Myths About the Murder of the Philosopher, Hypatia

Myths About the Murder of the Philosopher, Hypatia December 24, 2015
. . .  and the Burning of the Library of Alexandria (Links)
Detail of the death portrait of a wealthy woman, painted between 160-170 AD near the modern-day town of Er-Rubayat in the Fayum [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]
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I just got through watching a documentary on ancient Alexandria (available for instant viewing in the Netflix collection), in which viewers were spoon-fed the same old tired myth of St. Cyril of Alexandria and a supposedly anti-knowledge, anti-learning institutional Christianity (most anxious to bring about the know-nothing “Dark Ages”) being responsible for the horrifically barbarous and cruel murder of the philosopher and mathematician Hypatia (d. 415). We’re also blamed for the burning of the famous Alexandrian library (said to contain the sum of knowledge of the ancient world), to boot.

This sort of revisionist history drives me nuts, because I’ve seen it so many times. It’s dishonest, it deliberately distorts what we know, and it also perpetuates itself by ignoring atrocities and scandals of non-Christian entities. The Christians always have to be the bad guys and the wascally wascal villains; the scapegoats. We’re gonna see much more of this sort of thing as secularism and anti-Christian mentalities, fed by a virulent strain of anti-Christian atheism, of growing confidence and arrogance, become more influential in society. Now we have a recent anti-Catholic movie, Agora, that is perpetuating the same nonsense.

I thought that I would, in protest, and in order to get out my indignation and counter this historical hogwash, collect some resources that tell a very different story (including three articles, notably, by a fair-minded atheist):

The Perniciously Persistent Myths of Hypatia and the Great Library (David B. Hart, First Things, 4 June 2010)

The Beauty of Reasoning: A Reexamination of Hypatia of Alexandria (Bryan J. Whitfield, The Mathematics Educator, Vol. 6, No. 1)

The Dangerous Silliness of the New Movie Agora (Fr. Robert Barron; Catholic New World, 5 May 2010; see also his comments on a video)

Fr. Robert Barron on “Agora” (Mark Shea,  National Catholic Register, 20 May 2010)

Agora-phobia: The True Story of Hypatia (Sandra Miesel, Ignatius Insight, 24 September 2010) 

Agora: An Atheist Sets the Record Straight (Steven D. Greydanus, National Catholic Register, 28 May 2010)

“Agora” and Hypatia – Hollywood Strikes Again (Tim O’Neill [atheist], Armarium Magnum, 20 May 2009)

Hypatia and “Agora” Redux (Tim O’Neill, Armarium Magnum, 30 May 2010)

A Geologist Tries History (or “Agora” and Hypatia Yet Again) (Tim O’Neill, Armarium Magnum, 18 March 2012)

Agora and the Dangerous Silliness of Really Bad film History (Sherry Waddell, Catherine of Siena Institute, 26 May 2010)
Honey Boo Boo, Hypatia, and David Bentley Hart (Matthew Gerken, First Things, 9 January 2013)

St. Cyril of Alexandria & Hypatia (All Along the Watchtower, 2 July 2012)

“Agora” or the Manipulation of History in Movies (Rino Cammillari, Nov. 2009) 

Pagan Martyrs, Murderous Monks: Agora Hits US Shores (Nathan Schneider, Religion Dispatches, 4 June 2010)

St. Cyril and Alexandria and the Murder of Hypatia (Francis Schaefer, The Catholic University Bulletin, 1902) 

St. Cyril and Alexandria and the Murder of Hypatia (Reuben Parsons, 1893) 

Did Saint Cyril Kill Hypatia? (Catholic Bridge

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