Hypatia of Alexandria

Mathematician, Astronomer, and Philosopher (d. 415 C.E.)

Hypatia was a mathematician, astronomer, and Platonic philosopher. According to the Byzantine encyclopedia The Suda, her father Theon was the last head of the Museum at Alexandria.

Hypatia's prominence was accentuated by the fact that she was both female and pagan in an increasingly Christian environment. Shortly before her death, Cyril was made the Christian bishop of Alexandria, and a conflict arose between Cyril and the prefect Orestes. Orestes was disliked by some Christians and was a friend of Hypatia, and rumors started that Hypatia was to blame for the conflict. In the spring of 415 C.E., the situation reached a tragic conclusion when a band of Christian monks seized Hypatia on the street, beat her, and dragged her body to a church where they mutilated her flesh with sharp tiles and burned her remains.

Her works include:

    • A Commentary on the Arithmetica of Diophantus
    • A Commentary on the Conics of Apollonious
    • She edited the third book of her father's Commentary on the Almagest of Ptolemy

Local Resources

Recommended Reading

    • "Hypatia: Mathematician, Astronomer, and Philosopher" by Nancy Nietupski in Alexandria 2. An admirable discussion of the known facts and implications.
    • Hypatia of Alexandria by Maria Dzielska. Harvard: Harvard University Press, 1995.





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