Danae’s tragedy gave way to one of the most prominent heroes of Greek mythology: Perseus.
It began with King Acrisius of Argos fathering one child—a daughter named Danae. Despite her beauty renowned throughout the land, it was of little comfort to King Acrisius who desperately desired a son. The king traveled to the Oracle at Delphi to determine if a son could be seen in his future. Acrisius’ desire was snuffed out by the oracle’s priestess, who added that not only would he never father a boy, but the son birthed by Danae would be the death of the king.
The king built a house of bronze that had no windows save for a slit in the roof so no man could look upon Danae with lust and desire her hand in marriage. King Acrisius did not consider that Zeus could look into the slit in the roof, and so it happened that the god impregnated Danae. Upon his knowledge of his daughter’s pregnancy with the child of an Olympian god, King Acrisius dared not kill the child himself for fear of divine wrath. Instead, he placed Danae and her new son Perseus in a chest and cast them into the sea. Their drowning would thus be the fault of Poseidon, as their death would happen in his domain.
Whether by chance or through divine intervention, Danae and Perseus did not die but were rather discovered by a fisherman named Dictys on the little island of Seriphus. There they lived happily for many years with the fisherman and his wife. However, when Perseus was grown, the ruler Polydectes of Seriphus took notice of Danae and her beauty and set about hatching a plan to be rid of Perseus and take Danae’s hand in marriage. Thus the trials and tribulations that mark Perseus’ role in mythology began.