Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Hypatia and Her Lover

An excerpt from the journal of Basile Yanovsky, M.D. reprinted in Michael Rubin, Men Without Masks: Writings from the Journals of Modern Men (Addison-Wesley, 1980), p. 206:

A woman philosopher and religious teacher of the fourth century, Hypatia of Alexandria, had a striking discussion with her lover. To discourage his earthly temptations, she addressed him, at the most passionate moment of their relations, in the following manner: "See what it is you adore, Archytas, this foul matter, this corruption, with its secretions, its excrements and its infections. . . ."

But the tenacious and passionate Archytas gave her this answer: "It is not matter I love, but form."

How many times, discouraged and depressed in the V. D. clinic, have I repeated these saintly words of Archytas. . . .