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Hypatia of Alexandria – Part 3

Posted November 15, 2016 10:12 AM by amichelen

(Note: This is last part of Hypatia of Alexandri)

Personal life

If we have little knowledge of her scientific achievements, we know even less about her personal life. Some rumors had it that Hypatia married the philosopher Isidore of Alexandria (even if Isidore was born after her death) and that she was a follower of the Hellenistic (pagan) gods. There is no proof of these legends. On the contrary, she always showed a rational posture in relation to the Hellenic tradition and made sure she kept herself away from the constant disputes between Christians and pagans in the Alexandria of her time. Hypatia participated, however, in municipal politics. She was respected for her ethic values, and pagan and Christian politicians asked her advice in matters related to the city’s management. Although she was not Christian, she was not pagan either in the sense that she never worshiped Hellenistic gods or engaged in pagan rituals, but may have engaged in reciting Hellenic prayers or hymns during her teachings.

Hypatia was the teacher and friend of Orestes, a converted Christian, who was the Roman governor (prefects) of the province of Egypt, and a staunch defender of the rights of both Christians and pagans to practice their cultural activities and beliefs. However, on October 17, 412 the fate of Alexandria changed when Ciryl was elected Bishop (Patriarch) of Alexandria, who declared an enemy and heretic of any person that did not consider Christianity as the only acceptable religion. Even many Christians of Egypt were opposed to Cyril’s intolerant ideas and a “war” between Orestes and Cyril ensued. Alexandria descended into a total chaos and extreme violence. Cyril took the lead in this war and, that there were more Christians in the city, he ordered the organized mobs to kill the Jews and pagans associated with Orestes. The fight against paganism ended in the destruction of the Serapeum a smaller library remnant of the great Library of Alexandria, destroyed during the invasion of Alexandria by the Emperor Aurelian in AD 270. It is said that Hypatia and her students rushed to the Serapeum to salvage scrolls and books before their destruction. Who knows if some of those books and scrolls were the last existing works of Aristotle and other Greek authors, copies of which we have today? Hypatia may have been the responsible for the surviving texts so dear to us today.

At the same time Cyril started a campaign of defamation against Hypatia. For Cyril the influence of Hypatia in the upper echelon of the imperial and municipal politics was a threat to him and to the Church. He declared her to be a dangerous “witch” totally dedicated to black magic, and the creator of atheists.

A writer of that time (John, Bishop of Nikiu) describes the incitement against Hypatia by the clergy: “And in those days there appeared in Alexandria a female philosopher, a pagan named Hypatia, and she was devoted at all times to magic, astrolabes and instruments of music, and she beguiled many people through (her) Satanic wiles. And the governor of the city (Orestes) honored her exceedingly; for she had beguiled him through her magic…”

Another writer (Damascius) explains in more details: Thus it happened one day that Cyril, bishop of the opposition sect [i.e. Christianity] was passing by Hypatia’s house, and he saw a great crowd of people and horses in front of her door. Some were arriving, some departing, and others standing around. When he asked why there was a crowd there and what all the fuss was about, he was told by her followers that it was the house of Hypatia the philosopher and she was about to greet them. When Cyril learned this he was so struck with envy that he immediately began plotting her murder and the most heinous form of murder at that.”

In fact, in March of 415, Hypatia was brutally killed by a mob of Christian fanatics lead by Peter the Reader. The mob stopped her chariot, dragged her to a church, stripped her of all clothes and killed her with ceramic shells. They destroyed her body and burned it in a public plaza as an example to people who deviated from the teaching of the Church. Hypatia was murdered by people who felt threatened by her knowledge, her scholarship and her profound scientific knowledge.

Whom to blame for her murder?

For some, like Voltaire, she was killed because she came to symbolize learning and science which the early Christians identified with paganism. However, she taught many Christians, including Orestes and Synesius of Cyrene who later became an important bishop. For others, her murder was a consequence of the bitter fight between the civil power represented by Orestes and the ecclesiastic power represented by Cyril, and not as a confrontation between Christianity and paganism.

Her murder represents the start of the decline of Alexandria. Cyril’s mobs not only assassinated a great scientist, but also provoked the flight of the most brilliant scientists and philosophers from the city. Few years after Hypatia’s death Alexandria and the rest of the Western world entered into the dark ages. This lasted until the Renaissance of the 14th century. Ten centuries of darkness!

Alejandro Amenabar, the great Spanish director recreated her life in a movie called Agora. The following YouTube link is a video with scenes from this movie:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4yj3uXS2uM

"Death of the philosopher Hypatia, in Alexandria" from Vies des savants illustres, depuis l'antiquité jusqu'au dix-neuvième siècle, 1866, by Louis Figuier.

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#1

Re: Hypatia of Alexandria – Part 3

11/15/2016 10:55 AM

Politicians using religion as a weapon against their opposition...= big business using conservatives to defeat regulations

http://www.vox.com/polyarchy/2016/11/15/13630058/change-election

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#2
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Re: Hypatia of Alexandria – Part 3

11/15/2016 11:25 AM

Can't agree more!

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#3
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Re: Hypatia of Alexandria – Part 3

11/16/2016 1:25 AM

I wonder if choosing conservatives to use had anything to do with perceived greater susceptibility suggested by stronger (greater percentage) identification as Christian fundamentalists?

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Re: Hypatia of Alexandria – Part 3

11/16/2016 9:20 AM

Well I think it's certainly easier to manipulate people that have a common belief system...In fact for someone to be labelled an enemy of the people, there has to be consensus on what is bad, so the more commonality of thinking among the people the more potential points for manipulation exist....A religious doctrine is a guidebook for controlling the masses by unscrupulous politicians....Wrapping oneself in the self righteous robes of an all-seeing demigod is the preferred method of an oligarchs rule....then comes the military strongman who plays Robinhood....but beliefs change over time and in today's world of constant communication, they can change rather quickly....a leaders beliefs are a double edged sword, they can put him/her in favor, and put them out just as fast....

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#5

Re: Hypatia of Alexandria – Part 3

11/16/2016 7:13 PM

"Cyril took the lead in this war and, that there were more Christians in the city, he ordered the organized mobs to kill the Jews and pagans associated with Orestes."

There is nothing in any of the sources about Cyril ordering any "organised mobs" to kill anyone. Alexandria had a long history of violent street politics and this outbreak, initiated as it happens by an attack by the Jews on a Christian church, was just one in a long line of incidents of such mob violence.

"The fight against paganism ended in the destruction of the Serapeum a smaller library remnant of the great Library of Alexandria"

The Serapeum was a temple to the god Serapis, not a library. It had contained a daughter library of the older Great Library, but the evidence does not support the idea that it still did so when it was demolished in 391 AD. We have five accounts of that demolition and none of them make mention of any library. One of these accounts is the highly hostile one by the anti-Christian philosopher Eunapius, who pours scorn on the Christians for destroying the famous temple but makes no mention of them destroying the last remaining remnant of the Great Library - not a detail he was likely to neglect. More importantly, Ammianus Marcellinus' detailed description of the Serapeum from a few decades before its destruction mentions its libraries, but uses the past tense to do so - they did not still exist there when he visited Alexandria in the 370s. There was no library in the Serapeum in 391.

"It is said that Hypatia and her students rushed to the Serapeum to salvage scrolls and books before their destruction. Who knows if some of those books and scrolls were the last existing works of Aristotle and other Greek authors, copies of which we have today? Hypatia may have been the responsible for the surviving texts so dear to us today."

"It is said"? By whom? Not by any of the sources. None of the five sources on the demolition of the Serapeum mention Hypatia in association with the temple in any way at all, let alone mention her saving books from its (by that stage non-existent) library. And none of the accounts or mentions of Hypatia mention her in association with the Serapeum library or any other library or her saving any books. So "it is said"? You seem to be getting his entirely from a fantasy scene in Amenabar's pseudo historical movie Agora - one of many scenes in that movie which are total nonsense with no foundation (see below).

Thus the speculation that we owe Aristotle or any other ancient works to the efforts of Hypatia is complete nonsense. As it the idea that these works would only be preserved in one library in Alexandria, which is absurd given that they were studied all over the ancient world and at this stage had long since been embraced by Christians as useful knowledge given to the Greeks by God. We have these works thanks to a succession of Christian scholars, Byzantine and Nestorian, who passed them to Muslim scholars who in turn gave them to western Christian medieval scholars who sought them out in Muslim Spain and Sicily. Anyone who considers these works "dear to us today" has a succession of Christian and Muslim scholars, editors, commentators and translators to thank for the privilage.

"[Cyril] declared her to be a dangerous “witch” totally dedicated to black magic, and the creator of atheists."

More fantasy. No source from the time makes any mention of her being called a "witch" and none at all make any mention of "atheism" in relation to accusations against her.

"A writer of that time (John, Bishop of Nikiu) describes the incitement against Hypatia by the clergy"

John Nikiu was writing about 280 years later and so was in no way "a writer of the time". That's like saying you are a "writer of the time" of the Chickasaw War of 1736. None of the accounts of Hypatia's death that actually were "of the time" - Damascius and Socrates Scholasticus - make no mention of anything other than political rivalries and jealousies. They say nothing about her learning, her gender, her pganism or any "witchcraft" being a cause of her assassination. And Nikiu used Socrates Scholasticus as his primary source for his account, so the "witchcraft" stuff was his later embroidery on the story, not something that can be read back into the contemporary accounts.

"They destroyed her body and burned it in a public plaza as an example to people who deviated from the teaching of the Church."

See above. There is absolutely nothing to indicate that any deviation from the teachings of the Church had anything to do with her murder. The contemporary sources make it absolutely clear that it was political revenge - Orestes had one of Cyril's supporters killed and so Cyril's faction did the same to a known supporter of Orestes. Religion had nothing to do with it, especially since both Cyril and Orestes were Christians. This was more a rural/urban and working class/elite conflict than anything religious.

"Hypatia was murdered by people who felt threatened by her knowledge, her scholarship and her profound scientific knowledge."

And that is total fantasy supported by nothing in the sources either. On the contrary, Socrates explicitly says that she was killed despite the high regard in which she was held for her learning by all sides.

"Her murder represents the start of the decline of Alexandria. Cyril’s mobs not only assassinated a great scientist, but also provoked the flight of the most brilliant scientists and philosophers from the city."

Still more fantasy. Alexandria stayed a centre of learning for about another 200 years. A generation after Hypatia's political murder we not only see a whole swathe of pagan philosophers happily flourishing in the city - including Hierocles, Asclepius of Tralles, Olympiodorus the Younger, Ammonius Hermiae and Hermias - but we also see another prominent female, pagan philosopher in Aedisia. And she wasn't torn apart by any Christian mobs: largely because she stayed out of Alexandria's vicious politics. And there was no "flight" of philosophers from the city - this never happened.

" Few years after Hypatia’s death Alexandria and the rest of the Western world entered into the dark ages. This lasted until the Renaissance of the 14th century. Ten centuries of darkness!"

Oh God. Firstly, historians ceased referring to the Middle Ages as "the Dark Ages" about a century ago, given that we now know that most of that period was anything but. Secondly, the period at the beginning of the Middle Ages which was "dark" was in western Europe, when the Western Roman Empire collapsed and Europe endured several centuries of invasion, fragmentation and economic decline. Alexandria was not part of "the western world" because it was in the half of the Empire that didn't collapse - the Eastern Empire - which continued for another 1000 years. Alexandria remained a centre of learning until the Muslim conquest 226 years after Hypatia. Finally, the revival of learning in western Europe began long before the fourteenth century - it happened in the late eleventh and twelfth centuries thanks to Christian scholars and the rise of the universities. The later movement in art, architecture and letters we still call by the old fashioned term "the Renaissance" (as though there was only one) had nothing much to do with this medieval revival of philosophy and proto science - see "the Twelfth Century Renaissance".

That Hypatia's death had anything to do with her learning, demonstrates some kind of Christian antipathy to science and knowledge and ushered in a "dark age" are all myths that have encrusted this subject for centuries. They are nonsense.

"Alejandro Amenabar, the great Spanish director recreated her life in a movie called Agora. The following YouTube link is a video with scenes from this movie"

Which, like pretty much any movie set in the ancient world, gets the history horribly wrong and perpetuates all the myths mentioned above and adds a couple more (like the geocentric commentator Hypatia coming up with heliocentrism - more total fantasy). As a source of actual information about Hypatia and her world, that movie is mostly junk. See my detailed historical critiques: Agora and Hypatia: Hollywood Strikes Again and Hypatia and Agora Redux. Don't get your history from movies. And please check your facts.

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#6
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Re: Hypatia of Alexandria – Part 3

11/16/2016 8:25 PM

Thank you, and welcome to CR4.

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Re: Hypatia of Alexandria – Part 3

11/16/2016 9:13 PM

Excellent commentary, a little intolerant and condescending though...Perhaps a more magnanimous approach would serve better....

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Re: Hypatia of Alexandria – Part 3

11/16/2016 11:15 PM

If this was a brief post that simply naively repeated the usual myths about Hypatia, that's probably the tone I'd take. But the author has written a long, three part account that pretends to be telling us the story of Hypatia and indicates that they have gone to at least some effort to research it. Just not enough research effort to actually get things right or to avoid claims that are total fantasy. This indicates either (a) great incompetence or (b) incompetence combined with a biased agenda and uncritical use of source material. I think that (b) is most likely here - thus my mildly scornful tone. Badly researched material like this clutters up the internet too much already, which is why myths about history keep getting perpetuated.

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Re: Hypatia of Alexandria – Part 3

11/17/2016 12:06 AM

Maybe.... I would have just linked to your blog...haha ..but I think we should at least give amichelen a chance to defend him or herself, perhaps a rewrite is in order....I certainly agree there is a perpetuation of historical myths that pass for historical fact prevalent...finding good sources of information is a constant battle...anyway, welcome to the forum...

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Re: Hypatia of Alexandria – Part 3

11/17/2016 12:16 AM

There were specific claims made in this article that were not addressed in my blog posts, which cover some of the same general myths but were more focused on the elements of them in the movie Agora. I just linked to my blog on that particular topic - the way that movie distorts history and perpetuates the myths about Hypatia.

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#11
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Re: Hypatia of Alexandria – Part 3

11/17/2016 9:21 AM

Hi Tim, I will not be able to respond today to your long post (which I like, by the way) because my calendar is full today.

I just want to tell you now that I have not seen the movie Agora; I am not a movie commentator; in fact I only go to a movie theater probably twice a year. I do go to the opera and to classical live theaters.

Also, I am not anti Christian. I am a devout Catholic!

We will talk about your post later.

Ah, using the word "incompetent" is too much, and it offends me. Besides, this is not the spirit of this forum. We can disagree, but we should not offend each other. We will talk later.

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Re: Hypatia of Alexandria – Part 3

11/17/2016 2:38 PM

"I just want to tell you now that I have not seen the movie Agora"

Okay. I said that you "seem" to be getting the fantasy idea that Hypatia rescued books from the non-existent library from the Serapeum from that movie, since that idea did not exist before Amenabar's film. Perhaps you picked it up from someone who based it on the movie. Either way, it's not supported by anything in any of the evidence.

"Also, I am not anti Christian. I am a devout Catholic!"

I made no conclusions about your beliefs. The fact remains that you've perpetuated a grab-bag of myths here.

"Ah, using the word "incompetent" is too much, and it offends me. Besides, this is not the spirit of this forum. "

I can't see how. It's an assessment based on your mistatements which have no evidence to back them up. Making statements about history which can't be sustained by evidence is incompetent. This is simply a fact.

"We can disagree, but we should not offend each other."

I'm not responsible for how you react emotionally to perfectly reasonable critiques. I've said nothing personal against you, I've simply shown that you got many, many things wrong in your post above. And people "disagree" about matters of opinion. Things like evidence and the date of sources are facts. You don't get to "disagree" about them.

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#13
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Re: Hypatia of Alexandria – Part 3

11/17/2016 3:19 PM

Good answer and a very respectable position to take.

The information you have provided is much appreciated. So is your clear defense of honest critique and the necessity to not be cowed/sensored/silenced by an accusation that you have caused offence.

Commendable.

I suspect that if more members don't voice support for this type of brutal honesty sans sugar coating, your comments might become problematic...

Hopefully not

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Re: Hypatia of Alexandria – Part 3

11/17/2016 6:36 PM

Well I don't think anybody is ever absolutely right, the best information based on what is known changes with time, and that is as good as it gets...So you might inform somebody that their information is incorrect or outdated based on current thinking, but a declaration that you possess all the facts that will ever be known is pompous and perhaps false....

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Re: Hypatia of Alexandria – Part 3

11/17/2016 10:58 PM

"Well I don't think anybody is ever absolutely right, the best information based on what is known changes with time"

If someone claims that John Nikiu was "a writer of the time" when we know that he lived a whole 280 years later, that claim is simply wrong. This is a plain fact. It will not "change with time". If someone claims that "it is said" that Hypatia was at the Serapeum when it was demolished and that she "rushed to the Serapeum to salvage scrolls and books before their destruction" when there is no source that "says" or even hints at any such thing, that claim is simply wrong. This is a plain fact. It will not "change with time". I can give you about half a dozen other examples from the post above, but hopefully you're getting the idea.

"a declaration that you possess all the facts that will ever be known is pompous and perhaps false...."

Luckily for me I have never made any such claim. Try to focus on what I've actually said rather than cluttering things up with wild imaginings. I simply stick to the facts and the evidence that we do have and which contradict the post above on many key points. This "well it's all, like, a matter of opinion man" stuff isn't going to work, sorry.

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#16
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Re: Hypatia of Alexandria – Part 3

11/18/2016 12:49 AM

Well you certainly are smug in your perceived perfection....

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Re: Hypatia of Alexandria – Part 3

11/18/2016 1:25 AM

"Well you certainly are smug in your perceived perfection...."

Another weird misrepresentation. What "perfection" did I claim? You made out that what I say in my long critique above is all somehow a matter of vague opinion. I explained that it isn't. If the things I've stated are factually wrong somehow aren't matters of fact, then show us how. If you can't, your attempt at dismissing my critiques as merely opinion fails.

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Re: Hypatia of Alexandria – Part 3

11/18/2016 9:00 AM

How do you get factual representation from subjective historical writings ? What I'm saying is this is your opinion based on somebody else's opinion that was gleaned from translating a language that was spoken 2K years ago from a document subjectively written by a scholar of the time that got his information by word of mouth and made conclusions based on that....If you consider this factual, that's fine, but I don't, I consider it current thinking....

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Re: Hypatia of Alexandria – Part 3

11/18/2016 1:51 PM

"How do you get factual representation from subjective historical writings ? "

Now you seem to be working rather hard to find a reason to keep objecting to what I've said. That John Nikiu lived in the seventh century and not the fifth century and so is not "a writer of the time" of Hypatia is not "subjective". That's just a fact. The guy dated his own work. That there are zero mentions of Hypatia in any of the five accounts of the demolition of the Serapeum and so the claim that "it is said" she tried to save scrolls from its library is not "subjective". It's just a fact. That there is no mention of the Serapuem in any of the source material on Hypatia is also not "subjective". It's just a fact.

And even the things I objected to that are matters of interpretation of the evidence are solidly founded on facts. It's a fact that there is no mention of any library in those five accounts of the demolition of the Serapeum. It's a fact that Eunapius' account makes no mention of any library, despite spending more than half of his account mocking the Christians for being unlearned barbarians and despite him being an anti-Christian writer. It's a fact that when Ammianus described the Serapeum a couple of decades before its destruction he used the past tense when mentioning its libraries, indicating that they were no longer there at that stage. These things are all facts.

So I'm afraid that trying to dismiss these solid, factually-founded points as some kind of subjective hand waving isn't going to work. Nor are your passive aggressive attempts at imputing some kind of claim of omnicompetence to me. Please take your tone policing elsewhere.

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#20
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Re: Hypatia of Alexandria – Part 3

11/18/2016 5:12 PM

..."Now you seem to be working rather hard to find a reason to keep objecting to what I've said. That John Nikiu lived in the seventh century and not the fifth century and so is not "a writer of the time" of Hypatia is not "subjective". That's just a fact."...

Maybe they were using different calendars....

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julian_calendar#Year_numbering

..."That there are zero mentions of Hypatia in any of the five accounts of the demolition of the Serapeum and so the claim that "it is said" she tried to save scrolls from its library is not "subjective". It's just a fact."...

It's my understanding that there were several temples dedicated to Serapis that were or could have been called by a similar name, and it is known that several of these places contained scrolls and writings...The Christians of the time destroyed, laid waste to, and then occupied as a place of Christian worship...this occurred across several centuries and possibly even continues to this day....So these accounts may not be talking about the same Serapeum....

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serapeum

..."It's a fact that when Ammianus described the Serapeum a couple of decades before its destruction he used the past tense when mentioning its libraries, indicating that they were no longer there at that stage. These things are all facts."...

The "destruction" of these temples took place over time, they were not leveled just declared off limits for pagan worship and ritual by the emperor Theodosius I...That there were no pagans still using them in some capacity is an assumption...

"According to early Christian sources, bishop Pope Theophilus of Alexandria was the Nicene patriarch when the decrees of emperor Theodosius I forbade public observances of any rites but Christian. Theodosius I had progressively made (year 389) the sacred feasts of other faiths into workdays, forbidden public sacrifices, closed temples, and colluded in acts of local violence by Christians against major cult sites. The decree promulgated in 391 that "no one is to go to the sanctuaries, [or] walk through the temples" resulted in the abandonment of many temples throughout the Empire, which set the stage for widespread practice of converting or replacing these sites with Christian churches."

Given enough time and effort I could punch holes in each and every one of your claims....now that is a fact...

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#21
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Re: Hypatia of Alexandria – Part 3

11/18/2016 5:27 PM

Hoo boy ...

"Maybe they were using different calendar"

If you seriously want to argue that the scholars who have worked on the Chronicle of John of Nikiu are so incompetent that they have somehow managed to misdate it by 280 years, feel free to do so. Good luck. But flapping your hands around, saying "maybe the calendar was different", posting a link to the Wiki article on the Julian calendar and hoping you will be seen as making a substantial point isn't going to cut it.

"So these accounts may not be talking about the same Serapeum"

Since there was only one Serapeum in Alexandria, it was this one that was torn down during the bishopric of Theophilus on order of Theodosius and this is what all five accounts describe, you will have a hard time sustaining that argument. But see if you can. Again, you will need to do a lot more than flap your hands and say "maybe" to show that every single scholar on the planet is wrong and has somehow overlooked this remarkable alternative.

"That there were no pagans still using them in some capacity is an assumption"

I didn't say that "there were no pagans still using them in some capacity", so I have no idea what this weird comment has to do with anything. On the contrary, there were some pagans using it in one capacity - as a base for attacks on Christians. That was why it became the focus of a stand off and why eventually it was torn down. But the fact remains that Ammianus refers to the libraries it had held in the past tense when describing the temple a couple of decades before its demolition.

"Given enough time and effort I could punch holes in each and every one of your claims....now that is a fact..."

*chuckle* If the bumbling efforts above are any indication, it's not a "fact", it's a weak and actually quite amusing empty boast. But bring it on. Let's see if you can do any better than the missteps and hand flapping you've displayed so far. This could be fun ...

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#22
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Re: Hypatia of Alexandria – Part 3

11/18/2016 9:46 PM

..." And further concerning a heathen woman of Alexandria and the tumults which she caused between the Jews and Christians in Alexandria. And how the holy Cyril took the Synagogue of the Jews and made it a church in consequence of his controversy with the Jews. And how they dragged the heathen woman through the streets till she died. And how they burned her body with fire by the command of the patriarch, Abba Cyril."...

Truthfully I don't see how anybody can make any sense out of this....clearly these are just stories passed down through the generations and all based in ignorance and primitive beliefs...It seems to me the leaders were all treacherous murderous heathens, no matter what they called themselves....

http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/nikiu2_chronicle.htm

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#23
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Re: Hypatia of Alexandria – Part 3

11/18/2016 9:55 PM

"Truthfully I don't see how anybody can make any sense out of this."

Yes, if only there was a profession that used a systematic method of analysing and assessing material like this to work out what happened in the past. We could call them "historians" and have them work in universities, painstakingly shifting the evidence and presenting their analysis in rigorous peer reviewed publications. Oh, hang on ...

And I have no idea what your naive expressions of befuddlement above have to do with the non-subjective facts I've presented.

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#24
In reply to #23

Re: Hypatia of Alexandria – Part 3

11/18/2016 10:05 PM

You said " painstakingly shifting the evidence ". Freudian slip? Made me smile.

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#25
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Re: Hypatia of Alexandria – Part 3

11/18/2016 10:14 PM

I guess I agree with E.H.Carr....

"E. H. Carr in his 1961 volume What is History? argues that the inherent biases from the gathering of facts makes the objective truth of any historical perspective idealistic and impossible. Facts are, "like fish in the Ocean," of which we may only happen to catch a few, only an indication of what is below the surface. Even a dragnet cannot tell us for certain what it would be like to live below the Ocean's surface. Even if we do not discard any facts (or fish) presented, we will always miss the majority; the site of our fishing, the methods undertaken, the weather and even luck play a vital role in what we will catch. Additionally, the composition of history is inevitably made up by the compilation of many different biases of fact finding - all compounded over time. He concludes that for a historian to attempt a more objective method, one must accept that history can only aspire to a conversation of the present with the past - and that one's methods of fact gathering should be openly examined. Historical truth and facts therefore change over time, and reflect only the present consensus (if that)."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fact#In_history

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#26
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Re: Hypatia of Alexandria – Part 3

11/18/2016 10:22 PM

"I guess I agree with E.H.Carr...."

I also agree with E.H. Carr. But unlike you I understand that he's talking about broader historical analysis of many pieces of evidence. Not about anything you've tried so clumsily to dispute here. Again, the date of Nikiu's Chronicle is a fact. The absence of Hypatia from any account of the demolition of the Serapeum is a fact. That there was only one Serapeum recorded as demolished in the reign of Theodosius is a fact. What that demolition may tell us about Imperial policy or about pagan/Christian relations in Alexandria or about several other things are interpretations. And that is what Carr is talking about. But the things I refer to above are not interpretations, they are facts.

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#27
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Re: Hypatia of Alexandria – Part 3

11/18/2016 10:50 PM

These are opinions written by people that don't have a full grasp of reality....I don't trust their writings to be factual...If you do, then you also believe in magic, and your opinions can't be trusted either...In my opinion....You are free to believe what you choose, but you are not free to choose my beliefs....

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#28
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Re: Hypatia of Alexandria – Part 3

11/18/2016 11:15 PM

"These are opinions written by people that don't have a full grasp of reality"

Another weird and largely incoherent response, given the context. That John Nikiu lived in the seventh century and not the fifth century is not an "opinion" written by anyone, regardless of their "grasp of reality". It's just a fact. That there are zero mentions of Hypatia in any of the five accounts of the demolition of the Serapeum is also not an "opinion" of someone. It's just a fact. That there is no mention of the Serapuem in any of the source material on Hypatia is likewise. So is the use of the past tense about the libraries by Ammianus.

But even if we weren't talking about plain facts, do you seriously think any historian takes any source at naive face value? Especially ancient sources? How old are you - eleven? Do you have any grasp of what historians do at all?

Just stop. For your own sake, just stop.

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#29
In reply to #28

Re: Hypatia of Alexandria – Part 3

11/19/2016 1:44 AM

You keep repeating yourself....I'm not arguing these points with you....You just said no historian takes any source at it's face value, so we agree, I don't take what you are saying at face value any more than I take this blog about Hypatia at face value...but I'm not going to accept any of your claims as valid without researching this material myself...and you might ask yourself why do you feel the need to characterize my responses in a demeaning way....Lack of respect for other people says a lot about yourself....

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#30
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Re: Hypatia of Alexandria – Part 3

11/19/2016 2:44 AM

"I'm not arguing these points with you"

You certainly seem to be desperately trying to change the subject to something else. But if you go back to the beginning of this very odd exchange, you objected to my initial comment with some vague stuff about how nobody "is ever absolutely right" and how "the best information based on what is known changes with time". So I noted that what I said was mainly noting simple facts - ones that were not subjective, not open to interpretation and have not changed over time. You keep trying to shift further and further away from those plain facts with more vague and totally irrelevant stuff about interpretation, though at one point you tried to actually dispute the facts. But that didn't go so well for you, so now you're back to irrelevant hand waving about interpretation.

"I'm not going to accept any of your claims as valid without researching this material myself"

Okay - off you go. Let us know what you find out. If you discover that there is a source that mentions a library in its account of the demolition of the Serapeum, or one that mentions Hypatia associated with the Serapeum in any way, or amazing new evidence that shows Nikiu was actually an early fifth century chronicler rather than a late seventh century one, please come back and share these remarkable discoveries with us and with the scholarly world. Good luck.

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#31
In reply to #30

Re: Hypatia of Alexandria – Part 3

11/19/2016 10:58 AM

..."desperately trying to change the subject to something else."...

Desperately? ..really...haha ..If you're going to spin what somebody is saying, it's best not to do it on the same page...Anyway thanks for the synopsis but it's not necessary, I was here...Oh and by the way I didn't mean to give you the impression that I was going to research this material, well, any more than I already have...any concessions here will have to be made by amichelen....

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#32

Re: Hypatia of Alexandria – Part 3

11/19/2016 4:13 PM

Mr. O’Neill

Before I make comments to your comments, I would like our readers (you, also) to make sure that we behave without intolerance in this blog. I would like to copy here the “Commenting Rules and Tips” that you post in your blog, “Strange Notions.” I am showing this link, that also belong to you:http://www.strangenotions.com/author/tim-oneill/) These rules, you expect, should be followed to assure a blogging environment without offending people that disagree with the writers.

I want to post your rules here (before I respond to your first post in this thrad) because I will appreciate that you stop from calling people “incompetent” or using demining words to refer to the users, when you do not agree with their statemnts.

I will post my responses to your original comments in several posts; I agree with your Rule 7.

Also, I would like to quote you when you describe yourself here: http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com/

You say about yourself "Wry, dry, rather sarcastic, eccentric, occasionally arrogant Irish-Australian atheist bastard."

Here you have your own rules:

Commenting Rules and Tips

Strange Notions is all about conversation. Whether you agree or disagree, whether you're Catholic, atheist, or agnostic, we want your input. But to keep the dialogue serious and fruitful, we must agree on some simple ground rules. By commenting you agree to the following:

1. Use your real name.

This provides a basic level of accountability and transparency. Strange Notions does not allow anonymous comments. You can verify your name using Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or Disqus—it’s up to you. If you aren’t registered with any of those services you can create a free Disqus account right in the comment box. All you need is your name and email address. If you’re having trouble logging in or creating an account, click here for step-by-step instructions.

2. Feel free to disagree...

Catholics and atheists can find plenty of echo chambers online. Strange Notions is not another one. We know that conversation about the Big Questions is bound to provoke disagreement. But that's alright. Recognizing where and why we disagree is crucial to finding the Truth. Your comment will never be deleted simply for disagreeing with the original post.

3. ...but understand the position first.

It’s easy to misrepresent an argument and then quickly tear it down. But this is merely refuting a “straw man.” Before commenting make sure you understand the arguments being made in the original article and the preceding comments. Psychologist and game theorist Anatol Rapoport sums it up best:

1. Attempt to re-express your target's position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says: "Thanks, I wish I'd thought of putting it that way."

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3. Mention anything you have learned from your target.

4. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.

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The rhetorical assault known as ad hominem, Latin for "to the person," is one of the most common fallacies online. Instead of engaging actual arguments, the culprit criticizes insults, belittles, judges, or mocks the person making the argument. He blasts the opponent's character, intelligence, education, background, motivations, or sometimes all of the above. Attacking persons is fallacious and uncharitable and will not be permitted here. If you are wondering why your comment was flagged or deleted, consider whether it was ad hominem. (Comments that are vulgar, mocking, or insubstantial will be deleted, too.)

5. Engage the argument, not the source.

Another common fallacy related to ad hominem is the genetic fallacy, wherein a person’s claim is dismissed because of its source. However, an argument is not refuted merely because of where it came from. "Two-plus-two equals four" is true whether it's Einstein or Hitler who claims it. If you disagree with a claim, please do not merely belittle or disparage it; show exactly why it is flawed.

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#33
In reply to #32

Re: Hypatia of Alexandria – Part 3

11/19/2016 4:19 PM

" I would like to copy here the “Commenting Rules and Tips” that you post in your blog, “Strange Notions” "

That is not my blog and they are not my rules. That aside, saying people are "incompetent" is not actually a personal attack on them, it's a comment on their content. It's incompetent of you, for example, to mistake Strange Notions for my blog simply because a couple of my articles have been reproduced there. This may not make you feel great, but it's noting an error you've made, it's not the equivalent of calling you horrible names.

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#34
In reply to #33

Re: Hypatia of Alexandria – Part 3

11/19/2016 4:30 PM

Mr. O'Neill,

This is what I found about you in the web, but you must acknowledge that these rules are good, without any sarcasm.

I will answer your comments with the hope that you and me can engage in a productive, intellectual exchange of ideas. Even if am an engineer I have a profound background in matters related to all important endeavors of humans: philosophy, literature, and yes history; I am not as good as you in history but I can talke to you about it. I am from the schools of Benedetto Croce, Giambattista Vico and Arnold Toynbee.

(I will post my comments later today or tomorrow. My wife is expecting me to buy some groceries for dinner...)

Abe

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#35
In reply to #34

Re: Hypatia of Alexandria – Part 3

11/19/2016 4:57 PM

"This is what I found about you in the web"

Unfortunately you didn't take the time to read it properly.

"you must acknowledge that these rules are good, without any sarcasm."

I "must"? How about I acknowledge that I happily keep things civil and reserve my criticism for the content and occasionally the orientation of what is presented - which is where comments about any lack of competent handling of the material or likely biases actually are appropriate. I don't respond well to little lectures or to passive aggression though, so if you can avoid them I'll be much more overtly polite to you than I was to that other guy.

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