Thursday, 5 March 2009


The forthcoming film about Hypatia of Alexandria, Agora, reminded me that there is a lovely photo by Julia Margaret Cameron (pioneer woman photographer) of a woman dressed as Hypatia.

A nice conjunction of two bluestocking heroines - the one a great classical pagan philosopher; the other an artist in the nascent field of photography.

Cameron's picture represents Hypatia as a strong (if slightly bored-looking) woman.  Other portrayals represent her as too dreamy, or too vulnerable (though to be fair, many of them were focussing on her just as she was about to be dismembered by the Christian mob).

She is also the patron of Cherry Hill Seminary:
Hypatia was a pagan, a woman, a martyr, and most importantly, a scholar. Born in 370 CE in Egypt, she was considered both eastern and western: She flourished and taught in the Mediterranean area and was fed by rivers of learning from all the civilizations in the mid-east. Hypatia was one of the mothers of our western traditions and embodied the scholarly riches of diverse cultures. Described by her contemporaries as a charismatic teacher, Hypatia was later murdered by a mob of zealous Christians in 415 CE.

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