42. Zeus and Danae

Once upon a time, Aglaia, the daughter of Mantineus, was pregnant with twin sons by King Abas of Argos. While still in the womb, the twins Acrisius and Proetus, fought with each other and even after being born, they continued their fight. When they grew up, they refused to peacefully share the throne of Argos and fought a fierce battle. Acrisius won the battle and sent away Proetus in exile. Proetus, married in exile and with the army of his father-in-law, occupied Tiryns. Acrisius ruled Argos, while Proetus ruled Tiryns.

Acrisius wedded the damsel Aganippe, who bore a beautiful daughter Danae. But Acrisius wanted a son and hence, he consulted the oracle at Delphi. The oracle said that Acrisius would never have a son, but his daughter Danae would have a son, who would kill him. Fearing this prophecy, Acrisius built a bronze chamber under the earth, and imprisoned Danae in it.

However, Zeus burned for the love of Danae. While Danae was resting on her bed, Zeus appeared as a brilliant shower of gold, streaming from the roof of the bronze chamber and landing on Danae’s womb. As a golden shower, Zeus seduced Danae, lay with her and made her pregnant. Danae gave birth to a son, named Perseus.

Acrisius failed to believe that Zeus disguised as a golden shower had fathered Perseus. He thought Proetus had somehow seduced Danae. But remembering the oracle that Danae’s son would kill him, Acrisius shut Danae and the babe Perseus in a chest. Then he cast away the chest, to the mercy of the untamed tossing waves of the sea.

Due to the will of Zeus, the wild waves of the sea kept the chest afloat, and swept it up the sandy shores of the island of Seriphus, ruled by King Polydectes. A fisherman named Dictys found the chest and was surprised, to find Danae with her babe Perseus inside it. Dictys took them to Polydectes, who gave them shelter in his palace.

~0~
Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani

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