We know that she was the daughter of Theon, one of the most educated men in Alexandria. In the style of women of that period in positions of high respect, Hypatia remained a virgin throughout her life.
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Hypatia was friends with the Prefect, and was too popular with Christians and pagans alike for Bishop Cyril's liking. Probably not.
In many ways, she embodies the myth of the beautiful woman seeking knowledge, the 'High Priestess of Science'. She had some interesting ways of dealing with unwanted suitors - she allegedly cured a love-struck student of his amorous attentions by showing him her used 'sanitary napkin' and proclaiming "This is what you really love, my young man, but you do not love beauty for its sake.
Does it matter?
She interests me as a historical enigma, a woman who achieved outside the sphere of normal expectation. Her death launched her as a legend, a historical feminist martyr - and each age has romanticised Hypatia in different ways so that it is alexamdria to know who she really was and what she really thought. She studied mathematics, astronomy, astrology and philosophy, and later became a teacher at Theon's school.
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There is something mystical about the life of Hypatia - from her love of knowledge and purity, to her unfortunate, gruesome death. Most of the information we have about her comes from obscure references in letters of her students and in often-biased histories.
Unfortunately, Hypatia became unwittingly embroiled in the politics of the early s. To me, what is most inspirational about Hypatia is that she actually really did exist.
None of the books or commentaries that she wrote survived, other than in name and sometimes not even that. She was a woman, a scientist and a pagan.
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She was a woman who suffered brutally at the end of wpmen peaceful, knowledge-oriented life. She lived a knowledge-oriented life, she was respected and revered, and she died a tragic death.
She must have been extraordinary in her world. She was a highly respected member of public life in Alexandria, Egypt at a time when women were not readily alexandriq into the public arena. One day she was returning home in her chariot when she was attacked and dragged to the church Caesarion.
Her body was dragged through the city and burnt at a place called Kinaron. How did a woman manage to rise to a position of such high respect in ancient patriarchal times?
Unfortunately, very little is known about Hypatia. Strangely enough, it was Hypatia's interest in mathematics and astronomy that provided leverage to the accusations of magic.
Imagine going back in time to one of Hypatia's lectures. Hypatia was brutally murdered.
Her attackers tore off her clothes and murdered her with broken bits of tiles technically known as Ostrakis aneilonslicing off her flesh. Soon, a virulent rumour sprung out that the pagan Hyptatia was a witch, infecting the Prefect Oreste with her pagan beliefs.
She may have been the only woman in the room. A student, Synesius, recalled her lectures with great admiration and respect. Hypatia was a mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, philosopher and a humanist.
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Probably this reflects her fundamental philosophy of moving beyond the body to achieve ultimate knowledge or "the union with the divine".