Wednesay after Wednesday, we have surely had our fair share of women renowed for their unique beauty. Isn't it time to lower our expectations? Our guest for this week's Women's Wednesday is Dripetrua (or Drypetina) who became famous at her time for the very opposite reason.
Dripetrua was the daughter of King Mithridates VI of Pontus. Despite having a famous and powerful father, we know very little of her life besides her reportedly ugly looks. We do know, however, the circumstances of her death. During the Third Mithridatic War with Rome, around 66 BC, Dripetrua was severly ill and could not flee Pontus with her father; she was instead left in the care of the eunuch Menophilus so that she could recover. The royal fortress, however, was attacked by Romans: Menophilus thus killed the princess before anyone could lay a finger on her, then committed suicide himself.
Whereas "ugly" might be seen as a strong and touchy word today, especially for someone in her condition, ancient historians did not show any remorse in remarking her unpleasant looks. More interestingly, these were caused by a genetic abnormality in her teeth: Dripetrua had two rows of teeth, having her baby teeth never fallen out - a condition now known as Hyperdontia.
“Dripetrua”, illumination from the manuscript “De Mulieribus Claris”, decorated by Robinet Testard, ms. Français 599, f. 65r, 1488-1496, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des Manuscrits, Paris.