Hypatia

I just got done reading the book Theophany by Eric D Perl.  I didn’t know Hypatia was a neoplatonist at the time I finished the book.  I knew of her, and I liked her, but Hollywood portrayed her as either atheist/pagan.  Which is probably the bastardized christianized version of her beliefs.

Well, I am a neoplatonist, and when I read that she was, but not just was, but was the HEAD OF THE ACADEMY.  I had to take a moment to collect myself and give her her proper respect as the first female martyr for neoplatonism.  She’s a saint and my new Matron, and now thanks to Dionysius’ work, I understand what her beliefs were (Dionysius work was probably a response to her massacre to inject ideas of neoplatonism into Christianity).

I am sorry Hypatia.  You are not forgotten.  You will never be.

Damascius

The Suda (Y166) says that some blamed Cyril for the death of Hypatia, others “the inveterate insolence and rebelliousness of the Alexandrians.” She is described as just, chaste, beautiful—

Although she was a woman she put on a man’s cloak and made her way into the centre of the city and gave to those who wanted to listen public lectures about Plato or Aristotle or about some other philosophers. In addition to her teaching she also excelled in the practical arts, being just and chaste, she remained a virgin, though she was so beautiful to look at that one of her pupils fell in love with her. When he was no longer able to control his passion, he let her know how he felt about her. The uneducated stories have it that Hypatia told him to cure his disease through the study of the arts. But the truth is that he had long since given up on culture; instead, she brought in one of those women’s rags and threw it at him, revealing her unclean nature, and said to him, “This is what you are in love with, young man, and not with the Beautiful,” and in shame and wonder at this ugly display his soul was converted and he became more chaste.

“both skillful and eloquent in words and prudent and civil in deeds. The rest of the city loved and honored her exceptionally….So then once it happened that Cyril who was bishop of the opposing faction, passing by the house of Hypatia, saw that there was a great pushing and shoving against the doors, ‘of men and horses together,’ some approaching, some departing, and some standing by. When he asked what crowd this was and what the tumult at the house was, he heard from those who followed that the philosopher Hypatia was now speaking and that it was her house. When he learned this, his soul was bitten with envy, so that he immediately plotted her death, a most unholy of all deaths. For as she came out as usual many close-packed ferocious men, truly despicable, fearing neither the eye of the gods nor the vengeance of men, killed the philosopher, inflicting this very great pollution and shame on their homeland.””

Sauce: http://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/greece/paganism/hypatia.html

Sauce: http://www.stoa.org/diotima/anthology/wlgr/wlgr-religion451.shtml

Socrates

Cyril of Alexandria
Normal Russel
The Early Church Fathers

pg 8

Socrates Eccl. Hist. 7.13

Cyril’s attempt at reconciliation – holding out the book of the Gospels for Orestes to kiss – was rejected. A public display of submission to Christ, and by implication to his minister, was not calculated to enhance the prefect’s authority. Orestes submitted a report of the whole affair to Constantinople. Cyril sent in a counter-report claiming that the Christians had been provoked.

Synesius

Her most adoring pupil was Synesius of Cyrene, a bishop consecrated by Theophilus himself. He addresses seven letters (one a fragment) to Hypatia and refers to her in several more. He laments not hearing from her (Ep.10), accounting her “as the only good thing that remains inviolate, along with virtue. You always have power, and long may you have it and make a good use of that power” (Ep.81). Indeed, about the time of his death (a year or two before her own), he dictated a letter to her as “mother, sister, teacher, and withal benefactress, and whatsoever is honoured in name and deed” (Ep.16). She is the one “who legitimately presides over the mysteries of philosophy” (Ep.137) and “my most revered teacher,” who had contributed to the design of a silver astrolabe that Synesius was to present as a gift (Letter to Paeonius). He also requested from her a brass hydroscope (hydrometer) to measure the specific gravity of liquids, describing the device to her in detail (Ep.15). A philosopher, which is how Synesius repeatedly addresses her, Hypatia may have studied with Antoninus, who had prophesied the destruction of the Serapeum.

The Suda (Y166) says that some blamed Cyril for the death of Hypatia, others “the inveterate insolence and rebelliousness of the Alexandrians.” She is described as just, chaste, beautiful—

“both skillful and eloquent in words and prudent and civil in deeds. The rest of the city loved and honored her exceptionally….So then once it happened that Cyril who was bishop of the opposing faction, passing by the house of Hypatia, saw that there was a great pushing and shoving against the doors, ‘of men and horses together,’ some approaching, some departing, and some standing by. When he asked what crowd this was and what the tumult at the house was, he heard from those who followed that the philosopher Hypatia was now speaking and that it was her house. When he learned this, his soul was bitten with envy, so that he immediately plotted her death, a most unholy of all deaths. For as she came out as usual many close-packed ferocious men, truly despicable, fearing neither the eye of the gods nor the vengeance of men, killed the philosopher, inflicting this very great pollution and shame on their homeland.”

Twenty-five years earlier, Theophilus had forbidden pagan cults and destroyed the Serapeum at Alexander. Having only recently taken his uncle’s place, Cyril needed his own triumph over paganism. Envious of Hypatia (according to Damascius), he plotted to have her killed. John of Nikiu relates (LXXXIV.101-103) that the philosopher was stripped and dragged through the streets until she died; then her body was burned. “And all the people surrounded the patriarch Cyril and named him ‘the new Theophilus’; for he had destroyed the last remains of idolatry in the city.”

For Gibbon, however, “the murder of Hypatia has imprinted an indelible stain on the character and religion of Cyril of Alexandria” (Decline and Fall, XLVII). Three decades later, Cyril himself would be dead, unlamented by Theodoret, bishop and author of an ecclesiastical history, whose friend Nestorius, patriarch of Constantinople, had been attacked by Cyril for not accepting that Mary truly was theotokos, the mother of God.

“At last and with difficulty the villain has gone. The good and the gentle pass away all too soon; the bad prolong their life for years. The Giver of all good, methinks, removes the former before their time from the troubles of humanity; He frees them like victors from their contests and transports them to the better life, that life which, free from death, sorrow and care, is the prize of them that contend for virtue. They, on the other hand, who love and practise wickedness are allowed a little longer to enjoy this present life, either that sated with evil they may afterwards learn virtue’s lessons, or else even in this life may pay the penalty for the wickedness of their own ways by being tossed to and fro through many years of this life’s sad and wicked waves. This wretch, however, has not been dismissed by the ruler of our souls like other men, that he may possess for longer time the things which seem to be full of joy. Knowing that the fellow’s malice has been daily growing and doing harm to the body of the Church, the Lord has lopped him off like a plague and ‘taken away the reproach from Israel.’ His survivors are indeed delighted at his departure. The dead, maybe, are sorry. There is some ground of alarm lest they should be so much annoyed at his company as to send him back to us.”

Sauce: http://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/greece/paganism/hypatia.html

Ode

After my father’s death, I came to Los Angeles under new employment searching for meaning and inspiration, and so I reflected…

About 3 years ago, I met a woman whose tenacity I respected. To show appreciation for her ‘bios’, I made artwork showcasing pre-abrahamic Western female role models.

In Plato’s Republic, Plato speaks about being mindful what stories the Guardians expose the youth to, as they serve as models of behavior.

Little did I know that my art was a projection of a neoplatonic archetype/bios I was exposed to almost a decade prior from the film Agora.

Full circle, I find it symbolic that this realization comes after finishing the book Theophany (~contemporaneous to Neoplatonic beliefs of the time) which is after my father’s death and just prior to me leaving Los Angeles to return to work for AT&T in El Segundo.

Hypatia, you inspired me, even down to my Data Science degree and I hope to dedicate my graduation to you.

Bios

word-forming element, from Greek bio- , comb. form of bios “one’s life, course or way of living, lifetime” (as opposed to zoe “animal life, organic life”), from PIE root *gweie- “to live” (cf. … The correct usage is that in biography, but in modern science it has been extended to mean “organic life.”

11:30 Minute Bios Video as adapted from Film Agora

I should comment that bishop Synesius was a loyal fan of Hypatias until his death (a year or two before Hypatia’s own) and the bit in the bios edit where he is pressuring Orestes is added for effect of what Orestes was most likely going through at the time by his Christian contemporaries and not necessarily from Synesius himself, although I’m sure Synesius probably had to struggle with such doctrines himself. (edited)

St Catherine of the catholic church is said to be modeled after Hypatia. Misappropriation if that’s the case.

I left the church over the same verses read in this film

To get an idea of how she viewed her Christian contemporaries, I recommend the chapter on Porphyry (note, a follower of textual criticism himself) or Julian from one of my first historical critical reads by Robert Wilken ‘Christians As the Romans Saw Them’.  On another note some historians have argued the verse read in the movie isn’t historically accurate (to the scene) and may have been interpolated, regardless arguably by this time, interpolated or not, it was written canon and I believe the sentiment raised by the movie is warranted

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/135143.The_Christians_as_the_Romans_Saw_Them

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