Today’s stop is for Laurel A. Rockefeller’s Hypatia of Alexandria. We will have info about the book and author, and a great excerpt from the book, plus a great giveaway. Make sure to check everything out and enter the giveaway.
Happy Reading :)
Teacher. Philosopher. Astronomer. Born in 355 CE. In the aftermath of Constantine's reign Hypatia of Alexandria lived in a collapsing Rome Empire, a world where obedience to religious authorities trumped science, where reason and logic threatened the new world order. It was a world on the edge of the Dark Ages. As libraries burned, she dared defend the light of knowledge.
Spring yielded to summer and summer to autumn. The starry sky wheeled around Alexandria and Hypatia grew into womanhood. Listening to her father lecture his students on Hipparchus of Nicaea, Hypatia sat quietly at a table within the Serapeum, her pen scraping against the blank papyrus as she carefully copied Aristarchus’ “On the Sizes and Distances of the Sun and Moon.” Pulling out a small measuring device she copied Aristarchus’ diagrams precisely as she delighted in the beauty of his geometry, her mind half listening to her father’s class as she worked. Aristarchus taught a heliocentric explanation for the motions of the planets and stars using elliptical orbits for the Earth and the celestial wanderers. Yet Hipparchus, writing only a few decades later, found the logic behind Aristarchus’ calculations lacking. After all, Nature only allowed for perfectly circular orbits; the idea of an elliptical orbit was utterly absurd! Everyone thought so too. And so, Hipparchus resolved the conflicts created by Earth centrism with a simple tool thought of by Apollonius of Perga: the epicycle. With epicycles the sun, moon, stars, and wanderers travelled in a small circle as they each travelled in a larger circle around the sun. And besides, under Aristarchus’ heliocentric model, the universe became a vast, almost infinitely large space, something Hipparchus absolutely could not accept. For what could man mean to the gods if the universe was vast and expansive? Would not humanity become too insignificant for the gods to care about? Though her father’s lecture spoke only of Hipparchus and his innovative use of triangles in astronomy, Hypatia found herself wondering: what if the problem with Aristarchus was not in his observations, but in the fear by Hipparchus and other devotees of Aristotle’s earth centric philosophy that perhaps the gods cared less about humans than the priests taught—if they existed at all? And if the gods did not exist, what then? Was the human reasoning so cherished by the gods sufficient to prosper and thrive without religious belief? Could humans control their own destinies instead of fearing the world around them and yielding authority over their lives to gods and the priests who claimed to speak for them? Was it even safe to contemplate any realm of life where the gods did not rule over every thought, feeling, or decision to be made? Or were her contemplations of an Earth moving around the sun and a world ruled by logic and reason simply begging the gods to strike her down? As the sun set beneath the horizon, Hypatia could only wonder.
Born, raised, and educated in Lincoln, Nebraska USA Laurel A. Rockefeller is author of over twenty books published and self-published since August, 2012 and in languages ranging from Welsh to Spanish to Chinese and everything in between. A dedicated scholar and biographical historian, Ms. Rockefeller is passionate about education and improving history literacy worldwide. With her lyrical writing style, Laurel's books are as beautiful to read as they are informative. In her spare time, Laurel enjoys spending time with her cockatiels, attending living history activities, travelling to historic places in both the United States and United Kingdom, and watching classic motion pictures and classic television series.