The Danaids
Mythology History


Before starting with the story of the Danaids, let us talk a little about Inachos, the son of Okeaniden and Thetis and a good natured god from the river. However, the gods were mean with him.

Inachos had two sons and a daughter. The name of his daughter was Io and Zeus desired he. Of course, his wife Hera did not like this at all, so she transformed Io into a cow and made a horse-fly hunt her all over the globe. Some time after, Hera and Poseidon made him choose which of them was the legitimate owner of the land of Argos. This was for sure an unfavorable way of destiny, since he could not choose one of them without the other getting angry with him. He finally decided himself for Hera, so Poseidon got angry and dried his river. Therefore, Inachos not only lost Io, but also the water. In his despair, it was easy for Eris, the goddess of discord, to induce him to put a curse on all gods and on his own next fifth generation. Well, this does not sound good at all... but this is how we get to the next events.

Io finally managed to escape the horse-fly and Zeus transformed her back into her original shape. She set herself down in Egypt, where she gave birth to Epaphos, Isis and Apis. Apis got married with the nymph Memhis, daugther of the Nil. Their son was Libye, who gave name to this area of Africa. This was the third generation, and Inachos cast is getting closer and closer. Libye had two sons from Poseidon: Belos and Agenor, progenitors of a great part of the mythological world. Agenor, for example, is the father of Europa, sister of Kadmos and mother of Minos. But to him we will come back later.  

Belos, on the other hand, had also two sons, Danaos and Egyptos, who hated each other since they were born. Every time they met they fought and hit each other until somebody separated them, so they ended up being brought up in different places. When Belos noticed that he did not have much time left, the bequeathed the Arabic part of his land to Egyptos and the Libyan part to Danaos. The first one had 50 sons, the second, 50 daughters. One day, Egyptos appeared in Danaos house and proposed him a massive wedding for their children. Danaos was really surprised, and asked Athena for advice.

Athena told him that, that same night, he should wake up all his daughters and leave their house straight away if he wanted to escape from the huge misfortune that would happen to him. Their destination should be there where the hate had its origin. So he did. He escaped as fast as he could to Argos, there where the curse was put. They all met in the river Inachos and settled next to it. In his day, Homer called the Greeks from Troy Danaer, so they must somehow come from Danaos and his daughters.

First they lived afraid that Egyptos might turn up, being always really careful and with night-guarding. With the time, the fear slowly disappeared and the great danger got forgotten. Just Hypermnestra, the eldest daughter, remained steadfast and continued guarding at night. This way she met a young man who turned up one day and visited her every night since then. As it's easy to imagine, they fell in love.

Unluckily, it was already too late when she discovered that the boy was Lynkeus, one of the 50 sons of Egyptos, who had followed the track of Danaos and had finally found him. He came with an enormous army and made again, this time more as a condition, the same proposal. This way the 50 daughters of Danaos married the 50 sons of Egyptos.

However, Danaos had given his daughters a serious instruction: they had no choice but killing their husbands right the first night. 49 daughters killed their husbands. Just Hypermnestra, who really loved Lynkeus from before, could not do it. Instead, they ran far far away and lived happy far away from their families.

But remember that Inachos had put a curse on his fifth generation... so the story cannot finish like this. From here on, there are two different versions of the end. The first one says that the 49 sisters searched for them and finally found them -and killed them. The second one says that it was Lynkeus who came back and took revenge for the murder of his brothers. 

Gods / Heroes / The Danaids / Europa / The Atriden / Trojan War / The Oracle














ΝΕΟΛΑΙΑ/Δράση 3.2 Μελλοντικό Κεφάλαιο Jannis Trociewitz "Mythological & Historical Webpage for the Youth of Europe"