I remember hearing of Hypatia's tragic tale from Carl Sagan in his "Cosmos" TV series way back in 1980. I was appalled by the tale, and shook my head as any good reasoned young man would. It was a story that stuck with me for much of my life. And I often wondered if such an important biography would ever be published about this mysterious and remarkable historic figure. I truly did not think so, and believed that Hypatia's memory would have to live on with what little history there was written about her, and the blurb mentioned once or twice by Carl Sagan as he recounted the once magnificent library of Alexandria.
People are stupid. I agree with Ridley Scott on this. They really and truly are. Whether it's the zealots portrayed in this film, or the Christian who sat behind me commenting on the film (he ACTUALLY APPLAUDED the Christians in the film), or just people in general, they really are stupid. It's how we get things like religion, and place not just some whimsical desire in them, but a devout belief, a serious conviction of some entity that is displeased by earthly decadence. Hence the crux of the story in "Agora".
We have the absolute mind numbed moronic thinking of the masses verse the practicality of those who know they do not know everything, but have a thirst for knowledge, and to share that knowing with others so that they can live a life free of fear.
But, we see that it is fear that wins out. Not reason. Not logic applied to a simple problem with a simple solution. But pure, unmitigated fear. Everyone from the heads of state, the heads of religions, the heads of mobs, the heads of any social entity in Roman Imperial Egypt is gripped by fear. Knowledge. Reason. Logic. Understanding. Education. Those are the true weapons that can assail the most ardent of foes.
But fear is primal, and infects everyone and everything like a plague spread by rats. The notion of imaginary beings who, in spite of being all powerful and all knowing, are vested in a patch of desert and how its human female population dresses should be a warning sign. Does this not sound familiar? We have the same concerns today, and although codified and addressed by legislation for local morays, and investigated and codified by alleged behavioral experts, people are still pretty touchy about anything remotely informative that doesn't gybe with their ideals: as a for instance; sex in this case.
Hypatia thinks like a man, despite her sexual makeup. She is the one who calls reason, as any good leader or scientist would. The rest merely cower to the polity dominating the social terrain. But she is optimistic. Even so, the times tragically overwhelm her.
The story of Hypatia has been somewhat elongated, no doubt for dramatic effect. Regardless, it's a good watch. Buy yourself a ticket, or grab the DVD when it comes out. You won't be disappointed.