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Hypatia of Alexandria: Mathematician and Martyr



By: Michael Deakin(Author)

Language: English

Genre: Biography

Publisher: Prometheus Books (1 July 2007)

Format: pdf doc docx mobi djvu epub ibooks (*An electronic version of a printed book that can be read on a computer or handheld device designed specifically for this purpose.)

The original title of the book: Hypatia of Alexandria: Mathematician and Martyr

In the late fourth and early fifth centuries of our era, Hypatia of Alexandria was the world s greatest living mathematician and astronomer. A strikingly beautiful woman and a devoted celibate, she lived in a city as turbulent and troubled as Baghdad or Beirut is today. She achieved fame not only in her special field, but also as a philosopher, religious thinker, and teacher who attracted a large popular following. Her life ended tragically in violence at the hands of a rampaging mob of Christian fanatics, who killed her for her "pagan" beliefs, some say at the instigation of St. Cyril of Alexandria.

This is the first biography of Hypatia to integrate all aspects of her life. Mathematician Michael Deakin emphasizes that, though she was a philosopher, she was first and foremost a mathematician and astronomer of great accomplishment. In a fascinating narrative that brings to life a richly diverse ancient society, he describes her work so that the mathematics, presented in straightforward terms, finds its true place in the context of her life as a whole. Deakin supplies full detail on the historical, intellectual, and religious context of Hypatia s times. He also analyzes the pattern of her life and thought, and finally gives an account of the events leading up to her lynch-mob execution.

Although this outrageous crime has made Hypatia a powerful symbol of intellectual freedom and feminist aspiration to this day, Deakin makes clear that the important intellectual contributions of her life s work should not be overshadowed by her tragic death.

Michael A. B. Deakin (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia) is an honorary research fellow and formerly a senior lecturer in the School of Mathematical Sciences of Monash University.

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  • By Vincent on 12 June 2013

    A clear and concise account of what is known about the philosopher and mathematician Hypatia of Alexandria. Apart from a few errors and over-simplifications in the introductory chapter it provides a reliable account of her life and works. Written by a Professor of the History of Mathematics it perhaps stresses her mathematical studies at the expense of her activities in other branches of philosophy. As such it complements rather than replaces Maria Dzielska's book Hypatia of Alexandria (not available on Kindle). It's particularly to be recommended for its appendix containing all the main ancient sources for her life in translation - it's worth the purchase for that alone. I also really enjoyed Deakin's acerbic footnotes - he doesn't suffer fools gladly. Well worth reading if you have seen the film Agora and want to find out more about this fascinating woman.

  • By New Horizons on 8 March 2013

    One of the few biography on Hypatia of Alexandria and one of the best out there. Would highly recommend as a great read and as a starting point for learning about Hypatia.

  • By ahmet hilmi on 27 April 2013

    Well researched and comprehensive biography of Hypatia. The author successfully tackled diverse areas as church history, philosophy and science. A great read.

  • By GC on 26 June 2011

    I downloaded this book after listening to a recent Philosopher's Zone podcast in which the author, Michael Deakin, discussed Hypatia's life (and death) with Alan Saunders.Most people will know of Hypatia from Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire:"On a fatal day, in the holy season of Lent [415 AD], Hypatia was torn from her chariot, stripped naked, dragged to the church, and inhumanly butchered by the hands of Peter the reader and a troop of savage and merciless fanatics: her flesh was scraped from her bones with sharp oyster-shells, and her quivering limbs were delivered to the flames."How "the modest maid" in "the bloom of beauty and in the maturity of wisdom" came to such a violent end is only part of Hypatia's extraordinary story, for she was the foremost mathematician and astronomer of her age.This wonderfully written book examines Hypatia's life, work and death within the context of the old Hellenistic world's (losing) battle with Christianity and skilfully evokes the violence and turmoil of fifth century Alexandria. This book should appeal to anybody with an interest in ancient history, philosophy, mathematics or Christianity (though the latter, in the form of Saint Cyril, is the villain of the story).Finally, Prometheus Books deserves a word of praise for producing a Kindle book with no annoying formatting errors.

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