Danae was a princess of Argos in the Greek Peloponessos, a daughter of King Akrisios. When her father learned a prophecy that he was destined to be killed by a son of his daughter, he locked Danae away in a subterranean, bronze chamber. Her prison, however, was easily infiltrated by the god Zeus who impregnated her in the guise of a golden shower. She conceived and bore him a son named Perseus. As soon as her father learned of this, he placed Danae and the infant in a chest and set them afloat at sea. By the providence of the gods they drifted safely to the island of Seriphos, where the fisherman Diktys brought them ashore and offered welcomed them into his house.
Later when Perseus was grown, King Polydektes of Seriphos sought Danae for a wife and, attempting to rid himself of her son, commanded Perseus fetch the Gorgon’s head. Upon the hero’s return he discovered that his mother had fled to the temple of Athena for refuge, and in anger turned Polydektes and his allies to stone with Medusa’s head. He then travelled with Danae to Argos and claimed his grandfather’s throne.
Danae was the eponymous “queen” of the Danaans—a name usually given to the Argive people, but sometimes applied to Greeks in general (e.g. in Homer’s Iliad).
In the chronology of myth, Danae was a descendant of Io, the maiden loved by Zeus who was forced to wander to Egypt in the guise of a cow, in the time before the Great Deluge. Of Danae’s descendants, the most famous were Herakles, her great-great grandson. [x]