Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Danaüs and his fifty maiden daughters flee Egypt after Danaüs’s brother, Aegyptus, decides that his fifty sons should take their cousins to wife. The fugitives finally reach the shores of Argos, the land of their illustrious ancestress Io, a mortal loved by Zeus. Holding olive branches wrapped in wool before an Argive altar, the maidens seek Zeus’s protection of their purity. Their supplications to the father of the gods include the wish that the sons of Aegyptus might meet disaster at sea between Egypt and Argos. In fear of being forced to marry Aegyptus’s sons, the maidens also invoke the wretched Procne, who was given in marriage to the perfidious Tereus and took the life of her child, Itylus, out of hatred for her husband. They repeat their supplication to Zeus to protect them from forced love, and they invoke Artemis, the goddess of chastity, to be favorable to them. They declare that they will end their lives themselves before submitting to the sons of Aegyptus. They go on to invoke not only Zeus but also Apollo, who himself was once an exile. They pray to Poseidon, god of the sea, and to Hermes, the messenger of the gods. Danaüs recalls that the gods are merciless to those who indulge in lustful pleasures.
Danaüs, observing that someone approaches, cautions his daughters to stay near the altar and to conduct themselves with modesty. A man, followed by servants and warriors, enters the sacred area. Seeing that the maidens wear Eastern...
(The entire section is 1230 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of The Suppliants Summary. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!