Sunday, April 27, 2014

the woman project: hypatia of alexandria

J  from My Life in Lavender asked me to participate in The Woman Project, a series of posts where bloggers write about a woman in history who they identify with, and post an outfit inspired by said woman. I chose Hypatia of Alexandria, a Greek astronomer, philosopher and mathematician, and the namesake of my cat.

I immediately gravitated towards this dress when I was rifling through my closet trying to decide on an outfit, but then I remembered these photos that I took in July 2012 and thought they'd be way more appropriate for this post. The hairdo (which I can't recreate until my hair grows out, which at this rate won't be until 2017, ugh!) and the setting were 100x more perfect for a Hypatia post than my short pink locks and colorful studio backdrop!

Hypatia was born around 350-370 and was murdered in the year 415. I originally learned about her on Carl Sagan's Cosmos series, in which he detailed the events of her murder and correlated it with the burning of the Library of Alexandria. It seems like historical documents are a little hazy on what actually happened, but whether the two events were linked or not, it's clear that her death marked a turning point in the end of classical antiquity and the beginning of the middle ages.

Hypatia existed on the brink of a major cultural shift between the search for knowledge and its suppression. It's actually heartbreaking to think of all of the female authors, even in this century, who used a male pseudonym because the voice of a woman would fall on deaf ears. When 1500 years ago there was a woman who commanded audiences of men, who traveled from miles away to hear her views on philosophy and science. What sort of world were we headed towards before Hypatia was slain? What other brilliant female minds were silenced when she died?

Obviously, for me, the name Hypatia holds way more meaning than it did when I first read her biography. I named my cat the day I met her, but she ended up fitting the name perfectly. She exuded a sort of quiet, classical grace that I imagine my Greek heroine had as well, and when she started speaking, boy could she command an audience ;) My interest in Hypatia the woman has only increased since I chose the name for my kitty, and I hope that more details about her life and legacy continue to be discovered and re-analyzed so I can keep reading new, fresh insights for years to come. If you're interested in learning a little more about her, I highly recommend this book, Hypatia of Alexandria, by Maria Dzielska.

You can read more about The Woman Project and find links to other posts right here!

dress- h&m | shoes- dorothy perkins | bag - modcloth