Hypsicratea

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Hypsicratea or Hipsicratea (flourished 63 BC), was a Caucasian woman who became Queen of Pontus. She ruled a confederacy of states with King Mithridates VI of Pontus.

The concubine; the sixth and the most famous wife of Mithridates VI, she loved her husband so much that she donned a male disguise, learned warrior skills, and followed him into exile. When he was defeated and put to flight, wherever he sought refuge, even in the most remote solitude. She considered that wherever her husband was, there she would find her kingdom, her riches, and her country, which was of the greatest comfort and solace to Mithridates in his many misfortunes. She assisted him in all labours including the hazards of the war. She rode with him in battle, to suppress rebellions and to fight against the Roman Republic. She is noted to have fought with ax, lance, sword, and bow and arrow.

During Mithridates' defeat by Pompey, Hypsicratea broke free of Pompey's blockade and while the rest dispersed she was one of only three who remained by the King's side. Plutarch wrote that she was "...always manly (androdes) and extremely bold, the king consequently liked to call her Hypsicrates. At that time taking possession of a clock and horse of a Persian man she neither flagged in body before the distances they ran nor did she weary of tending the body and horse of the king, until they came to a place called Sinor, which was full of the king's coins and treasures."

Valerius Maximus observes that she departed with a chief ornament of her beauty.

"The Queen Hypsicratea too loved her husband Mithradates, with all the stops of affection let out, and for his sake she thought it a pleasure to change the outstanding splendor of her beauty for a masculine style. For she cut her hair and habituated herself to horse and arms, so that she might more easily participate in his tools and danger. Indeed when he was defeated by Cn. Pompey, and fleeing through wild peoples, she followed him with body and soul equally indefatigable. Her extraordinary fidelity was for Mithradates his greatest solace and most pleasant comfort in those bitter and difficult conditions, for he considered that he was wandering with house and home because his wife was in exile along with him."

References[edit]

Primary sources[edit]

  • Orosius, Historiae adversus paganos vi.5.3-5
  • Valerius Maximus, Factorum et dictorum memorabilium libri vi.6

Secondary sources[edit]

  • Salmonson, Jessica Amanda.(1991) The Encyclopedia of Amazons. Paragon House. Page 122. ISBN 1-55778-420-5