Danae Conceived Perseus in a Spontaneous Shower of Gold

Danae was the daughter of Acrisius, the king of Argos perhaps three generations before the Trojan War. An oracle stated that Acrisius would be killed by his grandson so he confined his daughter to a bronze tower. Zeus visited her in the tower as a shower of gold and she became prednant. When Perseus was born Acrisius placed Danae and her son in a wooden chest and cast them into the sea. Zeus arranged for Poseidon to provide them a calm sea and they were saved by Dictys, a fisherman on Seriphos.

References

“He repaid Polydectes with a deadly wedding-present for the long slavery of his mother and her forced bridal bed, …Perseus, the son of Danae, who they say was conceived in a spontaneous shower of gold. Pindar , Pythian 12

“… Danaë of the fair ankles, daughter of Acmsius, who bare Perseus, pre-eminent above all warriors; “Hom. Il. 14.312

Δανάη — Danae — “The meaning ‘shining parched’ may apply and come from Indo-European ‘dāu-, dəu-, dū̆-‘, ‘to burn, injure, torment’ and ‘2. nei-, neiə-, nī-‘, ‘to be moved, excited; to shine’

Images of Danae from Ancient Greece

One source of this story is not difficult to identify. The shower of gold is certainly the gold shower produced in the winnowing of rain. The grain heads are beaten and the result is tossed in the air. Wind separates the grain chaff producing a shower of gold. This allows the grain to be planted in the ground. The Story has Zeus visit Danae even though she is hidden in an undergraound chamber to produce a heroic offspring. In like manner the grain is planted in the ground to produce fertile plants in the spring.

Robert E. Bell suggests that the shower of gold is a ray of sunshine coming into the prison of Danae but Zeus is not associated with sunshine but is associated with fertility festivals and the hieros gamos

References

  • M. GEORGAKOPOULOU , Y. BASSIAKOS, and O. PHILANIOTOU, “ERIPHOS SURFACES: A STUDY OF COPPER SLAG HEAPS AND COPPER SOURCES IN THE CONTEXT OF EARLY BRONZE AGE AEGEAN METAL PRODUCTION. Link

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Including Amazons, Goddesses, Nymphs, and Archaic Females from Mycenaen and Minoan Cultures