Hypatia Of Alexandria: Science And Religion

Hypatia of Alexandria was a revolutionary who had a strong belief in science and ended up being murdered in the most brutal way. Read all about it here!
Hypatia of Alexandria: Science and Religion

Hypatia of Alexandria was the first philosopher, mathematician and physicist. She was born in Egypt in the late 4th century AD. She was a teacher and head of the Neoplatonic school in Alexandria in the early 5th century.

Hypatia was very knowledgeable in subjects such as geometry and logic. That said, she led an ascetic life as determined by the neoplatonic precepts.

As mentioned above, she was a teacher and teacher at an elite school for aristocrats, Christians and Gentiles, which ended up occupying high positions in Alexandrian society. Thus she became an influential figure in society. It made  others feel jealous.

Among her scientific findings is the primitive astrolabium, which served to determine the position of the stars in the firmament. In addition, she invented the hydrometer, an instrument used to determine the relative density of liquids without the need for complex mathematical calculations.

Painting of Hypatia of Alexandria

Christians and Gentiles: Science and Religion

Alexandria was the focal point of a bloody civil war between Christians and Gentiles. The patriarch, Theophilus, was the greatest representative of Christianity at that time. He intended to end all non-Christian religious worship (paganism in various forms).

On the other hand, the intellectual elite supported those who defended the pagan temple. Every single philosopher who defended paganism left Alexandria to save their lives.

However, Hypatia of Alexandria believed that philosophy, science, and mathematics had nothing to do with the political-religious controversies. Because of this, she continued to teach, as if all this internal struggle had nothing to do with her.

In fact, no one had bothered her until then, perhaps due to the fact that she always had a neutral position in the matter.

Civic welfare before religion

Then the impassable Cyril came into the picture, and there was a marked increase in the level of persecution of all who were not Christians. This time, Hypatia could not stay out of the strife. Instead, she chose to be on Orestes’ side, an imperialist delegate whose duty was firmness and state order.

After all, Hypatia felt that the traditional was in a way what represented her best, given that religion in the Greek Aristotelian polis was only part of politics and not the other way around. Her position was that politics and civic welfare should always come before religious authority.

Until then, Hypatia had taught the Alexandrian elite where Gentiles and Christians met. She was living proof that Christianity was compatible with other philosophical and religious ideas. There are sources that talk about people from all sectors and classes who admired her. Almost all.

There was a Christian sect full of religious fanatics who did not want her in their city. In addition, it is important to note that her influence also reached the lower strata, just not as much as religion.

Hypatia of Alexandria with a Mathematics Book

The pagan witch, Hypatia of Alexandria

Christians called Hypatia of Alexandria a pagan. It was not difficult to spread rumors about her ‘witchcraft’. For illiterates, mathematical signs were considered invocations of the devil. Moreover, they would also confuse astronomy with astrology. Suddenly, Hypatia of Alexandria had become a witch of the black forces.

One day in March, the year 415, Hypatia returned home in his chariot during Lent. Suddenly a crowd attacked her, took her out of the carriage and led her to the church of Caesareum in Alexandria. It was here that Hypatia was ripped alive with pieces of pottery being torn down from the walls. After this, they burned her remains on a campfire.

This murder was clearly religious, political and philosophical; philosophically, because Hypatia always defended dialogue and reason against fanatical beliefs. Politically, because she believed that religion should obey politics. And finally, religiously, because Hypatia of Alexandria is perhaps the most painful representation of the cultural struggle that existed between paganism and Christianity.

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