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.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

It is ironic that in most churches the women are in charge of Christian education. Men don't seem to want the responisiblity or the time to teach. Dispite that and the fact that 51 percent of seminarians, in denominations that ordain women, are female. The church hasn't changed much though because the most women only last 2 to 5 years in ministry before leaving the pastorate. For get the glass cieling, the church has one made of stained glass. Sign me a Former Pastor

MysticBlueRose said...

I would have LOVED to be a chaplain...And now I am attending Celtic services at an Episcopalian church where the Rector is a woman and I see that I could have been...Sad...

Raymond said...

I didn't know that. All I've ever heard was that it was destroyed by fire.

MysticBlueRose said...

Me too, Raymond.

greyone40 said...

I have not had the whole story even now. Not everything was destroyed. There was a lot of literature kept in Spain by the Moors, which had been lost to Europe until the Moors were conquered. Much of the old Ptolemaic collected knowledge was then made available for us. how accurate is this? I don't know for sure, but I will be digging around again some time soon. The trick now is to pick past the revisionist historians, so I tend to start with some old references.