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During the Middle Ages, Hypatia was co-opted as a symbol of Christian virtue and scholars believe she was part of the basis for the legend of Saint Catherine of Alexandria.During the Age of Enlightenment, she became a symbol of opposition to Catholicism.

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Towards the end of her life, Hypatia advised Orestes, the Roman prefect of Alexandria, who was in the midst of a feud with Cyril, the bishop of Alexandria.In the course of these heated debates, Hypatia herself tended to be cast aside and ignored, while the debates focused far more intently on the question of whether Peter the Lector had acted alone or under Cyril's orders.In 1843, German authors Soldan and Heppe argued in their highly influential History of the Witchcraft Trials that Hypatia may have been, in effect, the first famous "witch" punished under Christian authority (see witch-hunt).Hypatia was renowned in her own lifetime as a great teacher and wise counselor.

Although no writings directly written by her have survived, it is thought that she may have edited the surviving texts of Euclid's Elements and Ptolemy's Almagest and possibly co-written some of the commentaries attributed to her father, Theon of Alexandria.

And in those days there appeared in Alexandria a female philosopher, a pagan named Hypatia, and she was devoted at all times to magic, astrolabes and instruments of music, and she beguiled many people through her Satanic wiles.