Saturday, 23 May 2009

Hoping For Hypatia's Justice

Right now, I am having a total geekgasm with the upcoming film Agora, directed by Alejandro Amenabar and starring Rachel Weisz as Hypatia of Alexandria. It has just premiered at Cannes and is due for general release in December. I have been waiting for this since for ever! Her extraordinary life and brutal death had always struck me with awe and sadness.

Some people "blame" religion for her death. I disagree that it was religion per se. Her religion served her well, obviously. It was ignorance and fanaticism - the religion of the Christian mob of that time - that served her a brutal death, and for all of us - the destruction of an entire library of precious knowledge and the plunging of Alexandria and the Hellenistic world into a dark age, thus "El mundo cambió para siempre" (The world was changed forever). I mourn for that time in history. Sad day for reason, philosophy, scientific learning, and even religion.

A little more information on Hypatia:
Hypatia (high-pay-shah in English, hu-pat-tea-ya in Greek) of Alexandria was a Greek scholar from Alexandria in Egypt, considered the first notable woman in mathematics, who also taught philosophy and astronomy.

Her contributions to science are reputed to include the charting of celestial bodies and the invention of the hydrometer, used to determine the relative density and gravity of liquids. Her pupil Synesius, bishop of Cyrene, wrote a letter defending her as the inventor of the astrolabe, although earlier astrolabes predate Hypatia's model by at least a century - and her father had gained fame for his treatise on the subject.

One day in March 415, during the season of Lent, her chariot was waylaid on her route home by a Christian mob who blamed her for religious turmoil. Some suggest that her murder marked the end of the Hellenistic Age, although others observe pagan philosophy continued to flourish until the age of Justinian in the sixth century.

The Christian monks stripped her naked and dragged her through the streets to the newly Christianised Caesareum church, where she was brutally killed. Some reports suggest she was flayed with ostrakois (literally, "oyster shells", though also used to refer to sharp roof tiles or broken pottery) and set ablaze while still alive, though other accounts suggest those actions happened after her death.

You can watch the teaser trailer here in its official site or in YouTube.


  1. "the world was changed forever."

    too sad, too true.


  2. hey aldrin. :) i can't wait for this one too! it's a plus that rachel weisz is playing her.