In Praise of Hypatia

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Hypatia by Charles William Mitchell 1885

Hypatia was a philosopher and astronomer who died in the fifth century AD. She favored the earlier pagan ways, as well as the philosophy of Plato, and could be considered a forerunner of present-day feminism. She boldly confronted ignorance whenever she found it, especially ignorance concerning women. She fiercely opposed the treatment of women as secondary citizens or even as less than human. This caused her to be despised by the early Christian church and they found a way to justify her murder, in the name of Christianity. In today’s evangelical Christian revival under Rick Santorum Hypatia is particularly relevant. She stood for logic, and the ideal, and honest, undistorted sexuality. Her death is considered by some historians to be the benchmark for the end of the Classical Age, and the beginning of the Dark Ages. We need women like Hypatia today. We need brave people in general, who can speak intelligently about things, as the ancient philosophers endeavored to do. Christianity and Islam dealt a death blow to free thinking. I would like to see a resurgence of paganism, intelligent paganism, which would recognize the positive attributes of religion, while opposing the tyranny which often accompanies church, mosque, or synagogue. I wish to learn more about Hypatia, but when I was researching pre-Raphaelite painting I came across Hypatia. It intrigued me, and I read a little about her. We need to recapture the spirit of ancient Greece, for the Dark Ages are not entirely over.


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