by James Hunter

Hypsipyle was the daughter of Thoas, and queen of the island of Lemnos. The women of Lemnos had failed to pay honor to Aphrodite and the goddess cursed them with a foul smell. The men of Lemnos then neglected their wives and took concubines from Thrace. In revenge, the Lemnian women killed all the men, along with their concubines, although Hypsipyle managed to save her own father. Later, Jason and the Argonauts landed on Lemnos, and the women of the island slept with them. Hypsipyle had two sons by Jason: Euneus and Thoas.

Some time afterward, the Lemnian women learned that Hypsipyle had spared the life of her father, and sold her into slavery. She became the nurse of the children of King Lycurgus of Nemea. When she led the Seven against Thebes to a spring, she left Opheltes, Lycurgus' son, behind and the boy was killed by a serpent; the Nemean Games were instituted in honor of the dead boy.

The soldiers saved her from Lycurgus' wrath, and eventually Hypsipyle's family sheltered and protected her.



  • Homer. Odyssey xxiv.
  • Ovid. Metamorphoses viii, 315.