Film / Agora
Studying what would be lost for centuries

Ágora (written and directed by your favorite LGBT Spanish director Alejandro Amenábar) is a movie portraying the life of the female philosopher Hypatia (played by Rachel Weisz), from the destruction of Alexandria to her death at the hands of fanatical Christians. It takes a number of liberties with the history it's trying to depict, so take it with a grain of salt.

Agora provides examples of:

  • All Monks Know Kung-Fu: All monks (Parabolani) know how to stone you to death, skin you alive and generally kill you in the most unpleasant ways.
  • As the Good Book Says...: Cyril quotes passages from the Bible to turn the mob against Orestes, specifically quoting verses that state women should be submissive to men, which led the mob to consider Hypatia a witch and kill her.
  • Barefoot Sage: Played with; Hypatia isn't always barefoot, but she seems to have a habit of taking off her footwear when indoors (in particular, teaching her students this way).
  • Black And Black Morality: Neither the Christians, nor the pagans, nor the Jews are portrayed in what could be described a positive way - they all are equally violent, ignorant and bent on provocation and escalation.
  • Corrupt Church: Subverted; it's not corrupt, but very fanatical.
  • Cycle of Revenge: What begins with a couple of public speeches and marketplace debates between dissenting religious groups soon spirals into attacks and acts of public humiliation. Those soon culminate in fully-fledged riots and pogroms, usually in direct retaliation.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Hypatia calls Davus an "idiot" while packing. This drives him to participate in the sacking of the library, and he is only barely able to restrain himself from sexually assaulting her when next they meet.
  • The Empire: Literally, since it's the Roman Empire we're talking about.
  • A Father to His Men: A Mother To Her Students, that is. Or, in Orestes and Davus' case, actually a Love Interest.
  • Foreign-Looking Font: On the posters, the pseudo-Greek font uses Lambdas in place of Latin alphabet 'A's or Alphas in Greek meaning that if we ignore the fact that a Latin alphabet 'R' is used in place of the correct Greek Rho (which looks like a 'P') and that a Latin 'G' is used in place of a Greek Gamma then the film's title reads: LGORL.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: The Christians and Jews dress mostly in black or grey (with some clerical orders using white) while pagans use white. Fun fact: none are truly good; in fact, the only color associated with good is red, which is both used by the Roman army and Hypatia herself after Alexandria's library's demise. Justified because it's historically accurate.
  • The Heretic: Hypatia, after paganism became illegal. Considering she was a principled atheist ("You do not question what you believe; you cannot. I must."), she was technically a heretic from the beginning.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: Hypatia, an ardent pagan in Real Life becomes something of an agnostic or atheist in the film (presumably so the faith vs. science controversy will be clear). This allows her to use empirical reasoning, which in real life was contrary to her school of thought and religion. Consequently, she is shown making astronomical advances which rely on these methods (despite there being no contemporary evidence tying her to these advances in Real Life).
  • Hollywood History: There was no second Great Library, Hypatia was killed because she was a supporter of a rival politician instead of for religious reasons, and her side wasn't nearly so blameless, either. But there was a Serapeum in which was housed an academy (and it is mentioned that the great library burned to the ground, and the Serapeum contains texts rescued from the blaze) and Hypatia's death was engineered by someone with political motives but carried out by people with a religious ax to grind. Whether the Serapeum actually carried any rescued books is highly questionable though, as contemporary evidence suggests the collection was considered a thing of the past by 378 C.E. and Socretes, no enemy of knowledge, only mentioned religious artifacts being destroyed by the Christians, not books. Hypatia was actually well-respected by everyone in the community, including Christians, and pretty much everyone was horrified by the news of her death.
  • Hollywood Old: Hypatia, looking like 30 even at the last part of the movie when the real Hypatia was over 60 (Rachel Weisz was nearly 40 at the time of filming, too). Other sources identified Hypatia's age to be about 40, and given the liberties taken by the film, maybe they even deliberately made her younger.
  • Hot Teacher: Hypatia fits the description of this trope most closely, with her student Orestes and her slave/research assistant Davus falling in love/lust with her. (You might think she'd be listed as a Hot Librarian or Hot Scientist, but she doesn't really fit those tropes as defined on this wiki.)
  • Karma Houdini: Cyril eventually came to be remembered as a saint, despite how horrible his actions were.
  • Love Triangle: Hypatia, Orestes and Davus.
  • Mercy Kill: Davus asphyxiates Hypatia so she wouldn't have to suffer a much more painful death by stoning at the hands of the other parabolani.
  • Near-Rape Experience: Davus manages to stop himself during his attack on Hypatia, and offers his knife to her, expecting to be killed. Instead, she gives him his freedom.
  • Noble Bigot: Christians in the movie are genuinely good people... unless you belong to any religion but theirs.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: The whole reason Christians started slaughtering pagans and later Jews. Subverted because Christians are obviously as religious as the others were.
  • Pretty Boy: Bishop Synesius of Cyrene, played by the British actor Rupert Evans
  • Race Lift: Probably one of the biggest mistakes of the movie is portraying all Jews as white. Although Christianity encouraged conversion and gained a number of followers from all religions, Jews at this point were still a small ethnoreligious group from the Levant.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: The film contains a number of myths about Hypatia and the Library of Alexandria that are so common in pop-culture that the real history sounds implausible to many people. To what degree the movie is guilty of spreading historical myths is, however, somewhat open to debate.
  • Shameful Strip: The mob strips Hypatia naked before they try to stone her.
  • Toppled Statue: Christians destroy the statues in the Library of the Serapeum.