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Remembering Hypatia: A Novel of Ancient…

Remembering Hypatia: A Novel of Ancient Egypt

by Brian Trent

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353497,854 (3.5)6
___________________ On a November night in Egypt, 414 A.D., one of history's most brilliant individuals was assassinated. Her name was Hypatia, teacher and scientist of the fabled Great Library of Alexandria and the last glimmer of hope before the Dark Ages. ___________________ The Roman Empire is crumbling, the fragments of the classical world regrouping in Egypt when Thasos, son of an ill-fated scholar, meets Hypatia of Alexandria. Astronomer, mathematician, and philosopher at a time when women were shunned from learning, Hypatia is a daring visionary in a world about to change forever. As an insidious power-struggle erupts between church and state Hypatia finds herself at the forefront of battle, but she is not alone. Those who cherish her, who will remember her, become her allies - including the powerful Governor Orestes, who keeps his consuming love for her as secret as she keeps her feelings from him. Remembering Hypatia is a vivid retelling of a now-forgotten historical tragedy, when courage stood against fear, when the legacy of the wise vanished in the dark. explores the final days, not just of a brilliant mind, but of a lost era...BASED ON THE TRUE STORY… (more)



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The author's take on Hypatia, the pagan woman philosopher, mathematician, and astronomer of 4th and 5th century Alexandria, a city known for its religious tolerance, as well as for the Great Library. Hypatia teaches there and single-mindedly pursues her science. She does have high placed friends, a lawyer, Governor Orestes, a general, and the group's elder Synesius of Cyrene. This group has studied at the Library.
Religious intolerance gets out of hand at the instigation of Cyril the Archbishop. This whole aspect of the novel is an object lesson in the destructiveness of religious fanaticism and the dark path it can follow. The Governor is severely wounded and Hypatia herself is lynched in a gruesome scene. The Library is burned to ashes. A lovelorn student of Hypatia's, Thasos, has stalked and tried to sweet-talk her but she sees through him. He finds his destiny as a wandering scholar.

Characters were mostly black-and-white, but for Thasos' finding his destiny, and Demetria his mother, not a bad woman, but one we can sympathize with: her husband had been under the spell of the Library and neglected her, which she rightfully resents. Orestes was strong and decisive and Cyril dripped with evil. Hypatia herself was too much the "saint." I liked the metaphor of the Pharos, which was dark as Orestes was leaving the harbor; this to me suggested the light of learning being snuffed out. "Reigns" instead of "reins" guiding horses was extremely irritating. This was used several times in the novel. The anachronistic "Red as a tomato" was an added irritant. ( )
  janerawoof | Mar 17, 2017 |
My review at Tales of an Ordinary Girl ( )
  ordinarygirl | Nov 1, 2008 |
The great city is a peaceful melting pot of mankind, brimming over with a variety of race and religions. In a world where bearded barbarians wreak senseless violence on faraway cities, this place is a bastion of civilization and tolerance; rational people feel lucky to live in safety from terror here. But still, the danger of religious fanaticism is growing, and a woman scientist and teacher will soon find herself in mortal danger, partly because her free-thinking ways threaten the power of certain theological leaders, but mostly because she is a woman who dares to stand out among men ... Is this a story of our modern times, a warning of how religion can be used to teach hatred and given as an excuse to commit evil deeds? Not exactly ...

This is a story of Egypt in 414 A.D. The great city is Alexandria; the terrorists are Visigoths; and the fundamentalist fanatics are early Christians, plying their growing strength against the science and philosophies of intellectuals. First the Alexandrians lose their freedom to worship as they wish; then their freedom to think as they wish is threatened. And Hypatia, a woman of remarkable brilliance and charisma, pays the ultimate price for her intelligence, her unorthodox beliefs, and her gender. Although this story happened nearly two thousand years ago, we Americans can shiver with apprehension. The issues may be different - pagan temples and astronomy instead of same-sex marriage and stem cell research -- but the parallels are undeniable. And when religion overcame reason in Alexandria, an age of darkness descended which lasted a thousand years.

"If nothing else, Hypatia thought, history is like a planet continually traversing the same path around a sun. Just when you think something's over, it comes looming back from the gloom on yet another pass."

Brian Trent brings the 5th century world of Alexandria to life with vivid imagery, unforgettable characters, and every-day details which prove life in the ancient world was not so different from our own. ( )
  dsalerni | Jul 28, 2007 |
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