Hypatia of Alexandria (370–415)

Hypatia of Alexandria, illustration by Elbert Hubbard

Hypatia of Alexandria, illustration by Elbert Hubbard.

Born in 370 CE, Hypatia was an Egyptian mathematician and philosopher. She was versed in mathematics, astronomy, and philosophy and directed and taught at the Neoplatonic school in Alexandria, Egypt. Hypatia was probably influenced by her father, a famously brilliant mathematician and philosopher of the time. She is the first mathematical woman whose life is reasonably well documented. 

Like her father, Hypatia was resolute in her quest to preserve the Greek mathematical and astronomical heritage. She is given credit for her commentaries on some of the greatest scientific works of the ancient world including those by Apollonius of Perga and Diophantus of Alexandria. Unfortunately, her writings have been lost. She was a passionate lecturer and teacher of the Neoplatonist philosophy that was considered "pagan" at the time. Christians, Jews, and pagans were in the midst of a bitter conflict during this period. Alexandria’s bishop, Theophilus, knew of and was tolerant of Hypatia's intellectual pursuits and this offered her some protection. In 415, following the death of Theophilus, however, Hypatia was attacked by a mob of Christians, dragged from her carriage into a nearby church, and brutally killed.


Deakin, Michael 1998, Hypatia, Mathematician and Astronomer, Encyclopedia Britannica (https://www.britannica.com/biography/Hypatia)

Sort text