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Drypetis, daughter of Darius and wife of Hephaestion

Drypetis was the (younger) daughter of Darius III. She was captured by Alexander after Issus in 333 BC, along with her sister Stateira, her mother (also Stateira), and her grandmother Sisygambis. After their capture, the Persian women joined Alexander’s baggage train for around two years (Arr. 2.11.9; Diod. 35f; Pl. Alex. 20.6-21; QC 3.11.24-26).

Drypetis is not mentioned by name in any of the sources on the occasion of Alexander’s meeting with Sisygambis, although her presence (and that of her sister) is attested, especially in the description of their grief when they think that Darius has been slain, and particularly as they fear for their own lives (eg. QC 3.11.25, 3.12.3-5; Pl. Alex. 21.1).

However, Alexander is said to have treated Darius’ daughters with "as much respect as if they were his own sisters" (QC 3.12.21; see also Pl. Alex. 21.3, Athenaeus 13.603b-d); he also promised to ensure that the two princesses were given husbands of sufficient rank (Diod. 17.38.1; Jus. 11.9). However, there was no doubt that the royal women were Alexander’s captives: in the exchange of letters between Darius and Alexander, before Gaugamela, Darius offered Alexander one of his daughters in marriage (we don’t know which, but we might presume it was Stateira, as the elder); Alexander’s reply was that what Darius offered was already his (Pl. Alex. 29.4; QC 4.5.1; Just. 11.12).

When Drypetis’ mother died the princess was at her side (QC 4.10.19). When the army left Susa in late 331 BC the royal family remained at the palace. Alexander committed a grave faux pas at that time—having received some material from Macedonia he sent it to Sisygambis, suggesting that she might like to make some clothes and teach her grand-daughters (ie. Stateira and Drypetis) dressmaking. This was a deep insult to the Persian women, which Alexander was able to avert once he had explained his homeland’s customs (QC 5.1.17-22).

Drypetis disappears from Alexander’s history at this point, until the king’s return from India. When he arrived back in Susa he arranged marriages for his companions with high-born Persian women. Alexander himself married Stateira, while Drypetis was given to Hephaestion. No source records whether the princesses were happy with their marriages, although Drypetis could not have aimed for a more powerful or wealthy husband, bar the king himself—Hephaestion was, at that time, very clearly the second man in the empire. (For the marriages: Arr. 7.4.4-8; Pl. Alex. 70.2; Diod. 17.107.6; Just. 12.10; Athenaeus 12.538B. Aelian Var. Hist. 8.7 gives a detailed description of the marriage feast, which is echoed in Pl. Moralia 329D-F.) Whether her marriage was one of love or not, Drypetis did not enjoy it for long. In 324 BC Hephaestion died after a brief illness. Some months later after Alexander Alexander too died, Roxane lured Stateira and Drypetis to her, and had the two princesses killed, with the connivance of Perdiccas—Roxane was pregnant and was determined that her son should be the undisputed heir to the empire (Pl. Alex. 77.4).

Written by marcus