Sunday, April 27, 2014

Danae, Lycurgus, Phineus: Myths of the 4th stasimon of Antigone

Danae, reclining on a couch and grasping her hair ribbons, is impregnated by the god Zeus in the form of a golden shower.

Lycurgus of Thrace
On this vase, Lycurgus, armed with a sword, has slain Dionysos' companion, Ambrosia. Dionysos summons an Erinys to drive the King of Thrace to madness. The Erinys is depicted as a winged huntress, whose arms and hair are draped with poisonous serpents.

On the famous Lycurgus Cup, the King is tangled in vines as a Satyr, Pan, a panther, and Bacchus all avenge Ambrosia. Photos of the scenes on the cup, which turns blood red when backlit, can be seen here.

Lycurgus's story has several variants, but each has him driven mad by Dionysus.

Lycurgus Cup

The last two strophes of the ode contain a series of allusions to the story of Phineus, a king who was blinded because he shared his prophetic knowledge with the Argonauts, but whose sons by Cleopatra were also blinded because Phineus believed their stepmother, Idaea's lie. The Phineus story has many variations (see Sophocles frag. 704).

Phineus and the Harpies

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