Leaders of the Past

How far can we go back in history to find documented brilliant women who have actually been given credit for their brilliance? We will try to go back as far as we can and hopefully with your help.

Hypatia of Alexandria

From Wikipedia, we learn that Hypatia, the daughter of the mathematician, was born about 370 CE and lived until 415 CE. She was a Hellenistic Neoplatonist philosopher, astronomer, mathematician, and inventor, who lived in Alexandria, Egypt, then part of the Eastern Roman Empire. She was the head of the Neoplatonic school at Alexandria, where she taught philosophy and astronomy. Hypatia was renowned in her own lifetime as a great teacher and wise counselor.

Hypatia's life was cut short when she was murdered in March of 415 AD by a mob of Christian monks. She had no appointed successor, no spouse, and no offspring and her sudden death not only left her legacy unprotected, but also triggered a backlash against her entire ideology. Hypatia, with her tolerance towards Christian students and her willingness to cooperate with Christian leaders, had hoped to establish a precedent that Neoplatonism and Christianity could coexist peacefully and cooperatively. Instead, her death destroyed that notion entirely and led future Neoplatonists such as Damascius to consider Christian bishops as "dangerous, jealous figures who were also utterly unphilosophical." Hypatia became seen as a "martyr for philosophy" and her murder led philosophers to adopt attitudes that increasingly emphasized the pagan aspects of their beliefs system and helped create a sense of identity for philosophers as pagan traditionalists set apart from the Christian masses.

Over the centuries, Hypatia has left her mark and has been admired by many. Check out the Bibliography at the end of the Wikipedia article and the links below to learn so much more about this incredible woman.

Let's start with Hypatia of Alexandria. (Ancient History encyclopedia, by Joshua J. Mark, September 2, 2009)

Hypatia, Ancient Alexandria’s Great Female Scholar (Smithsonian.com, by Sarah Zielinski, March 14, 2010)

Hypatia: The Last Of The Great Philosophers Who Was Also A Mathematician Extraordinaire (Realm of History, by Dattatreya Mandal, April 14, 2016)

The Primary Sources for the Life and Work of Hypatia of Alexandria (by Michael A. B. Deakin, August 1995)

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