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Topic: [HM] hypatia
Replies: 4   Last Post: Feb 11, 1999 7:10 AM

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Gavin Hitchcock

Posts: 1
Registered: 12/3/04
[HM] hypatia
Posted: Feb 10, 1999 3:03 AM
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Dear colleagues,
Can any one answer tell me more, with refs, about the motives of the mob
who are said to have murdered Hypatia? And the details, and repercussions?

Socrates Scholasticus (History of the Church, Book VII, Chapter 15) says
she was killed by a mob of `Christians', led by someone called `Peter'.
Most histories of mathematics seem to assume that the motives of the crowd
were religious, that is, Hypatia was killed because she refused to be
converted to the Christian Faith, or because she fell out with Cyril, the
Christian Bishop of Alexandria. In contrast, W S Anglin (Mathematics: A
Concise History and Philosophy, Springer 1994) says `there is no evidence
to support this accusation. Cyril was a zealous leader, but we have no
reason to think he incited the crowd to make a physical attack on the
pagan mathematician. Indeed, we have no reason to think that the murder
had anything to do with religion and science. For all we know, the mob
killed Hypatia simply because they were poor and unemployed, while Hypatia
had a permanent well-paid job.'

Was Hypatia in any sense a `mathematics martyr`?

Gavin Hitchcock,
University of Zimbabwe.

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