Agora – a movie about Hypatia of Alexandria

This weekend, I watched the 2009 release of Agora starring Rachel Weisz as Hypatia of Alexandria.   She was perhaps the greatest female literary scholar, mathematician, and philosopher of antiquity, and the last librarian of the great library of Alexandria — a storehouse of writings that was burned by Christian monks in the 4th century.  Symbolically, her death represented the end of classical antiquity and the beginning of the dark ages of Christianity.  She is a true secular martyr.  Hypatia was killed by a mob of christian monks for being religiously dangerous.  She was accused of witchcraft and being a harlot. 

One of the most pathetic scenes in the movie shows Hypatia empirically studying the stars to determine if the heliocentric model is correct while on the other side of the city Christian monks talk about the earth being flat topped with a hard dome and how people should exercise caution lest they fall off the sides of the earth.

One of her students wrote of her:

There was a woman at Alexandria named Hypatia, daughter of the philosopher Theon, who made such attainments in literature and science, as to far surpass all the philosophers of her own time. Having succeeded to the school of Plato and Plotinus, she explained the principles of philosophy to her auditors, many of whom came from a distance to receive her instructions. On account of the self-possession and ease of manner, which she had acquired in consequence of the cultivation of her mind, she not unfrequently appeared in public in presence of the magistrates. Neither did she feel abashed in going to an assembly of men. For all men on account of her extraordinary dignity and virtue admired her the more.[14]
—Socrates Scholasticus, Ecclesiastical History

It infuriates me what religion can do to harm genuine interest in the real world, and to divide humanity!  Oh the hubris that is only possible with belief!


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