Daughters of Danaus
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In Greek mythology, the Daughters of Danaus (//; Greek: Δαναΐδες), also Danaids, Danaides or Danaïdes, 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 fifty sons of Danaus's 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 forty-nine daughters remarried by choosing their mates in footraces. Some accounts tell that their punishment was in Tartarus 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 Danaides were water-nymphs.
The Danaids 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.
|APOLLODORUS' LIST OF DANAIDES|
|Danaids||Mother||Aegyptus' Sons||Mother of
|Danaids||Mother||Aegyptus' Sons||Mother of
|2||Gorgophone||Proteus||27||Autonoe||Polyxo (a Naiad)||Eurylochus||Caliadne (a Naiad)|
|5||Agave||Lycus||30||Cleopatra (different one)||Hermus|
|7||Hippodamia||Atlanteia or of Phoebe,
|10||Asteria||Chaetus||35||Evippe (different one)||Imbrus|
|11||Hippodamia (different one)||Diocorystes||36||Erato||Bromius|
|17||Pirene||Ethiopian woman||Agaptolemus||Phoenician woman||42||Adite||Menalces|
|21||Evippe||Argius||46||Adiante||Daiphron (different one)|
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.
|HYGINUS' LIST OF DANAIDES AND THEIR HUSBANDS|
|Danaids||Aegyptus' Sons||Danaids||Aegyptus' Sons||Danaids||Aegyptus' Sons||Danaids||Aegyptus' Sons||Danaids||Aegyptus' Sons|
A third list was provided by the English antiquarian, Henry Ellis which was derived from Hyginus. The names of the Danaides was complete but with new entries and some alteration in the spellings. It can be observed that the names Armoaste and Chrysanta was an addition to complete the list while Scaea and Autonomes (Automate) which was obviously borrowed from Apollodorus' accounts replaced the names of Pyrantis and Cleopatra.
|COMPARATIVE TABLE OF HYGINUS' AND ELLIS' LIST OF DANAIDES|
|10||Hippothoe||20||?||+ Armoaste||30||Helice||40||Critomedia||50||?||+ Chrysanta|
|Famous Tartarus inmates|
Several minor female characters, mentioned in various accounts unrelated to the main myth of Danaus and the Danaides, are also referred to as daughters of Danaus. These include:
- 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 and Isione, wives of Olenus and Orchomenus or Chryses respectively, who were both seduced by Zeus
- Isonoe, mother of Orchomenus 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 fifty, 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 French-Canadian author Henri Paul Jacques applying Freudian concept of psychoanalysis to the study of the punishment imposed on the Danaids after they committed their crimes.
In Monday Begins on Saturday, it is mentioned that the Danaids 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.|
- Greeks (Names:Danaans)
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