Proitos’ Daughters (page 312 with art)

Chapter 10: Perseus and Bellerophontes, Part 1

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Cited in note 25 for p. 312:

Σ Od 11.326 – Scholia to Homer, OdysseyScholia Graeca in Homeri Odysseam 2, pp. 507-8, ed. W. Dindorf. Oxford 1855.

Maira, daughter of Proitos, son of Thersander, and of Anteia, daughter of Aphianax, was outstanding for her beauty.  As she placed a very high value on her virginity, she used to follow Artemis to the hunt.  Zeus desired her, and he came to her by stealth, and seduced her.  She became pregnant and bore a child, Lokros by name, who dwelt at Thebes with Amphion and Zethos.  The story goes that Maira was shot by the bow of Artemis because of no longer attending at the hunt.  This is told by Pherekydes.  V.  (Transl. Mary Emerson)   Greek Text

Hesiod, Melampodia Fragmenta Hesiodea, pp. 133-38, ed. R. Merkelbach and M. L. West. Oxford 1967.

Hes fr 129 MW – Hesiod, Ehoiai (Catalogue of Women) – Fragmenta Hesiodea, pp. 62-63, ed. R. Merkelbach and M. L. West. Oxford 1967.

P. Oxy. 2487 fr. 1, ed. Lobel):

. . . gave . . . [paid ba]ck a great harm. . . . then b[ore blam]eless Abas . . . in the lofty palace . . . [5] [who] rivaled [the Oly]mpians [in sightliness;] . . . [fa]ther of men and gods . . . and to mount the same bed; [and she bore Proitos] and Akrisios the king.

[And the] father of [me]n an[d of go]ds s[ettled them: [10] Akrisios] was k[i]ng in well-buil[t A]rgos . . . rugged . . . [Eury]dike . . . [o]f Lakedai[mo]n . . . [fair-]cheeked, well fur[nishe]d with wi[ts.

And she bore] f[a]ir-ankle[d Dana]e [in her h]a[lls, [15] who bore Perseus, mi]g[ht]y in[st]ille[r] of fear. [But Proitos dwelt in Tiry]ns, a well-[b]ui[l]t city, [and he married the daughte]r of great-hearted [Apheida]s so[n] of Arkas, S[th]eneboi[a] of beau[tiful] locks. . . .[20] cow-eyed Sthen[e]boia . . . mounting the same bed, [the daughter of gr]eat-h[e]arte[d Apheidas s]on of Arkas . . . s who knew [most b]eautiful works, [Lysippe and Iphi]noe and Iphianassa, [25] . . .  palace of their father . . . (Transl. Silvio Curtis)

Cited in note 26:

ApB 2.2.2 – Apollodoros, Bibliotheke (Library)

Proetus had daughters, Lysippe, Iphinoe, and Iphianassa, by Stheneboea. When these damsels were grown up, they went mad, according to Hesiod, because they would not accept the rites of Dionysus, but according to Acusilaus, because they disparaged the wooden image of Hera.  Greek Text

Pherekydes of Athens 3F114 FGrH – Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker 1pp. 90-91, ed. F. Jacoby. 2 nd ed. Leiden 1957.

SCHOL. MV Hom. Od. 15.225:   Melampous the son of Amythaon did many other astonishing things through divination, not least that there arose the most famous contest for a prize; for when the daughters of Proitos, king of the Argives, Lysippe and Iphianassa, sinned against Hera through youthful lack of forethought – for happening upon a temple of the goddess, they scoffed at it by saying that their father’s house was more sumptuous – and when they went mad because of this, Melampous happened to turn up and promised a total cure if he were offered a reward that was great enough to be worthy of the cure.  Already the illness had lasted ten years and brought distress not only on the maidens themselves but also on those around them.  So when Proitos had promised Melampous a share in his kingdom and one of his daughters in marriage, whichever he preferred, Melampous healed the sickness by means of supplication and sacrifices to Hera.  And he took Iphianassa in marriage, reaping the profit of the cures with herself as the bride-price. The story is in Pherekydes.  (Transl. Mary Emerson).  Greek Text

Hes fr 130 MW – Hesiod, Ehoiai (Catalogue of Women) – Fragmenta Hesiodea, pp. 64, ed. R. Merkelbach and M. L. West. Oxford 1967.

Strabo viii 6. 6 p. 370

Concerning Hellas and Hellenes and Panhellenes there is discussion … and Apollodoros (244 F 200) says that only those in Thessaly are called Hellenes: “They are called Myrmidons and also Hellenes” (Hom. B 684).  He says however that Hesiod and Archilochos (fr. 54 Diehl) already knew that all Hellenes are called Panhellenes, the one saying how Panhellenes wooed the daughters of Proitos, and the other, etc.  (Transl. Mary Emerson)

Hes fr 131 MW– Hesiod, Ehoiai (Catalogue of Women) – Fragmenta Hesiodea, p. 64, ed. R. Merkelbach and M. L. West. Oxford 1967.

Ps. Apollod., Bibl. ii [26] 2. 2 (p. 58. 4-11 Wagner)

Danae was born to Akrisios by Eurydike, daughter of Lakdedaimon; and to Proitos by Stheneboia were born Lysippe and Iphinoe and Iphianassa.  They, when fully grown, went mad; as Hesiod tells it, this was because they did not accept the mystic rites of Dionysos, but according to Akousilaos (2 F 28), it was because they showed contempt for the xoanon[wooden image] of Hera.  (Transl. Mary Emerson).

Akousilaos 2F28 FGrHDie Fragmente der griechischen Historiker 1p. 55, ed. F. Jacoby. 2 nd ed. Leiden 1957.

Akrisios was king of Argos, Proitos was king of Tiryns.   Akrisios had a daughter …  Danae, while Proitos and his wife Stheneboia had Lysippe and Iphinoe and Iphianassa.  But they, when they were fully-grown, went mad: as Hesiod tells it (F 27), because they would not accept the mystic rites of Dionysus; but as Akousilaos recounts, because they mocked the xoanon [wooden image] of Hera.  (Transl. Mary Emerson).  Greek Text

Bak 11.47-52 – Bakchylides, Odes

For, while still virgins, they [daughters of Proetus] entered the sanctuary of the purple-belted goddess, [50] and said that their father far surpassed in wealth the golden-haired consort of holy, widely powerful Zeus.  Greek Text

Hes fr 132 MW – Hesiod, Ehoiai (Catalogue of Women) – Fragmenta Hesiodea, pp. 64-65, ed. R. Merkelbach and M. L. West. Oxford 1967.

Suda μ 307  (iii 339. 4 Adler)

Lewdness; propensity to vice; lust for women. Hesiod’s vocabulary: for he is speaking of the daughters of Proitos:

As a consequence of hateful lewdness, he destroyed a delicate flower.

Cf. schol. A Hom. Ω 25-30 on the word ‘machlosyne’ (ii. 276. 16 Dindorf)

The vocabulary is Hesiod’s: for he used it first in the story of the daughters of Proitos.

And Eustath. in Hom. P. 1337. 34 (relevant passage) (Transl. Mary Emerson)

Il 24.30 – Homer, Iliad

and [Paris] gave precedence to her [Aphrodite] who furthered his fatal lustfulness.  Greek Text

Athens, National Museum 13413: painted metope from Thermon with Proitides (daughters of Proitos)


Deutsches Archäologisches Institut. Antike Denkmäler, vol. 2 (1908), pl. 52A.5

Digital LIMC

New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art 17.190.73: ivory plaque with Proitides (daughters of Proitos)


Metropolitan Museum

Hes fr 133 MW – Hesiod, Ehoiai (Catalogue of Women) – Fragmenta Hesiodea, p. 65, ed. R. Merkelbach and M. L. West. Oxford 1967.

P. Oxy. 2488A, ed. Lobel

. . .] boundless earth, for he even poured down a dreadful itch on their heads; for a leprosy covered their whole body, and their tresses streamed off their scalps, and their beautiful heads were bare.  (Transl. Silvio Curtis)

Bak 11.53-58 – Bakchylides, Odes

In anger at them, she [Hera] put a twisted thought into their minds, [55] and they fled to the wooded mountain with terrible screams, leaving behind the city of Tiryns and its god-built streets.   Greek Text

Bak  11.92-95 – Bakchylides, Odes

For thirteen whole months his daughters roamed wildly through the shadowy forests and fled through sheep-nurturing Arcadia.  Greek Text

Ecl 6.48-51 – Vergil, Eclogues

the daughters too of Proetus filled the fields
with their feigned lowings, yet no one of them
of such unhallowed union e’er was fain
as with a beast to mate, though many a time
on her smooth forehead she had sought for horns,
and for her neck had feared the galling plough.  Latin Text

Σ Ecl 6.48 – Probus, Scholia to Vergil, Eclogues (Bucolics) –  In Vergilii Bucolica et Georgica Commentarius, p. 22, ed. H. Keil. 1848.

‘ The daughters of Proetus filled …’.   The daughters of Proetus, king of the Argives.  Hesiod tells that they were born to Proetus by Stheneboea, the daughter of Amphidamas …  He tells that, because they had scorned the divine power of Juno, they were driven mad with fear, in that they believed that they were transformed into cows; they left their homeland of Argos, and afterwards were cured by Melampous, son of Amythaon … (Transl. Mary Emerson)  Latin Text

VH 3.42 – Aelianus, Varia Historia

Elege and Celane were Daughters of Prœtus. The Queen of Cyprus work’d them to prostitute themselves, insomuch as in some parts of Peloponnesus they ran up and down, as it is said, naked and raging.  Greek Text

Hes fr 37 MW – Hesiod, Ehoiai (Catalogue of Women) – Fragmenta Hesiodea, pp. 25-26, ed. R. Merkelbach and M. L. West. Oxford 1967.

P.S.I. 1301, ed. Vitelli-Norsa

. . .] whose fame [. . .] difficult; but [the blameless prophet] alone re[ceived them]. And he acco[m]plished this, [. . .] holding the shameful bond [. . .] for she was courting his broth[er, the hero Bias,] and achieving a delightful marr[iage . . .] rolling cattle, and [received the girl as a blam]eless prize. And [pre]tty-haired Pero bore Tala[os . . .] son of Bias [. . .]

[10] And they [reached noble] Proi[to]s in Argos, where he bestowe[d] on them [. . .] st[o]ut Proitos [. . .] a share [. . .] and to horse-taming [Bi]as [and Melampous . . .] he healed with his prophecies, since [. . .] sent a madness on them, anger[ed . . .] This family [. . .] of Neleus [. . .]

[. . .] but he r[emained] there [in spacious Iolkos] holding the scepter [of Pelias . . .] whom [. . .] bore [. . .] [20] Alkestis [. . .] and pretty-haired M[edousa . . .] Pasidike [. . .] bore [. . .  (Transl. Silvio Curtis)

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Literary sources edited by Silvio Curtis, Teaching assistant, Department of Classics, Univ. of Georgia, fall 2015.  Updated by Elena Bianchelli, Retired Senior Lecturer of Classical Languages and Culture, Univ. of Georgia, May 2024.


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