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The son of Zeus and Io, Epafa, had a son Bel, and he had two sons - Egypt and Danai. Egypt owned the whole country watered by the blessed Nile, and this country got its name from him. Danae ruled in Libya. The gods gave Egypt fifty sons. I have fifty beautiful daughters. The Danaids captivated the sons of Egypt with their beauty, and they wanted to marry beautiful girls, but Danai and Danaids refused them. The sons of Egypt gathered a large army and went to war against Danai. Danai was defeated by his nephews, and he had to lose his kingdom and flee. With the help of the goddess Athens-Pallas, Danae built the first fifty-oared ship and set off on it with his daughters into the boundless, ever-noisy sea.

Danaid with a bowl
Danaida with a cup, with which she fills a bottomless vessel in the underworld of Hades.
The ship of Danae sailed for a long time on the waves of the sea and finally sailed to the island of Rhodes. Here Danaus stopped; he went ashore with his daughters, founded a sanctuary to his patron goddess Athena and offered her rich sacrifices. Danae did not stay in Rhodes. Fearing the persecution of the sons of Egypt, he sailed with his daughters further, to the shores of Greece, in Argolis - the homeland of his ancestress Io. Zeus himself guarded the ship during a dangerous voyage on the boundless sea. After a long journey, the ship landed on the fertile shores of Argolis. Here the Danai and the Danaids hoped to find protection and salvation from their hated marriage with the sons of Egypt,

Under the guise of praying for protection with olive branches in their hands, the Danaids went ashore. There was no one in sight on the shore. Finally, a cloud of dust appeared in the distance. It was coming fast. Now, in a cloud of dust, you can see the sparkle of shields, helmets and spears. The noise of the wheels of war chariots is heard. This is the army of the king of Argolis approaching, Pelasga, son of Palekhton. Informed of the arrival of the ship, Pelasgus came to the seashore with his army. He did not meet an enemy there, but the elder Danai and his fifty beautiful daughters. With branches in their hands, they met him, begging for protection. Stretching out their hands to him, with eyes full of tears, his beautiful daughters of Danai beg to help them against the proud sons of Egypt. In the name of Zeus, the mighty defender of the supplicants, the Danaids of Pelasgus conjure not to betray them. After all, they are not strangers in Argolis - this is the homeland of their ancestress Io.

Pelasgus is still hesitating - he is afraid of war with the mighty rulers of Egypt. What should he do? But he is even more afraid of the wrath of Zeus if, having violated his laws, he pushes away those who pray to him in the name of the thunderer for protection. Finally, Pelasgus advises Danaus to go to Argos himself and there put olive branches on the altar of the gods as a sign of a plea for protection. He himself decides to gather the people and ask for their advice. Pelasg promises the Danaids to make every effort to convince the citizens of Argos to protect them.

Pelasg leaves. With trepidation, the Danaids are waiting for the decision of the People's Assembly. They know how indomitable the sons of Egypt are, how formidable they are in battle; they know what threatens them if the ships of the Egyptians land on the shore of Argolis. What should they do, defenseless virgins, if the inhabitants of Argos deprive them of shelter and help? Misfortune is already close. The messenger of the sons of Egypt has already come. He threatens to take the Danaids to the ship by force, he grabbed one of the daughters of Danai by the hand and tells his slaves to grab the others. But then King Pelasgus appears again. He takes Danaid under his protection, he is not afraid of the fact that the messenger of the sons of Egypt threatens him with war.

The decision to protect Danae and his daughters brought death to Pelasgus and the inhabitants of Argolis. Defeated in a bloody battle, Pelasgus was forced to flee to the very north of his vast possessions. True, Danae was elected king of Argos, but in order to buy peace from the sons of Egypt, he still had to give them his beautiful daughters as wives.

The Danaids in the underworld of Hades fill a bottomless vessel with water; to their left, on a rock, sits the god Hermes
The Danaids in the underworld of Hades fill a bottomless vessel with water;
to their left, on a rock, sits the god Hermes

The sons of Egypt celebrated their wedding with the Danaids magnificently. They did not know what fate this marriage brought with it. The noisy wedding feast ended; the wedding hymns fell silent, the marriage torches went out; the darkness of night enveloped Argos. A deep silence reigned in the sleepy city. Suddenly, in the silence, a heavy death groan was heard, here is another, another and another. A terrible crime was committed under the cover of the night of the Danaids. With the daggers given to them by their father Danai, they pierced their husbands as soon as sleep closed their eyes. So the sons of Egypt died a terrible death. Only one of them escaped, the beautiful Linkey. Danae's young daughter, Hypermnestra, took pity on him. She was unable to pierce her husband's chest with a dagger. She woke him up and secretly took him out of the palace.

Danai became furious when he learned that Hypermnestra had disobeyed his command. Danai put his daughter in heavy chains and threw her into prison. The court of the elders of Argos gathered to judge Hypermnestra for disobeying her father. Danai wanted to put his daughter to death. But the goddess of love herself appeared on the court, golden Aphrodite. She protected Hypermnestra and saved her from a cruel execution. The compassionate, loving daughter of Danae became the wife of Lincaeus. The gods blessed this marriage with numerous offspring of great heroes. Himself Hercules, the immortal hero of Greece, belonged to the Lincaeus family.

Zeus did not want the other Danaids to die either. Athena and Hermes danaid were cleansed, at the behest of Zeus, from the filth of spilled blood. King Danai organized the great Games in honor of the Olympian gods. The winners of these games received Danae's daughters as a reward for their wives.

But the Danaids still did not escape punishment for the crime committed. They carry it after their death in the dark realm of Hades. The Danaids must fill a huge vessel with water that has no bottom. They always carry water, scooping it from an underground river, and pour it into a vessel. Here, it seems, the vessel is already full, but water flows out of it, and again it is empty. The danaids are taken to work again, they carry water again and pour it into a vessel without a bottom. And so their fruitless work goes on without end.