Was this His coming! I had hoped to see
A scene of wondrous glory, as was told
Of some great God who in a rain of gold
Broke open bars and fell on Danae:
                 Oscar Wilde (1895)
more Artful Romance

Gustave Klimt (1907)

Danae was the daughter of Acrisius, King of Argos. The oracle warned Acrisius that he would be slain by his grandson. The king ordered Danae to be locked in her bedroom. Zeus found out about Danae and came to her as a golden rain. As a result of this love affair Perseus was born. Acrisius ordered his daughter and grandson be thrown into the sea in a wooden chest.

 Rembrandt (1636)         Titian (1553)

By the will of Zeus the chest was cast up on the shores of the island of Seriphos, where a fisherman, called Dictus, found them and took in his house. He rose Perseus as his own son. The King of the island Polydectes, brother of Dictus, fall in love with Danae and looked for a chance to get rid of Perseus. Polydectes challenged Perseus to fight the Gorgons. With the help of Athena and Hermes, who first brought him to the sea nymphs to help him get armed, Perseus managed to behead the sleeping Medusa. He put her head in the special pouch bag and started home. The sisters of Medusa awoke, infuriated they looked for the murderer of their sister, but could not spot him. On the way back he saved Andromeda and with her returned to Seriphos. There he found his mother and his adopted father Dictus seeking refuge at the altars of the gods, because Polydectes had tried to rape Danae. Perseus showed Polydectes the head of Medusa and the tyrant was turned into stone. Perseus made Dictus the king of the island and left for Argos with Andromeda and Danae. There he participated in games and when he threw the discus, he hit to death Acrisius, who was present at games as a spectator. Thus the prophecy of the oracle came true.

 Benvenuto Cellini, Perseus with Medusa's head (1545)

Andromeda, the daughter of the king of Ethiopia, Cepheus, and Cassiopea, who claimed that her daughter was more beautiful than all the Nereids. In jealousy Nereids asked Poseidon (god of oceans) to send a monster to waste Cepheus's kingdom. An oracle foretold that the country would be spared if Andromeda, whose beauty was guilty in their mischief, were given to the monster. The people of Ethiopia forced Cepheus to sacrifice his daughter: She was chained to the rock and waited for the monster to be devoured. There Perseus (riding Pegasus the winged horse) saw her. Perseus was coming back from his expedition against the Gorgons, with the head of Medusa in his bag. With the help of that head he turned the monster into stone and freed Andromeda. Then he married her and took with him to Argos.

Perseus and Andromeda:

 Rubens (1620)        Anton Raphael Meng, (1777)


Some References:
Olga's Gallery
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Greek Mythology
Classical Myth


Barnabe Barnes (1593)

Jove* for Europa’s love, took shape of Bull;
And for Calisto, played Diana’s part:
and in a golden shower, he filled full
The lap of Danae, with celestial art.
Would I were changed but to my Mistress’ gloves,
That those white lovely fingers I might hide!
That I might kiss those hands, which mine heart loves!
Or else that chain of pearl (her neck’s vain pride)
Made proud with her neck’s veins, that I might fold
About that lovely neck, and her paps tickle!
Or her to compass, like a belt of gold!
Or that sweet wine, which down her throat doth trickle,
To kiss her lips, and lie next at her heart,
Run through her veins, and pass by Pleasure’s part!

* Jove or Jupiter is the Roman name of Zeus. The speaker finds an analogy between his love and the guises of Jove's loves.


Oscar Wilde (1895)

Was this His coming! I had hoped to see
A scene of wondrous glory, as was told
Of some great God who in a rain of gold
Broke open bars and fell on Danae:
Or a dread vision as when Semele*
Sickening for love and unappeased desire
Prayed to see God's clear body, and the fire
Caught her brown limbs and slew her utterly:
With such glad dreams I sought this holy place,
And now with wondering eyes and heart I stand
Before this supreme mystery of Love:
Some kneeling girl with passionless pale face,
An angel with a lily in his hand,
And over both the white wings of a Dove.

* Semele was another one of Zeus's loves who wanted to look at him in "his real glorious nature" and burnt as the result of this encounter. Their son, Dionysus god of wine, came out of the ashes and finally went to the underworld to retrieve his mother.