Hymns, translated by Alexander William Mair (1875–1928). London: William Heinemann; New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons. 1921. Online version at the Topos Text Project.
- Clement of Alexandria, Recognitions from Ante-Nicene Library Volume 8, translated by Smith, Rev. Thomas. T. & T. Clark, Edinburgh. 1867. Online version at theio.com.
- Hyginus, Fabulae from The Myths of Hyginus translated and edited by Mary Grant. University of Kansas Publications in Humanistic Studies. Online version at the Topos Text Project.
- John Tzetzes, Book of Histories, Books VII-VIII translated by Vasiliki Dogani from the original Greek of T. Kiessling's edition of 1826. Online version at theio.com.
- Pausanias, Description of Greece with an English Translation by W.H.S. Jones, Litt.D., and H.A. Ormerod, M.A., in 4 Volumes. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1918. ISBN 0-674-99328-4. Online version at the Perseus Digital Library
- Pausanias, Graeciae Descriptio. 3 vols. Leipzig, Teubner. 1903. Greek text available at the Perseus Digital Library.