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

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Barron, Alfred [PRI]

Posts: 200
Registered: 12/3/04
Re: [HM] hypatia
Posted: Feb 10, 1999 10:49 AM
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I first learned of Hypathia in junior high school, possibly one of
the fortunes of having an algebra teacher who knew something about
the history of his subject. I recall that the story of her murder
was related to the ignorance of the crowd. No mention of religion
was made; an understandable omission for a 7th grade teacher.

Of course some myth has undoubtly evolved about the life of this
remarkable individual. Given her gender and place in history, how
couldn't it ?

However the argument advanced by Anglin is disturbing. Somehow it
suggests more the reasoning of an American trained court attorney
than that of an historian.

I sometimes wonder that if Hypathia had been a Christian convert, she
would had been made a saint by the Church.

Al Barron
Metuchen, NJ

> ----------
> From: Gavin Hitchcock[]
> Sent: Wednesday, February 10, 1999 3:03 AM
> To:
> Subject: [HM] hypatia
> 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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