Danaë and Diomedes

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Painted by the awesome Artemisia Gentileschi

Danaë is the mother of the great hero Perseus (fathered by whom else but the always-horny Zeus), and the daughter and only child of King Acrisius and Queen Eurydice of Argos. Danaë is also credited with founding the now-Italian city of Ardea during the Bronze Age.

Acrisius was really upset he didn’t have any sons, though at least he didn’t pull a Henry VIII by marrying a whole slew of women and then divorcing or beheading them when they failed to produce male heirs. He went to the Oracle of Delphi for help, and was told he’d never have a boy. His daughter, however, would.

The Oracle went on to say Acrisius would be killed by this grandson. Danaë didn’t have any kids yet, so her father locked her up in a bronze chamber. Depending on the story, this chamber was either beneath the palace or in a tower.

Zeus once again couldn’t keep it in his pants, and came to Danaë in the form of golden rain coming through the roof. This golden rain went right into her uterus and created Perseus. Those familiar with Hinduism will recognise parallels to the story of Krishna’s conception following the imprisonment of his parents.

Krishna’s evil uncle Kamsa had been told his sister Devaki’s eighth-born son would kill him, and threw Devaki and her husband Vasudeva into prison, chained to opposite walls, after being told Vishnu is the ultimate trickster, and that any one of those boys could be the eighth if put in a circle. He also murdered the first seven sons. Radiant light poured into the cell, and Krishna was conceived from the power of Devaki and Vasudeva’s thoughts.

Illustration by Walter Crane

Acrisius couldn’t bring himself to murder his own flesh and blood, so he set Danaë and Perseus adrift in a wooden chest. Poseidon calmed the sea, and Zeus saved them. They washed ashore on the island of Seriphos and were taken in by Prince Dictys, brother of King Polydectes. The king had the hots for Danaë, but she wasn’t charmed, and Perseus was very protective of his mother.

Polydectes pretended he was going to marry Princess Hippodamia of Pisa, and ordered everyone to bring wedding gifts. Perseus was held to an earlier boast to bring back the head of a Gorgon, a winged woman with a hideous face and snakes for hair. When Perseus returned with Medusa’s head, the king was among those who turned to stone. In another version, Danaë married Polydectes soon after her arrival.

The name Danaë comes from Danaoi, a word Homer used to designate the Greeks. Other forms are Danaé (French, Czech, Italian, German), Danai (modern Greek), Dânae (Portuguese), Dánae (Spanish), Dànae (Catalan), Danae (Italian), Danaya (Russian, Belarusian, Ukrainian), Danaja (Polish, Serbian, Macedonian, Czech, Slovak, Slovenian, Croatian), and Danaée (French).

Diomedes is a great hero in Greek mythohistory, particularly known for his role in the Trojan War. His parents were Aeolian hero Tydeus (one of the Seven Against Thebes) and Princess Deipyle of Argos. Sadly, his dad was murdered when he was only four, during the abovementioned mission to Thebes. By the funeral, Diomedes and the other sons of the Seven Against Thebes vowed to someday vanquish Thebes. They named their little band Epigoni (Offspring).

The Epigoni successfully waged war against Thebes, and many epics (now all lost) were written about this war. Indeed, it was the most important war in Greek history prior to the Trojan War. After the Epigoni War, Diomedes was crowned King of Argos at only fifteen years old.

Diomedes ruled Argos very successfully, and also restored the throne of Calydon to his paternal grandpap Oeneus. He went on to engage in even more heroism during the Trojan War. Though he was the youngest of all the warriors, he was the most experienced fighter and leader. If you haven’t already read The Iliad, I highly recommend the Robert Fagles translation!

Diomedes is derived from the elements Dios (of Zeus) and medomai (to plan, to think).

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2 comments on “Danaë and Diomedes

  1. To my shame I only know about Danae because I’ve always been fond of the film “Clash of the Titans” – which horribly butchers the story 🙂 I did know about the golden rain though. Mostly because I’ve heard many people refer to it as a golden shower and that makes me laugh, a lot 😉
    Tasha
    Tasha’s Thinkings – Shapeshifters and Werewolves

  2. […] and Argos (22 views) Busiris and Bremusa (16 views) Chronos and Circe (27 views) Danaë and Diomedes (11 views) Eurotas ans Eos (7 views) Faunus and Frigg (16 views) Ganymede and Gaia (12 views) […]

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