In an earlier paper I suggested that the murder of the Alexandrian philosopher Hypatia by a clique of Bishop Cyril’s zealots resulted from her involvement in the conflict between the Roman and Alexandrian Churches regarding the date of Easter in the year 417. The murder would have been committed in March 416 after she had performed controversial astronomical observations that supported the Roman date over the Alexandrian one.
This version faces severe problems from various sides. Therefore, I suggest here another scenario, where an unorthodox position of the Novatian Church on determining the time of Easter and early Passover celebration in 414 triggered the chain of events leading to Hypatia’s murder. This scenario places the murder in March 415 and offers a unique time frame for all the related events. Here Hypatia displays astronomy skills that justify her subsequent historical reputation. I also shed light on the immediate circumstances of her murder, specifically suggesting it happened on the day she was making the equinoctial observations.
Finally, I propose instituting a memorial day for Hypatia on the day of the vernal equinox.
Both tables can be found in Mosshammer (2008) 210-14.
Mosshammer (2008) 209.
Sirat C. Caudelier P.Dukan M. and Friedman M.A. La Ketouba de Cologne: un contrat de marriage juif à Antinoopolis. Papyrologica Coloniensia 12 (Opladen 1986) 20.
Bickerman (1980) 49correctly gives the sequence of the Alexandrian leap years. Yet he incorrectly claims that the Alexandrian year always began on August 29. See Bagnall R.S. and K.A. Worp The Chronological Systems of Byzantine Egypt (Zutphen 1978) 95-102.
Belenkiy A.“ ‘Shana Meuberet’, ‘Theory of Others’ and the origins of the Christian Ecclesiastical calendar,”Oriens Christianus94 (2010) 147-75.
Toomer (1998) 247. Here 1´ (arcmin) = 1/60th part of 1º.
Evans (1998) 206.
Evans (1998) ibid.
As maintained by Robert Newton (1977) 98this wrong expectation could be a major reason why the conspicuous lateness of Ptolemy’s equinoxes went undetected for almost three centuries. Another reason could be a sizeable error inherent in observing with non-stationary instruments like a hand quadrant (a “little astrolabe”). This I shall discuss elsewhere.