Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


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 (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 (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...

(The entire section is 477 words.)