By Julian Ochoa,

Film Review of Agora, 2009

Agora is a 2009 film directed by Alejandro Amenábar, same director of The Others. Rachel Weisz plays the role of Hypatia. The movie is a historical drama about the fall of the Alexandrian Library in the late 4th century A.D. Agora was filmed in the island of Malta and was released between 2009 and 2010. Agora was highly criticised for its slow scenes and for its apparent anti-Christian message. However its message and historicity can interest those that want to watch a roman movie without legions fighting barbarians . 

Agora’s context is in the 4th century AD in Alexandria, Christianity is on the rise and paganism, philosophy and science are on retreat. The whole movie takes place at the Agora and the Serapeum, the last location of the Alexandrian Library. Hypatia (Rachel Weisz) is the last great thinker of the Alexandrian Library, she belongs to the ruling elite which is the educated class that runs the Library and operates the pagan temple the Serapeum. In the movie religious intolerance is rampant, Christianity is on the rise and the pagans and the Jews are constantly ostracised. The whole conflict in the city starts when a Christian insults a pagan God, the Pagans arm themselves and lynch a Christian mob that is mocking Pagan images, in return the Christians regroup in a bigger mob and kill all the Pagans. The Christian Church and the Roman Emperor give an opportunity to the Pagans to convert, upon decline the Christian mob destroys the Serapeum along with the Library. At the end the Serapeum was converted into a Christian church and the Library into an animal farm. Hypatia was killed by her former slave whom was a Christian; he had killed her before the Christian mob stoned her to death. 

The main stream interpretation of the movie is that the movie can be likened to modern day extremism and intolerance of other religions and that science was right all along. However one can see that there is a deeper message in Agora and that is, of how theosophy  or the ancient wisdom 2000 years ago had to retreat into far away monasteries due to ignorance and intolerance and ideological differences. 

As modern day Theosophists, what we can take from this movie is that we should appreciate the opportunity we have of having access to our lodge libraries and the all the online resources. Our Libraries may not be like the one the ancients of Alexandria had, but our libraries contain great works. We as Theosophists should realise that we are not only members and users of our lodge libraries and study rooms, we are custodians of a wisdom that has been revived by the same Masters that illuminated the Alexandrian Library. Our job is not to attract a full stadium of people into our Libraries, but souls that are seeking the path and that are looking for that book that will open their minds to create new ideas that might foster new things for humanity in years to come. 

Theosophy today faces a new threat, this time it is not religious fundamentalism or an invader from hostile lands, but materialism and cynicism. To survive as a society today, we don’t have to change Theosophy, but instead we should go back to our founding principles, follow our three objects and be living examples so we can be the light bearers of the ancient wisdom in the 21st century. 

Ochoa J, Agora Film Review,The messenger Magazine, Blavatsky Lodge (2009).