Hypatia


Hypatia was born in Alexandria around 370 CE and died around 415 CE. She was an astronomer, a mathematician, and a Neo-Platonist philosopher. She was an established teacher in Alexandria by 393 and had people many come from far away to learn from her. Her philosophy focused on Plato as interpreted by Plotinus; however, her fame is due to a story about one of her students, and also due to the circumstances of her death. The story of her student goes that one of Hypatia's students became infatuated with her and one day let her know his feelings. She collected rags stained with blood from her periods and showed them to him and said "this is what you are in love with, nothing beautiful!" She was scolding him for his attention being in the wrong place, for he should have been focusing on the beauty of the Neo-Platonist God. The story of her death is as follows: The Patriarch of the Roman Catholics in Alexandria was a religious bigot named Cyril. He severly persecuted those of any faith other than Catholicism, so Cyril disliked Hypatia immensely for she was a pagan, a Platonist, and an astronomer (which at that time was often connected with astrology). Hypatia was friends with the Augustral Prefect in Alexandria, a man named Orestes. Orestes didn't like the fact that Cyril was not recognizing the former's authority. Cyril later made a gesture of conciliation but Orestes ignored it and this infuriated many Christians. Soon a rumor was going around that Hypatia had beguiled Orestes through magic. So one day an angry mob of lay church workers led by a man named Peter attacked Hypatia in the streets and killed her with either tiles from a roof or oyster shells, tore her to pieces, and then burned her body. Hypatia's death is an indication of the occlusion of Hellenism by the dominance of Catholicism (which goes along with the closing of the Academy in Athens by Emperor Justinian).

8 ancient sources

hypatos - the highest

Theon was her father, and she edited his work named Algamest

established teacher 393, Neoplatonist focused on Plato as interpreted by Plotinus

Damascius 480-550 final head of Platonic Academy in Athens closed in 529

Ammontus, a monk from Nitria, attacked Orestes (Augustral Prefect) for insult to Cyril's honor.

A rumor was started that Hypatia was a friend of Orestes because she beguiled him through magic.

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