Reinterpreting Zeus’ Golden Rain: The Greek Anthology on Persuading Women

This is a real vase, held in the Louvre.

The Fifth Book of the Greek Anthology is a collection of erotic epigrams. Many of them use myth in amusing ways, for instance, the poem where the speaker claims to be Telephus and asks his addressee to be his Achilles. There are a series of poems that reflect on the practice of giving women gold using the story of Danae. These are a little funny, but if you observe some of the motifs in advertising around Valentine’s Day, they get a little less amusing….

Paulus Silentiarius, Greek Anthology, 5.219

“Golden Zeus cut through the seal of untouched maidenhood
after he entered Danae’s chamber of beaten bronze.
I think that what the story means is this: Gold, the all-conquerer,
Overcomes walls and chains.
Gold reproaches all reins and every lock,
Gold bends all blinking women its way.
It turned around Danae’s mind too: No lover needs
To beg the Paphian’s favor if he has money.”

Χρύσεος ἀψαύστοιο διέτμαγεν ἅμμα κορείας
Ζεὺς διαδὺς Δανάας χαλκελάτους θαλάμους.
φαμὶ λέγειν τὸν μῦθον ἐγὼ τάδε• „Χάλκεα νικᾷ
τείχεα καὶ δεσμοὺς χρυσὸς ὁ πανδαμάτωρ.”
χρυσὸς ὅλους ῥυτῆρας, ὅλας κληῖδας ἐλέγχει,
χρυσὸς ἐπιγνάμπτει τὰς σοβαροβλεφάρους•
καὶ Δανάας ἐλύγωσεν ὅδε φρένα. μή τις ἐραστὰς
λισσέσθω Παφίαν, ἀργύριον παρέχων.

Parmenion, Greek Anthology 5.33
“You poured onto Danae as gold, Olympian, so that the girl
Might be persuaded by a gift, and not tremble before Kronos’ son.”

᾿Ες Δανάην ἔρρευσας, ᾿Ολύμπιε, χρυσός, ἵν’ ἡ παῖς
ὡς δώρῳ πεισθῇ, μὴ τρέσῃ ὡς Κρονίδην.

“Zeus got Danae for gold, and I’ll get you for some too:
I cannot give more than Zeus did!”

῾Ο Ζεὺς τὴν Δανάην χρυσοῦ, κἀγὼ δὲ σὲ χρυσοῦ•
πλείονα γὰρ δοῦναι τοῦ Διὸς οὐ δύναμαι.

Antipater of Thessalonica, 5.30

“Once there was a golden race, a bronze age, and a silver one too.
But today, Cytherea takes every form.
She honors the golden man, has loved the bronze one
And never turns her face from silver men.
The Paphian stretches out like Nestor—and I don’t think that Zeus
Rained on Danae in gold: he came carrying a hundred gold coins!”

Χρύσεος ἦν γενεὴ καὶ χάλκεος ἀργυρέη τε
πρόσθεν• παντοίη δ’ ἡ Κυθέρεια τὰ νῦν•
καὶ χρυσοῦν τίει καὶ χάλκεον ἄνδρ’ ἐφίλησεν
καὶ τοὺς ἀργυρέους οὔ ποτ’ ἀποστρέφεται.
Νέστωρ ἡ Παφίη. δοκέω δ’, ὅτι καὶ Δανάῃ Ζεὺς
οὐ χρυσός, χρυσοῦς δ’ ἦλθε φέρων ἑκατόν.


Danae 2
Yes. Another one.
The Greek vases make Gustav Klimt’s painting look tame.

4 thoughts on “Reinterpreting Zeus’ Golden Rain: The Greek Anthology on Persuading Women

  1. To be revised at a later date… (bumpkinpumpkin) surely his Halloween costume…

    Inaugural Occasional Poem: The White House
    Casting Couch Is Visited By Zeus as Golden Rain


    I thought I saw a smoke screen or a cloud
    descend through spears that rallied at the sky,
    and railed against the theme-
    four years beneath a shroud-
    until I woke to see that, in my eye,
    I could not emancipate the dream
    from shackles chained to starlight-
    a strident stalker wading through the night,
    an endless specter searching for a theme….


    But then I saw sun’s gilded feet retreat-
    high-heeled hopes broken by the darkness,
    love that lies alone on mirrored splinters,
    shattered by the monuments of defeat,
    that thrust into the eyes the vile success
    of tyrants who elect to be successors-
    their statutory statutes on the plaques-
    marble mountains moved on others’ backs-
    destroyers in the mantles of the victors….


    He heard his daughter’s son would bring him death,
    though prophecies are dead- the prophets mute-
    the grander grandeur- puppet on a pulpit-
    the bloviating toxins on his breath
    the wind that withers trees and dries the roots,
    that topples the foundations of the spirit,
    the ignorance that feeds on fear and doubt,
    that puts the fire of liberty ever out,
    and leaves us desolate and destitute….


    This caused the Don to build a golden cage,
    and lock his daughter there until forever.
    The father of no country- of no child-
    the bearer of the void- this lightless age-
    who hides his terror in his gilded tower-
    to torture and torment those he defiled
    by lies that fed the truth of their desire
    to hold their leader highest of the higher,
    the feral alpha calling to the wild.


    The daughter lay sequestered in the tower,
    imprisoned in a dungeon with no window.
    The tyrant feared the oracles of karma,
    and as he held the absolutes of power,
    he knew that his today would come tomorrow-
    that death would be a sorry melodrama-
    his name would ever desecrate the dust
    that drowns the articles of blinded trust-
    the tides of time that brought us this enigma…


    He struts in his new clothes before the mirror
    that slims him in the image of himself-
    his hair the color of the coming sun.
    He wears it like the falsified demeanor
    of pimps who preen to flash their worthless wealth,
    who act as if the answer and the one.
    So self-absorbed, delirious with power,
    he seeks to steal the mother from the father,
    or be the father of his daughter’s son….


    He could not drown- leaden in the water-
    nor touch a drink to demonize his soul.
    He feels his bloated beauty does not change-
    but stoops to snort an energizing powder,
    his fingernail dipped in a crystal bowl,
    a morbid mind the dopamine deranges,
    that stimulates the power of abuse,
    so that he thinks himself the mighty Zeus,
    that he will come disguised as Golden Rain.


    He paints the tainted sunlight on his face,
    plucks his brows and bellows like a bull.
    He looks again into his lying mirror,
    but can not see the truth of his disgrace-
    that he must grope to find a fingerful,
    that he can’t stand erect without a popper,
    however beauty sizzles in his child-
    the image of himself that he defiled
    and locked inside a dungeon in his tower.


    He looks outside his window at the clouds,
    bends upon his knees and bows his head.
    The sanctuary of his inner demons
    is draped in curtains made of funeral shrouds.
    The promises he pilfered for the dead
    he offered in the rantings of his sermons,
    the lies that told the truth of his deceit,
    the deadly hatred of the feigned elite,
    who look upon their lessers as their vermin.


    Now our tears have shed the Golden Rain,
    and he has liquified into the chamber
    where he can rape and pillage and destroy-
    and like a madman- utterly insane-
    he showers his gifts upon his sleeping daughter,
    and leaves his seed to scatter and deploy
    the legions of the army of amorals,
    the vengeance of the gross deplorables,
    who never knew the simple joy of joy.


    And as this would befit a grand occasion,
    I offer this entertainment to the Ball,
    and join the singers singing their bright songs,
    knowing that we face pure disillusion,
    that what we saw before was not at all
    the truth that has amassed in these dark throngs,
    the hatred now that’s branded on the sleeves,
    the golden calf in which the crowd believes-
    here neither love nor joy nor hope belongs….

    January 20, 2017

  2. The golden rain poem for you- in the hope you would enjoy -so please don’t feel compelled to post – and like a guilty party – I misspelled Mueller this morning on Paul’s post- “it wasn’t me- it was my fingers!”

Leave a Reply