Danaids


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Danaids

 

in Greek mythology, the 50 daughters of Danaus, son of the Egyptian king Belus. In an attempt to escape the pursuit of the 50 sons of Aegyptus, the brother of Danaus. the Danaids and their father fled to Argos, where they were overtaken by Aegyptus’ sons who demanded that Danaus give his daughters to them in marriage. Bowing to force, Danaus agreed to the marriage of his daughters, but ordered them to kill their husbands on their wedding night. All of the Danaids except one, who became the progenitrix of the kings of Argos, carried out their father’s command. According to one version of the myth, the Daxiaids had to atone for their crime by eternally filling a bottomless jar with water in the underworld. This is the origin of the expressions “a Danaid jar” and “labor of the Danaids,” which signify useless and unending labor.

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This reference to Africa is repeated in the adjective Libyci applied to the ivory of the temple doors and the story of the Danaids is also linked to Africa.
Zanker (1988:85) contends that there had been a statue specifically of Apollo Actius in the complex near the statues of the Danaids and associates this statue with depictions of the god on a denarius (RIC2 365-6) which is clearly identified as Apollo Actius.
She cites, as evidence for an association between the temple and Actium: (1) 'the preponderance of African materials used in the temple complex'; (2) the dramatisement of 'Cleopatra's eternal shame' symbolised by the Danaids; (3) the 'possibility that the figure of Apollo in the portico of the Danaids was styled "Apollo of Actium"'; (4) the imagery on the ivory doors and (5) the remains of a terra-cotta relief depicting Apollo and Hercules struggling over the Delphic tripod, found at the site.
A more sober interpretation is to see in Propertius' use of the multi-faceted image of Apollo a reflection of the multifaceted character of the new organization of Rome and to see in his references to loss in the images of the Danaids and the mourning temple doors, among other, no more than deprecation of the civil war.
16) The three references to the Danaids at the temple by Ovid are discussed by Barchiesi 2005:284, where he explains how the same image of the Danaids and their father in front of the temple, is used by Ovid to convey different kinds of messages in the three books.