Rachel Weisz to Play Atheist in New Movie

There’s a movie coming out at the end of the year called Agora — it just premiered at the Cannes Film Festival this past week. Here’s the basic synopsis:

A historical drama set in Roman Egypt, concerning a slave who turns to the rising tide of Christianity in the hopes of pursuing freedom while also falling in love with his master, the famous female philosophy professor and atheist Hypatia of Alexandria.

Hypatia was a little-known but brilliant woman — a mathematician, astronomer, philosopher, librarian… and atheist. When Christians tried to take over Alexandria, it was Hypatia who saved a number of rare books from their destructive hands. The Christian mob later labeled her a witch, stripped her, and set her on fire. She’s a hero and martyr for atheists if ever there was one.

Every year, in her honor, the Freedom From Religion Foundation hosts the Lake Hypatia Advance (because atheists shouldn’t retreat!) in Alabama.

Who will be playing Hypatia in the movie?

The beautiful Rachel Weisz:

weisz2

Yummy.

What does Weisz have to say about Hypatia and this movie?

“Really, nothing has changed. I mean, we have huge technological advances and medical advances, but in terms of people killing each other in the name of God, fundamentalism still abounds,” Weisz said. “And in certain cultures, women are still second-class citizens, and they’re denied education.”

She’s no Amber Heard, but I’m still excited to see this. Now, I just have to wait until December…

(Image courtesy of tccandler.com)

  • http://cannonballjones.wordpress.com Cannonball Jones

    Excellent, now I’m even more in love with her :p

  • http://tyciol.livejournal.com Tyciol

    I think she`s hotter than Heard, personally. Anyway this movie sounds great. I hate that such great people were killed by savages.

  • Miko

    When Christians tried to take over Alexandria, it was Hypatia who saved a number of rare books from their destructive hands.

    This claim is debatable. Seeing as the destruction of the Museum at Alexandria was one of the greatest tragedies in history, many groups have attempted to blame it on whatever group they happen not to like. More probable is that the vast majority of the library was destroyed when Julius Caesar lit the harbor on fire to aid his escape after a battle, although there’s some evidence that Marc Antony may have helped Cleopatra restock the library afterward. But then suspicion is that the majority of the papyrus scrolls (not books, which didn’t exist at the time) were transferred to the Serapeum, which was where the Christian monks took Hypatia when they burned her and which was destroyed in the resulting fire, so the Christians don’t get off too clean either. But records are spotty, so all of this is really speculation.

  • Pseudo-Doctor

    It would be good if Amber Heard was playing her, but Weisz’s eyes are captivating enough for me to cheer her casting.

    I just hope she does Hypatia as much justice as she’s due for her actions. (Which is a lot)

  • H

    I can’t wait for all the religious whining and rioting to start, just like what always happens when the truth gets out about them. Fitna, anyone?

  • Andrew

    Hypatia was a pagan, not an atheist. Although I’m sure that the movie studios would have no problem changing that because the general public wouldn’t know the difference between a pagan and an atheist.

  • Loren Petrich

    From the Wikipedia article on Hypatia,

    A Neoplatonist philosopher, she belonged to the mathematical tradition of the Academy of Athens represented by Eudoxus of Cnidus; she followed the school of the 3rd century thinker Plotinus, discouraging empirical enquiry and encouraging logical and mathematical studies.

    So she was likely a pantheist instead of an atheist, believing that we and the world that we know are all emanations from The One, which is above all description. And she likely believed that mathematical concepts are purer emanations than physical objects, including her body.

    The Epicureans were the closest to atheism of anyone in the ancient world, and Hypatia wasn’t an Epicurean.

  • Erp

    I should point out that Hypatia was at least 45 or so and possibly considerably older when she was killed.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    Hypatia was at least 45 or so and possibly considerably older when she was killed.

    Make-up can be used to make one look older as well as younger.

    Casting Weisz, though, could do well for the box office. I’m looking forward to the movie.

  • Diagoras

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but Hypatia was a pagan not an Atheist.

  • Siamang
  • ethanol

    Awesome! I didn’t know that one of my favorite historical figures of the ancient world was that hot!

  • http://mylongapostasy.blogspot.com ATL-Apostate

    Can we feature her mug prominently on all official atheist communications from this point onward?

  • jasonorlandohawk

    Yeah… I’ve got to say that a Neoplatonist, who believes in things like “the One,” a soul, a cycle of reincarnation, and who bases their virtue system on these ideas…

    …probably isn’t best labeled an atheist.

  • scamps

    I can’t see this. I have agoraphobia.

    HYUCK HYUCK!

  • CybrgnX

    Athiest or panthiest? Who cares the lady was for knowledge and study and science. That alone makes her one of our heros. Many of us are primarily skeptks then athiest. it was the skeptisim that pushed me to athiest. If she was here today she might be spiritual (yuck word) but she would be skeptical.
    Rachel?? If anyone could convience me there was a gOd she is it!!! no chance of that unless there are miracles!!

  • Chelsea

    Mmmmm Rachel Weisz.

  • http://www.parentingbeyondbelief.com Dale McGowan

    There’s an additional, sick and sad ironic twist to the Hypatia story about which I once blogged:

    St. Catherine’s story has the noble Christian woman steadfastly defending her beliefs, then being tortured and executed on a wheel by the pagan king for not embracing the pagan religion. But current scholarship indicates that “Catherine’s” biography was filched from the actual philosopher, mathematician and astronomer Hypatia of Alexandria, who, according to Socrates Scholasticus, “made such attainments in literature and science, as to far surpass all the philosophers of her own time….

    “A pagan woman murdered by Christians for her beliefs was transformed into a Christian woman murdered by pagans for her beliefs. The perpetrators thereby became the victims,accomplishing a hideous slander in the process.”

  • Rest

    Here’s the official site with a teaser trailer:

    http://www.agorathemovie.com

    Oh, and Rachael does all her nude scenes (two) in the film. Thought some of you guys might like to know. :)

  • Loren Petrich

    Plotinus, a leading Neoplatonist, believed in reincarnation and karmic retribution. He claimed that a man who killed his mother would be reincarnated as a woman who would be killed by a son.

    And Hypatia likely believed something like that.

    I think that she might have frowned upon preoccupation with Rachel Weisz’s appearance as concern with lesser emanations as opposed to the greater emanations of mathematical ideas.

    But I think that she would have appreciated computers and their design principles.

  • http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com/2009/05/agora-and-hypatia-hollywood-strikes.html Tim O’Neill

    Wow – there are some atheists really getting their history badly garbled here. Firstly, the idea that Hypatia, as a follower of Plotinus, was an “atheist” is ridiculous. Secondly, this bit from the original post – “When Christians tried to take over Alexandria, it was Hypatia who saved a number of rare books from their destructive hands.” – is total fantasy and is not found in any source that mentions Hypatia.

    Miko tries to correct some of the Enlightenment myths about Hypatia above, then adds to them:

    But then suspicion is that the majority of the papyrus scrolls (not books, which didn’t exist at the time) were transferred to the Serapeum

    Umm, no there isn’t. In fact, Ammianus Marcellinus tells us that there Serapeum no longer contained any libraries when he visited Alexandria in the late Fourth Century. There is no evidence of any remnants of the Great Library existing in Hypatia’s time.

    the Serapeum, which was where the Christian monks took Hypatia when they burned her and which was destroyed in the resulting fire, so the Christians don’t get off too clean either.

    This is also completely wrong. The Serapeum was burned by a Christian mob, but that was in AD 391 – ie a full 24 years before Hypatia’s murder.

    The whole idea that Hypatia’s death had anything to do with her pagan religion or her learning is nonsense. See http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com/2009/05/agora-and-hypatia-hollywood-strikes.html for a detailed analysis of the Hypatia of history and the one of myth. We atheists are supposed to be rationalists and are not supposed to peddle myths. We don’t like it when Christians do it (eg The Passion of the Christ) and se shouldn’t encourage it even when we like the myth in question.

    Hypatia was not a martyr for science or atheism, she was a victim of city politics and nothing more.

  • Robert Winning

    Hypatia – Pagan ? Atheist? I believe she was not either because She worked in Great Library in Alexandria and she had gained alot about the Bible but she did not take any religion. I think she liked to meet and discussed with varied people such as Jews, Christians etc from different places. I think I am like her because we believe all things such as sun, moon, stars, maths etc all came from God. Unfortunately Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria hated her and ordered some monks to kill her. I am glad that Hypatia will be in the movie. I love her.

  • Hypatia

    Hypatia was NOT an atheist. If someone was a Neo-Platonist, then they religiously believed in the Hen (the One), a God-like source of all being, from whom the universe flowed (emanated). This thesis is based on the philosophy of Plato, but was expounded by Plotinos. The idea of the Hen also influenced Gnosticism. Hypatia may or may not have worshipped in a pagan temple, but she did believe in a God.

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com Anna

    I saw Agora yesterday. Good movie, a bit long, but certainly quite interesting, historical inaccuracies aside. Rachel Weisz’s character is portrayed as an atheist, incidentally, for those who are looking for freethinking characters in movies.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X