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Roman Empire (Byzantine Era) (330 - 1453)
Cyril and Hypatia : A ‘Christian’ mob kidnapped and murdered a much-loved professor of mathematics - for her politics.
Cyril and Hypatia

Hypatia was head of the Philosophical School in Alexandria. She was a very likeable mathematician and astronomer, who numbered pagans, Jews, and several Christian clergymen among her past and present students.

IN 415, the governor of Alexandria, Orestes, imposed new regulations on Jewish dancing festivals. Tensions in the city became strained, as Christians, inconvenienced by the same legislation, were angry with both the governor and the Jews.

Then one Christian, named Ammonius, threw a rock at the Governor and wounded him, and was put to death with torture.

The city’s bishop, Cyril, now faced a dilemma. If he supported Ammonius, he encouraged revolt; if he supported Orestes, he condoned the torture of his own flock.

He pleaded for a meeting, but Orestes refused, and a completely unfounded rumour started that Hypatia, often to be seen closeted with the governor, was behind his refusal.

So a mob of angry Christians pulled Hypatia from her chariot, dragged her into a church, and brutally murdered her.

How Cyril must have despaired at the news; the extinguishing of a bright light of reason beloved by all rightly brought shame on the entire Christian community.

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Picture: From Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public domain. View original
Hypatia, as imagined for a portrait by Czech-German artist Alfred Seifert (1850-1901). She was born in Athens, but moved to Alexandria in Egypt to take up her prestigious position.

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