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I always say it‟s a story of a woman, a civilization, and a planet. I tried to see the earth in perspective. I tried to look at the earth as small—as small as possible” Alejandro Amenabar on Agora, in interview at wwwsite http://www.webcitation.org/5qKVt2Mdc
Since 2005, two Hypatia novels, one of which has been re-released under new title in 2010. Following Maria Dzielska‟s 1996 invaluable study Hypatia of Alexandria , since 2000 four book-length studies on Hypatia‟s life and thought. 2010 re-release of Charles Kingsley‟s nineteenth century classic Hypatia, or New Foes With an Old Face including a To Kindle edition (!) Feminist hero? Enlightenment martyr (Voltaire et al)? Last of the „Athenians‟/pagans/classical philosophers? Gibbon on Hypatia, her gorgeous train of horses, Cyril‟s jealous eye, and “indelible” crime—the decline and fall of the classical world
Diophantus. Jews. to be a bishop. 450 CE) Her sophrosyne: “articulate and eloquent in speaking as she was prudent and civil in her deeds. Christians. and leading citizens: Orestes (to be the prefect of Alexandria) and Synesius.” Letter 137) . she „who legitimately presides over the mysteries of philosophy. along with virtue” Letter 81.. Apollonius‟ Conics (to which we‟ll return below) Astronomical commentaries: Ptolemy‟s Almagest..) Her trasn-religious urbanity: students from amongst pagans. Mathematical commentaries: Euclid. c. Adored by her students: Palladus (“you who are yourself the beauty of reasoning”) and Synesius (“I account you the only good thing that remains inviolate.” (loc cit. Her sophia: “. such attainments in literature and science as to surpass all the philosophers of her time” (Socrates Scholastius. perhaps also The Handy Tables. as in Agora.
scene 16 [1:23:55-1:24:00]). Levinas. which a Christian minister in the film warns Hypatia is „a matter of time‟ (Agora. Interesting times + Hypatia‟s virtues + paucity of direct evidence = space and cause for the proliferation of different Hypatias. paganism and monotheism. Christianity and Judaism free inquiry and dogmatic faith? “Athens and Jerusalem” (Shestov. . Europe and Africa. E. in a time like ours which strikingly resembles the religious diversity and conflicts of late C4 CE Alexandria. esp. the rise of Christianity: in the decades preceding the film‟s action (391 and then 412-415 C.East and West.). the Emperor Julian had tried and failed to arrest the great cultural shift from paganism to Christendom.Leo Strauss & his students)? The eclipse of paganism.
. female sophos or “sage”. a way of life. not a “profession” What can the effects of the scientific revolution in natural philosophy be on such a notion of philosophy? Carried through by recourse to the figure of Hypatia in Agora.Two poles or equants of our concern: What is philosophy? For the ancients. a modern depiction of an ancient.
in Hypatia‟s Academy) . The Ptolemaic view (scenes 1 and 3.
and the commitment to circular motion—or else to posit that the earth is accentric relative to the sun‟s orbit. Retrogression (problem) and epicycles (the Ptolemaic way of saving appearances. see Agora 1:06:30 [“not to have a centre breaks my heart. Aspasias”]) .
not geocentrism . Aristarchus and Copernicus‟ simpler solution—heliocentrism.
showing relativity of motion (its “external”. But heliocentrism conflicts with our sense that the earth we walk on is the most stable “down to earth” thing that could be! The ship experiment. indifferent character. Agora scene 12 [1:01:30-1:03:30]. . rather than the Aristotelian idea that the way something tends to move belongs to its specific “nature).
does not defend the perfection of the heavens. If the stars move in a circle. “The filth and mire of the world. The earth moves around the sun = the earth is a heavenly body or planet itself The Aristotelian objection that movement “down here” is imperfect. why would they share their perfection with us?” Amenabar‟s Hypatia. death and destruction. as their different brightnesses during retrogression would imply . but brings them “down to earth”. faced with the contradiction. i. “look around you. anticipating the 17th century break with the ancient conception. Perhaps they do not move in spheres. the most lifeless part of the universe. ie. the argument in the mouth of prefect Orestes.. yet surely the planets move in perfect spheres.e. possibility of celestial physics or even mechanics(!). bespeaks its place as “the worst.” Montaigne in the final decades of the 16th century. the bottom storey of the house…” Agora 1:23:20.. . the lowest.
The Conics of Apollonius on which Hypatia wrote commentary) show .. It can be generated as one of a series of four shapes made by slicing a cone at different angles . that—scandalously--the sphere is not perfect and sui generis. (Agora 1:37:10 -1:38:10) ....
] .. but two equants . [Agora 1:38:10-ff. Rather in ellipses ... Perhaps then epicycles can be avoided by supposing that planets move around the earth.. and the earth the sun—but not in spheres. This implies that orbits have not one centre.
not Christianity. betraying her and then repenting from shame Two shaping allegorised thoughts: An ellipse has two centres. Is this not a simply antiChristian film? Against political reductionism: responding to art as wholly reducible to political content Plus: Amenabar‟s Hypatia as surely like Christ. or any one tradition. nor men solely. Judaism. not one—so too the film is an argument against extremism. And . with the slave boy Davus as like Peter.. not Athens without Jeruselem.. but women also. .
The three. then they are equal to each other. Euclid‟s first koinia ennoia: if two things are equal to a third. Orestes to Christians and Jews. and Synesius‟ false application of it to Hypatia. in front of Orestes—in order to try to convert Hypatia from pagan philosophy . unequal statements of Euclid‟s first common notion in the film: Hypatia‟s to Orestes and Synesius.
. third (not fifth or ethereal!) element: the vastness of the cosmos itself Amenabar: “I was on a boat‟ in Malta in 2004. and I was overwhelmed . „and for the first time I saw the Milky Way. Christians and Jews.. . at start and end. and each great moment of violence and passion between these two poles. before the vast greatness of the cosmos. as Euclid‟s common notion suggests. Christians and pagans.e. are equal to each other i.” The nine views from above. I wanted to convey this. The “hero” of the film is this greater. so too.
The passions as partial. The ancient view of philosophy as an ethical pursuit and way of living (bios)—hence the relevance of biographies. closed and distorting perspectives on the world Spiritual exercises to combat the passions. and reshape the prokopta’s (student’s) thinking The example of the cloth with menstrual blood in Agora as a spiritual exercise Hypatia‟s sophrosyne reconsidered: a philosophical comportment . memorabilia.
yet are not led by perfection to the furthest bounds of virtue.e.Hadot. and all the vast regions of thirsty desert. “The View from Above” in Philosophy as a Way of Life.7: 'Yes. P. the whole circumference of the earth is but as a point compared with the size of the heavens. which is inhabited by living beings known to us. And of this tiny portion of the universe there is but a fourth part.. And do you think of setting forth your fame and publishing your name in this space. Think then thus upon it. '. which. If from this fourth part you imagine subtracted all that is covered by sea and marsh.. you will find but the narrowest space left for human habitation. Lady Philosophy to Boethius in Consolations II. there is one thing which can attract minds. That is. Cf. and that thing is the love of fame and reputation for deserving well of one's country. though by nature excelling. and see that it is but a slight thing of no weight. as you have learnt from the demonstration of Ptolemaeus [Ptolemy]. Smarten up! . i.. which is but as a point within another point so closely circumscribed? And what size or magnificence can fame have which is shut in by such close and narrow bounds? . As you have learnt from astronomers' showing.' said she. it must be reckoned as of no size at all.. if you compare the earth with the circle of the universe.
but they give wings to their souls. so that. whether fixed or wandering.. The aim of repeatedly recalling to mind the view “to attain to greatness of soul. In thought.. [the philosophers] contemplate nature and everything found within her: they attentively explore the earth. they accompany the moon. the sea. Their bodies remain on earth. on philosophy and the view from above: “As their goal is a life of peace and serenity.” (Hadot 242-243) Cf. the sun. and in all schools its function was to teach people to despise human affairs and to achieve inner peace. the air. Philo of Alexandria. rising into the ether. the sky. “(at Hadot 243-244) . they may observe the powers which dwell there. and every nature found therein. as is fitting for those who have truly become citizens of the world . and the rotations of the other stars.
by killing people.. I wanted to show that perspective so people would realise we’re nothing but tiny creatures ..” “If you film alot of people from above and speed it up. Amenabar on Agora as political and suprapolitical film: “The movie—what it is saying is that every time you defend your ideas by using arms. at the same time.. So the movie shows man at his best and at his worst.. great—you see these highly developed people as small as ants [at the same time] knowing so much about the universe. that happened with the Christians and that happened with the Pagans. It's happening nowadays with fundamentalism...” “Yes and. then you become [like] an insect and that happened with the Jews..” . .. any kind of fundamentalism . we look like ants.
. and great enough to realise this—and perhaps therefore to temper their less noble passions Agora as an argument for the ethical import of scientific. The ethical import of the view from above does not presuppose the Aristotelian-Ptolemaic system. or any system with particular or even general pronoia/providence Ancient atomism and the infinite universe in Lucretius‟ De Rerum Natura a double thought: humans as both tiny in the cosmic perspective. “disenchanted” culture in engendering enlightened or philosophic humility.
” .. I hope at least that it makes them want to climb a mountain one day.. or go to the desert or the sea. and if people don‟t like the film. and look at the stars—because we can‟t see them from the city. And I think that at least once in our lives.. we should look at the sky around us and see where we are. [a sense] mostly [of] having travelled to the stars .. because it is really amazing ... The film Agora is about: “.
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