Hypatia of Alexandriaby Maria Dzielska
Pub. Date: 10/28/1996
Hypatiabrilliant mathematician, eloquent Neoplatonist, and a woman renowned for her beautywas brutally murdered by a mob of Christians in Alexandria in 415. She has been a legend ever since. In this engrossing book, Maria Dzielska searches behind the legend to bring us the real story of Hypatia's life and death, and new insight into her colorful
Hypatiabrilliant mathematician, eloquent Neoplatonist, and a woman renowned for her beautywas brutally murdered by a mob of Christians in Alexandria in 415. She has been a legend ever since. In this engrossing book, Maria Dzielska searches behind the legend to bring us the real story of Hypatia's life and death, and new insight into her colorful world.
Historians and poets, Victorian novelists and contemporary feminists have seen Hypatia as a symbolof the waning of classical culture and freedom of inquiry, of the rise of fanatical Christianity, or of sexual freedom. Dzielska shows us why versions of Hypatia's legend have served her champions' purposes, and how they have distorted the true story. She takes us back to the Alexandria of Hypatia's day, with its Library and Museion, pagan cults and the pontificate of Saint Cyril, thriving Jewish community and vibrant Greek culture, and circles of philosophers, mathematicians, astronomers, and militant Christians. Drawing on the letters of Hypatia's most prominent pupil, Synesius of Cyrene, Dzielska constructs a compelling picture of the young philosopher's disciples and her teaching. Finally she plumbs her sources for the facts surrounding Hypatia's cruel death, clarifying what the murder tells us about the tensions of this tumultuous era.
Table of Contents
I The Literary Legend of Hypatia
II Hypatia and Her Circle
III The Life and Death of Hypatia
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What I dislike about this book is that it basically argues that Hypatia didn't believe in the Greek Gods, but that she was of course a Platonist and a practitioner of ancient Hellenism. To say you practice ancient Hellenism but don't believe in the Greek Gods, is like saying you practice Christianity but don't believe in Jesus. The author clearly doesn't understand Hellenism. Of course Hypatia believed in the Greek Gods, even though she may have viewed them differently than many people in the general population in certain cases. As for being a Platonist, you also cannot read Plato's Dialogues without seeing that he also clearly believes in the Greek Gods. He philosophizes about them in the realm of reality constantly. I think a lot of modern "historians" with religious agendas try to craft history into what they want, especially when it comes to the Greek philosophers.