Hypatia also taught philosophy and became the leader of the Neoplatonist movement in Alexandria.
Neoplatonism was based on the teachings of the fifth century B.C. Greek philosopher Plato.
Followers of Neoplatonism believed in the perfection of the human soul through virtue, love of beauty, and intellectual pursuits.
They also believed in the existence of a reality beyond man’s comprehension. Many scientists and other scholars believed in Neoplatonism because of its emphasis on the intellect, but it was looked upon as a terrible threat by others.
Alexandria was a place of tremendous political and religious turmoil in Hypatia’s time as different religious groups fought for power.
A Christian bishop came to power in A.D. 385 and took over pagan, or non-Christian, temples for the church. Statues of pagan gods were destroyed, and religious scrolls from the Alexandria library were burned.
In A.D. 412, Cyril became the new Christian bishop and he wanted even more power for the church.
The local Roman governor, Orestes, tried to oppose Cyril and had the support of Hypatia, a very influential figure in the city.
Cyril accused Hypatia of witchcraft and black magic. He said she even had satanic powers.
One night in A.D. 415, a Christian mob attacked Hypatia and murdered her.