Hypatia

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  • Topic: Hypatia, Euclid, Synesius
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Hypatia of Alexandria
“You almost expect to hear: she was a fine philosopher, for a ‘woman’ when hearing about ancient female prodigies. After all, our predecessors' opportunities, especially if they were ‘respectable’ women, were nearly non-existent. Hypatia, however, defies all such qualifiers.” Hypatia's Accomplishments

“Hypatia of Alexandria was, simply, the last great Alexandrian mathematician and philosopher. She was the first woman to make a substantial contribution to the development of mathematics. By writing a commentary on The Conics of Apollonius of Perga which divided cones into sections by a plane, Hypatia made geometry intelligible to her students and ultimately transmissible. Since men thronged to hear her ideas on philosophy, she taught neoplatonic ideas to pagans and Christians alike, including Synesius of Cyrene, who helped refine the doctrine of the Trinity. She also taught astronomy.” “As a Neoplatonist philosopher, she belonged to the mathematic tradition of the Academy of Athens, as represented by Eudoxus of Cnidus; she was of the intellectual school of the 3rd century thinker Plotinus, which encouraged logic and mathematical study in place of empirical inquiry and strongly encouraged law in place of nature.” Hypatia's life

“The mathematician and philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria was the daughter of the mathematician Theon Alexandricus (CE 335–405). She was educated at Athens and in Italy. Around CE 400, she became head of the Platonist school at Alexandria, where she imparted the knowledge of Plato and Aristotle to any student; the pupils included pagans, Christians, and foreigners.” The contemporary 5th-century sources do identify Hypatia of Alexandria as a practitioner and teacher of the philosophy of Plato and Plotinus. Hypatia is known for “her chastity, virtue, and beauty as much as for her ideas in an era of Belfast-style conflict between pagans and Christians. These were formative years for Christian theology, but it still served as a humbling reminder that it was the non-Christian, Platonic, rationalist Hypatia who convinced a would be paramour to maintain his celibacy in one of two much repeated anecdotes:” “The Suda stated that ‘she remained a virgin’ and that she rejected a suitor with her menstrual rags, saying that they demonstrated ‘nothing beautiful’ about carnal desire, an example of a Christian source using Hypatia as a symbol of Virtue.” “| There was a woman at Alexandria named Hypatia, daughter of the philosopher Theon, who made such attainments in literature and science, as to far surpass all the philosophers of her own time. Having succeeded to the school of Plato and Plotinus, she explained the principles of philosophy to her auditors, many of whom came from a distance to receive her instructions. On account of the self-possession and ease of manner which she had acquired in consequence of the cultivation of her mind, she not infrequently appeared in public in the presence of the magistrates. Neither did she feel abashed in going to an assembly of men. For all men on account of her extraordinary dignity and virtue admired her more. | ”| —Socrates Scholasticus, Ecclesiastical History|

Hypatia's Demise
Unfortunately, “Hypatia's popularity and career were cut short, either when she was in her mid-sixties or mid-forties” – history is not clear about her date of birth. “Until the election of Cyril (later, of the Nestorian controversy), bishop of Alexandria, in the year 412, Hypatia had enjoyed the support of community leaders. It is said, in a popular anecdote, that the envious bishop, having seen the hordes waiting to greet her, ordered her death. Christian monks, at any rate, appear to have been responsible for a particularly vicious attack.” Ecclesiastical History, Socrates Scholasticus

“Hypatia came to symbolize learning and science which the early Christians identified with paganism. However, among the pupils who she taught in Alexandria there were many prominent...
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