I never understood the use and need for saints in a religion. Christianity venerated Jesus and Greece with their Heracles. Both are [demi]god’s (low christology to high christology), pointers or symbols to the divine, sure. Both similar in end result (form): veneration and symbolism, yet different in mode of acquisition (sacrificed vs heroic). Like how (and why), by what mode or process does this form follow? Other examples are Apollonius and John the Baptist. If they died, chances are they were venerated. I imagine the loss of such a figure which create a power vacuum/need to co-opt their followers (related ideas: book: ‘the true believer’, covert narcissism need to boost another’s ego, book ‘fantasy bond’, abandonment anxiety, disillusionment/illusion (James Masterson work)). Martyrdom was good for a faith unless their faith looked down on it (like if a Roman emperorer were crucified, or how the Jews are expecting a valiant saviour not a crucified one). Sainthood also comes into play as a tool to co-opt other people’s followers. If they become a saint in your faith, then you get access to their followers. Almost like a corporate merger.
After reading the chapter on symbolism in Theophany, I now see how martyr’s and saints can quickly become powerful symbols for a faith and I now see that they should be used… correctly (see below), because people desire these symbols, which shows a need for their use. Martyrs serve as a locus for the pain of losing an idol for one’s passionate ideas of which an attempt was made at stamping them out symbolically.
Point being. Hypatia immediately stood out to me as a martyr worthy of veneration, as an ideal mean. The closure in Athens went with little fanfair, but the closure in Alexandria, well… it’s worthy of Martyrdom.
Symbols serve to conceal and reveal at the same time. They are not meant to be the actual object of focus, but point to an ideal elsewhere. This is what Hypatia is to me. She represents the neoplatonic ideal that knowledge is bliss, to study the beautiful.