Hypsipyle

In Greek mythology, Hypsipyle was the Queen of Lemnos. During her reign, Aphrodite cursed the women of the island for having neglected her shrines. All the women developed extreme halitosis that made them repugnant to the men of the nation. The men took up with female slaves taken on raids on Thrace. The women of the island decided upon revenge and, in one night, killed all their male relatives. Hypsipyle alone spared a male. She hid her father, Thoas, from the vengeful plan.

Soon after the androcide, Jason and the Argonauts stopped at Lemnos on their way to Colchis. The Argonauts remained on Lemnos for several months and, during that time, had extensive relations with the women of Lemnos. Jason impregnated Hypsipyle and swore eternal fidelity to her. The product of that pregnancy was twins, Euneus and Nebrophonus (or Deiphilus or Thoas).

Jason sailed away and quickly forgot his vows.

The Lemnian women, angry at her having spared her father, forced Hypsipyle to flee for her life. She and her sons were taken by pirates and sold to Lycurgus, king of Nemeae. She was given charge of Lycurgus's son, Archemorus.

When the Argives (of Aeschylus's "Seven Against Thebes") marched against Thebes, they met Hypsipyle and made her show them a fountain where they could get water. She set down Archemorus when she did this, and he was killed by a snake in her absence. Lycurgus wanted revenge upon Hypsipyle, but she was protected by Adrastus, the leader of the Argives.

For her story, see Ovid's Heroidus 6; Apollonius Rhodius Argonautica I, 609-909; Statius 5; Apollodorus Bibliotheke I, ix, 17; III, 4; Hyginus fables 15, 74.




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THE LEGEND OF GOOD WOMEN by Geoffrey Chaucer (c. A.D.1342-1400) , The Legend of Hypsipyle and Medea


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