Many of you who have been following my blog will know of my first book Accursed Women, is about the plight of women in the ancient world. Even though the characters in the stories are fictional and based on mythical beings, the issues they faced and the lives they led were a reflection of the times. The stories were told by men who had a sexist view and lamented on the sexuality of women. Hesiod did not think highly of women as expressed in his Theogony and Works and Days.
In Theogony, Zeus created a woman—Pandora—who ‘apparently’ conspired and created trouble for men.
 “For from her is the race of women and female kind: of her is the deadly race and tribe of women who live amongst mortal men to their great trouble…”
Hesiod also stated men should marry at 30, an ideal age, and should marry a virgin so that the husband can train her.
 ‘…as for the man who chooses the lot of marriage and takes a good wife suited to his mind, evil continually contends with good.” Works and Days
Unfortunately, in some societies today, that mentality has not changed and to this day women still do not receive equal pay or are not always considered for leadership or management positions. So why did I choose Hypatia as my main character for my next book? Her story is not unfamiliar even today and being a notable and educated woman, rare for the time period, she was targeted for her sexuality and for ‘influencing impressionable young men’.
A little bit of background on Hypatia. She was born in Alexandria circa 370 CE and died 415 CE. She was a popular teacher, taught philosophy and mathematics, and had learned interest in astronomy. She had developed the astrolabe and planesphere—tools for astronomy. From the research I’ve done, she was a highly regarded educator and described as beautiful. She never married, and was a passionate student/teacher and follower of Neo-Platonism. It was this belief and way of life that led to her death.
Alexandria, named after Alexander the Great in 331 BCE (he named it after himself; no ego there!), the initial construction was by one of his generals, Cleomenes, but it was Ptolemy I who ruled Egypt following Alexander’s death and the city became the major centre. It was Ptolemy who commissioned the building of the famous Library of Alexander, the museum and the Temple of Serapis. The City of Alexandria attracted many scholars from the Greek world and beyond, and rivalled the Athens the sweetheart of Ancient Greece.
This is where Hypatia grew up, taught by her father, Theon professor of Mathematics. Her mother doesn’t feature in the research and from the various sources, I surmise that she may have died while Hypatia was a baby or in her early childhood. Her upbringing was unique for the times, which will be further explored in the next post.
Thank you for your continued support and as always, I look forward to your comments and will respond.
Historical fiction novelist and a secondary teacher, Luciana Cavallaro, burnt out but not done… yet.
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Hesiod. Theogony + Works and Days. Penguin Books, United Kingdom.
Mark, J.J. (2009). Hypatia of Alexandria. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/Hypatia_of_Alexandria/