Person: Hypatia Of Alexandria
Hypatia was the first woman to make a substantial contribution to the development of mathematics. She was killed by a fanatical Christian sect.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- It is rather remarkable that Hypatia became head of the Platonist school at Alexandria in about 400 AD.
- Hypatia based her teachings on those of Plotinus, the founder of Neoplatonism, and Iamblichus who was a developer of Neoplatonism around 300 AD.
- Hypatia taught these philosophical ideas with a greater scientific emphasis than earlier followers of Neoplatonism.
- Hypatia came to symbolise learning and science which the early Christians identified with paganism.
- Many of the letters that Synesius wrote to Hypatia have been preserved and we see someone who was filled with admiration and reverence for Hypatia's learning and scientific abilities.
- Hypatia was a friend of Orestes and this, together with prejudice against her philosophical views which were seen by Christians to be pagan, led to Hypatia becoming the focal point of riots between Christians and non-Christians.
- A few years later, according to one report, Hypatia was brutally murdered by the Nitrian monks who were a fanatical sect of Christians who were supporters of Cyril.
- There is no evidence that Hypatia undertook original mathematical research.
- All Hypatia's work is lost except for its titles and some references to it.
- As mentioned above, some letters of Synesius to Hypatia exist.
- Charles Kingsley (best known as the author of The Water Babies) made her the heroine of one of his novels Hypatia, or New Foes with an Old Face.
Born about 370, Alexandria, Egypt. Died March 415, Alexandria, Egypt.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
African, Ancient Greek, Astronomy, Origin Egypt, Women
Thank you to the contributors under CC BY-SA 4.0!
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive