The Ptolemys launched the Library of Alexandria and not only collected books and understanding, but also promoted further questioning and curiosity – the library that contained the book by Berrosus that held a history of the world a hundred times longer than the Old Testament dealing with the period from the Creation to the Flood, about 432,000 years.
Hypatia was a woman and a scholar during this time – a time when women were considered property. Yet she moved freely among political circles and was a mathematician, an astronomer, a teacher and a writer. She was a symbol of learning and science and widely recognized as a beauty, but refused all proposals.
The city's vitality was drained by slavery and the consolidating Christian Church was eradicating pagan culture – a culture it associated with learning and science...a culture in which Hypatia was the epicenter.
Despite the pressing threat to her life, Hypatia continued teaching and publishing until Archbishop Cyril and a mob of his parishoners dragged her from her chariot, tore off her clothes and flayed her flesh from her bones with abalone shells. They burned what remained, destroyed her works and made Cyril a saint.
Shortly thereafter the Library of Alexandria was burned to the ground by an ignorant mob, forever obliterating many works of Euripides, Sophocles, Aeschylus and the books of Berrosus – and that's just some of what we know we lost – which is only ~1/100,000th.
I want to name my daughter Ptolemy Hypatia and empower her with every last morsel I can uncover between now and then.
I want to teach her the generosity of curiosity and implore her to seek understanding and connection and to press toward solutions. I want to beg her to fight for the future, to plant trees that she may never see sprout, to give the most valuable gift we are capable of giving: hope.
There are no geniuses – only the curious and perseverent.