Belus assigned to Danaus the sovereignty of Libya, and to Aegyptus he gave Arabia. The latter also subdued the country of the Melampodes, which he called Aegypt after his own name. Aegyptus by his several wives had fifty sons, and it so happened that his brother Danaus had just as many daughters.2 Danaus had reason to fear the sons of his brother, and fled with his daughters, the Danaides, to Argos in the Peloponnese. Thither he was followed by the sons of Aegyptus, who demanded his daughters for their wives and promised faithful alliance. Danaus complied with their request, and distributed his daughters among them, but to each of them he gave a dagger, with which they were to kill their husbands in the bridal night.
All the sons of Aegyptus were thus murdered with the exception of Lynceus, who was saved by Hypermnestra. The Danaides buried the heads of their murdered husbands in Lerna, and their bodies outside the town, and were afterwards purified of their crime by Athena and Hermes at the command of Zeus. Pausanias3 who saw the monument under which the heads of the sons of Aegyptus were believed to be buried, says that it stood on the way to Larissa, the citadel of Argos, and that their bodies were buried at Lerna.
In Hyginus4 the story is somewhat different. According to him, Aegyptus formed the plan of murdering Danaus and his daughters in order to gain possession of his dominions. When Danaus was informed of this he fled with his daughters to Argos. Aegyptus then sent out his sons in pursuit of the fugitives, and enjoined them not to return unless they had slain Danaus. The sons of Aegyptus laid siege to Argos, and when Danaus saw that further resistance was useless, he put an end to the hostilities by giving to each of the besiegers one of his daughters. The murder of the sons of Aegyptus then took place in the bridal night.
There was a tradition at Patrae in Achaea, according to which Aegyptus himself came to Greece, and died at Aroe with grief for the fate of his sons. The temple of Serapis at Patrae contained a monument of Aegyptus.5
Apollodorus6 lists as his sons: Lynceus and Proteus, borne to him by Argyphia, a woman of royal blood; Busiris, Enceladus, Lycus, and Daiphron; Istrus, Chalcodon, Agenor, Chaetus, Diocorystes, Alces, Alcmenor, Hippothous, Euchenor, and Hippolytus, borne to him by an Arabian woman; Agaptolemus, Cercetes, Eurydamas, Aegius, Argius, Archelaus, and Menemachus, borne to him by a Phoenician woman; Cleitus, Sthenelus, and Chrysippus; Eurylochus, Phantes, Peristhenes, Hermus, Dryas, Potamon, Cisseus, Lixus, Imbrus, Bromius, Polyctor, and Chthonius, borne to him by Caliadne, a naiad; Periphas, Oeneus, Aegyptus, Menalces, Lampus, and Idmon, borne to him by Gorgo; Idas, Daiphron; Pandion, Arbelus, Hyperbius, and Hippocorystes, borne to him by Hephaestine.
- Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library ii, 50.4; Tzetzes on Lycophron, 382, 1155.
- Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library ii, 1.5; Hyginus. Fabulae, 170.
- Description of Greece ii, 24.3.
- Fabulae, 168.
- Pausanias. Description of Greece vii, 21.6.
- Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library ii, 1.5.
- Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.
This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.