Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Library of Alexandria...

Every so often, I run into a piece of history that I knew, sort of, but that I didn't know the "whole story" of.

I knew the Library of Alexandria existed and that it had been destroyed....and now I know how...

I watched a film last night on the city and culture that was Alexandria, that broke my heart. That a CHRISTIAN MOB would rush the library and destroy EVERYTHING was almost more than I could bear. It made me think of the horror I felt when the Muslims smashed he thousands of years old Buddhist statues.

But it was more than that. Not only did they destroy the library, they took a culture where women were respected and they plunged it back into the dark ages of oppression.

Hypatia was the daughter of Theon, who was her teacher and the last known mathematician associated with the Museum of Alexandria. She became head of the Platonist school at Alexandria in approximately 400. She taught MEN. This was her sin, well this and the fact that she wouldn't embrace Christianity. And she wouldn't embrace Christianity for many reasons, one of which was their oppression of women, their relegation of women to a second class citizen, one who could not teach. And for that she was killed.

In the movie it was kind of a romantic death, although we saw her dragged into the library and stripped naked. In the film, a man who was her slave, who had been in her school, smothers her so she isn't stoned to death. But the varying histories I've since read show that her death was so much more horrific. Some reports suggest she was flayed with ostraca (pot shards) and set ablaze while still alive, though other accounts suggest those actions happened after her death.

So many Christians have said to me that Christianity does not oppress women. That Christian history isn't that violent. But I know these are lies that one has to tell oneself to stay sane...I had to tell myself lies to remain in the right wing of fundamentalist Christianity in order to stay sane. And then one day, I simply couldn't do it anymore.

One thing I am believing because of our history, though, is that Islam could also grow up and grow through their violent tendencies given enough time. If we could do it, I believe they will do it also. I have to believe that to stay sane.