Hypatia was the first Hellenistic Neoplatonic woman philosopher , astronomer, and mathematician , who lived in Alexandria, Egypt, then part of the Eastern Roman Empire. She was the director of the Neoplatonic school in Alexandria, where she taught philosophy and astronomy . She is the first female mathematician whose life is reasonably well recorded.


Personal information:

  • When was he born:  Between the years 355 and 370
  • Where he was born:  Alexandria, Egypt
  • When he died:  03/08/415
  • Where he died:  Alexandria, Egypt

Who was Hypatia?

She was the first Greek woman philosopher and teacher originally from Alexandria. Daughter and disciple of Theon , she managed to surpass her father in astronomy and philosophy, standing out in science and mathematics from a very young age.


Biography of Hypatia:

Hypatia was born in Alexandria , Egypt. His father, Theon of Alexandria , was an important philosopher and mathematician who was engaged in research and teaching at the Museum of Alexandria . There is no data on his mother. Theon wanted his daughter to receive a very complete scientific education, so she was educated in the Museum itself and was part of it until her death.


Despite being a woman full of physical and intellectual attributes , she refused to marry , in order to dedicate herself completely to science. He specialized in various disciplines: philosophy , mathematics , astronomy, and music . He worked teaching his knowledge in the Museum of Alexandria and even managed to direct it around the year 400.

He wrote books on geometry , algebra, and astronomy and improved the design of the early astrolabe . He made cartography of the celestial bodies, making a planisphere, and showed interest in mechanics .


At that time there was a power problem between the church and the State , Hypatia was inclined towards the State and for having liberal thoughts and advanced philosophical and scientific points of view, for which she was seen as a pagan woman and was the focus of riots among Christians and not Christians.

The new bishop of Alexandria, Cyril , branded her a witch , and it is believed that he was the one who ordered her to be killed in 415. Hypatia was beaten, stripped, raped, dragged through the city and murdered by parabolans, a group of fundamentalist monks , already that they felt threatened by their knowledge and thought. This event led Alexandria to decline.


Hypatia’s greatest contribution to science was through her work as a mathematician, mainly in the area of algebra . He wrote an annotated version of Diophantus’s Arithmetic . She was the author of a “simplified” version of the Conics of Apollonius , which she summarized in 8 books and assisted her father in the revision of Euclid’s Elements , an edition that is used today.

He made a major improvement to the astrolabe which improved its use in spherical astronomy . Hypatia also developed an apparatus that was used to distill water , another to measure the level of water, and a hydrometer to measure the density of a liquid. All of these devices were based on the previous work of Archimedes .

Thought of Hypatia:

Hypatia always looked for a way to defend her thought and philosophy as subjects alien to dogma and religions . He never accepted blackmail from Christians. We can definitely say that she was a great woman who knew how to unite in a single being, thought, science and freedom , since for her the movement of ideas was based on the essence of philosophy and on the path to individual freedom . Also, following his thought, he was part of the pagan elite staying true to your old classical ideas and beliefs.


Hypatia’s work was lost many years ago. However, in the letters of Sinesius of Cyrene , there are records that she made and built an astrolabe , a hydroscope and a hydrometer , reflecting her intelligence, her technological ability and creativity , and her interest in astronomy.


His research work was reflected in numerous manuscripts , such as the ” Comments on the Arithmetic of Diophantus ” who was considered the father of algebra and arithmetic and whose work focused on algebraic equations and number theory . Other of his important contributions in the area of ​​mathematics was the edition of ” Euclid’s elements ” that contains a treatise on geometry.


His philosophy was based on the Neoplatonic school , in a society that based thought on the discovery of the cosmos as a universe ordered by laws. Thought for her was the ideal method to know the truth and improve knowledge .

He supported gender equality and the same conditions for both men and women, he believed that people should have cultural independence social class and gender because they all had a soul .

Importance of Hypatia:

The importance of Hypatia lies mainly in the fact that she was one of the first women in history who contributed to the development of mathematics . Hypatia, managed to stand out among that group of sages who competed in astronomy , philosophy , mathematics and other sciences. It was attended by students from all over the world, and from all religions. He taught mathematics , astronomy , philosophy and mechanics and came to occupy the chair of Philosophy of Plotinus .

She became very famous and was known as ” the philosopher .” His scientific works were of great importance such as, for example, his comments on the III book of the Almagest influencing the Copernican theories . In addition, he built the astrolabe and a hydrometer to measure the density of water.


Some of his most important phrases are the following:

  • Defend your right to think , because even thinking wrong is better than not thinking.
  • All formal religions are fallacious and should not be accepted out of self-respect.
  • Understanding the things around us is the best preparation for understanding the things beyond.
  • God has created man as a sociable animal , with the inclination and under the need to coexist with beings of his own species, and has also endowed him with language , so that he is the great instrument and common bond of society.
  • The life is growth , and the more we travel, we can understand more truth. Understanding the things around us is the best preparation for understanding the things beyond.
  • The Fables should be taught as fables, the myths as myths , and miracles as poetic fancies . Teaching superstitions as if they were true is terrible. The child’s mind accepts and believes them, and only with great pain, and perhaps tragedy, can it be rid of them over the years.

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