Historians believe that Theon wanted Hypatia to be perfect. He taught his daughter to develop her mind as well as her body. She followed a strict physical and educational routine. In addition to learning mathematics and the sciences, Hypatia learned how to be a powerful public speaker and teacher. It is believed that Hypatia surpassed her father’s knowledge, and the two began working together. Hypatia never married, but dedicated her life to her scholarly work.
Eventually, Hypatia became a mathematics and astronomy teacher like her father. She was an extremely captivating and popular lecturer. Students from throughout the world came to Egypt to study under her. Only a few of her written works survived. However, historians learned a lot about Hypatia through letters written about her by her students. In these letters, historians read that Hypatia often wrote about the theories and works of other great mathematicians. Through her own writing, she would expand on their work, offer her own views, or simplify the original author’s explanation of a mathematical idea.
According to a letter written by Hypatia’s former pupil Synesius, she taught her students how to make an astrolabe, a tool used for studying astrology. It is unclear whether or not Hypatia invented the astrolabe, but it is remarkable that she was able to build one on her own. She was also a philosopher who followed the teachings of Plato, a Greek philosopher. At times, her beliefs put her at odds with powerful people. During Hypatia’s time, there was much fighting between religious groups. To some, she was considered a threat. Hypatia was known for speaking publicly about her philosophies. She often drew crowds in the center of the city. She was highly respected, well known in Alexandria, and was good friends with Orestes, the city’s governor. It was her beliefs and association with Orestes that eventually led to her death.
Hypatia was a great leader at a time when men dominated public life. She acted bravely and held firmly to her beliefs when opposition surrounded her on all sides. She is considered a legend, and her interesting life has served as the inspiration for many books and movies.