Tawdry Tuesday, Myth Edition: 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.

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