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The Myth of the Birth of the Hero, by Otto Rank, [1914], at


Acrisius, the king of Argos, had already reached an advanced age without having male progeny. As he desired a son, he consulted the Delphian oracle, but this warned him against male descendants, and informed him that his daughter Danaë would bear a son through whose hand he would perish. In order to prevent this, he had his daughter locked up in an iron tower, which he caused to be carefully guarded. But Zeus penetrated through the roof, in the guise of a golden shower, and Danaë became the mother of a boy. 2 One day Acrisius heard the voice of young Perseus in his daughter's room, and in this way learned that she had given birth to a child. He killed the nurse, but carried his daughter with her son to the domestic

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altar of Zeus, to have an oath taken on the true father's name. But he refuses to believe his daughter's statement that Zeus is the father, and he encloses her with the child in a box, which is cast into the sea1 The box is carried by the waves to the coast of Seriphos, where Dictys, a fisherman, usually called a brother of King Polydectes, saves mother and child by drawing them out of the sea with his nets. Dictys leads the two into his house and keeps them as his relations. Polydectes, however, becomes enamored of the beautiful mother, and as Perseus was in his way, he tried to remove him by sending him forth to fetch the head of the Gorgon Medusa. But against the king's anticipations Perseus accomplishes this difficult task, and a number of heroic deeds besides. Later, in throwing the discs during a contest, he accidentally kills his grandfather, as foretold by the oracle. He becomes the king of Argos, then of Tiryns, and the builder of Mycenae. 2


25:1 In the version of Euripides, Aleos caused the mother and the child to be thrown into the sea in a box, but through the protection of Athena this box was carried to the end of the Mysian river Kaikos. There it was found by Teuthras who made Auge his wife and took her child into his house as his foster son.

25:2 Later authors, including Pindar, state that Danaë was impregnated, not by Zeus, but by the brother of her father.

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