We wrap up the month of October with yet another Women’s Wednesday! The protagonist this time is Hypsipyle, queen of Lemnos and daughter of Thoas and Myrina, one of the Amazon queens.
During Hypsipyle’s reign as queen, Aphrodite felt like the women of the island of Lemnos were neglecting her shrines: for this, the goddess decided to punish every woman in Lemnos with the curse of… halitosis! When the men, disgusted by such a bad breath, seemed to prefer spending more and more time with their slaves, the women of Lemnos sought revenge by killing all of them – husbands, sons, and fathers alike. Only Hypsipyle refused to kill her father (son of Dyonisus and Arianna) and secretly sent him away on a rowless boat.
Hypsipyle is also linked to the legend of the Argonauts, having Jason seduced and deceived her: after promising the queen to always be on her side, and after being given two sons, Jason abandoned Hypsipyle – who later had to escape the island when her people discovered she had spared her father. Then captured by pirates and sold as a slave, Hypsipyle’s miseries just did not seem to end: we will not describe her misfortunes any further, but just know that her story inspired a whole tragedy written by Euripides!
“Hypsipyle”, illumination from the manuscript “Des cleres et nobles femmes”, ms. Royal 20 C V, f. 27v, 1st quarter of the 15th century, British Library, London.