Agora (II)

Amanda Aremisia Forrester

I just watched Agora yesterday. Gods, I cried so hard. It was very emotional, especially for Pagans, and the movie made Hypatia’s murder a more merciful one. In reality, she was skinned alive with oyster shells in a Christian church in front of a watching congregation. I understand not wanting to show that, this isn’t Passion of the Christ. But I wish they had let you know the truth in the epilogue or something.

Rachel Weisz did a great job portraying Hypatia. I was impressed. When I first heard of the casting I was not pleased, especially as Hypatia was in her mid forties when she was killed. But Weisz did a very good job!

Alexandria was beautiful, the scope of the shots were incredible. Just seeing the Pharos lighthouse and all the temples, the mixture of Egyptian and Greek architecture, was very moving for me as a Greco-Egyptian Pagan. They captured the spirit of the city wonderfully. They actually make Bishop Cyril a little too nice, strangely. The man was a monster. He was just as murderous to his fellow Christians that he deemed heretics, as he was to the Jews and Pagans. If they had shown him as he really was, every modern Christian would say it was exaggerated in an anti-Christian agenda, but sadly it’s the truth!

My one big issue with the movie was that the philosophers (not including Hypatia and her students) led the attack on the Christians that preceded the Christian mob retaliating and burning the Library. Firstly, the Christians had broken into the Temple of Serapis and stolen the sacred objects from the inner sanctum. They then paraded them through the streets, desecrating them. I can’t remember if they killed the priests of Serapis or not, so I’m not gonna say either way.

Secondly, the white-robed intellectals leading the attack? Yeah, right. The desercration of the Temple of Serapis caused the Pagans in the forum to riot and attack the Christians, trying to get their sacred objects back.

At least in the movie this attack by the Pagans is in response to the Christians burning a Pagan in the forum. He lives, but he was in a religious debate with one of the Christian leaders. The Christians’ response is to throw the Pagan man into the large fire at the center of the marketplace.

All in all, it was a pretty good movie. It didn’t demonize all Christians, but did show what really happened and the violence of the extremist sects. Christians who like to ignore history and pretend that all Pagans converted peacefully and instantly to Christianity will not like this film, but they rarely like the truth. Pagans may have a hard time watching this movie. I cried several times and had damp eyes through a lot of it. Watching the mob pull down the statue of Serapis and rip and burn the scrolls in the Library of Alexandria were especially painful.

I wish they had included some of the deleted scenes though. I feel it’s a great movie, as long as one understands the historical inaccuracies. And the story about Davus, Hypatia’s slave boy who is in love with her, is completely made up, by the way.

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