Living in a Man's World: The Untimely & Brutal Death …
Possible Problems: This film has been incorrectly criticized as being anti-Christian. Actually, the movie is against intolerant fundamentalism — that of the Pagans who started the fight that led to the destruction of the Serapeum, as well as Cyril's bitter approach to communal relations which, according to some historians, "fomented the pervading atmosphere of hostility which led to Hypatia's death." The movie was screened by the Vatican before it was released, and the Catholic Church made no objection. TWM agrees with the statement that "[Agora] is not against Christians and most certainly not against the Christians of today." Both quotations from , April 18, 2010.
The first 78 minutes of the Movie: On one occasion the actress playing Hypatia is seen fully nude from the back with a fleeting partial view of one of her breasts as she exits a bath. Later in the film, her clothed breast is groped for a moment by a rebellious slave who is in love with her. He immediately repents and begs her forgiveness. An actress portraying a young Jewish girl is shown for a second losing her clothing in the scene of the pogrom. There is some violent close quarters combat between Pagans and Christians which is shown to be painful, however, the R rating for violence is undeserved given what is now rated as PG-13.
The Remainder of the Film: If the entire film is used, in addition to the historical inaccuracies, there is one additional scene in which the actress playing Hypatia is again shown fully nude from the rear just before she is strangled by Davus in an act of mercy.
Philosophical Dictionary: Horkheimer-Hypothetical
Rationale for Using the Movie: Properly introduced, scaffolded and corrected, the film provides a vivid picture of the topics described in the above. This knowledge is essential to an understanding of the arc of the history of the West. The movie and the comparison with the historical record can also provide an excellent opportunity for the study of historical fiction, the changes in attitudes toward gender in Western Civilization, and the dangers of intolerance and communal strife.
Cross-Curricular Opportunities: This film can be used to link history with the following areas of instruction: astronomy, women's studies, humanities, and religion. For astronomy, see TWM's . For women's studies note that Hypatia was probably the most accomplished female mathematician, philosopher, astronomer, and educator in the Greco-Roman World. Consider studying her in depth. (See the , the and the for information on Hypatia.) Humanities classes can focus on the city of Alexandria and its library-knowledge industry. The communal strife that roiled Alexandria as the Christians confronted first the Pagans, then Christians with unorthodox beliefs, and then the Jews will provide an added dimension to religion classes.Objectives/Student Outcomes Using this Lesson Plan: Students will retain striking visual images and have increased retention of a pivotal period in Western history and the other subjects of the film described in the . They will be exposed to important themes of gender equality and tolerance. Through the correction of the historical inaccuracies in the movie, students will also become involved in the analysis of a work of historical fiction.
Hypatia was a popular teacher and head of the philosophical community at Alexandria until her torture and death at the hands of a clergy-led Christian mob.