Category Archives: History

Hypatia – famous woman in antiquity



I my learning about math history, I discovered a  very special woman. I describe her with the help of texts taken from I reedited the text removing links that are required in Wiki, to make the text  easier to read.

As you can see bleow there is a French book about her. I have not read it yet.

Because of her background and tragic end, I added this article in the main menu under Learning -Phislosophy as she was well known among philosopher. I added this article also  under Theology – she is part of the early (and bad) history of Christianity, accused of being a whitch.

You will find all sources and references in wiki if you want to know more.



Presentation of Hypathia

Hypatia, was born c. 350–370 and  died 415). She was a Hellenistic Neoplatonist philosopher, astronomer,  mathematician and teacher, who lived in Alexandria, Egypt. Her father was her teacher and became later, her cooperator.

At her time, Egypt was part of the Eastern Roman Empire. She was a prominent thinker of the Neoplatonic school in Alexandria where she taught philosophy and astronomy.

 She is the first female mathematician and philosopher whose life is reasonably well recorded.

Hypatia was the daughter of the mathematician Theon of Alexandria (c. 335 – c. 405 AD).

Nothing is known about Hypatia’s mother, who is never mentioned in any of the extant sources.

Hypatia was renowned in her own lifetime as a great teacher and a wise counselor. 

Tollerant pagan

Although she herself was a pagan, she was tolerant towards Christians and taught many Christian students, including Synesius, the future bishop of Ptolemais. Ancient sources record that Hypatia was widely beloved by pagans and Christians alike and that she established great influence with the political elite in Alexandria. 

A virgin

Damascius states that Hypatia remained a lifelong virgin and that, when one of the men who came to her lectures tried to court her, she tried to sooth his lust by playing the lyre. When he refused to abandon his pursuit, she rejected him outright displaying her bloody menstrual rags and declaring

“This is what you really love, my young man,
but you do not love beauty for its own sake.”



Career and works

Hypatia was a Neoplatonist, but, like her father, she rejected the teachings of biographer Lamblichus and instead embraced the original Neoplatonism formulated by Plotinus. (In Plotinus  philosophy, described in his Enneads, there are three principles: the One, the Intellect, and the Soul.)
 The Alexandrian school was renowned at the time for its philosophy, and Alexandria was regarded as second only to Athens as the philosophical capital of the Greco-Roman world. Hypatia taught students from all over the Mediterranean. According to Damascius, she lectured on the writings of Plato and Aristotle. He also states that she walked through Alexandria in a tribon, a kind of cloak associated with philosophers, giving impromptu public lectures.

The Christian historian Socrates of Constantinople, a contemporary of Hypatia, describes her in his Ecclesiastical History:[21]

“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. Having succeeded to the school of Plato and Plotinus, she explained the principles of philosophy to her auditors, many of whom came from a distance to receive her instructions. On account of the self-possession and ease of manner which she had acquired in consequence of the cultivation of her mind, she not infrequently appeared in public in the presence of the magistrates. Neither did she feel abashed in going to an assembly of men. For all men on account of her extraordinary dignity and virtue admired her the more.”


She is known to have written a commentary on Diophantus‘s thirteen-volume Arithmetica, which may survive in part, having been interpolated into Diophantus’s original text, and another commentary on Apollonius of Perga’s treatise on conic sections, which has not survived. Many modern scholars also believe that Hypatia may have edited the surviving text of Ptolemy’s Almagest, based on the title of her father Theon’s commentary on Book III of the Almagest.

Hypatia is known to have constructed astrolabes and hydrometers, but did not invent either of these, which were both in use long before she was born. 

Hypatia has been described as a universal genius, but she was probably more of a teacher and commentator than an innovator. No evidence has been found that Hypatia ever published any independent works on philosophy and she does not appear to have made any groundbreaking mathematical discoveries.

During Hypatia’s time period, scholars preserved classical mathematical works and commented on them to develop their arguments, rather than publishing original works. It has also been suggested that the closure of the Mouseion and the destruction of the Serapeum may have led Hypatia and her father to focus their efforts on preserving seminal mathematical books and making them accessible to their students.

The Suda mistakenly states that all of Hypatia’s writings have been lost,but modern scholarship has identified several works by her as extant.

This kind of authorial uncertainty is typical of female philosophers from antiquity.

Hypatia wrote in Greek, which was the language spoken by most educated people in the Eastern Mediterranean at the time. In classical antiquity, astronomy was seen as being essentially mathematical in character Furthermore, no distinction was made between mathematics and numerology or astronomy and astrology.


Towards the end, murder and aftermath

Towards the end of her life, Hypatia advised Orestes, the Roman prefect of Alexandria, who was in the midst of a political feud with Cyril, the bishop of Alexandria. Rumors spread accusing her of preventing Orestes from reconciling with Cyril. Despite Hypatia’s popularity, Cyril and his allies attempted to discredit her and undermine her reputation. 

Socrates Scholasticus mentions rumors accusing Hypatia of preventing Orestes from reconciling with Cyril. Traces of other rumors that spread among the Christian populace of Alexandria may be found in the writings of the seventh-century Egyptian Coptic bishop John of Nikiû, who alleges in his Chronicle that Hypatia had engaged in satanic practices and had intentionally hampered the church’s influence over Orestes. He wrote:

“And in those days there appeared in Alexandria a female philosopher, a pagan named Hypatia, and she was devoted at all times to magic, astrolabes and instruments of music, and she beguiled many people through her Satanic wiles. And the governor of the city honoured her exceedingly; for she had beguiled him through her magic. And he ceased attending church as had been his custom… And he not only did this, but he drew many believers to her, and he himself received the unbelievers at his house.”


According to Socrates Scholasticus, during the Christian season of Lent in March 415, a mob of Christians under the leadership of a lector named Peter, raided Hypatia’s carriage as she was travelling home.

They dragged her into a building known as the Kaisarion, a former pagan temple and center of the Roman imperial cult in Alexandria that had been converted into a Christian church.

There, the mob stripped Hypatia naked and murdered her using ostraka (which can either be translated as “roof tiles” or “oyster shells).Damascius adds that they also cut out her eyeballs.

They tore her body into pieces and dragged her mangled limbs through the town to a place called Cinarion, where they set them on fire.

According to Watts, this was in line with the traditional manner in which Alexandrians carried the bodies of the “vilest criminals” outside the city limits to cremate them as a way of symbolically purifying the city.

Although Socrates Scholasticus never explicitly identifies Hypatia’s murderers, they are commonly assumed to have been members of the parabalani. Christopher Haas disputes this identification, arguing that the murderers were more likely “a crowd of Alexandrian laymen”.


Socrates Scholasticus presents Hypatia’s murder as entirely politically motivated and makes no mention of any role that Hypatia’s paganism might have played in her death. Instead, he reasons that “she fell a victim to the political jealousy which at that time prevailed. For as she had frequent interviews with Orestes, it was calumniously report ed among the Christian populace that it was she who prevented Orestes from being reconciled to the bishop.”

Socrates Scholasticus unequivocally condemns the actions of the mob, declaring, “Surely nothing can be farther from the spirit of Christianity than the allowance of massacres, fights, and transactions of that sort.”


Hypatia’s murder shocked the empire and transformed her into a “martyr for philosophy”, leading future Neoplatonists such as Damascius to become increasingly fervent in their opposition to Christianity.

During the Middle Ages, Hypatia was co-opted as a symbol of Christian virtue and scholars believe she was part of the basis for the legend of Saint Catherine of Alexandria.

During the Age of Enlightenment, she became a symbol of opposition to Catholicism.

In the nineteenth century, European literature, especially Charles Kingsley’s 1853 novel Hypatia, romanticized her as “the last of the Hellenes”.

In the twentieth century, Hypatia became seen as an icon for women’s rights and a precursor to the feminist movement. Since the late twentieth century, some portrayals have associated Hypatia’s death with the destruction of the Library of Alexandria, despite the historical fact that the library no longer existed during Hypatia’s lifetime.

read more in where you find all the sources used to know more about Hypathia.

Some modern scholars consider that the legend of Saint Ctherine_of_Alexandria martyred 18 year old 305 under Emperor Maxentius, was probably based on the life and murder of the Hypatia.


There is a  film in Italian shared in Italian television 6-7 years ago. There is  a Youtube with the film 

Yo may also enjoy this youtube that also describes neoplatonism.



A extraordinary woman. Maybe she is the first woman to have been sacrificed by Christians because of political reasons. Many women have died after her but noone I have found had this remarkable history. Read more about these women in myarticle about witchhunt-in-europe. Hypatia’s history reminds me of that of Jeanne d’Arc who also died for political reasons.



Jesus and the Samaritans



Today at Mass it was time for the reading of Luke 10:25-37 about the good Samaritan.  it is a opportunity to learn more about the Levites and Samaritans.


Luke 10:25-37 with comments

Luke 10:25-37.

“And now a lawyer stood up and, to test him, asked, ‘Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ 26 

He said to him, ‘What is written in the Law? What is your reading of it?’ 27 He replied,

‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.’ 28 Jesus said to him, ‘You have answered right, do this and life is yours.’ 29 But the man was anxious to justify himself and said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’ 30 In answer Jesus said, ‘A man was once on his way down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of bandits; they stripped him, beat him and then made off, leaving him half dead.”

Being attacked by bandits  is something that happened frequently at the time of Jesus, when traveling to Jerusalem. For this reason it was safer to follow caravans or travel together in bigger groups. So Jesus used a example that was a well known reality for the lawyer.

Jesus and his family may themself  have experienced bandits on their way to Jerusalem.

31 Now a priest happened to be traveling down the same road, but when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 In the same way a Levite who came to the place saw him, and passed by on the other side.


33 But a Samaritan traveller who came on him was moved with compassion when he saw him.

34 He went up to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. He then lifted him onto his own mount and took him to an inn and looked after him.

35 Next day, he took out two denarii and handed them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Look after him, and on my way back I will make good any extra expense you have.’

36 Which of these three, do you think, proved himself a neighbour to the man who fell into the bandits’ hands?’

37 He replied, ‘The one who showed pity towards him.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go, and do the same yourself.’


  • Jesus was not a  Levite

The Levites were one of the 12 tribes of Israel. Today there are still a few hundred Levites living on the West Bank



Despite being discriminated by the Jews, Jesus had according to me  a good relation with Samaritans and the Samaritans looked at him as the “Saviour of the World” without the need of Jesus making miracles. 

Marc, Matthew and Luke choosed for some reason to tell only about  how the Samaritan rejected Jesus hospitality once on their way to Jerusalem. 

In  John 4,3-39 , we are given  a completely different picture

the story starts with the encounter of Jesus with the woman at the well

39 Many Samaritans of that town (ed. Sychar) believed in him on the strength of the woman’s words (ed the Samaritan woman Jesus met and talked with at the well outside Sychar) of testimony, 

40 So, when the Samaritans came up to him, they begged him to stay with them. He stayed for two days, and 41 many more came to believe on the strength of the words he spoke to them; 42 and they said to the woman, ‘Now we believe no longer because of what you told us; we have heard him ourselves and we know that he is indeed the Saviour of the world.’

If you know about this encounter, you may read Matthew 10:5-6 differently:

5 ‘Do not make your way to gentile territory, and do not enter any Samaritan town6 go instead to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.”

The Jews’ view about the Samaritans.

the Jews hated the Samaritans as “dogs,” or “half-breeds.” according to probably  because the Samaritans intermarried with the Assyrian invaders (ed.  in fact they loved their enemies as Jesus teached) and they stopped traveling to Jerusalem to offer sacrifice and worship helping to rebuild Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity.

read more in and in

the Samaritan story is to be seen in the ligth of  Jesus statemen in( Matthew 20,16 ) ‘ “the first shall be last, the last shall  be first”

jesus did not agree with the Samaritans about Mount Gerizim that was and still is sacred for the Samaritans. John 4,20-26  tells what the Samaritan  woman  at the well said and how Jesus answered:

20 ‘Our fathers worshipped on this mountain (ed. she must refer to the nearby Mount Geerizim), though you say that Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.’ 21 Jesus said: Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know; for salvation comes from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming — indeed is already here — when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth: that is the kind of worshipper the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship must worship in spirit and truth. 25 The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah — that is, Christ — is coming; and when he comes he will explain everything.’ 26 Jesus said, ‘That is who I am, I who speak to you.’

28 The woman put down her water jar and hurried back to the town to tell the people, 29 ‘Come and see a man who has told me everything I have done; could this be the Christ?’ 30 This brought people out of the town and they made their way towards him.”

You may read about Samaria and its history in

There is also a intresting article to preview in

Jesus must showed how to be respectful to the Samaritans. So…

“The apostles recognized that in the Church Samaritans must be accepted as equal to Jews. Peter and John conducted a special mission to Samaria to confirm Samaritans who had already been baptized by Philip (Acts 8:14-17). This initiation of the Samaritans was a middle stage between the preaching of the gospel to the Jews (Acts 2) and the preaching of the gospel to full-blooded Gentiles (Acts 10).” ( Source: )

the relation between jews and Samaritans today

I tried to get an answer from a Jew on but he made hsi best  to not answer. 
I tried again and wrote “jeff could not or did not want to answer my question about the Samaritan-Jew relation today. Can you find someone who can talk about it. i am writing about it on my page at
This time got a advice that led me to this article




As said above I tried to know about the Samaritan-Jew relation today in  disqus but got no clear answer. I like their interreligious (Christian-Judaism) approach but to get in peach with e.g. Christians you have to look for peace also with the Samaritans of today as the Samaritans were the last at Jesus time  and Jesus said that the last (in Society like the Samaritans at Jesus time) will be first in Heaven.  This post let me to  write a post about Judaism and Christian theology. You find it in in 

The death of king Herod

We read today af a JW meeting, acts 12:23 that says about Herod: 

and at that moment the angel of the Lord struck him down, because he had not given the glory to God. He was eaten away by worms and died.” Acts 12:23


Herod died 4BCE in Jericho after a long life with Depression and Paranoia. 

I wanted to know more sbout Herods death. I found that he may have suffered arteriosclerosis together with a deterioration of the heart and the kidneys. With that condition “Bodily poisons wouldn’t be excreted properly and would accumulate in the blood, causing general itching, sharp, constant abdominal pain, diarrhea, and possible ulceration of the bowels. In extreme cases, which is plainly what we’re dealing with here, the scrotum could become distended and gangrenous, at which point a lesion might well become infested with maggots, personal hygiene not being a priority back then.” source:

I am very doubtful that God caused this death. Luke who wrote the acts most probably not knowing about Herods illness and its causes, took the opportunity  to add a divine cause to scare the readers with the Old Testament “Eye to eye” God.

Threatening with such a God  was the strategy of the church for Centuries despite Jesus teached about a loving and forgiving God.