Hypatia was a Greek mathematician, astronomer and philosopher who lived in Alexandria, Egypt, in the late 4th - early 5th century, when Egypt was a Roman province. The reliable facts about her life are limited, but they arguably suffice for an idea of her type.
was the head of the Platonist school of Alexandria; her father, Theon,
was also a mathematician who edited and commented on Euclid's works. No
works by Hypatia herself survive but besides some historical narratives
we have the letters her former student Synesius, as bishop of a
neighboring province, wrote to her. They include a request for her to
build him a hydrometer, the earliest historical mention of that device,
and a discussion on astrolabes. From his letters, and the accounts, it
is clear that Hypatia was highly respected not just because of her
academic standing but as a person of wisdom and integrity. It is also
likely that many among the upper classes of Alexandria had been among
her students, or their children. She was therefore seen as having easy
access to the local ruling elite. She was described as "in speech
articulate and logical, in her actions prudent and public-spirited, and
the rest of the city gave her suitable welcome and accorded her special
respect" and also that she was noted for "self-possession and ease of
Hypatia's unusual, perhaps unique, status
as a female leading mathematician, scientist, and philosopher in one of
most prestigious centers of learning of the time already gives further
hints to her character and personality. First, already very unusual for
anyone of the upper classes, and extremely unusual for a woman, she
never married. Apart from deep personal issues we can't be aware of,
this suggests that she preferred to maintain her personal, professional,
and even financial independence (as at the time she would legally fall
under the authority of a husband). On this, there is further the story
that she rebuffed the romantic overtures of a student by handing him her
menstrual rags and saying "this is what you're in love with".
in Hypatia's time was going through intense political and religious
turmoil which included gangs of the different communities - Christian,
Jews, pagans - viciously fighting one another and also against the
secular authorities. Eventually there was a sort of showdown between the
bishop, Cyril, and Orestes, the prefect, the official authority of the
Roman Empire. Hypatia was known to be often sought by Orestes for
advice. She was therefore blamed by Cyril's 'paramilitary force', the
parabalani, for Orestes's refusal to make a deal (i.e. share power) with
Cyril. The parabalani - perhaps on Cyril's orders - attacked Hypatia on
the street, took her inside a church, and lynched her to death.
hostile Christian writer described her as "pagan woman who had
beguiled the people of the city and the prefect through her
enchantments". It is interesting that not even a hostile account accuses
her of having an affair with Orestes.
What we have,
then, is a fiercely independent woman with a strong interest in science
and practical inventions, who was respected by her students as a
teacher and source of advice (as per Synesius' letters) and who
obviously maintained good personal relationships with selected
individuals. But also a person uncomfortable with the idea of romantic
relationships and who preferred to rebuff advances with blunt, even rude
gestures that made very clear what she thought and did not try to spare
Further, Hypatia comes across as
a person who was probably seen as very cold and aloof by those who did
not know her closely; a person lacking in obvious charm (so she could
only have had influence on Orestes through 'magic' etc.) and also someone
seemingly unconcerned with her public image, and not aware of the
political danger she was getting into simply by being seen as giving
advice to Orestes.
What we can conclude about
Hypatia gives us the image of a person with the Gamma and especially LIE
and SEE inclination for personal independence, weak and non valued E,
weak but valued R, not valued S, and very confident in P and L. What we
know of Hypatia fits LIE best.
Recommended reading and sources: due to the scarcity of primary sources, the best place to start in Hypatia's case is indeed her entry in Wikipedia, and the links there. Synesius's letters, including those to Hypatia, are available at Livius.org .
To learn more about LIE, click here.
If you are confused by our use of Socionics shorthand, click here.