Mitologia e icongrafia della stirpe di Egitto e Danao


Maria Grazia Cinti


When Belus, son of Poseidon, died, he left his territories to his sons: Arabia to Danaus and Libya to Aegyptus, but this caused heavy fighting between them. Aegyptus fathered fifty sons while Danaus had fifty daughters (also called the Danaides, after him). When Aegyptus, now elderly, proposed a truce to the brother – by marrying their children – Danaus fled with his girls and settled in Greece, where he became the king of Argos. However, the sons of Aegyptus managed to reach their cousins and, after another rejection, they laid siege to the city, forcing Danaus to accept the marriages. The king, who was not yet resigned, gave to his daughters some brooches to kill their husbands. Only Hypermnestra refused to follow his father’s instructions: the other Danaides were never forgiven by the deities of the underworld and were condemned to fill bottomless jars for eternity. Aeschylus narrates about Aegyptus and Danaus in his tragedy called The Suppliants; Apollodorus also transmits this myth; in both the Iliad and the Aeneid, instead, “Danai” is used as a synonym of “Achaeans”, in a disparaging way. A connection between literature and archaeological artifacts is created by a piece of Lucian (The Dipsads 6) in which the author describes a Libyan stele on which it was depicted the drama of the Danaides. Furthermore, several archaeological artifacts can be associated with this myth; for example, a group of 5 bronze statues – preserved in the Archaeological Museum of Naples – are today identified with the Danaides. There also are some vases which take inspiration from these characters; one for all the hydria preserved in the Archaeological Museum of the Siritide (inv. 38462), which represents the Danaides while they are carrying some water in a space that seems to be Hades.


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Come citare
Cinti, M. G. (2022). Mitologia e icongrafia della stirpe di Egitto e Danao. Frammenti Sulla Scena (online), 2, 355-364. Recuperato da
PARENTI SERPENTI. Rapporti familiari difficili fra mito e teatro antico. Atti del convegno on-line (Università di Siena, 4-5 giugno 2020) [a cura di Giorgia Giaccardi]