[St. Pachomius Library]

Hypatia of Alexandria

IV/V Centuries
A follower of Porphyry, Hypatia was a noted mathematician and neo-platonist. Born c. 355/360 in Alexandria, she was the daughter of Theon, also a mathematician and philosopher who educated her in these fields. She revised the third book of his commentary on Ptolemy's Algamest and wrote commentaries (now lost) on the Conics of Apollinaris of Perga and on the work of Drophantes of Alexandria. Hypatia taught philosophy and astronomy in Alexandria, and her most famous pupil was Synesius, a pagan who later became bishop of Ptolemais. Their correspondence is extant. Suspected of having turned the pagan prefect of the city against the Christians, Hypatia was murdered in 415 by a mob led by Peter the Reader. Patriarch Cyril probably was not involved, although for centuries it has been said that he incited the mob. Alexandria declined as a center of learning after the death of Hypatia.

Karen Rae Keck


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