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Hypatia - positively genius T-Shirts
Hypatia - positively genius T-Shirts


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Hypatia (born  350–370; died 415 AD) is known as the first recorded female scholar/genius with her specialties being – philosophy, mathematics and astronomy. She was born and mostly lived in Alexandria, Egypt which during her time was a much different place than in ancient Egypt as the Romans had taken complete control of it, along with most of the rest of the world. (more info below)

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Hypatia was the daughter of Theon of Alexandria, who was considered the highest ranking mathematician at the time. Hypatia taught a version of Neoplatonism which took out most of the religious overtones which had crept into the original teachings of Plotinus centuries earlier. This angered some as she was viewed as a pagan, however, most of her students were, in fact, Christians and she apparently was beloved for being fair and open to all.

She was highly regarded in Alexandria which was second only to Athens as the center of advanced knowledge and learning. People came from far and wide to study with her and she could often be found strolling the streets of Alexandria in wearing a tribon or philosophers cloak and would often give impromptu lectures wherever she stopped. In addition to this, she would often be the sole woman at all-male philosophy symposiums but was always admired by all for her extraordinary dignity, knowledge, and virtue. A true feminist and likely one of the first!

Though she was supposedly incredibly beautiful, Hypatia never married and lived a celibate life. She was also the first teacher ever allowed at the very prestigious University in Alexandria, which before her was entirely male.

However, in spite of her overall acceptance, eventually, a faction began to hold her responsible for keeping Orestes who was also pagan, from accepting the “true” faith of Christianity. This was led by Cyril, Christian Archbishop of Alexandria. In 415, fueled by religious intolerance a mob of Christian monks descended on Hypatia proclaiming her as a witch (where have we heard this before?) dragged her from her chariot and the proceeded to strip her, beat her to death and finally burn her. Shortly thereafter the University was sacked and burned on orders from Cyril. This resulted in a mass exodus of intellectuals and artists from the newly “Christianized” Alexandria. Her death was said to be the demarcation line of the classical age of paganism from the age of Christianity. All this hatred toward a woman who was widely known for her generosity, love of learning, and expertise in teaching in the subjects of Neo-Platonism, mathematics, science, and philosophy in general. Sounds similar to another famous person 400 years earlier!

The story of Hypatia was put on film in 2009 entitled "Agora" and starring Rachel Weisz as Hypatia. Currently on Amazon.



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