Fortnite’s Hypatia Skin and the historic legend behind it

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    This week, Fortnite released its latest Level Up Pack, and it’s a bit odd. Captain Hypatia, the skin included in this season’s pack, is a spaceship captain. Hypatia, like all Level Up Pack skins, has an additional “Armoured” style that is considerably distinct from its regular style. This alternate style transforms this very ordinary lady into an extraordinarily cool cyborg, with arms and legs that are not physically attached to her torso but are held in place by some type of crimson energy.

    That arms-and-legs thing is particularly intriguing when combined with her name. In history, there has only been one genuinely noteworthy person named Hypatia: a Greek philosopher and astronomer who lived in Alexandria, Egypt in the late 4th and early 5th Centuries, and the first female mathematician about whom we have significant historical documents. That’s why she’s renowned, but the second major reason is how she was brutally murdered and physically ripped limb from limb by a mob of Christians.

    According to legend, the scientific and Christian establishments in Alexandria coexisted peacefully for most of Hypatia’s reign.

    For three decades, a man named Theophilus was the bishop of Alexandria–a position comparable to that of the Pope at the time–and he cared enough about maintaining peace to maintain good relations with Hypatia and her contemporaries. So they had a sort of oligarchy going on.

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    But when Theophilus died in 412, a power battle erupted between his nephew Cyril and a man named Timothy to succeed him as bishop. Cyril won, and he followed up his win in the usual Game of Thrones fashion: he went after everybody who liked Timothy and anyone he thought to be on his side, such as Jews. And because Hypatia and the rest of the scientists were not part of his religious sect, he went after them as well. But because she was too popular to exile or murder, Cyril spent the next few years slandering her until a man named Peter staged a riot with Hypatia as its main focus.

    The mob kidnapped Hypatia from her carriage on her way home and carried her to a prominent church, where they ripped off all of her clothes and viciously hacked her to pieces with porcelain shards. But they weren’t finished. After the performance, they removed her arms and legs and burned them outside of town. That may appear severe, but this was essentially a conventional Alexandrian political assassination. To be honest, the distant past was a dreadful time to be alive.

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