Frescura Cristina | Ipatia of Alexandria as the embodiment of a “gendered way of knowing”

Abstract

Only recently a significant new movie called Agorà, by Alejandro Almenàbar, has been released in Italy (April 23). One of the main objectives of the film is to shed new light on a historical character who has been long removed from the cultural scene: Ipatia of Alexandria (5th century).
Many are the controversial and passionate issues related to her – a philosopher, astronomist and mathematician, who is persecuted and finally killed for her ideas and work by fanatical christians  in the year 415. Although the documents that inform us of her life are scarce, she's a fascinating figure for novelists, poets and movie-makers throughout the centuries.
The aim of this paper is to investigate the character and story of Ipatia as the embodiment of a “gendered way of knowing”, through an exploration of contemporary literature. Beginning from Gemma Berretta's study Ipazia d'Alessandria (1993), we'll conduct a comparative reading of such artistic works as Mario Luzi's “Ipazia” (1973), Youssef Ziedan's novel Azazel (2008) and up to Almenàbar's movie Agorà (2009).