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Headword: *(upati/a
Adler number: upsilon,166
Translated headword: Hypatia
Vetting Status: high
The daughter of Theon the geometer, the Alexandrian philosopher,[1] she was herself a philosopher and well-known to many. [She was] the wife of Isidore the philosopher.[2] She flourished in the reign of Arcadius.[3] She wrote a commentary on Diophantos,[4] the Astronomical Canon, and a commentary on the Conics of Apollonios. She was torn to pieces by the Alexandrians, and her body was violated and scattered over the whole city. She suffered this because of envy and her exceptional wisdom, especially in regard to astronomy. According to some, [this was the fault of] Cyril,[5] but according to others, [it resulted] from the inveterate insolence and rebelliousness of the Alexandrians. For they did this also to many of their own bishops: consider George and Proterios.[6]
Concerning Hypatia the philosopher, proof that the Alexandrians [were] rebellious. She was born and raised and educated in Alexandria. Having a nobler nature than her father's, she was not satisfied with his mathematical instruction, but she also embraced the rest of philosophy with diligence. Putting on the philosopher's cloak although a woman and advancing through the middle of the city, she explained publicly to those who wished to hear either Plato or Aristotle or any other of the philosophers. In addition to her teaching, attaining the height of practical virtue, becoming just and prudent, she remained a virgin. She was so very beautiful and attractive that one of those who attended her lectures fell in love with her. He was not able to contain his desire, but he informed her of his condition. Ignorant reports say that Hypatia relieved him of his disease by music; but truth proclaims that music failed to have any effect. She brought some of her female rags[7] and threw them before him, showing him the signs of her unclean origin, and said, "You love this, o youth, and there is nothing beautiful about it." His soul was turned away by shame and surprise at the unpleasant sight, and he was brought to his right mind. Such was Hypatia, both skillful and eloquent in words and prudent and civil in deeds. The rest of the city loved and honored her exceptionally, and those who were appointed at each time as rulers of the city at first attended her lectures, as also it used to happen at Athens. For if the reality had perished, yet the name of philosophy still seemed magnificent and admirable to those who held the highest offices in the community. So then once it happened that Cyril who was bishop of the opposing faction, passing by the house of Hypatia, saw that there was a great pushing and shoving against the doors, "of men and horses together,"[8] some approaching, some departing, and some standing by. When he asked what crowd this was and what the tumult at the house was, he heard from those who followed that the philosopher Hypatia was now speaking and that it was her house. When he learned this, his soul was bitten with envy, so that he immediately plotted her death, a most unholy of all deaths. For as she came out as usual many close-packed ferocious men, truly despicable, fearing neither the eye of the gods nor the vengeance of men, killed the philosopher,[9] inflicting this very great pollution and shame on their homeland. And the emperor would have been angry at this, if Aidesios had not been bribed. He remitted the penalty for the murders, but drew this on himself and his family, and his offspring paid the price.
The memory of these [events] still preserved among the Alexandrians reduced very little the honor and zeal of the Alexandrians for Isidore: and although such a threat was impending, nevertheless each strove to keep company with him frequently and to hear the words which came from his wise mouth. As many as excelled in rhetorical or poetic pursuits also welcomed regular association with the philosopher. For even if he was ill-trained in such matters, yet through his philosophical acumen he contributed to these men some greater diligence in their own skills. For he discussed everything with precision and he criticized more judiciously than others the speeches and poems presented. Therefore also in the performance of some literary show he praised sparingly what was presented. His praise was very modest, nevertheless timely and appropriate. Hence all the audience, so to speak, used his judgment as a guide for who spoke better or worse. I know three critics of my time who are able to judge what is said [both with] and without meter. The same man's judgment is recognized for both poems and prose compositions. But I judge the same man to be a creator of both only if equal practice is devoted to both and equal eagerness. I do not say that Isidore was one of these, but was even far inferior to the three. The judges [were] Agapios, Severianus, Nomos. Nomos [is] a contemporary of ours.[10]
Greek Original:
*(upati/a: h( *qe/wnos tou= gewme/trou quga/thr, tou= *)alecandre/ws filoso/fou, kai\ au)th\ filo/sofos kai\ polloi=s gnw/rimos: gunh\ *)isidw/rou tou= filoso/fou. h)/kmasen e)pi\ th=s basilei/as *)arkadi/ou. e)/grayen u(po/mnhma ei)s *dio/fanton, to\n a)stronomiko\n *kano/na, ei)s ta\ *kwnika\ *)apollwni/ou u(po/mnhma. au(/th diespa/sqh para\ tw=n *)alecandre/wn, kai\ to\ sw=ma au)th=s e)nubrisqe\n kaq' o(/lhn th\n po/lin diespa/rh. tou=to de\ pe/ponqe dia\ fqo/non kai\ th\n u(perba/llousan sofi/an, kai\ ma/lista ei)s ta\ peri\ a)stronomi/an: w(s me/n tines u(po\ *kuri/llou, w(s de/ tines dia\ to\ e)/mfuton tw=n *)alecandre/wn qra/sos kai\ stasiw=des. polloi=s ga\r kai\ tw=n kat' au)tou\s e)pisko/pwn tou=to e)poi/hsan: to\n *gew/rgion sko/pei kai\ to\n *prote/rion. *peri\ *(upati/as th=s filoso/fou. a)po/deicis, w(s stasiw/deis oi( *)alecandrei=s. au(/th e)n *)alecandrei/a| kai\ e)gennh/qh kai\ a)netra/fh kai\ e)paideu/qh. th\n de\ fu/sin gennaiote/ra tou= patro\s ou)=sa ou)k h)rke/sqh toi=s dia\ tw=n maqhma/twn paideu/masin u(po\ tw=| patri/, a)lla\ kai\ filosofi/as h(/yato th=s a)/llhs ou)k a)gennw=s, periballome/nh de\ tri/bwna h( gunh\ kai\ dia\ me/sou tou= a)/steos poioume/nh ta\s proo/dous e)chgei=to dhmosi/a| toi=s a)kroa=sqai boulome/nois h)\ to\n *pla/twna h)\ to\n *)aristote/lhn h)\ a)/llou o(/tou dh\ tw=n filoso/fwn. pro\s de\ tw=| didaskalikw=| kai\ e)p' a)/kron a)naba=sa th=s praktikh=s a)reth=s, dikai/a te kai\ sw/frwn gegonui=a, diete/lei parqe/nos, ou(/tw sfo/dra kalh/ te ou)=sa kai\ eu)eidh/s, w(/ste kai\ e)rasqh=nai/ tina au)th=s tw=n prosfoitw/ntwn. o( de\ ou)x oi(=o/s te h)=n kratei=n tou= e)/rwtos, a)ll' ai)/sqhsin h)dh\ parei/xeto kai\ au)th=| tou= paqh/matos. oi( me\n ou)=n a)pai/deutoi lo/goi fasi/, dia\ mousikh=s au)to\n a)palla/cai th=s no/sou th\n *(upati/an: h( de\ a)lh/qeia diagge/llei pa/lai me\n diefqore/nai ta\ mousikh=s, au)th\n de\ proenegkame/nhn ti tw=n gunaikei/wn r(akw=n au)tou= ballome/nhn kai\ to\ su/mbolon e)pidei/casan th=s a)kaqa/rtou gene/sews, tou/tou me/ntoi, fa/nai, e)ra=|s, w)= neani/ske, kalou= de\ ou)deno/s, to\n de\ u(p' ai)sxu/nhs kai\ qa/mbous th=s a)sxh/monos e)pidei/cews diatraph=nai/ te th\n yuxh\n kai\ diateqh=nai swfrone/steron. ou(/tw de\ e)/xousan th\n *(upati/an, e)/n te toi=s lo/gois ou)=san e)ntrexh= kai\ dialektikh\n e)/n te toi=s e)/rgois e)/mfrona/ te kai\ politikh/n, h(/ te a)/llh po/lis ei)ko/tws h)spa/zeto/ te kai\ proseku/nei diafero/ntws, oi(/ te a)/rxon- tes a)ei\ proxeirizo/menoi th=s po/lews e)foi/twn prw=toi pro\s au)th/n, w(s kai\ *)aqh/nhsi diete/lei gino/menon. ei) ga\r kai\ to\ pra=gma a)po/lwlen, a)lla\ to/ ge o)/noma filosofi/as e)/ti megaloprepe/s te kai\ a)cia/gaston ei)=nai e)do/kei toi=s metaxeirizome/nois ta\ prw=ta th=s politei/as. h)/dh gou=n pote sune/bh to\n e)piskopou=nta th\n a)ntikeime/nhn ai(/resin *ku/rillon, pario/nta dia\ tou= oi)/kou th=s *(upati/as, i)dei=n polu\n w)qismo\n o)/nta pro\s tai=s qu/rais, e)pimi\c a)ndrw=n te kai\ i(/ppwn, tw=n me\n prosio/ntwn, tw=n de\ a)pio/ntwn, tw=n de\ kai\ prosistame/nwn. e)rwth/santa de\ o(/ ti ei)/h to\ plh=qos kai\ peri\ ou(= kata\ th\n oi)ki/an o( qo/rubos, a)kou=sai para\ tw=n e(pome/nwn, o(/ti prosagoreu/oito nu=n h( filo/sofos *(upati/a kai\ e)kei/nhs ei)=nai th\n oi)ki/an. maqo/nta dh\ ou(/tw dhxqh=nai th\n yuxh/n, w(/ste fo/non au)th=| taxe/ws e)pibouleu=sai, pa/ntwn fo/nwn a)nosiw/taton. proelqou/sh| ga\r kata\ to\ ei)wqo\s e)piqe/menoi polloi\ a)qro/oi qhriw/deis a)/nqrwpoi, w(s a)lhqw=s sxe/tlioi, ou)/te qew=n o)/pin ei)do/tes ou)/t' a)nqrw/pwn ne/mesin a)nairou=si th\n filo/sofon, a)/gos tou=to me/giston kai\ o)/neidos prostreya/menoi th=| patri/di. kai\ o( basileu\s h)gana/kthsen e)pi\ tou/tw|, ei) mh\ *ai)de/sios e)dwrodokh/qh. kai\ tw=n me\n sfage/wn a)fei/leto th\n poinh/n, e)f' e(auto\n de\ kai\ ge/nos to\ a)f' e(autou= tau/thn e)pespa/sato, kai\ e)ce/plhse di/khn o( tou/tou e)/kgonos. tou/twn de\ h( mnh/mh e)/ti sw|zome/nh toi=s *)alecandreu=si sune/stellen ei)s mikro\n komidh= th\n peri\ to\n *)isi/dwron tw=n *)alecandre/wn timh/n te kai\ spoudh/n: o(/te kai\ toiou/tou e)pikremame/nou de/ous, o(/mws e(/kastoi e)/speudon au)tw=| sunei=nai qama\ kai\ tw=n a)po\ tou= swfronou=ntos sto/matos i)o/ntwn a)kroa=sqai lo/gwn. e)pei\ kai\ o(/soi r(htorikw=n proi/+stanto diatribw=n h)\ poihtikw=n, h)spa/zonto th\n tou= filoso/fou suxnh\n o(mili/an. ei) ga\r kai\ a)na/gwgos h)=n ta\ toiau=ta, a)lla\ th=| ge a)/llh| filoso/fw| a)kribei/a| proseti/qei ti kai\ e)kei/nois e)pimele/steron ei)s ta\ sfe/tera au)tw=n texnu/dria. ta/ te ga\r a)/lla dihkri/bwto kai\ tw=n e)pideiknume/nwn lo/gwn te kai\ poihma/twn kri/sin e)poiei=to diafe/rousan tw=n a)/llwn. dio\ kai\ e)n toi=s e)pi/ tini logikh=| a)kroa/sei qea/trois o)li/ga me\n e)ph/|nei tou\s e)pideiknume/nous, kai\ pa/nu h(suxa/zonti tw=| e)pai/nw|: kairi/ws de\ o(/mws kai\ kata\ lo/gon. o(/qen a(/pan to\ qe/atron, w(s ei)pei=n, th=| e)kei/nou kri/sei gnw/moni diexrh=to tw=n a)/meinon h)\ xei=ron lego/ntwn. tw=n de\ e)p' e)mou= gegono/twn kritikou\s a)/ndras e)pi/stamai trei=s ta\ lego/mena kri/nein duname/nous a)/neu te me/trou: tou= ga\r au)tou= h( me\n kri/sis o(mologei=tai ou)=sa poihma/twn kai\ suggramma/twn. e)gw\ de\ kai\ dhmiourgo\n h(gou=mai to\n au)to\n e(kate/rwn: mo/non ei) gumnasi/a pro\s e(ka/teron i)/sh ge/noito kai\ dia\ proqumi/as th=s i)/shs. e(/na de\ tou/twn ou)/ fhmi to\n *)isi/dwron, a)lla\ kai\ pollw=| e)lattou=sqai tw=n triw=n. oi( de\ kritai\ *)aga/pios, *sebhriano/s, *no/mos. h(me/teros de\ h(likiw/ths o( *no/mos.
d. AD 415. See generally OCD(4) s.v.
Athanassiadi (see bibliography) includes parts of this entry at 43A-43C, 43E, and 106B.
This biography of Hypatia consists of fragments from Damascius' Life of Isidore and perhaps from Hesychius of Miletus. General information on Hypatia may be found at web address 1. On Cyril of Alexandria and his possible responsibility, see the Catholic Encyclopedia entry at web address 2.
[1] Theon: theta 205.
[2] Isidore: iota 631. This marriage is chronologically impossible. Photius (Bibliotheca 346b14) quotes Damascius as saying, "Isidore was very different from Hypatia, not only as a man is from a woman, but also as a true philosopher is from a geometrician" (o( *)isi/dwros polu\ diafe/rwn h)=n th=s *(upati/as, ou) mo/non oi(=a gunaiko\s a)nh/r, a)lla\ kai\ oi(=a geometrikh=s tw=| o)/nti filo/sofos). As Asmus points out, the Suda compiler misinterpreted this passage as if it referred to the two philosophers as man and wife.
[3] Flavius Arcadius, Eastern Roman emperor AD 383-408.
[4] On Diophantos, see the notes at delta 1219.
[5] Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria.
[6] Photius reports similar information from Philostorgius the Arian historian, who attributed Hypatia's murder to adherents of the Nicene party (homoousians): Bidez-Winkelmann p. 111.
[7] Menstrual cloths from Ancient Egypt are known from laundry lists. See Jaana Toivari-Viitala Women at Deir el-Medina p. 162 (information from Suzanne Onstine).
[8] cf. Homer, Iliad 21.16.
[9] Athanassiadi believes that the fragment found at upsilon 579 belongs here.
[10] cf. nu 477, sigma 180.
Asmus, J. R. "Zur Rekonstruktion von Damascius' Leben des Isidorus." BZ 18 (1909) 424-480
Belenkiy, Ari, "The Novatian 'Indifferent Canon' and Pascha in Alexandria in 414: Hypatia's Murder Case Reopened." Vigiliae Christianae 70 (2016) 373-400
Damascius, The Philosophical History, ed. & trans. P. Athanassiadi (Athens 1999)
Deakin, Michael, Hypatia of Alexandria: Mathematician and Martyr (2007)
Dzielska, Maria, Hypatia of Alexandria, F. Lyra, tr. (Cambridge MA, 1996)
Rist, J.M., "Hypatia," Phoenix 19 (1965) 214-225
Watts, Edward J., Hypatia: The Life and Legend of an Ancient Philosopher (2017)
Associated internet addresses:
Web address 1,
Web address 2
Keywords: biography; Christianity; chronology; clothing; daily life; ethics; gender and sexuality; geography; history; mathematics; medicine; meter and music; philosophy; poetry; religion; rhetoric; science and technology; women
Translated by: Catharine Roth on 9 December 2002@00:44:11.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (augmented notes and keywords; cosmetics) on 9 December 2002@03:22:29.
Catharine Roth (modified translation with help from Athanassiadi's version; augmented notes) on 8 February 2003@01:05:50.
Patrick T. Rourke (Minor cosmetic issues) on 18 May 2003@22:52:31.
William Hutton (Cosmetics and minor changes in wording; added keywords, set status) on 19 May 2003@08:45:59.
William Hutton (Added bibliography item) on 19 May 2003@21:32:51.
Catharine Roth (added note) on 28 November 2004@23:28:10.
Catharine Roth (added keyword) on 29 September 2005@01:54:09.
Catharine Roth (added another keyword) on 1 October 2005@17:56:30.
David Whitehead (added x-ref to H's father; another keyword) on 4 May 2006@04:10:02.
Catharine Roth (added note 7, augmented bibliography) on 21 March 2008@21:50:30.
Catharine Roth (augmented note 7) on 21 March 2008@22:10:52.
Catharine Roth (added bibliography) on 20 May 2008@15:56:05.
Elizabeth Vandiver (minor cosmetics) on 25 August 2011@21:36:37.
David Whitehead (another keyword; cosmetics; raised status) on 20 November 2013@09:30:28.
David Whitehead on 5 August 2014@06:27:52.
Catharine Roth (augmented bibliography) on 23 April 2017@02:04:46.
Catharine Roth (added bibliographical item) on 1 November 2017@00:47:08.
Catharine Roth (removed defunct link) on 2 November 2017@10:51:22.
Catharine Roth (tweaked translation at the instigation of Ari Belenkiy) on 8 December 2017@01:28:24.
Catharine Roth (modified notes, typo) on 25 January 2018@01:27:09.
Catharine Roth (expanded notes, added bibliography) on 22 July 2018@23:10:08.
Catharine Roth (tweaked link) on 9 October 2020@23:25:53.


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