1. A son of Abas and Ocaleia, and a twin-brother of Acrisius.
In the dispute between the two brothers for the kingdom of Argos, Proetus was defeated and expelled (Paus. 2.25.6
The cause of this quarrel is traced by some to the conduct of Proetus towards Danai, the daughter of Acrisius (Apollod. 2.4.1
), and Ovid (Ov. Met. 5.238
) represents Acrisius as expelled by Proetus, and Perseus, the grandson of Acrisius, avenges his grandfather by changing Proetus into a block of stone, by means of the head of Medusa.
But according to the common tradition, Proetus, when expelled from Argos, fled to Jobates or Amphianax in Lycia, and married his daughter Anteia or Stheneboea (Hom. Il
6.160; Eustath. ad Hom. p. 630
, &c.; comp. Serv. ad Virg. Eclog.
6.48). Jobates, thereupon, restored Proetus to his kingdom by armed force. Tirynth was taken and fortified by the Cyclopes (Schol. ad Eurip. Orest.
953; Paus. 2.16.4
), and Acrisius then shared his kingdom with his brother, surrendering to him Tirynth, i. e. the Heraeum, Midea and the coast of Argolis (Paus. 2.16.2
By his wife Proetus became the father of three daughters, Lysippe, Iphinoe, and Iphianassa (Servius, l.c.,
calls the two last Hipponoe and Cyrianassa, and Aelian, V.H.
3.42, mentions only two daughters, Elege and Celaene). When these daughters arrived at the age of maturity, they were stricken with madness, the cause of which is differently stated by different authors; some say that it was a punishment inflicted upon them by Dionysus, because they had despised his worship (Apollod. l.c. ; Diod. 4.68
), and according to others, by Hera, because they presumed to consider themselves more handsome than the goddess, or because they had stolen some of the gold of her statue (Serv. ad Virg. Ecl.
In this state of madness they wandered through Peloponnesus. Melampus promised to cure them, if Proetus would give him one third of his kingdom. As Proetus refused to accept these terms, the madness of his daughters not only increased, but was communicated to the other Argive women also, so that they murdered their own children and ran about in a state of frenzy. Proetus then declared himself willing to listen to the proposal of Melampus; but the latter now also demanded for his brother Bias an equal share of the kingdom of Argos. Proetus consented (Herod.
9.34; Schol. ad Pind. Nem.
9.30), and Melampus having chosen the most robust among the young men, gave chase to the mad women, amid shouting and dancing, and drove them as far as Sicyon. During this pursuit, Iphinoe, one of the daughters of Proetus, died, but the two others were cured by Melampus by means of purifications, and were then married to Melampus and Bias.
There was a tradition that Proetus had founded a sanctuary of Hera, between Sicyon and Titane, and one of Apollo at Sicyon (Paus. 2.7.7
The place where the cure was effected upon his daughters is not the same in all traditions, some mentioning the well Anigros (Strab. viii. p.346
), others the well Cleitor in Arcadia (Ov. Met. 15.325
), or Lusi in Arcadia (Paus. 8.18.3
). Some even state that the Proetides were cured by Asclepius. (Pind. P. 3.96
Besides these daughters, Proetus had a son, Megapenthes (Apollod. 2.2.2
; comp. MEGAPENTHES). When Bellerophontes came to Proetus to be purified of a murder which he had committed, the wife of Proetus fell in love with him, and invited him to come to her : but, as Bellerophontes refused to comply with her desire, she charged him before Proetus with having made improper proposals to her. Proetus then sent Bellerophontes to Jobates in Lycia, with a letter in which Jobates was desired to murder Bellerophontes. (Hom. Il. 6.157
, &c.; Apollod. 2.3.1
; Tzetz. ad Lyc.
17 ; comp. HIPPONOUS.）