Simplified Heracles and Perseus Genealogy

In Greek mythology, Danae (Greek: Δανάη, "parched") was a daughter of King Acrisius of Argos and Eurydice (no relation to Orpheus' Eurydice). She was the mother of Perseus by Zeus. She was sometimes credited with founding the city of Ardea in Latium.

Disappointed by his lack of male heirs, Acrisius asked an oracle if this would change. The oracle told him that one day he would be killed by his daughter's child. She was childless and, meaning to keep her so, he shut her up in a bronze tower or cave. But Zeus came to her in the form of rain or a shower of gold, and impregnated her. Soon after, their child Perseus was born.

Carpenter prepares a chest for Danae and Perseus

None too happy, but unwilling to provoke the wrath of the gods by killing his offspring, Acrisius cast the two into the sea in a wooden chest. The sea was calmed by Poseidon at the request of Zeus and the pair survived. They washed ashore on the island of Seriphos, where they were taken in by Dictys, the brother of King Polydectes, who raised the boy to manhood.

Danae by Gustav Klimt, 1907.

Later, after Perseus killed Medusa and rescued Andromeda, the oracle's prophecy came true.

Danae, Louvre CA925

In the center Perseus with the head of Medusa shown to Polydectes, left Danae and Athena

He started for Argos, but learning of the prophecy instead went to Larissa, where athletic games were being held. By chance Acrisius was there, and Perseus accidentally struck him with his javelin (or discus), fulfilling the prophecy. Too shamed to return to Argos he then gave the kingdom to Megapenthes, son of Proetus (Acrisius' brother) and took over his kingdom of Tiryns, also founding Mycenae and Midea there.


Acrisione (Ἀκρισιώνη), i.e. daughter of Acrisius.

Danaë, Scott Bodenheimer 1994

Danae, Titian

Danae, Hendrick Goltzius

Danae by Correggio

Danae, Benvenuto Cellini

Danae, Joachim Wtewael, 1585 / 1600, Louvre, Zeus enters in Danae's room



See also

Danae Gallery

Mythology Images

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