To the 3 winners of the Third Anniversary Book Give Away:
Linda Null, North Carolina
Kali Frye, New Hampshire
Meredith Sterling, Texas
Hypatia of Alexandria was a brilliant, eloquent and beautiful Hellenized Egyptian philosopher, mathematician, astronomer, astrologer and teacher, who was savagely murdered by Archbishop Cyril and his fanatical Christian mob. Hypatia was born before her time, and she died before her time.
She lived during the late 4th and early 5th centuries, a golden age of great learning and culture in Alexandria. Hypatia was raised by her father, Theon, a mathematician, philosopher and noted astronomer and astrologer. Theon educated Hypatia, teaching her mathematics, science, literature, philosophy and the arts. In addition, he had her participate in a daily routine of vigorous exercise with him. Legend has it that he was determined that his daughter would develop into the “perfect human being.”
Lovely Hypatia was pursued, but she never married, choosing instead to pursue her scholarly endeavors. Hypatia is the earliest woman scientist whose life is well documented. In addition to her work in the sciences, she was a philosopher and teacher of pure Pagan Greek philosophy — Platonic and Aristotelian. She was a lover of wisdom, not of faith or godliness, but of mind and the “Supreme Good” — those noblest rules of human conduct and happiness.
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.
She wrote many books on mathematics as well as on astronomy, her favorite subject. Her greatest invention was the astrolabe. She created it to locate and track the movement of the stars, which she also noted in detailed tables of her observations. Sailors used the astrolabe and her navigation tables for the next 1200 years. But Hypatia’s love for astronomy was to be her doom. And the fact that she was a pagan didn’t help.
“Heathenism” didn’t sit well with the Christian leaders. St. Cyril of Alexandria, patriarch of the city, soon made himself known by his violent treatment against Jews, pagans and heretics. He initiated the destruction of old temples and their works of art by mob-led priests and monks. And he burned the great college and library of Alexandria, the last bastians of Greek culture, incinerating more than 500,000 volumes.
And here was our Hypatia — A 65-year old Queen of great stature and influence. a prominent, respected figure with a large and loyal following of students and disciples. There is no doubt that she would have been seen as a threat to patriarchal Christianity.
There was a woman in Alexandria named Hypatia . . . who surpassed all the philosophers of the time . . . They (monks) watch her returning to her house, pull her out of her carriage, and drag her to the Caesarean church. They strip her of her clothes and kill her with tiles (oyster shells or crockery). They tore her body limb from limb and burned the parts in a place called the ‘Cinaron.’
– Ecclesiastical History, book VII
The murder and dismemberment of the noble Hypatia by mad Christian monks was the death of philosophy in Alexandria and the demise also of the growing recognition of women’s dignity.
The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.