Danaïdes

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The Danaides (1903), a Pre-Raphaelite interpretation by John William Waterhouse

In Greek mythology, the Danaïdes (/dəˈn.ɪdz/; Greek: Δαναΐδες), also Danaides or Danaids, were the fifty daughters of Danaus. In the Metamorphoses,[1] 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).

Mythology[edit]

The Danaïdes kill their husbands, miniature by Robinet Testard.

Danaus did not want his daughters to go ahead with the marriages and he fled with them in the first boat to Argos, which is located in Greece near the ancient city of Mycenae.

Danaus agreed to the marriage of his daughters only after Aegyptus came to Argos with his fifty sons in order 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 with the exception of 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.

The other 49 daughters remarried by choosing their mates in footraces. 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 was always leaking, they would forever try to fill the tub. Probably this myth is connected with a ceremony having to do with the worship of waters, and the Danaïdes were water-nymphs.

The Danaïds and their husbands[edit]

Apollodorus[edit]

The list in the Bibliotheca[2] 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 progeny begotten by a single woman, Europa, the daughter of Nilus.[3]

Apollodorus' List of Danaids
No. Danaids Mother Aegyptus' Sons Mother No. Danaids Mother Aegyptus' Sons Mother
1 Hypermnestra Elephantis Lynceus Argyphia 26 Chrysippe Memphis Chrysippus Tyria
2 Gorgophone Proteus 27 Autonoe Polyxo, a naiad Eurylochus Caliadne, a naiad
3 Automate Europe Busiris 28 Theano Phantes
4 Amymone Enceladus 29 Electra Peristhenes
5 Agave Lycus 30 Cleopatra (different one) Hermus
6 Scaea Daiphron 31 Eurydice Dryas
7 Hippodamia Atlanteia or of Phoebe,

the Hamadryads

Istrus Arabian woman 32 Glaucippe Potamon
8 Rhodia Chalcodon 33 Antheleia Cisseus
9 Cleopatra Agenor 34 Cleodore Lixus
10 Asteria Chaetus 35 Evippe (different one) Imbrus
11 Hippodamia (different one) Diocorystes 36 Erato Bromius
12 Glauce Alces 37 Stygne Polyctor
13 Hippomedusa Alcmenor 38 Bryce Chthonius
14 Gorge Hippothous 39 Actaea Pieria Periphas Gorgo
15 Iphimedusa Euchenor 40 Podarce Oeneus
16 Rhode Hippolytus 41 Dioxippe Aegyptus
17 Pirene Ethiopian woman Agaptolemus Phoenician woman 42 Adite Menalces
18 Dorion Cercetes 43 Ocypete Lampus
19 Phartis Eurydamas 44 Pylarge Idmon
20 Mnestra Aegius 45 Hippodice Herse Idas Hephaestine
21 Evippe Argius 46 Adiante Daiphron (different one)
22 Anaxibia Archelaus 47 Callidice Crino Pandion
23 Nelo Menemachus 48 Oeme Arbelus
24 Clite Memphis Clitus Tyria 49 Celaeno Hyperbius
25 Sthenele Sthenelus 50 Hyperippe Hippocorystes

Hyginus[edit]

Hyginus' list[4] is partially corrupt and some of the names are nearly illegible. Nevertheless, it is evident that this catalogue has almost nothing in common with that of Pseudo-Apollodorus. Names with (†) symbol means corrupted entries but annotations from various editors were provided to rationalize their possible names.

Hyginus' List of Danaids
No. Danaïdes Aegyptus' Sons No. Danaïdes Aegyptus' Sons
1 Idea † (possibly Midea[5]) Antimachus 26 Autodice Clytus
2 Philomela Panthius (possibly Panthous[5] or Pandion[6]) 27 Polyxena Aegyptus
3 Scylla Proteus 28 Hecabe Dryas
4 Phicomone † (possibly Iphigomene[7]) Plexippus 29 Acamantis or Achamantis † Echomius †
5 Evippe ? 30 Arsalte † Ephialtes
6 ? ? 31 Monuste † Eurysthenes †
7 ? Agenor 32 Amymone Midamus †
8 Demoditas (possibly Demodice[5]) ? 33 Helice Evideas †
9 ? (possibly Chrysippe[8]) Chrysippus 34 Amoeme or Oeme Polydector
10 Hyale Perius (possibly Pierus[9]) 35 Polybe Itonomus †
11 Trite (possibly Trete[10]) Enceladus 36 Helicta † Cassus
12 Damone † (possibly Damno[9]) Amyntor 37 Electra Hyperantus †
13 Hippothoe[11] (possibly Hypothoe[5]) Obrimus (possibly Bromius)[12] 38 Eubule Demarchus
14 Myrmidone[13] Mineus[14] (possibly Oeneus 39 Daplidice † Pugnon †
15 Eurydice Canthus 40 Hero Andromachus
16 Cleo[15] Asterius[16] 41 Europome † Atlites or Athletes †
17 Arcania[17] Xanthus 42 Pyrantis † Plexippus
18 Cleopatra Metalces 43 Critomedia Antipaphus
19 Philea †[18] Philinas[19] 44 Pirene Dolichus
20 Hyparete Protheon 45 Eupheme or Eupheno † Hyperbius
21 Chrysothemis Asterides † 46 Themistagora Podasimus
22 Pyrante Athamas 47 Celaeno Aristonoos †
23 Armo † asbus † 48 Itea † Antiochus
24 Glaucippe Niavius † 49 Erato † Eudaemon
25 Demophile Pamphilus 50 Hypermnestra Lynceus

Ellis[edit]

A third list was provided by the English antiquarian, Henry Ellis which was derived from Hyginus. The names of the Danaïdes was complete but with new entries and some alteration in the spellings.[20] It can be observed that the names Armoaste and Danaes (Danais), was an addition to complete the list while Scea (Scaea) and Autonomes (Automate) which was obviously borrowed from Apollodorus' accounts were also added.

Comparison of Hyginus' and Ellis' List of Danaids
Hyginus Ellis Hyginus Ellis Hyginus Ellis Hyginus Ellis Hyginus Ellis
1 Midea or Idea Idea 11 Trite Trite 21 Chrysothemis Chrysothemis 31 Monuste Monuste 41 Europome Europomene
2 Philomela Philomela 12 Damone Damone 22 Pyrante Heranta 32 Amymone Amimone 42 Pyrantis Chrysanta
3 Scylla Scillo 13 Hippothoe Hippothoe 23 ? Armoaste 33 Helice Helice 43 Critomedia Critomedia
4 (Am)Phicomone Phicomene 14 Myrmidone Mirmidone 24 Glaucippe Glaucippe 34 Oeme Amaome 44 Pirene Pyrene
5 Evippe Euippe 15 Eurydice Euridice 25 Demophile Demophile 35 Polybe Polybe 45 Eupheme Eupheno
6 ? Danaes 16 Cleo Chleo 26 Autodice Autodice 36 Helicta Helicte 46 Themistagora Themistagora
7 ? Scea 17 Arcadia or Arcania Vrania 27 Polyxena Polyxena 37 Electra Electra 47 Celaeno Paleno
8 Demoditas Demoditas 18 Cleopatra Cleopatra 28 Hecabe Hecate 38 Eubule Eubule 48 Itea Itea
9 ? Autonomes 19 Phila or Philae Phylea 29 Acamantis Achamantis 39 Daplidice Daphildice 49 Erato Erato
10 Hyale Hyale 20 Hipparete Hypareta 30 Arsalte Arsalte 40 Hero Hero 50 Hypermnestra Hypermnestra

Other Danaïdes[edit]

Several minor female characters, mentioned in various accounts unrelated to the main myth of Danaus and the Danaïdes, are also referred to as daughters of Danaus. These include:

Modern literature[edit]

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 the study of 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.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Book 10, lines 10–63.
  2. ^ Pseudo-Apollodorus. Bibliotheca, Book 2.1.5
  3. ^ Tzetzes, Chiliades 7.37 p. 370-371
  4. ^ Hyginus, Fabulae 170
  5. ^ a b c d Hyginus, Fabulae 170 with annotations by Mauricius Schmidt
  6. ^ Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2.1.5
  7. ^ can be read possibly also as Iphinoe and Theonoe as cited in Hyginus, Fabulae 170 with annotations by Mauricius Schmidt
  8. ^ as cited in Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2.1.5 p. 85 Heyne, according to Mauricius Schmidt in his annotations of Hyginus, Fabulae 170
  9. ^ a b Hyginus, Fabulae 170 with annotations by Bernhardus Bunte
  10. ^ Statius' Thebaid p. 195 with annotations by Robert Unger
  11. ^ compare with Hippothous in Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2.1.5
  12. ^ compare with Bromius in Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2.1.5 as cited in Hyginus, Fabulae 170 with annotations by Mauricius Schmidt
  13. ^ can be read as Myrmydone as cited in Hyginus, Fabulae 170 with annotations by Mauricius Schmidt
  14. ^ corrected as Oeneus by Bernhardus Bunte in Hyginus, Fabulae 170 and compare to Oeneus in Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2.1.5
  15. ^ can be read possibly as Cleodora (Mauricius Schmidt) or simply Clio (Bernhardus Bunte) in their annotations of Hyginus, Fabulae 170
  16. ^ compare with Asteria in Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2.1.5 as cited in Hyginus, Fabulae 170 with annotations by Mauricius Schmidt
  17. ^ the name was corrupted according to Mauricius Schmidt in his annotations in Hyginus, Fabulae
  18. ^ can be read possibly as Philinna according to Mauricius Schmidt in his annotations of Hyginus, Fabulae 170
  19. ^ can be read possibly as Phileas (Phileam) according to Mauricius Schmidt in his annotations of Hyginus, Fabulae 170
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ 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.
  22. ^ Herodotus, 2. 182.
  23. ^ Stephanus of Byzantium, s. v. Olenos
  24. ^ Scholia on Homer, Iliad, 2. 499
  25. ^ Robert Graves. The Greek Myths, section 110 s.v. The Children of Pelops
  26. ^ a b Scholia on Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, 1. 752
  27. ^ Tzetzes on Lycophron, 157
  28. ^ a b Clement of Alexandria, Recognitions 10.21
  29. ^ Scholia on Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 1.230
  30. ^ Pausanias, Description of Greece, 4. 30. 2
  31. ^ Callimachus, Hymn 5 to Athena, 47-48
  32. ^ Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses, 32
  33. ^ Pausanias. Description of Greece, 3.22.11

References[edit]