Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hypatia in the Athenian Agora

I have just finished watching At The Movies with Margaret and David, and of course they review "Agora" the new film about the legendary Alexandrian female philosopher Hypatia. Her murder by a Christian mob is one of those scandals, like the Galileo affair and the Spanish Inquisition, which the heirs of the Englightenment like to cite against the Church's record.

Anyway, Margaret really liked it and gave it 4 stars, and David gave it 4.5. Both said that it had real substance and an important message. When I hear these two say that kind of thing, I usually find myself wondering if the message they are applauding is truth or ideology.

Ideology, it turns out in this case. I could write a fair bit here, but others have done the job already. Check out: Fr Barron's piece
The Dangerous Silliness of the new movie Agora at the National Catholic Register; Mark Shea's blog at the same place; "History of Violence: Agora, Hypatia and Enlightenment Mythology" at the Decent Films Guide; Sherry's piece at the Catherine of Siena Institute; and Tim O'Neill's "wry, dry, rather sarcastic, eccentric, silly, rather arrogant Irish-Australian atheist bastard" opinion at his blog "Amarium Magnum".


At Thursday, November 11, 2010 5:39:00 pm , Anonymous Bear said...

I am sure that the film will portray her as a great Mathematician. However, there are a couple of things to note:

1. She and her father actually contributed nothing to the field - they were simply Neoplatonists who commented on Euclid's books of Geometry.

2. She "corrected" Euclid by introducing errors into the proofs.

3. In her other "corrections" in which she did not introduce errors, she changed proofs from being elegant to being longer, clumsier and much less clear.

So, what great contributions to the field!!!

All the legends of her beauty and brilliance come quite a few years after she was murdered, and read like the most egregious hagiography.

She is now the darling of the Secularists who portray her as a martyr, and as a role model for women in technical fields. However, upon inspection, she was a spoiled rich girl, who had her position in the academy because of daddy, and she underperformed.

At Friday, November 12, 2010 1:36:00 am , Anonymous Pr Mark Henderson said...

I was squirming in my chair as David and Margaret waxed lyrical about this film. So predictable! The interview with the director only served to confirm my long-held view that "serious films" are the preserve of pseudo-intellectuals.

At Friday, November 12, 2010 3:40:00 am , Anonymous Paul G said...

I think all films are mere entertainment, and definitely not "art" by any definition of art. Their only function is to provide an evening's entertainment with people you don't like talking to. For the youngsters: be concerned if your boy/girlfriend asks you to see a film.

At Friday, November 12, 2010 8:12:00 am , Anonymous Anthony said...

If you are interetsted in facts about science and religion, including the Hypatia story I recommend "Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths About Science and Religion." The book is a series of essays on some of the myths, written by academics in a very readable format. They represent a group of philosophers, especially those in the philosophy of science realm, research and theoretical scientists. They come from a variety of religious backgrounds and none. It is a really good read.

At Friday, November 12, 2010 11:23:00 am , Anonymous Schütz said...

Thanks, old boy.

At Friday, November 12, 2010 12:02:00 pm , Anonymous Christine said...

Well, the minute I saw that Lion's Gate distributed this film out I didn't expect any kind of historical fidelity to the story of Hypatia.

First Things does indeed have a very interesting critique on the matter, thanks to Pastor Pearce for pointing it out.

At Saturday, November 13, 2010 2:15:00 am , Anonymous William Tighe said...

Why "in the Athenian Agora?" Hypatia lived in Alexandria, and the very picture at the top seems to show her looking out into the Mediterranean towards the famous Pharos (or lighthouse) in the harbour of Alexandria. I don't know whether she had any connections with Athens, or even visited it.


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