Knowledge can be a wonderful thing, but in the case of the ancient philosopher and mathematician Hypatia of Alexandria, it also lead to her doom.
Hypatia was one of the most important intellectuals of Byzantine Empire in the 4th Century, and she was also a woman.
Her story is both inspiring and terrifying.
Hypatia was born around 355, when the Roman empire had just split, leaving Alexandria in a disconnected state of religious and social unrest.
Members of all religions - Christians, Jews, and pagans - were now living together in perpetual strife.
Over the next few decades, their constant clashes would wipe out even more of the library's contents as they struggled to define their new boundaries.
The Egyptian city of Alexandria was founded by Alexander the Great in 331 BC - about 600 years before Hypatia was born.
Alexandria became a culturally sophisticated region of the world in a rather short amount of time.
It was not only a beautiful city, but it held the Library of Alexandria, which contained more than half a million ancient scrolls.
The city overflowed with artifacts and became a place where intellectualism could thrive, despite the ever-present degree of ignorance, slavery, violence, and religious strife.
Alexandria offered man the opportunity to pull himself from the muck of fear, and embrace something larger than himself through the power of thought.
And in the case of Hypatia, women as well.
Hypatia was a thinker of the highest order, a teacher, and an inventor - but she was also a pagan and was not afraid to speak her mind in a landscape of religious separatism, conflict, and fear.
Being a woman of intelligence, beauty, and strength could not save her from the shocking end she would meet at the hands of her own people.
During a dangerous time when science and religion were often pitted against one another, it was precisely her knowledge and fearlessness that would place a target on her back.
Her life of excellence would come to mean nothing, as a clash of powerful men rendered her one of the most tragic scapegoats in history.
Hypatia had many admirers, one of whom was the civil governor of the city, Orestes .
He was mostly a pagan and often in league with the Jewish community, who did not want to give all of Alexandria over to the Christian church.
Despite his complicated beliefs, he supported the separation of church and state, and defended both Hypatia and her father Theon.
Of course, Cyril and Orestes clashed, specifically around the time when the Jews began a violent conflict with the Christians.
As a result, Cyril turned aggressively on the Jews and expelled them from the city, looting their homes and temples.
Orestes was appalled and complained to the Roman government in Constantinople.
Cyril tried to apologize for his rash decision, but Orestes refused the reconciliation and was subsequently targeted for assassination by 500 of Cyrils pernicious monks.
Even though Hypatia was not involved directly in these proceedings, she was a friend of Orestes and pontificated in the realm of non-Christian theology - two things that made her an easy target for an increasingly angry sect.
In such a male-dominant political struggle, it made sense to target the woman who did not accept the ways of the dominant paradigm, but used her intelligence to cast doubt upon their devotions.
Hypatia was a woman of intelligence and accomplishment - something quite unusual for women of the time.
A woman like Hypatia was greatly feared by many in Alexandria.
Because of this - and the fact she believed in paganism - many accused her of worshiping Satan. She had to be silenced for good.
A magistrate named Peter the Lector gathered his fellow religious zealots, and hunted her down as she made her way from giving a lecture at the university.
They ripped her from her carriage and proceeded to tear her clothes, pulling her along by her hair through the streets of the city.
The group then dragged her into a nearby church where they stripped her and grabbed whatever they could find to destroy her.
In this case it was the roofing tiles and oyster shells that laid around the freshly constructed building.
With them, they tore her flesh from her body, skinning her alive in the name of all Christiandom.
Her remains were then ripped apart and burned at the altar.
The University of Alexandria, where she and her father Theon had taught, was burned to the ground as a sign of intolerance.
In the aftermath of her slaying, there was a mass exodus of intellectuals and artists who feared for their own safety.
A newly-minted sense of Christian power was installed in the great city......
Sometimes death is a symbol that survives the test of time.
Hundreds of years after her assassination, Hypatia - a Renaissance-style intellectual who defended the separation of church and state - lives on, associated with the struggle for freedom.
Death of Hypatia', by Alexis Clerc, from the late 19th century.