A greek #astronomer, #philosopher and the earliest known female #mathematician. Now a #feminist icon.

Featuring artwork & words by Dr. Eleonora Adami, Sci-Illustrate Stories.

Hypatia’s work has not survived the test of time. We know however, from other sources and commentaries, that she exceeded her father (the famous scholar Theon) in mathematics and advanced his studies on geometry and number theory. Hypatia commented and edited several ancient texts, such as Diophantus’ Arithmetica and is also known to have worked on Ptolemy’s Book III of the Almagest, the paramount resource for astronomical studies — it described a geocentric universe — until Copernicus came along.
Being able to range over diverse fields, Hypatia proved to have a very versatile mind. She seems to have been instrumental in the invention of the hydrometer (measures relative density of liquids) and the astrolabe (2d model of the celestial sphere).

Hypatia lived in Alexandria in an unstable historical moment. She was a well-respected public figure, proud of her Greek heritage. Her lectures on Neoplatonist philosophy always attracted a wide audience, but soon ignited hatred in those who considered her pagan and heretical.
Rumors began to spread accusing her of being the reason why Orestes, the Roman prefect of Alexandria, whom she served as personal advisor, would not reconcile a dispute with Cyril, the bishop.

In March 415 AD she was brutally murdered by Christian extremists.

We now remember Hypatia perhaps more because of the tragic circumstances of her death, rather than her intellectual contributions.
In the 20th century she arose as a symbol of enlightenment in the face of ignorance and prejudice and and as an icon for the feminist movement.

Hypatia in art:
Do you remember the famous painting by Raphael “School of Athens”?

…well, among all the philosophers and celebrities of ancient Greece, there’s a woman! Try to spot her:

Hypatia in movies:
Agorà (A. Amenábar, 2009). Hypatia is interpreted by Rachel Weisz. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1186830/

About the author and artist


Content editor and contributing artist
Women in Science, Sci-Illustrate Stories

Eleonora is a proud descendant of ancient Romans. Besides that, she is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at Duke-NUS in Singapore, working in the cardiovascular and metabolic diseases area. She has a biotechnology (BSc) and functional genomics (MSc) background, and has obtained her PhD in molecular biology and genetics in Germany before going to the far east.

Eleonora thinks of herself as a carrier pigeon, always on the go, trying to find new adventures and challenges. Ok, maybe pigeons are not very adventurous, but they were once useful to deliver important messages. One of the messages she likes to bring across is that we need more art in scientific practices. Creative thinking benefits both disciplines.
A passion for illustration has always accompanied her and percolates in her scientific work. She started the collaboration with the Sci-Illustrate team after attending their course on scientific illustration.

About this series:

Not enough can be said about the amazing Women in Science who did and continue to do their part in moving the world forward.

Every month, through the artwork & words of the Sci-Illustrate team, we will bring to you profiles of women who touched our hearts (and brains) with their scientific works, and of many more who currently hold the flag high in their own fields!

-Dr. Radhika Patnala, Series Director



A home for all our passion projects at Sci-Illustrate. A place where we invite you into our journey through art, science, and everything in between.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store

Passion for science and art coming together in beautiful harmony to tell stories that inspire us