Greek Mythological Story of the Danaides

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There is a wide diversity of stories that are present in Greek mythology, and not all of them have happy endings. The Myth of the Danaides, or the Daughters of Danaus, are known as doing something so terrible that it was completely unthinkable. In fact, the crime committed was so horrible, those involved were punished by not only other people, but by the gods themselves. Here is the story of the Daughters of Danaus and the terrible tragedy they committed:

It All Begins With a Rivalry

The story doesn’t actually begin with the Danaides, or the Daughters of Danaus. It actually starts with the twin sons of the King Belus, the King of Egypt. Their names were Danaus and Aegyptus. When the King of Egypt died, Danaus became the King of Libya and Aegyptus became the King of Arabia. The rivalry that began in childhood continued into adulthood as the two constantly plotted to take control of the other’s lands.

The Rivals Have Fifty Daughters and Fifty Sons

In the middle of the rivalry, the tale goes on to state that Danaus ended up having fifty daughters with four different women. At the same time, Aegyptus was said to have had fifty sons. Aegyptus was always portrayed as being the more intelligent of the two brothers and he plotted so that his sons would marry the Danaides, or the Daughters of Danaus. To him, this was a surefire way for him to gain ultimate control of his brother’s lands. When Danaus learned of his brother’s plot, he vowed not to let his daughters become part of it.

Danaus Tries to Avoid His Brother’s Plot

At first, he didn’t intent for the story to have such a ruthless end. When he first learned of his brother’s plot to have his sons marry his daughters, he simply built a boat and fled to Greece with all fifty of his children. They embarked on a memorable journey. They first landed on Rhodes where they were said to be the founders of Lindos. Then, they headed to Argos where Danaus’ great-grandmother was queen. Once landing in Argos, he immediately tried to claim the throne as his own. The people of Argos were in the process of choosing their king, and Danaus was in the running. Just as they were about to choose, a wolf entered Argos and killed a bull. The people saw this as a sign that Danaus was the rightful king. He ruled in peace for many years and he kept his daughters safe from his brothers.

The Terrible Crime is Committed

However, Danaus’ peaceful rule wasn’t going to last. One day, a foreign ship arrived in Argos with Aegyptus’ fifty sons on board to seize control of Argos. The sons asked to marry Danaus’ daughters and Danaus still didn’t want the marriage. Yet, he ended up agreeing because he was left with no choice. He was still devoted to preventing his daughters from marrying them so as a last resort, he convinced his fifty daughters to kill their husbands. It was a massacre. Only one daughter, Hypermnestra, was unable to do it and she was spared punishment. Her husband, Lynceus, eventually killed Danaus and the pair become the futures. The other forty-nine daughters, however, were cursed to live eternity in torment in Hades.


Wikipedia – Daughters of Danaus

Greeka – Myth of the Danaides

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This post was written by Greek Boston

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