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2240Re: Please Post Message-Thanks

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  • vaeringjar
    Nov 7, 2008
      > I've not seen this book yet (thanks for mentioning it) but I did
      read
      > the biography of Hypatia by Maria Dzielska:
      >
      > http://www.amazon.com/Hypatia-Alexandria-Revealing-Antiquity-
      > Dzielska/dp/0674437764/

      I found a review of it online, by a mathematics professor, and the
      author of the new biography is himself a mathematician, but it is
      still a general biography. The review was not all positive -
      apparently Deakin spends a goodly amount of time analyzing theories
      of the Trinity - I haven't studied Hypatia in a long time, since I
      read Dzielska's book, but I can't for the life of me fathom why he
      would need to delve into that subject in a biography of Hypatia, and
      the reviewer furthermore faulted him for citing Augustine on the
      subject as inappropriate, too Western, for Alexandria. The new book
      does have the advantage of including all the relevant primary source
      material on Hypatia - not that that takes up too many pages, but
      always nice to have such things in one place for handy reference, I
      suppose.

      It's been ages - 10 years? - since I read Dzielska, but I vaguely
      remember being rather disappointed by it, though admittedly I don't
      remember exactly why.

      Edward Watts has a recent piece on her that I have not read yet in
      the collection <Violence in Late Antiquity>, and he discusses her in
      his <City and School> book. Parts of the recent essay are online at
      Google books:

      http://books.google.com/books?
      id=NbYd3WXfc1cC&pg=PA333&lpg=PA333&dq=edward+watt+hypatia&source=web&o
      ts=lNL7NatqeE&sig=YqkukupQYm1aTS-
      axUxQLA4mNJI&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result

      >
      > The editorial review of the Deakins book says: "Her life ended
      > tragically in violence at the hands of a rampaging mob of Christian
      > fanatics, who killed her for her 'pagan' beliefs" -- which is of
      > course the popular view (epitomized by the portrayal of Edward
      > Gibbon).
      >
      > It seems implausible to me that Hypatia would have been killed
      merely
      > for "pagan beliefs." First, from the Dzielska book, it seems that
      > there was a serious political struggle going on in which Hypatia
      was
      > centrally involved', and a political motive seems more likely.
      >
      > Further, it seems implausible that an accusation merely of pagan
      > beliefs would incite a mob action; I seem to recall in the Dzielska
      > book that the accusations more concerned specific charges of
      > witchcraft -- alleged magical activities which intentionally
      produced
      > certain evils that befell the Alexandarians (or the Christian
      > community).
      >
      > John Uebersax
      >

      As Prof Dillon said, Cyril has the blood mostly if not all on his
      hands here, and it's mostly political, as she got caught in a
      political struggle between him and the city prefect Orestes, but I
      still have to wonder if her pagan status didn't also contribute to
      her demise, or at least to the extremely vicious nature of it, or at
      least it didn't help matters. Hard to say, perhaps unless one could
      get into the heads of the perpetrators of such hideous acts. Watts
      describes the whole affair in that new article.

      Personally I wonder how much of all that will be in the new film. I
      can imagine it not being handled all that well, but in this case one
      thing is certain: there is no need to hype the ugliness for dramatic
      effect - life itself was quite cruel enough at the end for Hypatia
      without any need for artistic license or exaggeration.

      Dennis Clark
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