Gender in the Diversity of World Religions

Sosipatra was born during the early part of the fourth century and her birth was a noble one. She got married to philosopher, Eustathius, who was the governor of Cappadocia. After the death of her husband, she returned to her native city, where she taught philosophy. As a widow, she returned to Pergamum where her friend Aedesius who was also a philosopher also educated her sons. Hypatia of Alexandria and Sosipatra of Pergamon were two philosophers considered to be of higher souls, and were protected and guided by daemons and heroes. The achievements of the two philosophers is a clear indication that women can go through all odds to be successful even in male-dominated societies.

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Hypatia, for instance, was not only a philosopher of high repute, but was also the teacher of Synesius. She also authored a famous treatise on numbers. On the other hand, Sosipatra instructed countless students as well as the writer of various commentaries on the dialogue of Plato. The two women philosophers were practicing theurigists. Moreover, Hypatia was able to use a statue telestically to treat a man who had fallen in love with her. On the other hand, Sosipatra was a victim of love spell that was cast on her by philometer. The other women such as Asclepigenia and Anthusa of Cilicia joined men such as Hermias and Plutarch to contact, comprehend, and translate the divine presence to aristocratic clients throughout the empire.  Hypatia was killed by a Christian mob who falsely accused her for religious turmoil. Though there have been suggestions that her death marked the Classical antiquity, others have argued that Hellenistic philosophy kept flourishing until the age of Justinian in the sixth century.

As a Neoplatonist philosopher, Hypatia belonged to the mathematical tradition and followed the third century thinkers, who discouraged empirical enquiry, and instead encouraged mathematical and logical studies. Many of her works were believed to have been collaborative works with her father. From the onset, Hypatia exhibited an extremely keen intelligence that made her to outshine co-disciples such as Halmas and Mantuclas, learning the Pythagorean mathematics to support Platonic philosophy. She also applied her understanding both to ethics.

The Purpose of the Ritual of Violence in the Torture and Murder of Hypatia

The torture and murder of Hypatia was one of the earliest examples of Christian violence where innocent people were murdered by mobs that profess to follow Jesus of Nazareth, whom the first century Christians referred to as the Prince of Peace. The exact number of deaths remains unknown, but conservative estimates indicate that thousands of civilians were killed by Christian knights in the war to recapture Jerusalem. Indeed, the death of Hypatia is believed to have been used for polemical reasons. The responsibility for the death of Hypatia was also put in the hands of Cyril men for the readers to consider her as the martyr of Hellenism who is comparable Empire Julian who wanted to restore paganism as the main religion of the empire, but was killed by a treacherous Christian.

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The death of Julian qualifies less as martyrdom compared with that of Hypatia. The intellect of Hellenism and Christianity emotionalism were vividly opposed. The opposing treatment of Cyril and the intelligent Hypatia illustrated the major problem that existed between the Christians and pagans. Hypatia participated in the last effort to oppose the Christian religion. She symbolized the old culture, and was meant to suffer the consequences of political struggle to master Alexandria. Therefore, the purpose of the ritual of Hypatia’s torture and death was to represent paganism as an opposition to a society that was becoming increasingly powerful. In this case, Hypatia is a true symbol. The role of archbishop of Hypatia, Cyril, in the death of Hypatia remains central to polemic writers. The writers have depicted the archbishop’s direct participation to portray him as a symbol of Christianity that was full of passion instead of intellect.

There were also rumors of Hypatia meeting Orestes frequently, which could have been an obstacle to the reconciliation between Cyril and the prefect. The rumors are believed to have incited the mob violence that led to her murder. This can be summarized as Hyapatia being a victim of political jealousy, which prevailed at the time. In this context, the conflict could have not between Christian officials and pagans; instead, it was a conflict between two Christians. Even though Hypatia was not a Christian, she never engaged in anti-Christian propaganda.   Hypatia’s other students who were Christians included Isidore and Orestes.  It is no doubt, therefore, that the torture and murder of Hypatia can be viewed from many perspectives.

It matters that Hypatia was a woman. In patriarchal era where women were not expected to have strong values, she stood out as a person with strong philosophies. She was able to understand the Pythagorean Theorem and astronomy and apply them in her philosophies and challenge men. She was also an astrologer and a humanist who suffered cruelly for peaceful and knowledge-based life. In fact, her death put her as a legend and a historical feminist martyr.

The attainment of knowledge is not a dangerous pursuit for women. Through her knowledge, Hypatia contributed to numerous works, even collaborating with her father. Her notable contributions were in astronomy and science. She is also known to have made significant contributions in mathematics. For instance, she reported to have edited the work of The Conics of Apollonious from where the concepts such as hyperbolas, parabolas and ellipses were developed. Her contribution made the principles easier for people to understand, thereby allowing the work to carry on for many centuries. Hypatia acquired knowledge that enabled her to expound the philosophy of Neoplatonism. Besides, Hypatia was able to connect neoplatonist philosophy with mathematics. Therefore, attainment of knowledge is not a dangerous pursuit for women given the significant contributions they made in history.

In a city that was becoming diverse religiously, competitions among religions determined the way that Hypatia lost her life. She was a close friend of the pagan prefect Orestes, so she was blamed by Cyril, who was the Christian archbishop for preventing Orestes from accepting Christianity. In addition, Hypatia was considered an obstacle to those who would have wanted to accept Christianity if it were not for her charm, charisma and intellect in making mathematical and philosophical concepts comprehensible to her students. Such concepts were regarded as contradictory to the teachings of the new church. In the early days of Christianity, Alexandria was considered the focal point for learning Christianity. However, when faith and power grew in adherents, fighting among different factions could not have been prevented. As a consequence, Alexandria became a center of religious intolerance and Hypatia had to become the symbol of the tragedy.

The Christian mob had cultivated in their minds that Hypatia had been the reason for strained relationship between the Prefect Orestes and archbishop Cyril. The misconception about Hypatia that had been calculated in the minds of Christian mobs drew ire among those who had hoped that the patriarch and the prefect would reconcile. Also, when Theophilus, the patriarch of Alexandria, destroyed certain pagan temples that were in the city, his actions encouraged many Christians to try to eliminate paganism, consequently, many pagan places of worship were destroyed. Such destructions and killings could have created the tensions that occurred between Christians and pagans.

In thinking about Sosipatra, female intelligence is viewed as exceptional and miraculous quality. Firstly, Sosipatra was educated in unconventional ways. At only five years, she was left under the care of two men who were taking care of her father’s estate. For the five years that the father was a way, Sosipatra was educated by the two men who helped her to gain extraordinary clairvoyant and psychic abilities. Besides, she married Eustathius of Cappadocia, but when the husband died she became a philosopher that made her very popular. It is noted that students who had attended Neoplatonist lectures would still go to Sosipatra to hear philosophies. It is contradictory since during the era, women were expected to only receive male education, and not to produce. However, it was miraculous to see Sosipatra getting philosophical teachings and producing it to neoplatonist students. It is surprising how Sosipatra became fluent in the works of philosophers, poets, and orators by citing and interpreting them with ease though she was trained by the two divine men.

The price of educating women in patriarchal societies is very high. Women are not expected to get education, but in instances where they get the opportunity to be educated, theirs is to receive and not produce. It could be that men have never regarded women as good educators, which cannot be true from the two examples of Hypatia and Sosipatra played in their patriarchal communities. The educated women in patriarchal societies are exposed to ills such as mob beatings, particularly where they hold contrary opinions to the masses. Undoubtedly, female pursuit of knowledge is an act of courage on the part of the society. It shows the willingness of women to compete with males and prove that they too can do better. Therefore, societies that promote female pursuit of knowledge should be encouraged.

In conclusion, this assignment shows the various challenges that women have undergone in history, particularly where religion is involved. Apparently, the females have shown that they could do what their male counterparts believed that they could not do. However, the misrepresentation of culture and religion are some of the significant obstacles that women have had to overcome.