The legacy of Hypatia of Alexandria, the first woman scientist in history

In the fourth century, when the scientific controversy was that of the position of the earth in the universe, Hypatia of Alexandria was born, between the years 355 and 370, in Alexandria, in the north of Egypt.

Hypatia went on to be remembered not only for her laudable beauty, but also for being the first female scientist in history.

She was the daughter of the Greek mathematician and astronomer, Theon of Alexandria, author of the Elements of Euclid , historically known as Euclidean geometry. This treatise represents the second most published book, after the Holy Bible.

The scientific legacy of Hypatia of Alexandria

Hypatia of Alexandria was trained in the Neoplatonic school, in science and astronomy. She gave public lectures throughout Alexandria, on the theories of Plato, and possibly Aristotle, which were attended by a large number of listeners, which won her many followers.

Her intellectual formation was forged by the knowledge imparted since childhood, by her father Theon, who directed the respected Museum of Alexandria -of which Hypatia herself would later become director-, and trained disciples with liberal ideas.

Her scientific contribution is invaluable, and although none of her works are preserved, part of her works were made known by her disciples Synesius of Cyrene and Hesychius of Alexandria, the Hebrew.

Notable among them is the Commentary on Arithmetic by Diophantus of Alexandria, who wrote about the resolution of algebraic equations and the theory of numbers.

Hypatia she also analyzed the work of Apollonius of Pergamon and his geometry of conic figures, since the location of celestial bodies was relevant, which she studied mathematically.

Likewise, she collaborated in the revision of her father's work known as The Elements of Euclid . This geometric treatise dates back to around 300 BC, and is made up of thirteen books. Hypatia also shared with her father the development of the treatise on the mathematical work of Euclid.

She participated in the revision of the Astronomical Canon of Hesychius, and in the Astronomical Tables of the astronomer Claudius Ptolemy.

His knowledge also influenced the manufacture and operation of the astrolabe, to whom his loyal disciple Sinesio attributes his invention, despite the fact that there were others created earlier, and his father Theon wrote a famous treatise on it to them.

In the same way, Hypatia made a planisphere, through which the celestial sphere was visualized. Likewise, she delved into the field of mechanics and designed a hydroscope , in order to locate water, as well as a hydrometer to measure the density of liquids.

A little more about Hypatia of Alexandria

Hypatia of Alexandria was recognized and respected in high society. She maintained very good relations with the aristocracy, who came to her for her wisdom and her high moral values. Thus, she gave private math classes in her house, to a select group of pagan and Christian ladies.

In addition, she gave classes to Orestes, the prefect of Alexandria, with whom she maintained a good friendship, and they shared the idea that healthy coexistence should exist between religions and cultures.

In addition to her extensive knowledge, she had skills as a speaker, with which she managed to captivate those who attended her public classes, to hear her talk about Neopythagoreanism and Neoplatonism.

The most famous phrases of the philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria

The high level of intelligence that she had Hypatia of Alexandria , is reflected in each one of the thoughts that her legacy left us

Among her most famous phrases are:

  • Understanding the things around us is the best preparation for understanding the things beyond.
  • In fact, people fight over a superstition as much as over a truth, or even more. Since a superstition is so intangible that it is difficult to prove it to refute it, and the truth is a point of view, and therefore, it can be changed.
  • Stand up for your right to think, because even wrong thinking is better than not thinking at all.
  • God has created man as a sociable animal, with the inclination and the need to coexist with beings of his own kind, and has also endowed him with language, so that he may be the great instrument and common bond of society.
  • He who influences the thought of his time, influences all the moments that follow him. Leave your opinion of him for eternity.
  • Ruling by chaining the mind out of fear or fear of punishment in another world is just as basic as using force.
  • The truth does not change because it is or is not believed by most people.
  • Life is growth, and the more we travel, the more truth we can understand. Understanding the things around us is the best preparation for understanding the things beyond.
  • Fables should be taught as fables, myths as myths, and miracles as poetic fantasies. Teaching superstitions as if they were truths is terrible. The child's mind accepts and believes them, and only with great pain, and perhaps tragedy, will he be able to rid himself of them over the years.
  • All formal religions are fallacious and should not be accepted out of respect for oneself.
  • Regardless of our color, race and religion, we are brothers.

The sad death of the philosopher

The death of Hypatia occurred cruelly in March of the year 414, at the hands of a group of Christian fanatics, led by Bishop Cyril, against Oreste, who represented the power civil.

The foregoing contradicts the position of philosophers such as Voltaire and Toland, who maintained that the vile death of Hypatia was the product of the permanent struggle between Christianity and paganism.

Some historians maintain that the ecclesiastic Cirilo was the author of the philosopher's crime, due to several factors, among which stand out, his rejection of Neoplatonism and paganism. As well as, the friendly bond and influence of this on the prefect Orestes and the aristocracy of Alexandria.

The records intuit that Cyril could also have been driven to plan the Hypatia crime, because he wanted to avenge the death of the monk Ammonius, ordered by Orestes, perhaps influenced by it.

They also affirm that Hypatia probably encouraged the confrontation between Orestes and the bishop, due to the destruction of the Serapeus and the looting of his library in 391.


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