H is for Hypatia of Alexandria, Philosopher, AD 370-415, #AtoZ Challenge
Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all. Hypatia of Alexandria, 370-415
Hypatia of Alexandria was born in around 370 AD – the exact date is not known, and was murdered in 415, at roughly 45 years of age.
The daughter of a great mathematician, Theon of Alexandria, she lived in Egypt (part of the Byzantine Empire at that time) and was a Greek mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher. She was the head of the Neoplatonic school at Alexandria, where she taught philosophy and astronomy, sharing the knowledge of Plato and Aristotle to students.
Obviously there are no photographs or paintings of her – but the quotes attributed to her speak of the acute and intelligent mind that enabled her to rise to such a prominent position.
Life is an unfoldment, and the further we travel the more truth we can comprehend. To understand the things that are at our door is the best preparation for understanding those that lie beyond. Hypatia of Alexandria, 370-415
Apart from her quotes, probably the best way to get a feeling for what she was like is to read this account of her by Socrates in his Ecclesiastical History:
There was a woman at Alexandria named Hypatia, daughter of the philosopher Theon, who made such attainments in literature and science, as to far surpass all the philosophers of her own time. Having succeeded to the school of Plato and Plotinus, she explained the principles of philosophy to her auditors, many of whom came from a distance to receive her instructions. On account of the self-possession and ease of manner which she had acquired in consequence of the cultivation of her mind, she not infrequently appeared in public in the presence of the magistrates. Neither did she feel abashed in going to an assembly of men. For all men on account of her extraordinary dignity and virtue admired her the more.
She clearly had a commanding presence!
In fact men will fight for a superstition quite as quickly as for a living truth – often more so, since a superstition is so intangible you cannot get at it to refute it, but truth is a point of view, and so is changeable. Hypatia of Alexandria, 370-415
What a woman! Sadly she was murdered by a mob of Christian zealots known as the Parabalani, after being accused of exacerbating a conflict between two prominent figures in Alexandria; the governor, Orestes, and the bishop, Cyril of Alexandria.
If you’d like to read about more extraordinary women, why not buy the book Reaching the Stars, Poems about Extraordinary Women and Girls, by me, Jan Dean and Michaela Morgan – link below, press on book!
- Posted in: A-Z Challenge 2017 ♦ Extraordinary Women ♦ Liz Brownlee ♦ Poems ♦ Reaching the Stars ♦ Reaching the Stars Poems
- Tagged: Byzantine Empire, Egypt, Extraordinary Women, Female Philosophers, Hypatia, Hypatia of Alexandria, Jan Dean, Liz Brownlee, Michaela Morgan, Poems about extraordinary women and girls, Reaching the Stars