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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).
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
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 progeny begotten by a single woman, Europa, the daughter of Nilus.
Hyginus' list 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.
|No.||Danaïdes||Aegyptus' Sons||No.||Danaïdes||Aegyptus' Sons|
|1||Idea † (possibly Midea)||Antimachus||26||Autodice||Clytus|
|2||Philomela||Panthius (possibly Panthous or Pandion)||27||Polyxena||Aegyptus|
|4||Phicomone † (possibly Iphigomene)||Plexippus||29||Acamantis or Achamantis †||Echomius †|
|6||?||?||31||Monuste †||Eurysthenes †|
|8||Demoditas (possibly Demodice)||?||33||Helice||Evideas †|
|9||? (possibly Chrysippe)||Chrysippus||34||Amoeme or Oeme||Polydector|
|10||Hyale †||Perius (possibly Pierus)||35||Polybe||Itonomus †|
|11||Trite (possibly Trete)||Enceladus||36||Helicta †||Cassus|
|12||Damone † (possibly Damno)||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 was complete but with new entries and some alteration in the spellings. 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.
|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|
|Famous Tartarus inmates|
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:
- 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
- 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 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.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Danaides.|
- Book 10, lines 10–63.
- Pseudo-Apollodorus. Bibliotheca, Book 2.1.5
- Tzetzes, Chiliades 7.37 p. 370-371
- Hyginus, Fabulae 170
- Hyginus, Fabulae 170 with annotations by Mauricius Schmidt
- Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2.1.5
- can be read possibly also as Iphinoe and Theonoe as cited in Hyginus, Fabulae 170 with annotations by Mauricius Schmidt
- as cited in Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2.1.5 p. 85 Heyne, according to Mauricius Schmidt in his annotations of Hyginus, Fabulae 170
- Hyginus, Fabulae 170 with annotations by Bernhardus Bunte
- Statius' Thebaid p. 195 with annotations by Robert Unger
- compare with Hippothous in Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2.1.5
- 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
- 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.
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- Tzetzes on Lycophron, 157
- Clement of Alexandria, Recognitions 10.21
- Scholia on Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 1.230
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- Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses, 32
- Pausanias. Description of Greece, 3.22.11
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- 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.
- Antoninus Liberalis, The Metamorphoses of Antoninus Liberalis translated by Francis Celoria (Routledge 1992). 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.