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Acrisius, the father of Danaë, was king of Argos. The oracle at Delphi told him that he was to be slain by his daughter's son. He therefore immured the maiden in a chamber built for that purpose within the precincts of his house at Argos. Here Zeus visited her in the golden rain; she bore Perseus; and Acrisius sent mother and child adrift on the Aegean in a chest; but Zeus heard her prayer, and brought them safely to the island of Seriphus. Both Soph. and Eur. wrote a “Δανάη”: Soph. wrote also an “Ἀκρίσιος”.

καὶ Δανάας δέμας ἔτλα ἀλλάξαι οὐράνιον φῶς: note the bold order of words, and cp. Ph. 598 f. (“τίνος...πράγματος”). ἔτλα καί is a Homeric echo, from Il. 5.382 ff. Aphrodite has been wounded by Diomede: her mother Dionè comforts her by saying that Ares, Hera, and Hades have also suffered wounds: “τέτλαθι, τέκνον ἐμόν... τλῆ μὲν Ἄρης... τλῆ δ᾽ Ἥρη... τλῆ δ᾽ Ἀΐδης”. So here we have three examples—Danaë, Lycurgus, Cleopatra.

δέμας in periphrasis (Tr. 908) here suggests her youthful beauty.—“ἀλλάξαι οὐρ. φῶς ἐν χαλκοδ. αὐλαῖς”, ‘to give up light, (so as to be) in a prison,’ i.e. to exchange the light for the darkness of a prison. “ἀλλάσσω τί τινος” can mean either to give, or to take, one thing in exchange for another. When “ἀλλάσσω” is used absolutely, with ref. to place, it more naturally means ‘to go to’ ( Eur. Hec. 483ἀλλάξασ᾽ Ἅιδα θαλάμους”), not, as here, ‘to leave’: but “ἀμείβω” is freq. in both senses. Cp. Ph. 1262ἀμείψας...στέγας” (having quitted them).

χαλκοδέτοις αὐλαῖς, ‘a brass-bound dwelling’: poet. pl. for sing., like “δώματα”, etc.: cp. 785. Pherecydes (ap. schol. Apoll. Rhod. 4. 1091) describes it as ‘a brazen chamber (“θάλαμον...χαλκοῦν”) made under ground, in the court-yard (“αὐλή”) of his house.’ Paus. (2. 23. 7) says that he saw at Argos “κατάγεων οἰκοδόμημα, ἐπ᾽ αὐτῷ δὲ ἦν χαλκοῦς θάλαμος” (made by Acrisius): i.e. the “θάλαμος” itself was above ground;—as Horace calls it “turris aenea” (C. 3. 16. 1). By the epithet “χαλκοῦς” the legend evidently meant to denote the strength and security of the prison,—as though the doors were of bronze. But it is very probable that this epithet originally came into the story through a reminiscence of a tomb (like the ‘treasury of Atreus’ at Mycenae), to the walls of which bronze plates had been nailed. (Cp. Introd. to Homer, ch. 11. § 25.) In Simonides fr. 37. 7 “χαλκεογόμφῳ” is said of the chest in which Danaë was sent adrift,—not of the “θάλαμος”.


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hide References (6 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (6):
    • Euripides, Hecuba, 483
    • Sophocles, Antigone, 785
    • Sophocles, Philoctetes, 1262
    • Sophocles, Philoctetes, 598
    • Sophocles, Trachiniae, 908
    • Homer, Iliad, 5.382
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