Document Type


Publication Title

The Midwest Quarterly





First Page



Publication Date

Summer 2013


The film Agora tells a somewhat fictionalized version of the story of Hypatia of Alexandria (d. 415). I raise and attempt to answer the question whether it is good historical fiction. After summarizing what is known from the historical record about Hypatia, my answer to the question is a qualified affirmative. I note the various historical details that the film preserves. The liberties that the film takes with her story are, by turns, problematic (e.g. reinforcing the view of a fundamental conflict between reason and faith), enlightening (e.g. in the introduction of the fictional character of Davus), unfair (e.g. in the portrayal of Synesius), tasteful (e.g. in the scene where she is murdered), and educational (e.g. in having Hypatia anticipate heliocentrism and elliptical planetary orbits).

Included in

Philosophy Commons


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