Hypatia: Ancient Genius
There is a tendency among male historians to sometimes trivialize the accomplishments of women in the sciences. There is a slight schoolboy condescension that “she did pretty well … for a woman”. Hypatia of Alexandria (370 - 415 CE) cannot be dismissed so. Her accomplishments would be as astonishing no matter her gender. She was a true polymath. She was a mathematician, astronomer, philosopher and poet in a time and place where women were seldom permitted out of the house. She had her own academy in Alexandria the first city of learning in the late classical world and was renowned throughout that world. Sadly, she fell victim to political persecution by the bishop of the newly powerful Christian religion. She was murdered by a mob and literally torn apart in 415. So great was her influence that her death marked the beginning of the end of Alexandria’s place in the scholarly world.
Rachel Weisz starred in the film “Agora” depicting her life. It is worth a watch.