Childrens’ Book Review – Of Numbers and Stars: The Story of Hypatia

Many Pagans in the Twin Cities are have seen the film Agora, now available on DVD, and have remarked on how important this film is for our community.

It is a powerful film. It is the story of immense loss, and injustice, and the passing of an age. A strongly woven tale  and believable characters give it appeal to a wide audience …  I got responses;  “Powerful”,  “Intense”, ” Like I imagined it”.  I’d give it an eight. Very sad, and emotionally difficult to experience as a Pagan, but a film Pagans need to support and see.

For a review and synopsis of the film, go here.

The story of Hypatia, her life and the “passing of the age” of Paganism and classical science and literature, is one that should be told within our community.  Yet the movie is not appropriate for young children. Which is why I was extremely excited to hear about a  Picture Book that covers much of Hypatia’s unusual life. Of Numbers and Stars: The Story of Hypatia by Pam Paparone was published in 2006, but is getting renewed interest due to the success of Agora.

Blessed with an unusual father, a university professor who was determined to teach her everything he knew, she studied fishing and horseback riding as well as poetry, mathematics, science, and philosophy. As an adult, she became a respected scholar and, later, a symbol of learned women. Appended notes describe Hypatia’s violent death, comment on ancient mathematics, and name some of the author’s sources. With decorative motifs reminiscent of ancient Greek and Egyptian art, the stylized acrylic paintings create a sense of Hypatia’s world. Children may need help to get much out of lines such as In search of true wisdom, she read the pronouncements of the oracles… Carolyn Phelan, Booklist

This book would be a wonderful addition to any Pagan parents’ book shelves.  The death of Hypatia at the hands of a Christian mob is only touched on by a footnote, so parents do not need to worry that the book would be too violent for their children.  Not only does it reinforce to children that in Paganism faith and science are not mutually exclusive, it gives young girls a strong and positive role model.  The artwork is a pleasing blend of Greek and Egyptian, just as Alexandria was while Hypatia was alive.


Agora – Film Review

The hype of this movie got me out to the theater tonight. Billed as a Pagan film, the lead character is classed as one, although she is portrayed more as philosopher, teacher, and scientist. The polytheists are, for the most part, the ‘good guys’  (interestingly the Christians were always dressed in black, and the Pagans mostly in white ). Since the film is set right as the Christianization of the Roman empire is nearly complete, we don’t really learn much about these Pagans. We only see the beautiful  temple, the remnant of the scholarly  side of the now passed Greek legacy, and hear brief reference to their  principal Ptolemaic God,  Serapis.
Continue reading

Agora Comes to Minneapolis

Movie hailed as most important explicitly Pagan film ever released opens at the Uptown theatre on Friday.

Where: Uptown Theatre

When: Opens Friday, July 30th – HERE ONLY ONE WEEK

Showtimes: (1:30 4:15) 7:00 9:45

Synopsis: Agora, written Amenabar and Mateo Gil and directed by Alejandro Amenabar, tells the story of religious, cultural, and political tension between Greco-Roman polytheists and Christians in 4th century CE Alexandria through the eyes of Hypatia (played by Rachel Weisz), a female philosopher, mathematician, and philosopher.  Surrounded by religious turmoil and social unrest, Hypatia struggles to save the knowledge of classical antiquity from destruction.

Buzz in the community:

“I predict this will become one of those “must see” films that will be watched and shared within our community.” Jason Pitzl-Waters, The Wild Hunt

“Awash in emotion, I wept. I wept for the burning of the scrolls. I wept for the taking of the scientist and philosopher. I wept for her death. I wept for never having seen the great city of Alexandria at its height, before the Pagans fell into excess and the Christians took false power. I wept for all of those who failed to turn the tide of ignorance, political greed, and mob rule.” T. Thorn Coyle

“…we are witnessing what we will remember as the first Truly Pagan movie and the first Great Pagan movie. Zan Fraser, The Juggler

“I think Agora is one of the most important films the Pagan community has ever received. It explores a world suddenly devoid of our virtues, lost in darkness…The film evoked strong emotions… As a Pagan, this was not an easy film to watch. Seeing our Gods, temples, centers of learning, priests and philosophers desecrated was painful. Really painful. We know it happened. We’ve read about it. To actually see it makes it real in a way I did not expect.” Star Foster, Patheos