Study Guide

Hypatia

by Charles Kingsley

Hypatia Characters

Characters Discussed (Great Characters in Literature)

Philammon

Philammon (fih-LA-mon), a young monk who leaves the monastic life to see the rich, varied society of Alexandria. Excited by a Christian attack on the city’s Jews, he joins the despoilers. Accused of heresy because of his interest in Hypatia, he almost loses his life. After Hypatia’s death, he returns to his monastery and later becomes abbot there.

Hypatia

Hypatia (hi-PAY-shee-uh), a beautiful Greek philosopher and teacher, one of the last to champion the Greek gods. She agrees to marry Orestes if he will renounce his Christian faith and aid her in restoring the Greek gods. Her gods, which exist only in her own mind, fail her, and she is torn to pieces by some of Cyril’s monks.

Raphael Aben-Ezra

Raphael Aben-Ezra (RA-feh-ehl ah-behn-EEZ-rah), a wealthy young Jew. He is Miriam’s son, though he does not know it. He becomes Hypatia’s pupil but turns from the Greek gods to Christianity.

Miriam

Miriam (MIH-rih-ehm), an old Jewish crone formerly converted to Christianity until she renounced it and developed a hatred of everyone except Jews. She tells Philammon of his slave status, sends Orestes the false report of Heraclian’s victory, and informs Raphael that she is his mother. She dies of...

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Hypatia Bibliography (Great Characters in Literature)

Chapman, Raymond. Faith and Revolt: Studies in the Literary Influence of the Oxford Movement. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1970. This book explores the traces that the Oxford Movement left on nineteenth century literature. Three chapters compare and contrast Kings-ley’s and John Henry Newman’s religious views.

Martin, Robert Bernard. The Dust of Combat: A Life of Charles Kingsley. New York: W. W. Norton, 1960. The best biography of the man. A chapter is devoted to Kingsley’s relationship with his publishers, the genesis of Hypatia, and his efforts to publish it in serial and book forms.

Sanders, Andrew. The Victorian Historical Novel, 1840-1880. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1979. A critical examination of a select group of novels written under the influence of Sir Walter Scott, focusing on works by the great midcentury writers. A chapter discusses Hypatia and the rejoinders to it, Fabiola and Callista.

Vance, Norman. The Sinews of the Spirit: The Ideal of Christian Manliness in Victorian Literature and Religious Thought. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1985. Covering the period from the early 1830’s to the late 1860’s, this is an important study of the ways that Victorians attempted to combine various meanings of “Christian” and “manliness.” A chapter compares the attitudes toward celibacy of Kingsley and Newman.

Wolff, Robert Lee. Gains and Losses: Novels of Faith and Doubt in Victorian England. New York: Garland, 1977. This is a comprehensive critical discussion of several hundred novels with religious themes. It has an extensive analysis of Hypatia, and it explores the relationships between that novel and the earlier works by Elizabeth Harris and John Henry Newman.