The Amazing Princess Hypatia – Ancient Alexandria’s Great Female Scholar
One day a violent mob dragged a women on the street Alexandria, abused and striped her, beat her brutally with the stones and roffing tiles, they tored her body apart and burnt it. Why was young woman killed by mob? Who was behind this brutal killing? What wrong she had done?
Hypatia was the very beautiful daughter of Theon of Alexandria, a mathematician and astronomer who flourished in Alexandria. She was the last member or Alexandrian Museum, the museum found by Alexander and it was become as a center of culture and learning for the ancient world during the 331 B.C. Hypatia was popular lecturer on philosophical topics which attracts large audience in the Alexandrian museum. Hypatia was only women who claim world’s leading mathematician and astronomer in the ancient history of Egypt.
Wearing a rough cynic philosopher’s cloak she taught in public to an audience consisting of both pagans and Christians. Hypatia authored commentaries on Diphantus, on The Astronomical Canon and on Apolloniu’s Conics. Hypatia also collaborated with her father on a commentary of the third book of Ptolemy’s Almagest since the text includes the phrase : This book was edited by the philosopher, my daughter Hypatia.
There is no doubt that Hyaptia was the leading mathematician of her time. However, it seems that no specific orignal contributions to mathematics or astronomy can be attributed indisputably to her. Whatever her contributions, if any they are either lost or perhaps diffused in her commentaries. Like her father she is mostly remembered for her teaching.
The most detailed and reliable account of Hypatia’s death is narrated by the historian Socrates some twenty five years later. There was considerable tension and rivalry especially between the Jews and the Archbishop Cyril, known for his harsh way of dealing with the heretic Nestorius, opposed each other. Some monasteries in Nitria support Cyril, they accused Orestes for being a pagan and sacrificing to the Greek gods in-spite of emperor Theodosius ban of all pagan cults. When a monked named Ammonius met his death by torture for hurling a stone at the prefect. Cyril and many moderate Christians found this action intolerable. The pro-Cyril mob turned against Orestes, Hypatia and close associates of them.
With Cyril the head of the main religious body of the city and Orestes in charge of the civil government, a fight began over who controlled Alexandria. Orestes was a Christian, but he did not want to cede power to the church. The struggle for power reached its peak following a massacre of Christians by Jewish extremists, when Cyril led a crowd that expelled all Jews from the city and looted their homes and temples. Orestes protested to the Roman government in Constantinople. When Orestes refused Cyril’s attempt at reconciliation, Cyril’s monks tried unsuccessfully to assassinate him.
Hypatia, however, was an easier target. She was a pagan who publicly spoke about a non – Christian philosophy, Neoplatonism , and she was less likely to be protected by guards than the now-prepared Orestes. A rumor spread that she was preventing Orestes and Cyril from settling their differences. From there, Peter the Lector and his mob took action and Hypatia met her tragic end
It remains a matter of vigorous debate how much the guilt of this atrocity is Cyril’s but the affair made Hypatia a powerful feminist symbol and figure of affirmation for intellectual endeavor in the face of ignorant prejudice. Her intellectual accomplishments alone were quite sufficient to merit the preservation and respect of her name, but sadly , the manner of her death added to it an even greater emphasis.
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