Hypatia /haɪˈpeɪʃə/; Greek: Ὑπατία, Hypatía; born between AD 350 and 370; died March 415) was a Greek scholar from Alexandria, Egypt, considered the first notable woman in mathematics, who also taught philosophy and astronomy. She lived in Roman Egypt, and was killed by a Christian mob who accused her of causing religious turmoil. Some suggest that her murder marked the end of what is traditionally known as Classical antiquity, although others such as Maria Dzielska and Christian Wildberg observe that Hellenistic philosophy continued to flourish in the 5th and 6th centuries, Wildberg suggests until the age of Justinian.
A Neoplatonist philosopher, she belonged to the mathematical tradition of the Academy of Athens represented by Eudoxus of Cnidus she followed the school of the 3rd century thinker Plotinus, discouraging empirical enquiry and encouraging logical and mathematical studies. The name Hypatia derives from the adjective ὑπάτη, the feminine form of ὕπατος (upatos), meaning “highest, uppermost, supremest”.
Many of the works commonly attributed to Hypatia are believed to have been collaborative works with her father, Theon Alexandricus; this kind of authorial uncertainty being typical for the situation of feminine philosophy in Antiquity.
A partial list of specific accomplishments:
- A commentary on the 13-volume Arithmetica by Diophantus.
- A commentary on the Conics of Apollonius.
- Edited the existing version of Ptolemy’s Almagest.
- Edited her father’s commentary on Euclid’s Elements
- She wrote a text “The Astronomical Canon.”(Possibly a new edition of Ptolemy’s Handy Tables.)
Her contributions to science are reputed to include the charting of celestial bodies and the invention of the hydrometer, used to determine the relative density and gravity of liquids.
Her pupil Synesius, bishop of Cyrene, wrote a letter defending her as the inventor of the astrolabe, although earlier astrolabes predate Hypatia’s model by at least a century - and her father had gained fame for his treatise on the subject. wiki
“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 unfrequently appeared in public in 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”.
—Socrates Scholasticus, Ecclesiastical History
detail: The School of Athens, Raffaello Santi (or Sanzio) - Raphael
“Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all”