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Prominent Italian scholar of Late Antiquity and Byzantium. Ronchey has pursued Byzantine and classical cultural studies since 1976; that same year she began her apprenticeship in palaeography, working on manuscripts at the Monastery of St. John the Theologian on Patmos. In 1981 she graduated from the University of Pisa with a thesis in Byzantine Philology. In the following years, in addition to scholarly work on Patmos, she continued research at the Library of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Alexandria in Egypt, the Centre de Recherches d'Histoire et Civilisation de Byzance of the Collège de France in Paris, and Dumbarton Oaks Institute of Byzantine Studies in Washington D.C., where she collaborated with one of the greatest Byzantine scholars of the 20th century, Alexander Petrovich Kazhdan. From 1996 to 2012 she was a member of the faculty of Università di Siena. She currently teaches at the University of RomaTre where she is professor of Classical and Late Antique Philology and Byzantine Civilisation.  She has written for the culture pages of Italian newspapers since 1989. After Mercurio, the cultural supplement of La Repubblica, from 1990 on she has continued publishing regularly for La Stampa and its cultural supplement Tuttolibri; in addition, she writes for the cultural supplement Il Sole 24 Ore and periodically for various other newspapers, magazines, and journals. Ronchey has authored and conducted television programs, such as L’altra edicola  (RaiDue, 1994-1999) and Fino alla fine del mondo (RaiDue 1999), and conducted interviews with some of the great figures of recent decades, such as Claude Lévi-Strauss, James Hillman, Ernst Jünger, Jean-Pierre Vernant, and Elémire Zolla.3 Her encounter with James Hillman, in particular, initiated a long-running partnership, resulting – in addition to several television interviews - in two books of dialogues “L’anima del mondo” and “Il piacere di pensare” (Rizzoli), continuing until Hillman’s death. She is now editing his last publication. The series on the fall of Constantinople for Alle 8 della sera (RadioRaiDue)  and the series on ancient, medieval, and Byzantine melodrama for Di tanti palpiti (RadioRaiTre)  are among the radio programs she has authored. In addition to her many scholarly publications and translations from Byzantine Greek (list of publications), Ronchey has written several monographs - for both scholarly and learned readerships - many of which have been bestsellers in her native Italy and translated into several languages, such as L’enigma di Piero (Rizzoli), Il guscio della tartaruga (Nottetempo), Il romanzo di Costantinopoli (Einaudi), Ipazia. La vera storia (Rizzoli) , and Storia di Barlaam e Ioasaf. La vita bizantina del Buddha. (Einaudi), with Paolo Cesaretti. (Add to list of publications at end of article.)
Interpretation of Hypatia
Over the last twenty years, Silvia Ronchey is the scholar who has delved most thoroughly into the figure of Hypatia, her ethical, philosophical, religious, and political character, and the circumstances of her assassination. (NOTE: cf. Umberto Eco, “Ipaziammo,” L’Espresso (April 30, 2010) [LINK]: «Se volete sapere qualche cosa di serio su Ipazia, cercate in linea […] e, per qualcosa di più erudito, chiedete a Google 'Silvia Ronchey Ipazia' e troverete pane (non censurato) per i vostri denti»). In research published since the 1990s (NOTE: TITLES and LINKS) and especially in the monograph Ipazia. La vera storia (Rizzoli, 2010) [LINK], Italian bestseller and prize-winner [NOTE: LINK to Premio Pisa 2011, Premio Città delle Rose 2011, Premio Teocle 2011] published to unanimous critical acclaim [NOTE: LINK TO PAGE WITH REVIEWS ON WEBSITE], Ronchey has reconstructed the existential and intellectual fortunes of Hypatia, placing her within the historical-cultural reality of Late Antiquity and early Byzantine civilisation [LINK] and against the backdrop of the tumultuous transformations wrought by waning of paganism [LINK] and the rise of Christianity [LINK]. Using ancient historical sources and philological analysis, Silvia Ronchey has developed a now largely accepted, comprehensive thesis on Hypatia [NOTE: link to the versione maior under the subject “Ipazia”/ “Hypatia”]. Her thesis has demonstrated the material guilt of Bishop and future St. Cyril of Alexandria [LINK] who, according to Ronchey, not only inspired, but directly instigated Hypatia’s assassination. In addition, she explicates the political and ecclesiastical reasons why the Christian Church felt the need from the outset, and stubbornly for centuries since, to conceal its own responsibility in the affair. Moreover, Ronchey’s interpretation highlights the difference between the positions of the local Egyptian Coptic Church [LINK] and the Roman Catholic Church vis-à-vis that of the central Byzantine Orthodox Church [LINK] and the members of its intelligentsia, over the centuries admirers of Hypatia and persistent advocates of Cyril’s guilt. According to Silvia Ronchey’s interpretation, Hypatia should be accorded, in addition, official priestly status and recognition [LINK] as “master” of one of the most important esoteric schools [LINK?] in Late Antiquity. As such, Hypatia was, beyond any doubt, a Pagan as well as a Platonist. Her teachings had a dual purpose, explicit both in “exoteric” lessons open to all and held in public spaces, and in private, secret esoteric lessons, held in her home and reserved for an initiated élite, among whom the future Christian bishop Synesius, whose writings [NOTE: LINK] are the major source of Hypatia’s teachings and mystical wisdom. For more information on Silvia Ronchey’s interpretation, click here [LINK TO “HYPATIA”]