El's Reviews > Hypatia of Alexandria

Hypatia of Alexandria by Maria Dzielska
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May 16, 09

bookshelves: cultural-studies-and-other, hear-me-roar
Read in May, 2009

Hypatia has become a symbol for poets and feminists since her brutal attack and murder in 415 AD. She was a mathematician and a pagan philosopher with a large following. Dzielska uses the few primary sources available for her small biography, but does not shed much light on Hypatia herself. Little is known about her personal life outside of her philosophies, and there is plenty of speculation about Hypatia's role in the culture of Alexandria. While married to the philosopher Isidore, Hypatia would have relations with other men, particularly the prefect Orestes. Rumor has it she was murdered because of this relationship and the rift their company created between the prefect and the archbishop, Cyril.

Dzielska tries to give body and flesh to Hypatia but has little to work with here. She concludes that Hypatia was in her sixties when she was murdered by a Christian mob wielding broken pottery, and not the young woman that is often portrayed in illustrations. She does attempt to detail her role in the civilization, and explains the role of religion in both her relationships and in her ultimate downfall, but the information is sparse and not particularly interesting.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Mike (new)

Mike Flynn She was not married to Isidore, and was rather famously a virgin.


message 2: by El (new) - rated it 2 stars

El I stand corrected. It's been a long time since I've read the book (and it wasn't that good anyway), so I can't say if I misinterpreted what the author wrote or I myself mistated what I was trying to say. For posterity sake I'll leave it as is; I never claimed to be an expert.


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