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Mermaid
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Agora...where hollywood discovers our st.hypatia
« on: 2009-06-05 21:59:40 »
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agora, starring rachel weisz as hypatia

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1186830/

A historical drama set in Roman Egypt, concerning a slave who turns to the rising tide of Christianity in the hopes of pursuing freedom while also falling in love with his master, the famous female philosophy professor and atheist Hypatia of Alexandria.

trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u50zEun07b4
« Last Edit: 2009-06-05 22:02:15 by Mermaid » Report to moderator   Logged
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Re:Agora...where hollywood discovers our st.hypatia
« Reply #1 on: 2009-06-06 02:08:58 »
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What welcome news. They couldn't have picked a more apt actress.

Thank-you.
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With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion. - Steven Weinberg, 1999
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Re:Agora...where hollywood discovers our st.hypatia
« Reply #2 on: 2010-02-12 09:43:54 »
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Review of Alejandro Amenabar's Agora [ 2009 ]

Now seen it. I couldn't see it in a cinema and couldn't buy the DVD, because, like "Evolution," it seems that it is far too controversial for American audiences given that it appears not to have found a distributor for the US at all, demonstrating conclusively that it doesn't take government censorship to supress works in the USA. Fortunately, a friend downloaded it, and we watched it last night.

Alejandro Amenabar's interpretation is far closer to the tradional perception of Hypatia, though with elements of Charles Kingsley's 1853 Hypatia - or New Foes with an Old Face", sparing us only the spurious "conversion", than the Catholic massaged perception projected by Maria Dzielska who proved herself a master of using unsubstantiated generalization to fram her narrative and the passive voice to occlude any uncomfortable realities. Like this gem, "Philosopher, mathematician, and teacher, Hypatia dominated the cultural life of Alexandria, Egypt, during the final decades of the fourth century. While she is regarded as one of the last Neoplatonists, only fragments of her writings exist, and details of her life are sketchy." Library Journal. On the logical questions as to why "only fragments of her writings exist" or why "details of her life are sketchy." Dzielska's nasty little hatchet job is silent. The answer is of course because the Christians deliberately and with malice aforethought  destroyed anything they could lay their hands on in order to protect the spurious uniqueness they projected for their their rather flimsy myths - and have spent the next 1600 years trying to keep this uncomfortable reality buried.

Agora, more importantly than its astonishing sets and competent acting, particularly by the remarkable Rachel Weisz who plays Hypatia, goes a long way towards drawing back the curtain and allowing a glimpse of the remarkably tolerant civilization that was rent asunder by the equally fervid "tea partiers" of their day. I don't think it goes far enough. In those days mere government neglect to pay the bills wasn't sufficient to eliminate centres of learning, it took swords and fire. Theodosius indubitably encouraged the repeated destruction of the Alexandrian Museum and its knowledge, first by Cyril's uncle, Bishop Theophilus ("a bold, bad man, whose hands were alternatively polluted with gold and with blood" Gibbon, chapter 28) and then by the Sainted Cyril himself along with his mad monks, the parabalanoi. Here is how Socrates Scholasticus a Christian historiographer (the enemy) described her in his Ecclesiastical History: "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." and her death, "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 by scraping her skin off with tiles and bits of shell. After tearing her body in pieces, they took her mangled limbs to a place called Cinaron, and there burnt them."

The film stops short of depicting the murder and mutilation of Hypatia, and while it hints at foreknowledge of Cyril's later "disappearance" of Oresto when Hypatia warns Oresto that he is the target of the Christians actions against the Serapheum and the Jews , does not actually speak to the fascinating saga or Theodosius'  tolerance of the murder of his prefect leaving Cyril the undisputed ruler of Alexandria.

The film is, all in all, very watchable, blending history and credible poetic interpretation into a coherent if not always convincing narrative. In particular, I found the scenes between Hypatia and the slave, first in his assault and then in the prequel to the death scene as he waited with Hypatia while the rest of the mob drifted off to find stones (also not supported by history) distinctly implausible. Get it on DVD or download and enjoy it. Then show it to your Christian friends, if you have any you don't mind losing, and can pin to a couch for long enough to watch. If they try to argue that this isn't the Christianity they "know" it may be worth reminding them of "But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me." (Luke 19:27) or point them towards a site such as http://www.religioustolerance.org/imm_bibl.htm#menu (an excellent resource).

Sources:
While putting this review together I also came across http://members.cox.net/jhaldenwang/Hypatia.htm, by Jim Haldenwang, which is cited by Wikipedia as a source, but which appears, down to the images used, to be largely plagiarism of the article in issue 1.1 of the Ideo Hazard, at http://www.churchofvirus.org/zine/1.1/hermit2.html.
« Last Edit: 2010-02-12 10:33:20 by Hermit » Report to moderator   Logged

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Re:Agora...where hollywood discovers our st.hypatia
« Reply #3 on: 2010-02-12 12:04:45 »
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Thanks for the review. I knew that I wanted to see this. Thanks for reminding me. I may have to check this out this weekend.

Also regarding that plagiarism thing, perhaps you can appeal on wikipedia that a correct or even double citation be made. Memetically perhaps we should feel flattered that we keep running into instances of people plagiarizing us, but even on that count it would help our memes more if they would just link us in. It seems like a rather small request given that we aren't harrassing anyone with take-down notices of copyright infringements. I'm not suggesting we go all Church of Scientology on the issue, however it seems appropriate that we at least get cited where we cared to put our names to our version of the message early on.
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Re:Agora...where hollywood discovers our st.hypatia
« Reply #4 on: 2010-02-12 15:12:51 »
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbuEhwselE0

"islam is god. i will purify this city."

i am impressed that they managed to include islam. clearly some religions are worse than others.

i suspect that hypatia has been used with an agenda...by villifying xians(and moslems too, it seems) as those who persecuted jews and pagans.

the story and life of hypatia is not about marauding xians.
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Re:Agora...where hollywood discovers our st.hypatia
« Reply #5 on: 2010-02-12 21:09:51 »
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I don't know where Mermaid  found the "Islam is god" quote, because:

    1) It isn't in the film
    2) I don't hear or see it in the trailer
    3) Agora is set 300 years before Mohammed.
    4) Islam means "Servant," not God.
    5) Alejandro Amenabar is Spanish and ought to be familiar with the above.

As for the rest, Mermaid seems to have another unsustainable bee in her bonnet. The "Christians" under Cyrus and his uncle Theophilus murdered other competing "Christians"; murdered the Jews that they didn't drive out of Alexandria where they had been living for centuries; murdered pagans by the score; like their successors, destroyed libraries, museums and temples and murdered Hypatia and probably Orestes as well. All of this was documented, proudly, by the Christians themselves, who also wrote the history books. So it simply isn't possible to vilify them, they did that to themselves.

According to Orosius, a Christian Historiographer, who visited Alexandria in 415 CE, the year Hypatia was murdered, "There are temples nowadays, which we have seen, whose book-cases have been emptied by our men. And this is a matter that admits no doubt." (Mostafa El-Abbadi, The Life and Fate of the Ancient Library of Alexandria, Part III, ch. 5 "The Fate of the Library and the Mouseion", 1992, pp. 164-167).  Q.E.D.

The life of Hypatia was a life dedicated to knowledge, science, love of man, nature and truth as well as tolerance of all. In every possible way, the opposite of the "marauding Christians" who murdered her. I think that the film did a reasonable job of conveying both the ancient civilization that Hypatia represented, her life and their antithesis, the Christians, even when it misses subtle issues such as that as a follower of Plotonius, she probably would not have engaged in experiment without utility.

Here is what followed (from http://www.entheology.org/library/winters/ALEXANDR.TXT).

Early Christian writers, such as Tertullian (160-230 C.E.) and Ambrose had argued that the study of science was unnecessary, since the Gospel of Jesus Christ had been received. According to Tertullian,
    "For the faithful, empirical inquiry is unnecessary, a distraction from the practice of his religion and possibly a source of dangerous heresy."

According to Eusebius, on the subject of scientists,
    "It is not through ignorance of the things admired by them, but through contempt of their useless labor, that we think little of these matters, turning our souls to better things" [ie the contemplation of God and heaven].

According to St. Ambrose,
    "To discuss the nature and position of the earth, does not help us in our hope of the earth to come."

However, it was St. Augustine (Bishop of Hippo from 395-430 C.E.), who expanded the concept to where it became an integral part of the official doctrine of Orthodox Christianity. According to Augustine:
    "Seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand."

and
    "Cursed is everyone who places his hope in man."

During these times which led Western Christian society into an era (dubbed by some historians as the "Dark Ages"), secular knowledge was held to be unimportant, even sinful when compared to the greater wisdom of the scriptures.
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With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion. - Steven Weinberg, 1999
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Re:Agora...where hollywood discovers our st.hypatia
« Reply #6 on: 2010-02-12 23:06:01 »
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possibly an accent thing. it threw me off when i heard it in the official trailer...because it didnt make any sense at all..

still sounds like islam to me...i'd be really pissed off if its what he said...he does hold up what looks like a bible tho'..around .35-.40 seconds into the trailer.

eta: i am not anti-xian. i am an agnostic when it comes to religion. socially and culturally, i havent been affected by the marauding xians. its not my history or part of my cultural memory. i am outraged, of course...if i were to believe the telling as absolute fact. having said that, as much as i admire hypatia, there is a lot lost in time when it comes to a narrative or a retelling of history as it happened during hypatia's time. the destruction of the library of alexandria bothers me more than the somewhat dramatic rendering of hypatia's last moments.

then, as it is now, religion and politics mingled freely. there was little difference between a heretic and an anarchist..between a political assassination and a religious lynching. religion has its faults...it doesnt matter if its hinduism or xianity or islam or judaism. i'd like to think that she was chosen as a virian science as a teacher...for her contributions to mathematics, philosophy and inventor..rather than the witch who was murdered by the xians. victimhood shouldnt be a ticket to virian sainthood.
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Re:Agora...where hollywood discovers our st.hypatia
« Reply #7 on: 2010-02-13 04:31:55 »
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Thanks for the review Hermit, and for the resources on Hypatia.

I watched the film last night and recommend it.

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Re:Agora...where hollywood discovers our st.hypatia
« Reply #8 on: 2010-06-13 14:32:54 »
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Re:Agora...where hollywood discovers our st.hypatia
« Reply #9 on: 2011-12-31 03:49:42 »
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The movie is now on streaming Netflix, and I finally got to see it. I highly recommend it as well.
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Re:Agora...where hollywood discovers our st.hypatia
« Reply #10 on: 2012-03-09 07:12:44 »
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I think Hypatia's birthday is unknown. The exact day of her death is not known either except in March 415 AD. We have good days for Darwin's and Turing's birthdays, but if we wish to have a Hypatia day, when would be a good date for that?
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Re:Agora...where hollywood discovers our st.hypatia
« Reply #11 on: 2012-03-09 18:45:29 »
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Hey Mo,

Given that she is ascribed with inventing he AstroLab, an annual Celestial event might be a good choice, or co opting a Christian day of celebration; since they, at the behest of the political forces of the day, were motivated to kill her.  (familiar theme still today)

Given that Polaris is always in there for Navigation maybe a solstice or equinox ? The Winter Solstice has been supplanted for Jesus's birth then migrated to the 24th; maybe December 21. Especially this year that the 2012 yahbows are trying to sully the solstice this year lets give it to Hypathia as a happy day.

Ramblings

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