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#1 Giovanni

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Posted 17 December 2006 - 02:23 PM

I want to start a discussion about HYPATIA.
What happened with her? Is it true that St. Cyril of Alexandria ordered to slaughter her and if so why?
There is an UNESCO Institution, "women for science" which has been entitled to her her,
http://www.womensciencenet.org/ ,
they say that HYPATIA "lived lived in a period during which the Roman Empire was converting to Christianity and the sciences were considered heretical." .... "She refused to convert and to renounce to her ideas and in March 415 she was brutally assassinated." By inspiration of Cyrillus.
I strongly doubt that this is the truth, but an official Institution, an ONU Institution says so.
What could be the real truth?

#2 John Charmley

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Posted 17 December 2006 - 10:14 PM

I want to start a discussion about HYPATIA.
What happened with her? Is it true that St. Cyril of Alexandria ordered to slaughter her and if so why?


Dear Giovanni,

Welcome to Monachos!

The allegations against St. Cyril are ancient ones, often put by his enemies. The fairest assessment I know is in J. McGuckin, St. Cyril of Alexandria: The Christological Controversy : Its History, Theology, and Texts (1994).

He points out how heated the atmosphere was in Alexandria in the 5th century, and how often both Christians and Pagans resorted to violence. There is no doubt that Hypatia was murdered in brutal and shocking circumstances, but there is every reason to doubt that St. Cyril had anything to do with it. Of course, since the Imperial authorities recognised him as the head of the Christian community, and since the Imperial Governor and St. Cyril were on bad terms with each other, the Governor held Cyril responsible for the acts of his community - hence the later confusion.

I am sad, but hardly surprised, that UNESCO should be peddling such misinformation. Someone might have stopped to ask why the Orthodox and the Catholic Churches would recognise a murderer as a saint. It doesn't help that many people take their information from Gibbon's Decline and Fall, because, as a sceptic, Gibbon took a great dislike to Cyril, and so many later writers have followed his lead.

Have a look at McGuckin and make up your own mind.

Hope that helps.


In Christ,

John

#3 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 17 December 2006 - 10:33 PM

I want to start a discussion about HYPATIA.
What happened with her? Is it true that St. Cyril of Alexandria ordered to slaughter her and if so why?
There is an UNESCO Institution, "women for science" which has been entitled to her her,
http://www.womensciencenet.org/ ,
they say that HYPATIA "lived lived in a period during which the Roman Empire was converting to Christianity and the sciences were considered heretical." .... "She refused to convert and to renounce to her ideas and in March 415 she was brutally assassinated." By inspiration of Cyrillus.
I strongly doubt that this is the truth, but an official Institution, an ONU Institution says so.
What could be the real truth?



There are two parts really to this:

i) the alleged anti-scientific stance of the Roman Empire once it became mostly Christian.

ii) St Cyril of Alexandria's role in the death of Hypatia.

so let's take them in this order.


i) the Roman Empire (after a certain point often referred to as Byzantium) was not anti-scientific. On the contrary it kept and refined the classical education of ancient Rome including the sciences and philosophy.

The Church was more cautious about philosophy than science. Many great saints such as Gregory Palamas show evidence of their knowledge of science in their writings.

ii) Hypatia was killed at the hands of a Christian mob, not as a scientist but rather as a neo-Platonist philosopher who was one of the leading critics of the Alexandrian church. Christians pulled her from her carriage and dragged her into the church, possibly in order to force her into accepting the Gospel. (p 13 Intro by J A Mcguckin to St Cyril's ON the Unity of Christ).

So, not that it makes it any better, but she was killed as a pagan philosopher apparently engaged in active verbal criticisms of the Church, not as a scientist.

As for St Cyril's role in this although after an investigation into what had occurred he was reprimanded by the Imperial Court he was not actively involved in the incident.


I would say then that what we see here is much more just one incident in a whole period of adjustment within the Roman Empire between the pagan world & Christianity. At times there was conflict as in this incident in Alexandria but actually this was remarkably rare when it's considered that a whole world view was being challenged by the Church. Most often there was a peaceful enough transition.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#4 Giovanni

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Posted 18 December 2006 - 03:13 AM

Well, I can say that I was shocked by the UNESCO Institution, I think that they acted without any consideration, there are many authors and many original texts, it is not right and proper to consider only Gibbon who had a very particular view and didn't verify as he should have the original texts.

In my own view they are extremely offensive, to the extreme of making necessary a law suit for diffamation.

Remember that Socrates was a cytizen very respectful of LAWS.

Anyhow, I am writing a paper on Hypatia, and your reference will help me.

#5 John Charmley

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Posted 18 December 2006 - 04:21 PM

Well, I can say that I was shocked by the UNESCO Institution, I think that they acted without any consideration, there are many authors and many original texts, it is not right and proper to consider only Gibbon who had a very particular view and didn't verify as he should have the original texts.

In my own view they are extremely offensive, to the extreme of making necessary a law suit for diffamation.

Remember that Socrates was a cytizen very respectful of LAWS.

Anyhow, I am writing a paper on Hypatia, and your reference will help me.


Dear Giovanni,

I am glad the information was helpful.

I wouldn't want to get the law involved in such cases, but it does show the importance of Christians communicating their history to others and not relying on some secular system so to do.

Alexandria in the fifth century was a very vibrant place, a veritable melting pot of ideas, with Greek philosophy and science jostling with pagan ideas and the immense popularity of Christianity. The Imperial authorities were very jealous of the power and influence of the Christian bishops of Alexandria, and certainly tried to use the Hypatia incident as an excuse to rein in the new young bishop Cyril.

As an historian, I find it a trifle depressing, if not in the slightest bit surprising, that these old myths about St. Cyril are trotted out without anyone checking on them. I thought the 'E' in UNESCO had something to do with 'education' - shame on them. I hope their other work is better authenticated.

Best of luck with the paper!


In Christ,

John

#6 Giovanni

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Posted 18 December 2006 - 11:48 PM

I quote;

I wouldn't want to get the law involved in such cases, but it does show the importance of Christians communicating their history to others and not relying on some secular system so to do.

As far as the Law is regarded I remember SOCRATES; "Do you illude yourself that that country where the celebrated processes have no value and anybody can vile them, cancel them, can survive" Plato, CRITO, 50b2
and "In war, in justice court, everywhere you must follow the orders of your fatherland" Plato, CRITO, 51b8

I must say, Roman Catholics believe in love and fraternity, I believe in legality, I sympatize for Emperor Justinianus, not for the Pope.

So I think that a Justice court would be the proper place for discussing this question of HYPATIA and to officially condemn this people.

As for the Christian that communicate their history, I am higlhly doubtfull that they have any will at all.

#7 John Charmley

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 02:35 PM

Dear Giovanni,

As for the Christian that communicate their history, I am higlhly doubtfull that they have any will at all.


I fear this is probably correct, and I admire your thirst that justice should be done. But, alas, history is full of such injustices, and we should require several courts sitting in full session continuously were we to deal with all of them.

That said, it is very galling for Christians to have this nonsense about Hypatia dragged out. Clearly what happened to her was inexcusable and a very bad example of Christian behaviour, and so far as any stigma attaches to Christians of that place and that era, it is justified; but to attach actual blame to the young bishop Cyril is to get things out of perspective. To anyone who knows anything about Alexandria at that time, it was quite impossible for a young and inexperienced bishop to control the rowdier elements; over the years of his episcopate, and with experience, Cyril became more adept at this, but to the end was unable to get the rowdier elements under total control.

In Christ,

John

#8 Giovanni

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 03:43 PM

Well, I have interesting evidence, I have already sent it to an important laic academic authority; I begin to suspect that they are interested, cannot be sure. Just in case, should it not interest them would you like to examine it?
It is a rather long and detailed article in Italian. Only after receiving a refusal from the laic academic authority I can make a short resume of it in English.
If you should be interested, this is my proposal.
I don't want to say anything more.

#9 Mary George

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 09:07 AM

I am totally with Hypatia ... I would like to know the truth ...

#10 Kosta

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 07:42 PM

Hypatia was nothing like the westerners of today portray her. For instance most westerners believed she was a feminist starlet. Thats why many women in the 'adult industry" use her as a stage name. In reality Hypatia was a celibate who believed in chastity and upheld virginity.
Quite a few of Hypatia's students were christian. One of the few survivng letters are correspondence between her and a bishop Synesius. Hypatia was the only teacher this bishop ever had. Bishop Synesius was ordained by Patriarch Theophilus himself and at his request. Theophilus knew that Hypatia was his teacher and he viewed it as a plus.

Infact Hypatia was held in high regard by the christians of her time and thats why affluent christian parents sent their children to her to be educated. The murder of Hypatia ticked off many christians. The church historian Socrates Scholasticus who was a contemporary was sympathetic to Hypatia (and was one of those ticked off) and wrote this account of the events that took place:

"There was a woman at Alexandria named Hypatia, daughter of the philosopher Theon, who made such attainments in literature and science, as to far surpass all the philosophers of her own time. Having succeeded to the school of Plato and Plotinus, she explained the principles of philosophy to her auditors, many of whom came from a distance to receive her instructions. On account of the self-possession and ease of manner, which she had acquired in consequence of the cultivation of her mind, she not infrequently appeared in public in presence of the magistrates. Neither did she feel abashed in coming to an assembly of men. For all men on account of her extraordinary dignity and virtue admired her the more. Yet even she fell a victim to the political jealousy which at that time prevailed. For as she had frequent interviews with Orestes, it was calumniously reported among the Christian populace, that it was she who prevented Orestes from being reconciled to the bishop. Some of them therefore, hurried away by a fierce and bigoted zeal, whose ringleader was a reader named Peter, waylaid her returning home, and dragging her from her carriage, they took her to the church called Caesareum, where they completely stripped her, and then murdered her with tiles [oyster shells]. After tearing her body in pieces, they took her mangled limbs to a place called Cinaron, and there burnt them. This affair brought not the least opprobrium, not only upon Cyril, but also upon the whole Alexandrian church. And surely nothing can be farther from the spirit of Christianity than the allowance of massacres, fights, and transactions of that sort. This happened in the month of March during Lent, in the fourth year of Cyril's episcopate, under the tenth consulate of Honorius, and the sixth of Theodosius [AD 415]."

#11 Giovanni

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 04:46 PM

Well, I have an interesting paper on the murder of HYPATIA, it disculpates totally St Cyril. Unlukily it is written in Italian, my mother language, I am planning to translate it in English, but I'll see. Anyhow you can find it here;
http://www.enricopan...com/hypatia.pdf
If you can understand italian it is very interesting.

#12 Mary George

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 01:44 AM

Thank you Kosta ... thank you Giovanni ... Giovanni, unfortunately I can not understand Italian but I can en espanol .... Best wishes all .. Happy easter

#13 Bryan J. Maloney

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 06:25 PM

Would it be possible to summarize the Italian esssay? My Italian is barely enough to follow a fencing lesson.

#14 Giovanni

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 05:51 AM

Well, after a description of the personality of HYPATIA, in the second chapter, proof is given that St Cyril of Alexandria was elected with a regular votation, then he had problems with Orestes the prefect who arrested and subjected to torture without any reason the elementary teacher Jerax, after that he applied the law against the Jews who had treacherously assaulted and slained the Christians, by giving fire at night to a church at Alexandria and slining the Christian who were accurring to extinguish the fire. After that it is rememembered that in the year 361 a.D. the Christian, at Alexandria, had found evident remains of human sacrifices, to evidentiate the fact they had held a procession in which everyone beared a skull. The pagans, indignant about this fact had reacted very harshly, to the the point of causing many deaths and martyrizing the bishop George (see Socrates Scholasticus Historia Ecclesiastica, IIII,II, PG LXVII 380s)Socrates says that these were sacrifices to the ancient hellenic gods. Then Orestes is contested by monks coming from Nitria who accuse him of being Hellenic and sacrificator, hence to practice human sacrifices, the monk Ammoniuswounds slightly the prfect on the head with a stone, as a conseguence he is put to death by torture. An accurate reading of the greek text reveals that he was interrogated according to the law then put to death by torture against the law which not permitted such a thing. This is the reason for which St. Cyril buried him with the honord of a martyr. Now we came to HYPATIA, she was very influent, a close friend of Horestes, his inspirer, she was was held the inspirer of all this breaching of the law by the Christians, who saw her killing as the only means to restore the dominion of the law in Alexandria. In effect the emperor himself understood the fact and pardoned all the killings whichhad happened, with the number parabolani, the ones who had actually killed HYPATIA at fistrs decreased, then increased and put directly under the authority of St. Cyril.
This is just a very brief summary, I hope to have time to translate in English and improve the paper, also because I am in contact with an editor.

#15 Anton S.

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 11:55 AM

I am grateful to Giovanni for raising this topic and to everyone else for answering it. Hypatia's story was taught to me at school in the Soviet Union as a story of a martyr for science killed by Christian obscurantists. St Cyril was, of course, presented as the one who inspired the murder. It has been one of those things that made my converstion difficult and has always made me feel uncomfortable, somewhat responsible for this crime. I am glad that things in reality were a bit different and that St Cyril was not like the caricature presented by atheist propaganda.

I would like make a comment on the whole thing. While judging the actions of our ancestors we should not forget that they lived in a different world. Modern-day humanism is a very recent phenomenon and at the time of Hypatia violence and violent death were much more commonplace than they are nowadays. And law enforcement was much more haphazard. Whenever you study history of any period before the end of 19th century, you might be shocked by undisguised cruelty of both public and private life. It is typical not just for Christian Middle Ages (so diligently vilified by historians since the Enlightment), but also for pagan Rome and Athens, Italian Renaissance, Tibet under the rule of Dalai-Lamas or Hindu kingdoms in India - that is places and times which are not associated so much with cruelty in popular imagination. If we put Hypatia's story into this broader context we will find it not extraordinary but rather banal.

Modern Western civilisation is different, it has discovered that manipulation is more effective than coercion and has developed manipulation into a fine art, using its unparallelled scientific achievements. It has also such a strong economic basis that it can keep people well-fed and thus decrease the social tensions, which is also an almost unique achievement. We have been raised and conditioned by this civilisation, so it is often very difficult for us to understand our ancestors. (But let us not delude ourselves - modern Western humanism is a matter of convenience and not love, when necessary, our civilisation can be as cruel and violent as any other).

Edited by Anton S., 16 April 2012 - 12:00 PM.
misprints


#16 Giovanni

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 05:39 PM

I want to inform you that my paper on Hypatia has been published by Greek Orthodox Theological Rewiev. It is very unconformist but well documented.

The WEB-site is

http://www.hchc.edu/...odox.press/2321






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