Another Wednesday, another Mulier Clara: this week is the turn of Hypermnestra, queen of Argos.
Hypermnestra's story begins, like many others in Greek mythology, with marriage. Her father, Danaus, was asked to give his 50 daughters in marriage to his 50 nephews, the sons of his brother Aegyptus; when a prophecy told him that he would have died by the hand of one of his nephews, Danaus and his daughters fled to Argos. Their pursuers eventually caught up with them, and the 50 Danaids were forced into marriage: Danaus, however, instructed his daughters to kill their new husbands on their wedding night. As her husband Lynceus honored her wish not to consume the wedding, Hypermnestra was the only Danaid not to obey her father's will: for this, Danaus threw her in jail. Lynceus later killed his uncle in revenge for his brothers, thus fulfilling the prophecy.
Hypermnestra and Lynceus moved on to rule over Argos, where the girl also became one of the priestesses of Juno: her refusal of blindly obeying her cruel father out of her own free will, according to Boccaccio, grants her a spot among the most important women in history.
"Hypermnestra", illumination from the manuscript “Des cleres et nobles femmes”, ms. Spencer Collection 033, f. 13r, ca. 1450, The New York Public Library.