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At the time in the 5th Century Hypatia was considered to

be the greatest living mathematician, a physically

beautiful woman, and also the world's leading

Rachel Weisz plays the part of Hypatia in the film “Agora”

She lived in Alexandria a city which was turbulent as
Baghdad and Kabul are today. She was a teacher and
famous as a philosopher and religious thinker who
attracted a large popular following.
She lived in Alexandria a city which was turbulent as
Baghdad and Kabul are today. She was a teacher and
famous as a philosopher and religious thinker who
attracted a large popular following.

She was killed by Christians zealots in 451AD probably

because she was not one of them. It appears that her
death lies at the door of one of Christianity's most
honored saints: Saint Cyrus
Alejandro Amenabar directs Rachel Weisz as
Hypatia on the set of the movie “Agora”
Hypatia was considered to be the greatest living
mathematician a physically beautiful woman, and also
the world's leading astronomer.

She lived in Alexandria a city which was turbulent as

Baghdad and Kabul are today. She was a teacher and
famous as a philosopher and religious thinker who
attracted a large popular following.
Beyond the Desert: Hypatia of Alexandria, the Last
Librarian (355? - 415)
"Imagine a time when the world's greatest living
mathematician was a woman, indeed, a physically
beautiful woman, and a woman who was simultaneously
the world's leading astronomer. Imagine that she
conducted her life and her professional work in a city as
turbulent and troubled as Ayodhya or Amritsar, Baghdad
or Beirut is today. Imagine such a female mathematician
achieving fame not only in her specialist field, but also as
a philosopher and a religious thinker who attracted a
large popular following.
Imagine her as a virgin martyr killed not for her Christianity,
but by Christians because she was not one of them. And
imagine that the guilt of her death was widely whispered
to lie at the door of one of Christianity's most honored
and significant saints."
source: goodreads
Hypatia of Alexandria...Selective Links
"Many centuries before our time, in the learned circles of a
wonderful city, men [and women] were greatly interested in the
stars, in the elements, in the cosmic process, in time and space,
in the relations of the spiritual to the material, in the possibilities of
the ages yet to be and in the perennial riddle of the future of the
human soul."... R. Tollinton, Alexandrine Teaching.The last three
years of her life were a highly charged time in the city. A new
imperial Prefect named Orestes came to Alexandria and shortly
afterwards the Patriarch Theophilus died leaving the church in
the hands of his young and inexperienced nephew Cyril. Cyril
wanted personal power and diligently pursued an agenda of
ecclesiastical encroachment on secular prerogatives. Orestes
resisted. Hypatia tried to mediate in this conflict between the
new Patriarch and the Prefect but she was perceived as partisan
by the ecclesiastical set. Hypatia came down on the side of
traditional Greek values - discourse over violence, tolerance
over bigotry, secular authority over religious authority.
Cyril faced a Prefect backed by an experienced woman with
considerable authority, extensive influence, and the courage of
her convictions. In addition, through her influential disciples, she
might win support for Orestes among people close to the
emperor. This aroused fear and consternation among Cyril's
supporters....Hypatia, Lady Philosopher of Alexandria...by Faith L.
Hypatia was a mathematician, astronomer, teacher, editor, inventor,
musician, and author. In March, 415 A.D. she was murdered by a mob of
fanatics on the steps of a church called The Caesarium in Alexandria,
Egypt. She has become a symbol of martryed Reason, feminism, and
Classical paganism.

The year of her birth is unknown. The Polish historian Maria Dzielska,
arguing that the career path of a 4th century academic might parallel
a modern one, suggests that Hypatia was born around 355, which
would have made her 60 when she died. This chronology allows her to
be significantly older than her more notable students, conforming to
modern convention. One should bear in mind, though, that a Roman girl
was a legal adult at the age of 12, and in an age when life was nasty,
brutish and short, people did not have the luxury of prolonging
childhood, adolescence and graduate school into their thirties.
In the novel Alexandria I assume along with most historians that Hypatia
was born between 370-380. I’ve also assumed she was as brilliant as her
attainments suggest and she was likely a child prodigy along the lines of
Mozart and Gauss. Historical accounts note her beauty and chastity,
suggesting she was fairly young when she died.

She edited a number of works in collaboration with her father, the

mathematician Theon, last director of the Museion that was the center
of scholarship in the classical
She edited a number of works in collaboration with her father, the
mathematician Theon, last director of the Museion that was the center
of scholarship in the classical world. Among them were a commentary
on the 13-volume Arithmetica by Diophantus, which plays a role in the
novel. She also edited Theon’s commentary on Euclid's Elements, which
was likely the basis for every geometry text for the next fifteen centuries.
She probably wrote The Astronomical Canon, which was part of Theon’s
commentary on Ptolemy's Almagest: the book that defined the Western
view of the universe until Galileo’s discoveries in 1610. Although
Ptolemy’s geocentric theory was incorrect, his Almagest remains a
model of rigorous mathematical exposition and in a roundabout way it
led to the discovery of the Americas; Ptolemy was also a geographer,
and he erroneously placed India far enough east to make Columbus’s
plan seem plausible. The compilation of Ptolemy’s work that survived to
let him be considered the ultimate authority at the beginning of the
Renaissance likely derived from the edition prepared by Theon and
Our only first-hand source materials are the letters written to Hypatia by
her student, Bishop Synesius of Cyrene, who addresses her as “mother and
sister,” suggesting not only his great respect but caution appropriate to a
married cleric (he was granted a dispensation to retain his wife when he
assumed the bishopric). He clearly adored Hypatia and took pains to
keep his letters on a lofty plane, lest she be irritated by his attention. Like
many geniuses, Hypatia was likely a prickly personality, as evidenced by
the only anecdote that offers an insight into her personal life, which has
her hurling her menstrual rags at a lovesick student. One of Synesius’s
letters asks plaintively why she has not responded to his last letter. Despite
his best efforts to remain scholarly the letter has a tone suggestive of
unrequited love.
Hypatia became the fulcrum of a power struggle between the ambitious
bishop Cyril and the Roman governor Orestes. Seen “often in the
company of the magistrates” Hypatia had a rock star celebrity
uncommon to women in that time. Cyril was irked to see the crowds of
students waiting outside her house and he blamed her for his
estrangement from Orestes. In an effort to assert Church authority he
cultivated a religious police force called the Parabolani — a kind of
Christian Taliban. One day, when she was riding in her “chariot” (more
likely a coach) past the pagan temple that had been converted to Cyril’s
headquarters, a mob of Parabolani seized her, dragged her up the
temple steps, and beat her to death with tiles. Orestes vanished from the
historical record shortly after that — probably recalled by order of the
regent Pulcheria. Cyril continued as Patriarch of Alexandria for three
decades and was eventually canonized.
The Renaissance artist Raphael, defying the Pope who
commissioned the work, painted Hypatia into his 1510
masterpiece The School of Athens. The only woman among the
sages, Hypatia gazes provocatively at the viewer as if she
knows her story will be mined for rich polemical ore by social
critics for centuries to come.
In the years before the French Revolution the liberal firebrand
Voltaire cited Hypatia's murder as one of the more egregious
crimes committed by the Church, setting the tone for the 1853
novel Hypatia: Or Old Foes with a New Face by Charles
Kingsley, chaplain to Queen Victoria. Kingsley's novel is a
screed against Catholicism that depicts Hypatia as a mystic
torn between paganism and Christianity. Ironically, although
Hypatia was murdered by a Christian mob she was probably
the model for St. Catherine of Alexandria, whose dubious
historicity prompted Church leaders during Vatican II to
demote her to a saint worthy of merely "optional" veneration.
Astronomer Carl Sagan, guiding TV viewers through a
recreation of the Great Library of Alexandria in his 1980 PBS
series Cosmos, portrayed Hypatia as the last of the great
classical thinkers, whose demise marks the beginning of the
Dark Ages. She is considered by many to be the first female
scientist and a lunar crater located about 100 miles south of
Tranquility Base is named after her. (Bishop Cyril, her enemy, is
commemorated by a much larger crater in the same region).
Despite her dramatic story, Hypatia has never been the subject
of a movie until recently. The $72 million English language film
Agora by Chilean director Alejandro Amenabar was released
in Spain in late 2009. Oscar-winner Rachel Weisz stars as
Hypatia. The plot revolves around the struggle of Hypatia's
slave who is torn between his love for her and the promise of
freedom offered by rioters who have besieged the Great
The Caesarium was a temple built by Cleopatra VII to
commemorate the deification of her murdered lover Julius
Caesar and to honor her husband Marc Antony. When
Octavian, Caesar's heir, conquered Antony and occupied
Alexandria he destroyed every statue of the "Egyptian
whore" but preserved her monument, rededicating it to
himself. So travelers entering Alexandria's harbor might
notice the temple he set before it two fifteen-centuries-old
pylons from the temple of Ra in Heliopolis, one of which
now stands behind the Metropolitan Museum in New York's
Central Park and the other in London's Thames
Embankment. Until the middle of the 4th century the
Caesarium was the center of a temple complex that
included gardens, lecture halls, and satellites of the Great
Library. Converted to a Christian church in the late 4th
century, The Caesarium served as headquarters to Bishop
Cyril who led a campaign to stamp out all non-Christian
influences in Alexandria. The philosopher Hypatia was
murdered on the steps of this temple in March, 415.
(artwork © 2008 by Don Dixon)
Eleven hundred years later, Raphael was commissioned
to paint The School of Athens for Pope Julius II. The fresco
was to be painted above the philosophical section of the
Pope's personal library. In his original draft, Raphael
placed Hypatia in the center, just below the central
figures of Plato and Aristotle. The church fathers ordered
her removal. Raphael still managed to sneak her into the
fresco, however, disguised as another figure. Hypatia is
the woman dressed in white in the lower left of the
painting, looking directly out at the viewer. Hypatia,
once condemned by a church father, now gazes out
over the church fathers.
The Significance of Hypatia
Hypatia and her father Theon played a pivotal role in
human history. Together they fought to stop the world
from descending into the Dark Ages. They were not
successful in this, but their life's work ultimately played a
crucial role in helping to bring about the Renaissance a
thousand years later. "Renaissance" means rebirth – the
Renaissance was the rebirth of the Hellenistic Age of
Reason. Hypatia may very well have been history's
greatest teacher.
Hypatia of Alexandria: Defender of Reason
by Jim Haldenwang
written April 7, 2008
revised July 28, 2012
Who was Hypatia? She was the last great Greek teacher, philosopher, mathematician, and
scientist of antiquity. She devoted her life to defending and preserving the great Greek
tradition of rational thought. Her cruel murder in 415 AD marked the end of humanity's first
Age of Reason and the beginning of the Dark Ages. Her life's work may have helped to spark
the Renaissance and the second Age of Reason. Here I present what little is known of her
life, and why she may have been one of history's most influential figures.
The 5th century Christian historian Socrates Scholasticus (c. 379 – c. 450 AD) said of
Hypatia, "There was a woman at Alexandria named Hypatia, daughter of the philosopher
Theon, who made such attainments in literature and science, as to far surpass all the
philosophers of her own time." [1]
Theon (c. 335 – c. 405 AD), Hypatia's father, was the last recorded scholar-member of what
still remained of the great Library of Alexandria. The Library of Alexandria was the greatest
repository of knowledge in the ancient world. For six centuries prior to Hypatia's birth, the
finest intellectuals of the Western world made their home in Alexandria and studied at the
great Library. The Library was probably established in the third century BC, during the reign
of Ptolemy II of Egypt (281 BC – 246 BC). The Library probably contained over half a million
scrolls. It is possible that much of this collection was lost in a fire when Julius Caesar
conquered Alexandria in 48 BC. There is a legend that the collection was partially restored by
Marcus Antonius (Mark Antony), who plundered the Library of Pergamon (the second largest
library of the ancient world) in order to present a wedding gift of over 200,000 scrolls to
Cleopatra. Whether or not this story is true, it appears that the collection at Alexandria
decreased over the centuries, due to fires and the wear and tear of age. By the time of
Theon, who lived in the 4th century AD, the only surviving building of the Library complex may
have been the "Mouseion" or Museum (the "Temple of the Muses," from which we get the
modern word "museum.") The Museum appears to have been a research institute, perhaps
the world's first. It was in the Museum where Theon probably worked as a distinguished
mathematician and scholar.
It is not known exactly when Hypatia was born. The dates commonly given are between 350
and 370 AD. [2] It appears her father gave her an enlightened education, which may have
included trips to Athens and Italy to study. When she grew up, she far surpassed her father
and became the world's foremost teacher and scholar, working in the fields of mathematics,
astronomy, mechanics, and philosophy. [3] She became the head of the Neoplatonist school
of philosophy around 400 AD. Students came from throughout the known world to be taught
by her. Her renown was such that she was able to move freely in a world dominated almost
exclusively by men. In the world's first reference to a hydrometer, an instrument used to
measure the specific gravity of fluids, her pupil, the bishop Synesius of Cyrene (c. 373 – c.
414), wrote her a letter asking her to make one for him. [4] She also helped Synesius to
construct an astrolabe, an instrument used to measure the position of the Sun and stars. [5]
She wrote extensively, but most of her writings have been lost, or at least the
acknowledgments to her have been lost. [6] She and her father worked together to write
commentaries on important texts, such as Ptolemy's Almagest. These commentaries, known
as recensions, were very extensive and amounted to complete revisions of the original
works. We know that father and daughter worked together because in Theon's commentary
on Book III of Ptolemy's Almagest, he tells us that the work is "in the recension of my
philosopher-daughter Hypatia." [7] She was known for her eloquent style and her ability to
simplify and clarify complex concepts. [8] Indeed, her father seems to have considered
Hypatia his superior in this regard.
Although modern historians often credit Theon for an important recension of Euclid's
Elements, [9] it is reasonable to hypothesize that Hypatia was also involved. The
extraordinary eloquence and clarity of the Elements that has been handed down to us
suggests the hand of Hypatia. As Theon's comment on Book III of Ptolemy's Almagest
mentioned above shows, Hypatia modestly did not take credit for her own work. In this paper
I will refer to this edition of the Elements as the recension of Theon and Hypatia. This
recension survived the Dark Ages and re-emerged in Europe a thousand years later. How did
this happen? The Neoplatonist philosopher Proclus (412 – 485) probably made use of the
recension of Theon and Hypatia when he added his own commentary to Book I. Proclus
resided in Athens. After the School of Athens was shut down by the emperor Justinian in 529
AD, the surviving Greek recensions, including the Elements, made their way to Byzantium. In
Byzantium, the Greek works were translated into Arabic around 800 AD. The Arabic version
of the Elements was translated into Latin in the 12th century, and then spread throughout
Europe over the next few centuries.
How important was the survival of Euclid's Elements to the course of human history? The
Elements was the most influential textbook in history. [10] As reformulated by Theon and
Hypatia, the Elements became more than just a textbook on geometry. It became the
definitive guide on how to think clearly and reason logically. The scientists Copernicus,
Kepler, Galileo and Newton were all influenced by the Elements. Newton's interest in
mathematics was awakened when he bought and read a copy of this book. [11] He used the
style of the Elements, with formal propositions and rigorous proofs, in his Principia, the book
which forms the foundation of modern physics. All of modern mathematics employs the
logical, deductive method that was introduced by the Elements. In short, modern science and
technology rests on the firm foundation laid down by Euclid's Elements.
Hypatia lived in turbulent times. It was the twilight of the Hellenistic era and the dawning of
the Age of Faith. The Christians were the rising power, and the concept of the separation of
church and state did not exist at that time. In 391 AD, the Christian emperor Theodosius I
ordered the destruction of all pagan temples. In Alexandria, the bishop Theophilus
implemented this order. The Museum where Theon worked was probably destroyed at this
time. Hypatia was opposed to the new religion and vigorously defended traditional Greek
Hypatia dedicated her life to preserving and promoting traditional Greek rational thought. In
addition to collaborating with her father on various recensions, she also wrote commentaries
of her own on The Arithmetica of Diophantus and The Conics of Appollonius. Additionally,
she wrote a text entitled The Astronomical Canon. Some of these influential works have
survived to the present day. How much of the surviving text was written by her remains a
matter of fierce debate.
Hypatia was close friends with the prefect (secular governor) of Alexandria, Orestes. In the
year 412, the bishop Theophilus died. His nephew Cyril took his place as the patriarch of
Alexandria. Cyril was determined to wrest all power away from Orestes. Hypatia was caught
in the middle of this political struggle. In the year 415, a Christian mob led by Peter the
Reader dragged her from her carriage as she was returning home. They took her to the
church called Caesareum, stripped her naked, and tore her flesh apart with tiles or oyster
shells. They took her mangled body to a place called Cinaron and burnt it. Shortly thereafter,
Orestes disappeared. The emperor took no action, apparently due to a bribe. Bishop Cyril
became the sole ruler of Alexandria. The remaining scholars fled to Athens. Alexandria, once
the intellectual light of the Western world, soon faded into mediocrity. Europe gradually
descended into the Dark Ages.
Democritus's atomic theory and Aristarchus's heliocentric model
of the universe are not subjects that can often be said to delight
audiences at the Cannes film festival.
But Alejandro Amenabar's Agora did just that in its premiere
today, with Rachel Weisz starring as the 4th-century
mathematician and astronomer Hypatia, who was killed by an
angry Christian mob in Romano-Egyptian Alexandria.
The film, part of the festival's official selection but not competing
for the Palme d'Or, received cheers. According to Edward
Gibbon, in his History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman
Empire, Hypatia's "flesh was scraped from her bones with sharp
oyster-shells". Amenabar spares his heroine quite such a grim end
– but he does portray her as an areligious, Enlightenment heroine
destroyed by brutal fanatics.
"Once we started researching the film we recognised a lot of
echoes with contemporary times and realised we could make a
film about the present," he said.
Some viewers have even likened the depiction of the members
of the parabolani, an early-Christian brotherhood, to the modern
Taliban. "It's true the parabolani [in the film] resemble a little bit
the Taliban," said Amenabar. But it is not deliberate. Agora, which
co-stars Max Minghella as Hypatia's slave Davus, gives all religions
a hard time: Jews, Christians and pagans are all depicted as, at
times, vengeful and violent, with Hypatia and her pupils
representing the forces of reason.
The historical Hypatia was probably around 60 when she died,
rather than the youthful martyr depicted here.
A neoplatonist, she was said to have edited the works of
Apollonius and Diophantus on geometry and arithmetic.
One of the more colourful anecdotes told about her in antiquity
was that she presented a besotted suitor with a blood-stained
sanitary towel - an episode Amenabar incorporates into his script.
Her father was Theon, the last president of the Mouseion, the
centre of Alexandria's higher education.
Agora is a new movie about the pagan philosopher and martyr
Hypatia, who was murdered by a mob of Christians in the latter days
of the Roman Empire. Hypatia is sometimes taken as a martyr of
science and thus a hero for atheists, but in reality she was a deeply
religious person. Specifically, she was a Neoplatonist, which was a
powerful late pagan philosophical and mystical movement. None of
her writings have survived, but she was universally considered to be
an important philosopher.
The city of Alexandria in Roman Egypt was a hotbed of rival religions,
mystical sects and philosophical schools. Gnosticism was born there,
as was Neoplatonism, and Christianity absorbed a lot from both
movements. However, all of Alexandria's rival religious factions were
violently antagonistic to each other, and the struggle for spiritual
supremacy was often mixed up with local political rivalries. Hypatia,
as an influential figure in the pagan community, was in it up to her

At some point she made too many enemies, and they managed to get
the mob riled up against her. The result was her murder, the most
famous example of pagan martyrdom in the ancient world. Apparently
the Church has been complaining about the movie because it
portrays Christians as a bloodthirsty mob of intolerant fanatics. Such
a sweeping generalization would not be fair, but the facts are the
Death of Hypatia, 1930s
William Mortensen(1897–1965)

*more of William Mortensen in this album

— with Nobe Oddy, Det Som Engang Var,
Rosalia Chingona, Andrea Garcia Martin,
Arlindo Batista da Silva, Salvador Flores,
Ken Oiler and CeAce Harris.
Circa A.D. 375 - 415
Who was Hypatia?
In the estimation of some, Hypatia was history’s greatest woman. By all accounts stunningly
beautiful, dazzlingly brilliant, yet always modest and kind, in an age when women were but
chattel, she was history’s first female mathematician, as well as the first female astronomer,
inventor, and natural philosopher.
She was the last keeper of the flame of knowledge in that great Alexandrian University — the
Museum — the center of all the world’s learning. As the daughter of the last head professor of the
Museum, she practically grew up in the Great Alexandrian Library, where all the world’s
knowledge was kept, for in addition to being a child prodigy, she was a voracious reader.
Already, by the age of womanhood in those days (i.e., twelve), she was considered to have
assimilated the sum total of all significant human knowledge.
Books in those days, before the advent of printing, were in the form of hand-written scrolls, each
one a priceless original, and when what was left of the Great Alexandrian Library was burned
down by the Christians at the command of Christian emperor Theodosius “The Great” in the year
391, the books were all gone.
But Hypatia’s mind still contained the best of what was lost in the flames, and so, throughout the
rest of her life, whenever someone was stumped by a problem, there were no more books to turn
to — to see if some brilliant ancient Greek hadn’t already solved it — there was only Hypatia to
turn to.
By the time her career as lecturing natural philosopher culminated, she was considered an oracle,
and citizens and heads of state streamed in from all over the two empires to consult with her on
important matters. Indeed, so great was her renown, that letters from all over the far-flung empires
addressed simply “to the Philosopher” would unerringly find their way to her. Her life’s mission was
to preserve the ancient knowledge of the brilliant Greeks, and to preserve their tradition of free-
thinking rational thought, but the world around her was in upheaval, and the Christians were
consolidating their power, turning the mind of man away from reason, to faith.
Hypatia was the last obstacle to the Church’s goal of world domination, and when the Christian
mob under Saint Cyril came to make of her history’s greatest martyr for science — in the most
gruesome way imaginable — the scholars left Alexandria in disgust, Alexandria ceased to be the
world’s center of learning, the Dark Ages descended upon the world, and the mind of man
stagnated for a thousand years.
Her life has all the heroic elements of a Greek tragedy, and if this were all that we knew, her place in history
would already be assured, as a great tragic soul, standing alone against the coming darkness. But this is not
all we know. Recent research suggests that the Christians did not succeed in destroying her life’s works, as
was previously believed. Hypatia did not live in vain. It is now believed, by those competent to judge such
matters, that the very primers of rational thought, Euclid’s the Elements, Ptolemy’s Almagest, and
Diophantus’ Arithmetica have come down to us only through the Hypatian recension — that is, through
copies made of Hypatia’s own hand-written notes on these masterpieces.
These books bear the very seed of the ancient Greek genius, and when these books were rediscovered, at
the end of the Middle Ages, that seed sprouted and a New Age of secularism and rational thought
dawned upon the world, a period in history which we today know as The Renaissance, meaning, quite
literally, The Re-Birth — of the Classical Age of Greek wisdom.
Today, we are in effect, the children of the wise and rational Greeks, not of the ignorant superstitious
medievals, in large part because Hypatia preserved and disseminated the seed of Greek wisdom. Although
that seed lay dormant for a thousand years, eventually it sprouted and bore the fruits which produced the
Modern Age, and in the end, the great woman triumphed, after all.
The waning of pagan Roman secular power coïncided precisely with the waxing of Christian theocracy.
The pagans who were being stamped out felt that this was no random coïncidence, but that, once in
power, Christianity caused the fall of the Roman world which it predicted.
This was also essentially the view of Edward Gibbon (1737-1794) as presented in his monumental work, The
History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire — a work which has widely been regarded as the
greatest historical work in the English language. Rome “fell” when it became a Christian theocracy — when
all those in power trembled before the cross, believing that the divinely-decreed end of the world was near.
When the Roman Empire “fell,” everyone at the helm was a Christian who felt that it was not this world, but
the next, which mattered.
As we have seen, Hypatia’s life mission was simply to preserve the ancient knowledge of the
brilliant Greeks, and to preserve their tradition of free-thinking rational thought. Surely, such a
pursuit would not be a threat to anyone, you might think. But, surely, you would be wrong. The
world in Hypatia’s time was in upheaval, and the Christians were consolidating their power, turning
the mind of man away from reason, to faith.
Though she was highly revered in her time, Hypatia was not a Christian, and she stood at the
epicenter of momentous earth-shaking events. The non-Christian Greek tradition of free-thinking
which Hypatia strove to preserve and disseminate was perceived to be a political threat to the
mind-controlling power of the Christian theocrats, and Hypatia came to be regarded as the last
obstacle to the Church’s goal of world domination.
Everything not in line with Christian dogma was at the time being systematically eliminated by the
Christians in power. First the Christians destroyed the full collection of books of the Great Library of
Alexandria (housed in the Serapeum at the time), then they eliminated publicly-funded secular
education, by shutting down the Museum for good, and finally the mob of monks under Saint Cyril
came for Hypatia herself, and made of her history’s greatest martyr for science and Reason — in
the most gruesome way imaginable.
The conflict which was occurring in Alexandria in Hypatia’s time was clearly the conflict between
Church and State — a conflict which the Christians correctly assumed would be resolved when
the separation between Church and State was removed. When an example was made of
Hypatia, no non-Christian dared to challenge the authority of the Church (even in secular matters)
and the separation between Church and State crumbled and fell, and the Church ruled the
world. The result, of course, was that the mind of man stagnated for a thousand years, for, as
history has shown, time and again, Religion stops a thinking mind.
When Hypatia — an eminent and beloved woman renowned for her un-Christian wisdom — was
publicly assassinated for standing in the way of Christian political power, this sent a chilling
message to anyone who had not yet converted. The prefect Orestes (even though he was
baptized a Christian) disappeared after Hypatia's murder and was never heard from again,
leaving the Churchmen fully in control of even secular matters, and for the millennium that
followed no one ever again dared to say, or write, or even think anything that was not in line with
the views of the Churchmen in power.
Hypatia’s assassination was very public, as it was intended to send a message, and this butchery
— carried out in a church — evidently achieved its goal, for the scholars fled Alexandria in shock
and disgust, Alexandria ceased to be the world’s center of learning, the Dark Ages descended
upon the world, and — with the Church finally in control of all — the mind of man stagnated for a
thousand years.
Hypatia stood alone between the Age of Classical Greek Wisdom and the Dark Ages, and when
she was snuffed out, so was the light of Reason, and the darkness of ignorance fell at last across
the world. It was as if she was the very pivot upon which history turned. That is why Hypatia is
regarded by some to be history’s greatest woman….

† History does not record the year of Hypatia’s birth, and all estimates are nothing more than
guesses — guesses which invariably reflect the bias of the person making the guess. Most
estimates — with the notable exception of Maria Dzielska’s — have placed the year of Hypatia’s
birth in the range from A.D. 370 to 380. That is to say, most historians before Ms. Dzielska have
regarded this to be a plausible range of years for Hypatia’s birth to have fallen in.
In fact, Charles Singer, in his book, A History of Scientific Ideas, specifies with a greater implied
precision than any other, the year of Hypatia’s birth. He gives the year of her birth as A.D. 379 — a
figure which was adopted for Khan Amore’s Hypatia, for it best suited the needs of his fiction.