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Danaus ("sleeper") was a Greek mythological character, twin of Aegyptus and son of Belus. He had fifty daughters, the Danaides, and Aegyptus had fifty sons. Aegyptus commanded that his sons marry the Danaides and Danaus fled to Argos, ruled by King Pelasgus or Gelanor. An oracle told Gelanor to kive his kingdom to Danaus; Gelanor acquiesced. When Aegyptus and his sons arrived to take the Danaides, Danaus gave them to spare the Argives the pain of a battle. However, he instructed his daughters to kill their husbands on their wedding night. Forty-nine followed through, but one, Hypermnestra refused because her husband, Lynceus, honored her wish to remain a virgin. Danaus was angry with his disobedient daughter and threw her to the Argive courts. Aphrodite intervened and saved her. Lynceus later killed Danaus as revenge for the death of his brothers. Lynceus and Hypermnestra then began a dynasty of Argive kings (the Danaan Dynasty). In some versions of the legend, the Danaides were punished in the underworld by being forced to carry water through a jug with holes, or a sieve, so the water always leaked out.

The remaining forty-nine Danaides had their grooms chosen by an unusual method. A foot-race was held and the order in which the potentials finished decided their wives.

According to some authors, Danaus had another daughter: Amymone

Danaus, possibly the same as the one above, had three daughters, Ialysa, Kamira and Linda, who were worshipped on Rhodes, where he stopped and founded a sanctuary to Athena on the way from Libya to Greece.