Who was Hypatia?

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Hypatia was a greek mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher in Egypt, then part of the Byzantine Empire. Born in c. 370, she was the only daughter of the mathematician Theon of Alexandria (c. 335 – c. 405), and was educated in Athens. Hypatia became the head of the Neoplatonist School in Alexandria, where she taught astronomy and the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle to students; including pagans, Christians, and foreigners.

Hypatia was Ancient Alexandria’s Great Female Scholar, as she was one of the first women to lead academic thought in math, astronomy, and philosophy. She was also a proud pagan in a time of religious strife.

“Almost alone, virtually the last academic, she stood for intellectual values, for rigorous mathematics, ascetic Neoplatonism, the crucial role of the mind, and the voice of temperance and moderation in civic life,” Michael Deakin wrote in his 2007 book Hypatia of Alexandria.

The Suda lexicon, a 10th-century encyclopedia of the Mediterranean world, describes her as being “exceedingly beautiful and fair of form. . . in speech articulate and logical, in her actions prudent and public-spirited, and the rest of the city gave her suitable welcome and accorded her special respect.”

Read more about Hypatia here.

Hypatia remains an inspiration, even in modern times.