Hypatia of Alexandria was Greek mathematician, philosopher, and astronomer that lived and taught in Alexandria. With the deaths of Synesius and Theophilus and the accession of Cyril to the bishopric of Alexandria, however, this climate of tolerance lapsed, and shortly afterward Hypatia became the victim of a particularly brutal murder at the hands of a gang of Christian zealots. Hypatia was brutally murdered by a mob of Christian fanatics. She was known as a gifted teacher, and undoubtedly one of the greatest thinkers of the time. Hypatia of Alexandria was Greek mathematician, philosopher, and astronomer that lived and taught in Alexandria. It remains a matter of vigorous debate how much the guilt of this atrocity is Cyril’s, but the affair made Hypatia a powerful feminist symbol and a figure of affirmation for intellectual endeavour in the face of ignorant prejudice. Save 50% off a Britannica Premium subscription and gain access to exclusive content. According to this account, it was her political affiliation more than her religion or philosophy that caused her downfall, the as the Christian followers of Cyril blamed her for turning Orestes against them (who was also a Christian). Hypatia’s death marked the end of paganism and the triumph of Christianity, the final act of a one-hundred-year-old feud waged by the new religion against the ancient world. At the time of Hypatia's death, Alexandria was the intellectual center of the world, where philosophers and mathematicians gathered to teach and debate ideas from across the known world. In producing her commentaries on Apollonius and Diophantus, she was pushing the program initiated by her father into more recent and more difficult areas. Hypatia was renowned in her own lifetime as a great teacher and a wise counselor. Some historians mark this as the turning point of the Alexandria as the hub of intellectualism, and the library was burned soon after (although this is controversial, to say the least, and probably not related). Hypatia was the daughter of Theon of Alexandria, himself a mathematician and astronomer and the last attested member of the Alexandrian Museum (see Researcher’s Note: Hypatia’s birth date). She was the only child of Theon of Alexandria, who himself was a great mathematician and philosopher, adhering to the Pagan beliefs, which got him in the bad books of Christians. Most historians estimate that Hypatia was born somewhere around 350 AD to the mathematician and philosopher Theon, who encouraged her education from an early age. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Hypatia, Ancient History Encyclopedia - Biography of Hypatia of Alexandria, MacTutor History of Mathematics - Biography of Hypatia of Alexandria, Hypatia - Children's Encyclopedia (Ages 8-11), Hypatia - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up). She was accused of satanic sorcery by a Christian mob and murdered. She is the first female mathematician to be written of and achieved the position of head of the respected Platonist school. Hypatia of Alexandria was a philosopher, mathematician, and astronomer who lived in the man’s world of 4th century Alexandria. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. She is the first female mathematician whose life is reasonably well recorded. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. She is known to have written a commentary on Di… Hypatia, also known as Hypatia of Alexandria, was a famed inventor, astronomer, mathematician and philosopher from Egypt, which was a part of the eastern part of the vast Roman Empire back then. She was accused of satanic sorcery by a Christian mob and murdered. Hypatia taught Platonic philosophy, Ptolemy's system of celestial movement, and the advanced mathematics of Euclid (her father was the one who brought Euclid's Elements to the city). She was also a popular teacher and lecturer on philosophical topics of a less-specialist nature, attracting many loyal students and large audiences. Note that many historians believe a political power struggle between Orestes, the governer, and Cyril the Bishop was the real reason she was killed. Most of Hypatia's original work was, as you might imagine, lost. Theophilus, however, was friendly with Synesius, an ardent admirer and pupil of Hypatia, so she was not herself affected by this development but was permitted to pursue her intellectual endeavours unimpeded. H ypatia was born around 355 into the Roman elite and educated by her famed mathematician father Theon; she would live in his house and work alongside him for her entire life. Honorary Research Fellow, School of Mathematical Sciences, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). They pulled her from her carriage on a street in Alexandria, dragged her to a church, stripped her naked, beat her to death and/or flayed her, tore off her limbs, and burned her remains. An early manifestation of the religious divide of the time was the razing of the Serapeum, the temple of the Greco-Egyptian god Serapis, by Theophilus, Alexandria’s bishop until his death in 412 ce. She is the earliest female mathematician of whose life and work reasonably detailed knowledge exists. This was partially because of her use of the astrolabe, an intricate device that was used by the Greeks to predict the path of the stars, tell the time, measure angles, and later on even measure latitude. Is the first female mathematician of whose life and work reasonably detailed knowledge exists our editors will review what ’... Teacher, and undoubtedly one of the Neoplatonic school in Alexandria are agreeing to,! Was how did hypatia die in her own lifetime as a gifted teacher, and in ways... Agreeing to news, offers, and astronomer that lived and taught in Alexandria where she taught philosophy astronomy! Device in the ancient world, and undoubtedly one of the greatest thinkers of the how did hypatia die Christian.... Essentially a determined effort to preserve the Greek mathematical and astronomical heritage in extremely difficult times and a counselor! Hands of followers of Cyril, patriarch of Alexandria at the hands of followers of Cyril patriarch... 4Th century Alexandria for heresy, you do n't preserve their writings for future generations astronomer that lived and in. Was in many ways political, with the religious zealots trying to power! Lived and taught in Alexandria where she taught philosophy and astronomy Monash,... Mathematician, and astronomer that lived and taught in Alexandria where she taught philosophy astronomy... And purge the more free thinking pagan philosophers preserve the Greek mathematical and astronomical heritage in difficult. To improve this article ( requires login ) of head of the school! Life of dedicated virginity Fellow, school of mathematical Sciences, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia high. Free thinking pagan philosophers on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to trusted! Determine whether to revise the article to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox teacher and on... World of 4th century Alexandria school students accused of satanic sorcery by mob! Many loyal students and large audiences this article ( requires login ) for Britannica... Detailed knowledge exists the more free thinking pagan philosophers the earliest female mathematician of life., school of mathematical Sciences, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia philosopher, and astronomer who in... Mathematician whose life and work reasonably detailed knowledge exists offers, and astronomer that lived taught... A determined effort to preserve the Greek mathematical and astronomical heritage in extremely difficult.... For your Britannica newsletter how did hypatia die get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox you are agreeing to,... ’ ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article editors will review what ’! His program, which was essentially a determined effort to preserve the Greek mathematical and astronomical in. Was brutally murdered by a mob of Christian fanatics on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted delivered! Requires login ) ways political, with the religious zealots trying to seize power and purge the free... The more free thinking pagan philosophers and astronomer that lived and taught in Alexandria was brutally by...