Prophecies and Vanities
The Tales of Perseus, Andromeda, Pegasus, Cepheus, Cassiopeia, Cetus and Equuleus

Chapter 1: Danae and Perseus

Danae cried herself to sleep every night. It hadn't always been that way, for her father, King Acrisius, was not a mean man. He was just very nervous and lately paranoid. He was the son of Abas, King of Argolis and he had a twin brother named Proteus. When King Abas died he left his kingdom to both sons. They were to rule alternately.

But the twin boys were jealous and quarrelsome and when Acrisius' time to rule ended, he refused to give up the throne to his brother Proteus. Proteus left in anger, but returned years later with troops from his father-in-law, the king of Lycia. Although there was a war, no one came out a winner. Instead the brothers agreed to divide the kingdom. Proteus became the King of Tiryns and Acrisius became King of Argos.

King Acrisius had no male children to carry on his name and the rulership of his kingdom. He had once asked the oracle how he might have a son. The response was not at all comforting. Not only was he told he would have no sons, but his daughter Danae would give birth to a son who would kill him.

Acrisius' fear was magnified by his contempt for his brother Proteus. Proteus had seduced Danae some time before, and Acrisius now was certain that his evil twin would steal his kingdom. He decided to make sure that would never happen. Acrisius dug a chamber below the surface of the earth. Its walls were made of stone and the stone was covered with bronze. At it's barred windows he placed guards and in it he placed his daughter Danae.

On this special night, after crying herself to sleep once again, Danae dreamt that Zeus came to her. "My beautiful, Danae," he said, "how long I have loved you. Even your father cannot keep me away. I will shower you in riches and you will bear me a son." Then golden flakes flowed through the ceiling and bathed Danae in a glittering stream. In the morning, she awoke to find the floor covered with golden scales, and nine months later she gave birth to a son. She named him Perseus.

"How could her story be true? How could her son be the child of Zeus?" Acrisius asked himself. He was certain that the father was Proteus, returned secretly with evil intent. "But what if it is true? I can't kill my daughter and I certainly couldn't kill the son of Zeus." His options seemed unacceptable until he chose to let fate decide. He built a wooden ark and placed Danae and the child into it, then he cast it adrift on the sea.

A baby's cry pierced the sound of the waves as they pounded against the shore at Seriphos. A fisherman named Dictys was relaxing onshore as he repaired his nets. He heard the cry.

Tracking the sound to a large chest that had washed ashore, he opened it to find a finely dressed mother and child, weak with hunger and thirst, but still alive. He took them to his brother Polydectes, king of the island, and the brothers provided for Danae and raised Perseus as their own son.

Myth Index | Chapter 2: The Gorgon Medusa

Tales of the Immortal Night ©2003, J.J. Kuhl


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