lizbrownlee – poet

Poems, animal info, extraordinary women, my books!

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!





Brainy Quotes


  1. She was indeed an amazing woman, and one whom most people have never heard of. I am really enjoying your series for A to Z!


    • Thank you! Sorry I didn’t reply before, my internet has been down, it’s been very frustrating!


  2. I’m sad that we weren’t taught about these women when we were girls. Thanks for posting this.


    • It should certainly be attended to; the history children is taught should include the achievements of women as well as men. It all adds to the institutionalised sexism that we really don’t notice a lot of the time!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think we notice and it contributes to beating us down, but it’s our world and we find joy anyway. Because women rock!


  3. Nice review
    Beautifully penned, Thanks for sharing
    Dr. Bushra
    Do visit mine
    H for Heedful about The Third Trimester Of Pregnancy


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