Hypatia, the First Female Mathematician, Philosopher, and Astronomer

Hypatia History Hustle

Hypatia was probably the first documented female mathematician, as well as a philosopher and astronomer. The actual year of her birth is unknown among scholars–some claim she was born in 370 A.D while others support that 350 A.D is more probable. Her father Theon, was a renowned mathematician in Alexandria and had initiated Hypatia to the world of math from a very young age.

It is believed by scholars that the Book III… which described an earth-centric approach, (that the earth was round) was actually the work of Hypatia.

After finishing her studies in Athens, under the influence of the philosophies of Plato and Plotinus, Hypatia expanded on the work of her father and wrote her own math and philosophy commentaries as well as taught a series of students in her home.

It is believed by scholars that the Book III, of Theon’s version of Ptolemy Almagest, which described an earth-centric approach, (that the earth was round) was actually the work of Hypatia.

Hypatia History Hustle 2

Some letters of her students are still saved today, like that of her student Synesius, revealed that apart from math, Hypatia also taught them astronomy, and more specifically how to design an astrolabe (an astronomical calculator) and other tools that were rarely known at that time.

Philosophy teachings

Besides her work in math and astronomy, Hypatia also held public lectures on the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle which drew large crowds of people of all ages and backgrounds.

Her neo-platonic beliefs had driven her to live a single life as she supported the notion that the family system would be abolished, as originally adopted by Plato. Although she wasn’t a christian, her student Sinesius later became a bishop in the Christian church of Alexandria, and he incorporated some of her neo-platonic beliefs in the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.

Brutally murdered

Hypatia History Hustle 3

According to various accounts and alternative resources, Hypatia was brutally murdered in a fierce town-wide conflict between Orestes, the Jewish civil governor and the Christian bishop, Cyril of Alexandria over conflicting religious beliefs and regulations–as she wasn’t herself a Christian and she was associated with Orestes minus the guards, she was an easy target for Christian zealots who wanted to overthrow Jews and other people that didn’t follow the Christian doctrine.

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