Friday, August 13, 2021

Challenging Gender Roles: Hypsicrates / Hypsicratea, Val. Max. IV.6.ext.4

Mithridates VI's wife is listed here with the feminine form Hypsicratea, but other sources (including an inscription found in 2004) names her with the masculine form Hypsicrates. 

Hypsicratea quoque regina Mitridatem coniugem suum effusis caritatis habenis amauit, propter quem praecipuum formae suae decorem in habitum uirilem conuertere uoluptatis loco habuit: tonsis enim capillis equo se et armis adsuefecit, quo facilius laboribus et periculis eius interesset. quin etiam uictum a Cn. Pompeio per efferatas gentes fugientem animo pariter et corpore infatigabili secuta est. cuius tanta fides asperarum atque difficilium rerum Mitridati maximum solacium et iucundissimum lenimentum fuit: cum domo enim et penatibus uagari se credidit uxore simul exulante.

--Valerius Maximus, Memorable Deeds & Sayings IV.6.ext.2


Queen Hypsicratea loved her husband Mithridates with such abandon that she gave up the beauty of her feminine form and dressed as a man to please him. She cut off her hair and accustomed herself to the lifestyle of a cavalryman so that she could more easily share his lifestyle and his dangers. When her husband was defeated by Gnaeus Pompey, she followed him in his retreat through hostile nations, matching his unflagging strength and courage with her own. Her immense loyalty was quite a solace and pleasant comfort to Mithridates as he underwent such trying times; with his wife by his side, it was as if he traveled with his home and family gods alongside him, too.



Name:  Valerius Maximus

Date:  1st c CE.

Works:  Memorable Deeds and Sayings



Region 1: Peninsular Italy; Region 2: Western Europe; Region 3: Western Coast of Africa; Region 4: Egypt and Eastern Mediterranean; Region 5: Greece and the Balkans



Little is known about the life of Valerius Maximus except that he wrote during the reign of the emperor Tiberius. His work, Memorable Deeds and Sayings, is a collection of examples from Roman and world history categorized by theme for the purpose of rhetorical exercises.


Early Roman Lit: through 2nd c BCE: Republican Rome: through 1st c. BCE; Golden Age: 70 BCE to 18 CE; Silver Age: 18 CE to 150 CE; Age of Conflict: 150 CE - 410 CE; Byzantine and Late Latin: after 410 CE

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