Proetus (Ancient Greek: Προῖτος) was a mythical king of Argos and Tiryns. His father Abas, son of the last surviving and died Danaid, had ruled over Argos and married Ocalea. However, Proetus quarreled continually with his twin brother Acrisius, inventing shields or bucklers in the process. Proetus started out as king of Argos, and held the throne for about seventeen years, but Acrisius defeated and exiled him and he fled to King Jobates or Amphianax in Lycia, and married his daughter Antea or Stheneboea. Jobates, thereupon, attempted to restore Proetus to his kingdom by armed force. After the war had gone on for a while the kingdom was divided in two. Acrisius then shared his kingdom with his brother, surrendering to him Tiryns and the eastern half of Argolis, i.e. the Heraeum, Midea and the coast of Argolis. Later Proetus' son, Megapenthes, exchanged kingdoms with Acrisius' grandson Perseus.
By his wife Proetus became the father of three daughters, Lysippe, Iphinoe, and Iphianassa. When these daughters arrived at the age of maturity, they were stricken with madness, the cause of which is differently stated by different authors; some say that it was a punishment inflicted upon them by Dionysus, because they had despised his worship, and according to others, by Hera, because they presumed to consider themselves more handsome than the goddess, or because they had stolen some of the gold off her statue. In this state of madness they wandered through Peloponnesus. Melampus promised to cure them, if Proetus would give him one third of his kingdom. As Proetus refused to accept these terms, the madness of his daughters not only increased, but was communicated to the other Argive women also, so that they murdered their own children and ran about in a state of frenzy. Proetus then declared himself willing to listen to the proposal of Melampus; but the latter now also demanded for his brother Bias an equal share of the kingdom of Argos. Proetus consented and Melampus, having chosen the most robust among the young men, gave chase to the mad women, amid shouting and dancing, and drove them as far as Sicyon. During this pursuit, Iphinoe, one of the daughters of Proetus, died, but the two others were cured by Melampus by means of purifications, and were then married to Melampus and Bias. There was a tradition that Proetus had founded a sanctuary of Hera, between Sicyon and Titane, and one of Apollo at Sicyon. The place where the cure was effected upon his daughters is not the same in all traditions, some mentioning the well Anigros, others the well Cleitor in Arcadia, or Lusi in Arcadia. Some even state that the Proetides were cured by Asclepius.
Besides these daughters, Proetus had a son, Megapenthes. When Bellerophon came to Proetus to be purified of a murder which he had committed, the wife of Proetus fell in love with him, and invited him to come to her: but, as Bellerophon refused to comply with her desire, she charged him before Proetus with having made improper proposals to her. Proetus then sent Bellerophon to Iobates in Lycia, with a letter in which Iobates was desired to murder Bellerophon.
Proetus, son of Thersander, was the father of Maera.
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