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[SMTP:GAVIN@maths.uz.ac.zw] > Sent: Wednesday, February 10, 1999 3:03 AM > To: firstname.lastname@example.org > 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.