DanaĆ« (laurel, bay) In Greek mythology, mother of the hero Perseus; daughter of King Acrisius of Argos and Eurydice; sister of Evarete. Acrisius had been told by an oracle that one day his daughter would bear a son who would kill him. Acrisius locked DanaĆ« in a bronze chamber, either in a tower or underground. Zeus, always ready to sleep with a beautiful young girl, came to DanaĆ« in the form of a golden shower (urine) and fathered Perseus. The king, however, refused to believe his daughterā€™s son was fathered by Zeus. He shut DanaĆ« and the boy in a chest and had it cast into the sea. It floated safely to the island of Seriphus and was found by Dictys, a fisherman. He took care of Perseus until the lad was grown. Polydectes, brother of Dictys and king of the island, fell in love with DanaĆ«, who did not return his love. To more easily pursue DanaĆ«, Polydectes sent Perseus to fetch the head of Medusa, hoping the young man would be killed. DanaĆ« went into hiding until Perseus returned with Medusaā€™s head. In anger at being sent on the expedition, Perseus showed the head to Polydectes and his guests at a banquet, and they all turned to stone. He then took his mother back to Argos. Homerā€™s Iliad (book 14), Vergilā€™s Aeneid (book 7), and Ovidā€™s Metamorphoses (book 10) all cite the myth. Numerous Renaissance paintings portray DanaĆ« and the Golden Shower as an opportunity to be both erotic and learned. Among the artists who treated the subject are Titian, Correggio, Tintoretto, and Rembrandt. Richard Straussā€™s opera Die Liebe der DanaĆ« also deals with the myth.


Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition – Written by Anthony S. Mercatante & James R. Dow
– Copyright Ā© 2009 by Anthony S. Mercatante


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