Saturday, June 12, 2010

Mangled History: Up In Smoke -- Myths About Hypatia and the Library at Alexandria

Interesting! Of course, it's no surprise that people with axes to grind are using the name of Hypatia as the launchpad for their latest outbursts against (insert whatever it is this time *here*). OK, usually this little myth shows up in rounds of Christian-bashing. (There's a new-ish movie that's bound to inflame this myth, fill the heads of historically-ignorant moviegoers with nonsense, and in general make my job harder.)

FYI, part of that Library burned in 48 BC because of Julius Caesar, who was in Egypt as part of his civil war against Pompey the Great and got mixed up in messy local politics (involving a power struggle between a certain Cleopatra VII -- yes, THAT Cleopatra -- and her brother Ptolemy XIII Philopator). Then there was more smoke and ashes with Aurelian in the 3rd century. Both of these things happened far before Hypatia in the 4th century.

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