Hypatia: The Life and Legend of an Ancient Philosopher (Oxford University Press, 2017) £19.00.One of the bitter truths of the legacy of Hypatia, a late Neoplatonic philosopher of Alexandria, pivots on the fact that she is unfortunately remembered more for her tragic and horrific death at the hands of an angry mob than for her intellectual and political accomplishments. Taking into consideration the scant evidence scholars have for reconstructing her life and thought, Edward Watts’ Hypatia: The Life and Legend of an Ancient Philosopher attempts to refocus attention on the astonishing impact Hypatia had as a mathematician, philosopher and public intellectual by rigorously detailing the socio-economic, political, cultural and historical parameters of what her life may have looked like in the Alexandria of the 4th and 5th centuries. Watts opens his manuscript with a detailed narrative of her Lenten murder, laying out the causes for her brutal demise before steering the introduction to his own intentions by making an astute parallel between Hypatia and Martin Luther King’s respective assassinations. Their tragic deaths admittedly make them both powerful symbols, martyrs for the causes they may or may not have championed, but “that does not make their lives unimportant.” (4) Instead
International Journal of the Platonic Tradition – Brill
Published: Nov 3, 2017
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