Ancient History Encyclopedia has a new name!

We are now World History Encyclopedia to better reflect the breadth of our non-profit organization's mission. If you have bookmarks or links to our site on your blog or website, please update them. Learn More

Hipparchia the Cynic: Devoted Wife, Mother, and Outspoken Greek Philosopher


published on 18 January 2012
Send to Google Classroom:

Hipparchia was the wife of Crates, a very popular Athenian philosopher. She was also notable for her brazen abandonment of her aristocratic upbringing for life as a Cynic. Though not much is known about Hipparchia, her importance in the history of ancient Greek women is undeniable. She was an educated philosopher, she was outspoken, and she was unconventional.

Hipparchia was from an upper class family from Maroneia, in northeastern Greece, and because she lived in the slightly more relaxed Hellenistic Period, she was afforded a basic education in subjects like reading and music. This knowledge would give her the ammunition to stand on her own intellectually later in her life.

Remove Ads


In an effort to rebel against her elite background, Hipparchia began keeping company with Crates, and began to follow his teachings of the Cynic school of philosophy. She fell in love with him, and despite his attempts to turn her away (at her parents' behest), he eventually gave in to her. When Crates decided to take Hipparchia as his wife (a convention that was not popular among the Cynics), he made her promise to turn her back on her family, abandon all conventions, and be his intellectual equal in living the Cynic lifestyle. Naturally, she agreed.

When Hipparchia married Crates, she happily began to follow the Cynic lifestyle. Cynics were unconventional thinkers, who were more individually focused than concerned with the greater good. Cynics eschewed materialism and the conventions of society and marriage (including where marriage was consummated, at least for Hipparchia and Crates!), and were known for their shocking behaviors and shamelessness when it came to demonstrating their philosophical views.

Remove Ads


As Cynics, Hipparchia and Crates were quite the team. When they weren't performing unspeakable acts in public places, they actually made rather solid contributions to society (which might seem a bit contradictory to the philosophy). They counseled troubled citizens, and even consoled the sick and bereaved. They were also known for attending many dinner parties, where Hipparchia often engaged in debates with the male guests, who were often infuriated with her audacity.

Hipparchia was the mother of 2 children, whom she no doubt raised in the non-material ways of the Cynic lifestyle. She was also a writer, and wrote several books on Cynicism and harangues against other philosophies. Due to the unpopularity of her philosophical school, and the fact that she was a female pursuing a mostly male pursuit, her writings were not preserved. Her legacy, though, is preserved in the few references of the ancient writers and philosophers who saw fit to mention her name. There is no doubt, though, that Hipparchia must have stood out among the Greek women of her time, for good or for bad.

Love History?

Sign up for our free weekly email newsletter!

Editorial Review This article has been reviewed for accuracy, reliability and adherence to academic standards prior to publication.
Remove Ads



We want people all over the world to learn about history. Help us and translate this article into another language!

Support Our
Non-Profit Organization

World History Encyclopedia is a non-profit organization. For only $5 per month you can become a member and support our mission to engage people with cultural heritage and to improve history education worldwide.

Become a Member  

Recommended Books

Sorry, we haven't been able to find any books on the subject.

Cite This Work

APA Style

writer873, . (2012, January 18). Hipparchia the Cynic: Devoted Wife, Mother, and Outspoken Greek Philosopher. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Chicago Style

writer873, . "Hipparchia the Cynic: Devoted Wife, Mother, and Outspoken Greek Philosopher." World History Encyclopedia. Last modified January 18, 2012.

MLA Style

writer873, . "Hipparchia the Cynic: Devoted Wife, Mother, and Outspoken Greek Philosopher." World History Encyclopedia. World History Encyclopedia, 18 Jan 2012. Web. 09 May 2021.