DANAE

 

This is the story of the princess Danae of the Greek Islands. Tales of her beauty, and her spellbinding luminescence have survived kings, wars and entire civilizations.

 

Danae was the daughter of King Akrisios, and the great Queen Eurydice. She was born and destined for a life of privilege until the fateful day King Akrisios’s prophesier predicted that he was destined to be killed by Danae’s first son. King Akrisios was mortified for his prophesier had never been wrong. He summoned his best craftsmen, and had them construct a solid bronze underground windowless chamber. He was determined to prevent Danae from ever having children; and locked her away seemingly to spend the rest of her life in this dark subterranean prison.

 

Zeus however had long ago noted Danae’s great beauty, and had been watching this sordid saga unfold from his throne in the heavens. He rose and sped to earth entering Danae’s elaborate tomb masquerading as morning light shining under the one and only door. He changed her prison into a lush and vibrant garden. It is in this garden they spent days, weeks and months frolicking in each other’s arms.

 

On a given day many months later King Akrisios went to check on his daughter and noticed the light shining out from under the prison door. Unlocking and opening the door he saw Danae sitting in the garden with a male infant in her arms. His outrage and horror knew no bounds, and he locked Danae and the infant in a brass and oak trunk and cast them into the sea.

 

Zeus and his steely-eyed wife Hera were watching from above. For obvious reasons Hera had no great love for Danae, but none-the-less she was not going to allow this turn of events to stand. She guided Danae and her son to the island of Crete where they were found floating miles offshore by the fisherman Diktys.

 

Diktys welcomed Danae and her son into his home. Danae’s son grew to become the legendary half God Perseus. Perseus’s life, trials and travels are famous in their own right. He eventually married the beautiful and tragic Andromeda leaving Danae and Diktys alone.

 

They kept to themselves living quietly alone, but together; taking long walks in the olive gardens that lay in the great shadow of Mount Ida. The few local residents that saw them noted that wherever they went flocks of the beautiful Black-Eared Wheatear accompanied them. In fact it was said, that before you ever saw Danae and Diktys, you would hear the singing of these beautiful songbirds.

 

Then one day they were gone. As they walked along one morning Danae found the thoughts going through her mind, “Here is a mortal with whom I can stay… until the end.” Diktys heard her, and with hearts beating in unison they just kept walking… into the forested foothills of Mount Ida and beyond. To this day their cottage by the sea sits meticulously tidy, but completely empty.

 

They have never been known to be seen again. Although it is noted that Queen Eurydice walks through her days with a light in her eyes and a half smile on her face. It is the light and smile of a mother who sees her daughter, and takes great pride and joy in what her eyes behold.

 

It is also said that occasionally in the olive groves below Mount Ida a deafening and beautiful chorus from hundreds of Black-Eared Wheatears will descend into the fruit trees. The women working the orchards will place their baskets down and stand with flushed faces and smiles. The young newcomer working with them will glance toward the mountain puzzled, and then turn back to the women asking, “What is that, and why are you smiling?”

 

The elder stateswoman will simply keep smiling, pointing briefly at the distant sun-splashed peaks before quietly answering with a widening smile, “They are up there, still.”

 

~pjv~