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Danaos ( ancient Greek Δαναός , Latinized Danaus) is king of Argos in the Peloponnese in Greek mythology , the father of the 50 Danaids (50 daughters of different women) and ancestor of the Danaers .


He is the son of Belos and Anchinoe (daughter of the river god Neilos ), the twin brother of Aegyptus and, according to Euripides, also brother of Cepheus and Phineus . He was born in Chemmis in Egypt, but at the same time as the great-grandson of Epaphos (through Io and grandson of Inachus ) of Argive descent.

Appointed ruler of Libya, he fled with his 50 daughters, the Danaids, in a fifty oarsman built on Athene's advice from his brother Aigyptos, who sought after him for life and death, and his 50 sons, the Aegyptiads, to Rhodes . There he and his daughters founded the temple of Athene Lindia in Lindos in honor of the successful escape. From there they crossed over to the Peloponnese and landed at Lerna , the place that was therefore later called Apobathmi ( απο-βαίνω "get off", "land"). Now they reached Argos (the homeland of Io), where Danaos seized power and became king after the last Inachid Gelanor (also called Pelasgos ) had been driven out.

Danaos laid claim to the throne of Argos, because as a descendant of Io he was an Inachide as well as Gelanor. The people who were supposed to make the choice came to no conclusion and postponed the decision. The next morning a wolf invaded a herd of cattle. The lead animal opposed the wolf and was eventually killed. This was seen as a sign and Danaos was chosen as the new ruler, because the victorious wolf did not belong to the herd, just as Danaos, who came from a foreign country, was not previously part of the Argives. Since Danaos believed that Apollo had sent the wolf, he founded a temple to Apollo Lykios (old Greek λύκος "wolf").

He is said to have taught the inhabitants of the arid country to dig wells; He also sent his daughters to look for springs, and Amymone was embraced by Poseidon, who for her sake let an inexhaustible spring gush up in the landscape of Lerne. As by finding sources, the Danaids also made a contribution to the agrarian culture of the country by introducing thesmophoria .

Meanwhile, Aegyptus had sent his 50 sons to pursue Danaos; Having arrived in Argos, Aigyptus forced a mass wedding of the Danaids with his 50 sons after a siege in order to prevent other sons-in-law from claiming the throne. Danaos agreed, but gave his daughters daggers on the bridal night, with which each murdered their unloved bridegroom at his behest (in summer the Argive rivers dry up, only the springs do not); Hypermnestra alone spared the Lynkeus she had grown to love . She was put on trial by her father for this, but acquitted and later married to Lynkeus. Since there were no more suitors for the rest, Danaos competed and gave the winners the daughters as prizes.

As a result, Lynkeus allegedly posed as the avenger of his brothers, killed his sisters-in-law and his father-in-law, and became king of Argos. (There are several versions of this.) This is how the murderous Danaids fell under the curse of the gods; they were condemned in the underworld to constantly scooping water into a perforated barrel (hence “barrel of the Danaids”, a picture of never-ending, always in vain work).

After Danaos, the inhabitants of Argos were called Danaer from then on. Pausanias still saw his tomb in the market square at Argos , as did his statue with that of Lynkeus and Hypermnestra together in Delphi .

The saga of Danaos and the Danaids deals with the drama " The Protectors " by Aeschylus .



  • Libraries of Apollodorus 2, 11–24.
  • Herodotus , Histories 2, 91; 2.98; 2, 171; 2, 182; 7, 94.
  • Hesiod , Eoien 128.1.
  • Pausanias , travels in Greece 2, 16, 1; 2, 19, 3-7; 2, 20, 6-7; 2, 25, 4; 2, 37, 1-2; 2, 38, 4; 3, 12, 2; 3, 22, 11; 4, 30, 2; 4, 35, 2; 7, 1, 6; 7, 21, 13; 7, 22, 5; 10, 10, 5; 10, 35, 1.


predecessor Office successor
Pelasgos King of Argos
15th century BC Chr.
(Fictional chronology)