By Todd Lewis
The causal modern perception of the Middle Ages is that of an age of superstition, loss of classical learning, and general backwardness. To quote Hegel, it was “smells and bells”. In the last half-century or so, this view has been most popularized by Carl Sagan in his smash-hit miniseries, Cosmos, and his book by the same name. The influence of Cosmos can also be seen in the 2009 movie Agora about the life of Hypatia, a female pagan scientist of the 4th century. He makes two rather ridiculous claims that under-gird this entire anti-Christian fanaticism as it pertains to modern perceptions of the Middle Ages; that (1) the ancient pagans were proto-scientists on the verge of a scientific revolution, and (2) that the knowledge-hating bigoted Christians both burned down the Great Library and murdered Hypatia for their hatred of science, rendering her a martyr for those who believed in the power of science. This is absurd and the truth lies beyond the ability of the mentally-challenged atheists who follow people like Carl Sagan. The Library was destroyed and rebuilt many times by Caesar in 48BC, Aeurlian in the 270s AD, the Serapium (a temple to the god Seriphus which contained some remnant of the Library, mostly magical texts) in 391 AD by Theodosius, and in 640 by Caliph Omar. The truth is that Hypatia was the sad victim of late Roman political intrigues and mob violence.