Hypatia was a young woman who lived in Alexandria and was renowned for instructing large audiences on a wide range of subjects including; Mathematics, science, astronomy and Neo-platonic philosophy. Her audiences included pagans, Jews and Christians, who would travel long distances to receive her instruction. Her father Theon, a renowned mathematician was said to be the last Mathematician associated with the world famous museum of Alexandria. She was recorded in the ‘Suda’ (Byzantine Encyclopaedia) as remaining a virgin until her untimely death.(2) Further, this encyclopaedia records how she rebuffed a suitor by showing him her menstrual rags in order that she might demonstrate the ugliness of carnal desires.(3) The picture painted of Hypatia, by both Christian and non-Christian historians, was that of a wise, witty and strong woman, who aspired for nothing more than the acquisition of knowledge and virtue.
The Church historian Socrates spoke of Hypatia in his work entitled, ‘Ecclesiastical Histories,’ saying:
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 unfrequently appeared in public in presence of the magistrates. Neither did she feel abashed in going to an assembly of men. For all men on account of her extraordinary dignity and virtue admired her the more. (4)
The picture painted of Hypatia, by both Christian and non-Christian historians, was that of a wise, witty and strong woman, who aspired for nothing more than the acquisition of knowledge and virtue. Yet, as virtuous and pure as this wise and gentle flower may have been, it counted for nothing, in the eyes of those who viewed her “pagan” philosophy, as a threat to the more crude and rustic teachings of Christ.
One afternoon, a large belief induced mob of fanatical Christians, followers of the Bishop Cyril of Alexandria, seized Hypatia from her carriage, stripped her body naked and beat her to a pulp. Thereupon, they dragged her tired, bruised and bleeding body to their holy church, where ‘Peter, The Reader’, presided over the gruesome sacrifice of this young an innocent philosopher.
In his book entitled, ‘History of the Christian Church’. Vol. 3, Historian and theologian, Phillip Schaff described her demise atia in the follow words:
This lady, a teacher of the Neo-Platonic philosophy in Alexandria, distinguished for her beauty, her intelligence, her learning, and her virtue, and esteemed both by Christians and by heathens, was seized in the open street by the Christian populace and fanatical monks, perhaps not without the connivance of the violent bishop Cyril, thrust out from her carriage, dragged to the cathedral, completely stripped, barbarously murdered with shells before the altar, and then torn to pieces and burnt, a.d.415 Socrates, who relates this, adds: “It brought great censure both on Cyril and on the Alexandrian church.(5)
Further, G.W Foote and J.M Wheeler in their book ‘Crimes of Christianity’, quoting from the famous historian Gibbon, describe her death in the following manner:
A rumor was spread among the Christians, that the daughter of Theon was the only obstacle to the reconciliation of the prefect and the archbishop; and that obstacle was speedily removed. On a fatal day, in the holy season of Lent, Hypatia was torn from her chariot, stripped naked, dragged to the church, and inhumanly butchered by the hands of Peter the reader and a troop of savage and merciless fanatics: her flesh was scraped from her bones with sharp oyster-shells, and her quivering limbs were delivered to the flames. The just progress of inquiry and punishment was stopped by seasonable gifts; but the murder of Hypatia has imprinted an indelible stain on the character and religion of Cyril of Alexandria. (6)
In spite of this event and the inciting of brutal Jewish pogroms, in which countless Jewish families were displaced, disenfranchised and slaughtered, Bishop Cyril was made a Saint by his fellow Christians. Even to this day, he is still venerated as a Saint in most Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox Churches.
From all of the numerous accounts which have attempted to adequately describe the depraved nature of this savage attack by Christians upon this young and beautiful Pagan philosopher, none, quite so eloquently, chronicled her death and the grave implications it had for the creed of Christendom, in so poignant a manner, as that of the ex-theologian turned freethinker, M.M Mangasarian, who said:
Cyril, the Asiatic archbishop, passing frequently the house of Hypatia, and seeing the long train of horses, litters, and chariots which had brought a host of admirers to the female philosopher's shrine, conceived a terrible hatred for this Pagan girl. He did not relish her popularity. Her learning was rubbish to him. Her charms, temptations for the ruin of man. He hated her because she, a frail woman, dared to be free and to think for herself. He argued in his mind that she was competing with Christianity, taking away from Christ the homage which belonged to him. With Hypatia out of the way the people would turn to God, and give him the love and honor which they were wasting upon her. She was robbing God of his rights, and she must fall; for He is a jealous God. Such was the reasoning of Cyril, whom the Church has canonized.(7)
Mangasarian follows this eloquent summery of the cause of Hypatia’s death, with an inspired portrayal of her death, delivering one of the most scathing assaults on the religion that ultimately caused, nay, directly commissioned this horrendously inhumane crime:
The next morning, when Hypatia appeared in her chariot in front of her residence, suddenly five hundred men, all dressed in black and cowled, five hundred half-starved monks from the sands of the Egyptian desert -- five hundred monks, soldiers of the cross -- like a black hurricane, swooped down the street, boarded her chariot, and, pulling her off her seat, dragged her by the hair of her head into a -- how shall I say the word? -- into a church! Some historians intimate that the monks asked her to kiss the cross, to become a Christian and join the nunnery, if she wished her life spared. At any rate, these monks, under the leadership of St. Cyril's right-hand man, Peter the Reader, shamefully stripped her naked, and there, close to the alter and the cross, scraped her quivering flesh from her bones with oystershells. The marble floor of the church was sprinkled with her warm blood. The alter, the cross, too, were bespattered, owing to the violence with which her limbs were torn, while the hands of the monks presented a sight too revolting to describe. The mutilated body, upon which the murderers feasted their fanatic hate, was then flung into the flames. Oh! Is there a blacker deed in human annals? When has another man or woman been so inhumanly murdered? Has politics, has commerce, has cannibalism even committed a more cruel crime? The cannibal pleads hunger to cover his cruelty -- what excuse had Hypatia's murderers? Even Joan of Arc was more fortunate in her death than this daughter of Paganism! Beautiful woman! murdered by men who were not worthy to touch the hem of thy garment! And to think that this happened in a church -- a Christian church! I have seen the frost bite the flower; I have watched the spider trap the fly; I have seen the serpent spring upon the bird! And yet I love nature! But I will never enter a church nor profess a religion which can commit such a deed against so lovable a woman. No, not even if I were offered as a bribe eternal life! If, O priests and preachers! instead of one hell, there were a thousand, and each hell more infernal than your creeds describe, yet I would sooner they would all swallow me up, and feast their insatiable lust upon my poor bones for ever and ever, than lend countenance or support to an institution upon which history has fastened the indelible stigma of Hypatia's murder! If we, of this present generation, are responsible for Adam's sin, and deserve the penalties of his disobedience, as the clergy say we do, then the Church of today is responsible for Hypatia's fate. How will they take this practical application of their own dogma? It will not do for them to say: "We wash our hands clean of St. Cyril's sin"; for if Adam can, by his remote act, expose us all to damnation, so shall Bishop Cyril's dark deed cleave forever unto the religion which his followers profess.(8)
The gruesome human sacrifice of Hypatia by the Christians was to foreshadow an era in which such sacrifices would become common practice amongst the faithful. The world was heading for a period of brutal Christ worship which would see so much blood spilt, that it would compel the modern day serial killer to turn his head away in disgust. What’s more is that, this Christian orgy of blood would last for over 1000 years. Believers of Christ were set to turn this planet into a wasteland filled with the corpses of all those who dared to think for themselves and refuse assimilation.
Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.Matthew Chapter 8:17-20
1. Thomas Paine. Collected and Edited by Philip S. Foner, PhD. The Complete Writings of Thomas Paine. The Citadel Press. (1945). Pg. 470. 2. Stoa | Welcome to the Suda On Line (SOL) - Online Suda – Upsilon 166: Hypatia. 3. Ibid. 4. Socrates Scholasticus, Schaff, Philip. Socrates and Sozomenus Ecclesiastical Histories. Christian Literature Publishing Co. (1886) Pg. 254. 5. Phillip Schaff. History of the Christian Church, Volume 3: Nicene and Post-Nicene Christianity. A.D.311-600. Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library. (1819-1893).Pg. 50. 6. G. W. Foote and J. M. Wheeler. Crimes of Christianity. Kanya Books. (1965). Pg. 89. 7. M.M Mangasarian. The Martyrdom of Hypatia. (or The Death of the Classical World). Independent Religious Society. Speech Delivered at Majestic Theatre Chicago (1915). 8. Ibid.
Message edited by arya - Sunday, 03-June-2012, 9:02 PM