Hypatia was a Neoplatonist philosopher, astronomer, and mathematician who lived in Alexandria, Egypt, which was part of the Eastern Roman Empire.
01. Birth of Hypatia
Born around 370 AD, Hypatia was the daughter of Theon, a famous mathematician in Alexandria. Theon was the head of one of the most prestigious schools in Alexandria called the “Mouseion” and was also a Neoplatonist philosopher. Information about her mother is unknown.
02. A philosopher and a teacher
Following in her father’s footsteps, Hypatia is a famous scientist as well as a teacher. A prominent preacher in Alexandria, she lectured on the writings of Plato and Aristotle. She became a person of great socio-political power in Alexandrian society, as many high-ranking magistrates and archbishops of the Alexandrian regime were her students and often sought her advice. She also participated in the Senate in Alexandria, where women were forbidden to participate.
03. Hypatia who rejected love
According to historical records, Hypatia lived as a virgin throughout her life. Damascius also states that when one of the students who came to her lectures professed his love for her, she tried to appease his desire by playing the harp. After strongly rejecting him, she finally showed her bloody menstrual cloth and said if you love this, I will accept you. It is said that the young man was so shocked that he immediately gave up his desire for her.
04. Political power struggles
AD Theophilus was the bishop of Alexandria from 382 – 412. Although Theophilus was opposed to the Neoplatonists, he considered Hypatia a friend as well as a mentor and allowed her teachings. But Theophilus died unexpectedly in 412 AD. He was training his nephew Cyril as his successor but had not officially named him. After the death of Theophilus, a violent power struggle over the episcopacy ensued between Cyril and his rival, Timothy. Cyril won. Those who supported Timothy began to be punished.
05. The gruesome murder of Hypatia
Hypatia did not directly intervene in Cyril and Orestes’ power struggle. But because Orestes, who was against Cyril, was her close friend, Cyril attacked her and attacked her. Therefore, he started spreading rumors that she was an illusionist who practiced witchcraft.
According to the writings of Socrates W. During the Christian festival of March 415, a group of Christians, led by a Christian preacher named Peter, ambushed her on her way home. She was dragged to a building called the Kaisarian. There, the mob is said to have stripped Hypatia and beaten her to death with ostraca (“roof tiles” or “shells of oysters”). They also cut off her eyelids, tore her body into pieces and dragged her limbs through the city, and set them on fire.
06. Cyril’s punishment
Hypatia’s death shocked the empire. For centuries, the philosophers were considered godlike, despite the media of public violence in Roman cities. But the killing of a woman philosopher by a mob was considered an incident that was “extremely dangerous and threatened the stability of the state”.
Although no concrete evidence has ever been found linking Cyril to Hypatia’s murder, many believe that he ordered it. Accordingly, the Council of Alexandria, the ruling power of Alexandria, conducted an investigation into her murder, and as a result, the Roman Emperor deposed Cyril and replaced him with Orestes.
07. Hypatia becoming a Saint
Historians say that in the early Middle Ages, about 300 years after her death, the legend of Saint Catherine of Alexandria was inspired by the Christian legend of Hypatia. Known as an educated and intelligent woman who died for her religion, St. Catherine is a saint who is still worshiped by Christians today.
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