Hypatia of Alexandria

She was a mathematician, philosopher and the daughter of Theon Alexandricus, the last librarian of the Alexandria Library in the Museum of Alexandria. She was educated at Athens and in Italy; at about 400 AD, she became headmistress of the Platonist school at Alexandria, where she imparted the knowledge of Plato and Aristotle, to any student; the pupils included pagans, Christians, and foreigners.

Hypatia corresponded with former pupil Synesius of Cyrene, who became bishop of Ptolemais in 410 AD; and an author of the Christian Holy Trinity doctrine derived from the Platonic education he received from her.

Hypatia was believed to be the cause of strained relations between Orestes, the Imperial Roman Prefect, and Cyril the Patriarch of Alexandria. In 415 AD, during Lent, a Christian mob of Nitrian monks lead by “Peter the Reader”, waylaid Hypatia’s chariot as she travelled home. The monks attacked Hypatia, then stripped her naked, to humiliate her, then dragged her through the streets to the recently Christianised Caesareum church, where they killed her. The reports suggest that the mob of Christian monks flayed her body with ostraca (pot shards), and then burned her alive.

History Buffs: Agora

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