Fortnite has released its latest Level Up Pack this week, featuring a skin named Captain Hypatia, a starship captain with an alternate “Armored” style that turns her into a dope cyborg.
Hypatia’s Historical Context
There was only one truly famous person with the name Hypatia, a Greek philosopher and astronomer who lived in Alexandria, Egypt, in the late 4th and early 5th Centuries. Hypatia was widely known as the first female mathematician, and there have been numerous things named after her since then. In retrospect, Hypatia has grown in popularity due to the manner she was murdered.
Her Murder and Legacy
For a long time, there was peace between the Christian and scientific establishments in Alexandria. Theophilus, the bishop of Alexandria, maintained a good relationship with Hypatia and her colleagues. But after Theophilus died in 412, power struggles broke out between his nephew Cyril and a man named Timothy. Cyril won and attacked anyone who sided with Timothy, including the Jewish people and science folks like Hypatia.
Cyril slandered Hypatia for the next few years until a man named Peter began a riot with her as the primary focus. In that riot, the mob pulled her from her carriage and brutally cut her to pieces using ceramic shards. Afterwards, they took her arms and legs outside of town and burned them. This act mirrors traditional Alexandrian political murders.
The Luminary Explorer Set
Captain Hypatia’s set of cosmetics is the Luminary Explorer set, named after a star and famous smart people. This description fits Hypatia, as an ancient reference has been translated as calling her a “luminous child of reason.” There are also two heavenly bodies and a crater on the moon named after her.
The Arms and Legs Thing
When Captain Hypatia dons her alternate style, her arms and legs are no longer attached to her body. This concept mirrors the violent manner in which the historical Hypatia died.
The Flavor Text
The skin’s flavor text reads, “No ship. No crew. Just an unstoppable spirit.” This description shows that Hypatia now transcends her physical body and floats around in space adrift in this new cyberpunk form, without even using a ship. Essentially, this person has died and undergone a transformation.
The Captain Hypatia skin has several layers of metaphors, and its historical context adds to its depth. Most new skins are not bundled with an interesting conversation topic, so hopefully, we can expect more of this kind of thing in the future. For those interested in Hypatia’s story, there are many books specifically about her and tons of broader histories that devote meaningful space to her story. One recommended book about her life and death is The Darkening Age, by Catherine Nixey, which contextualizes her story as part of the greater conflict between Christianity and the ancient scientific establishment in the centuries leading up to the Middle Ages.