Hypatia of Alexandria was a renowned mathematician, female philosopher and astronomer. She was born in Alexandria, Egypt. Her father was also a mathematician who taught math at the University of Alexandria. He was the one who tutored her in astronomy, math and philosophy. Hypatia of Alexandria is considered to be earliest female mathematician.
Note: The featured image above is Rachel Weisz as Hypatia of Alexandria in the movie Agora.
What is particularly fascinating about the life of Hypatia is that her father did not want his daughter to follow a traditional path the majority of women had to agree with at those times. He raised Hypatia in a manner in which sons were raised (in accordance with the Greek tradition of those times). That was one of the reasons why she became such an extraordinary woman.
Hypatia of Alexandria became an academic at the University of Alexandria. She was the first female to achieve this goal because such positions were always occupied by men.
Hypatia decided to remain celibate. She also never married. The main aim of her whole life was to keep learning and to teach. Hypatia possessed extraordinary intellectual abilities, as well as pursued a variety of interests.
What Is Hypatia Most Known For?
Hypatia of Alexandria provided her informative comments on such pieces of writing as: Diophantus of Alexandria’s Arithmetic, Apollonius of Perga’s Conics and the astronomical table. She practiced the Neoplatonist philosophy which was rather difficult in times of conflict between pagans, Christians and Jews. Nowadays, a lot of historians state that Hypatia of Alexandria was a powerful feminist of those times. Her ability to achieve so many intellectual accomplishments contributed greatly to fighting prejudice against women in science.
Hypatia often taught from home. According to a letter written by one of her students, one of the aspects she covered during these home studies was the design of an astrolabe. It was a portable calculator used in astrology until the 19th century.
In addition to that, she also held a lot of public lectures during which she shared her philosophical beliefs. These lectures became very popular. Because of the fact that Hypatia was not afraid to speak publicly on non-Christian philosophies, she quickly became the target for the supporters of Christianity as the only possible religion.
Hypatia of Alexandria was murdered by Peter the Lector and his mob who attacked her carriage on her way home.
Hypatia of Alexandria, as well as her work will forever remain a symbol for feminism, extraordinary intellectual power and freedom. She refused to follow a traditional path of becoming a wife and a mother. Instead, Hypatia of Alexandria studied math, philosophy and astrology, became the first female mathematician and an example for many to follow. Later on, her story and her will to develop her intellectual abilities became an inspiration for the majority of women in the course of history.