Hypatia (hy-PAY-shee-uh) of Alexandria was a mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher. She lived around 370 - 415 C.E. Hypatia was the first noted women in mathematics, philosophy, and astronomy. She lead a philosophical movement called Neoplatonism. Neoplatonism was developed from the ideas of the ancient greek philosopher Plato.
Hypatia was born in Alexandria, a town in Egypt. During Hypatia’s time, Egypt was a great place for learning. Her dad was also a mathematician, astronomer, and philospher, so she had it in her blood line. Her father was Theon. Hypatia and her father worked on commentaries of Ptolemy’s work together. Ptolemy was a Greek astronomer who was from Alexandria. Hypatia's name was also put on work done by other mathematicians.
The Museum of Alexandria was a more like a university and library than a museum. It played a big role in education, and Hypatia’s life. Theon may have been the director of the museum at one point. Theon was interested in mathematics. This may have led Hypatia to pursue astronomy, mathematics, and philosophy. She spent part of her life in the ancient Mediterranean to expand her education. She went to Athens, Greece, where her standing as a scholar became more known.
She went back to Egypt. Her skills were so notable, that she became a teacher at Alexandria’s Neoplatonic School. She was made director in 400, at 31. Her reputation led students from all around the world to come visit here. She was recognized as a better philosopher than most of the men during her time. Hypatia gave lectures at her house and in lecture halls. She lectured on astronomy, mathematics, philosophy, and religious literature. She wrote a number of books about mathematics.
Synesius of Cyrene was a student of Hypatia. His letters provided some of the most important information on her life and her teachings. She worked with Synesius to build a graduated brass hydrometer and a hydroscope. A hydroscope is a device that helps you see under the surface of the water.
Hypatia was never married because she said she was “wedded to the truth”. She was an acquaintance of Orestes. He was the pagan governor of Alexandria. Radical monks murdered her. They possibly murdered her because the pagans seemed to have caused enmity among this Christian town. They persecuted her, and scattered her body parts around the city. She died at 45 years old, in 415 C.E.