Teachers of Socrates

Teachers of Socrates were women. They are named in the Dialogues of Plato.

Yes, it is true. Socrates may have been the teacher of Plato but Socrates himself acknowledged THREE teachers.... and all three of them are women.

Who are these Teachers of Socrates? Why have we not heard more about them - especially since they all figure in the Dialogues? Let's begin with the first question, Who are they?

  1. Pythia, the oracle at Delphi. This woman who played a role in Greek religious rites taught Socrates in what was later known as a Socratic manner. She did not tell him anything. Rather her words presented him with a puzzle and as he spent his life trying to unravel the meaning of her words, Socrates became the philosopher we know him to be.

    Socrates tell us in the Apology that a friend of his named Chaerephon went to the Pythina Oracle at Delphi and asked. 'Is anyone wiser than Socrates?' And the Pythian priestess answered, 'No one.' When Socrates heard this he was puzzled since he knew that her KNEW nothing.

    So he assumed it was his duty to either figure out what the Oracle meant...or to prove the Oracle wrong - thus showing up a religious figure as a sham. Socrates tell us that this is how he started out searching for a wise person...asking questions to find out who was wise and who thought he was wise but really was not wise at all.

    Socrates tell us he devoted his life to this quest and in the end her realized the truth of the Oracle's saying because others thought themselves to be wise but were not, while Socrates knew he was not wise....and thus had a sort of wisdom...the kind possible for human beings to hold.

    This Teachers of Socrates story is told in Lives of the Eminent Philosophers by Diogenes Laertius

    See also: Broad, William The Oracle: Ancient Delphi and the Science Behind Its Lost Secrets. New York: Penguin Press, 2007 p.63.

  2. Asphasia of Miletus

    Socrates states that Asphasia of Miletus was his teacher of rhetoric. To learn more about her, click on Asphasia, one of the Teachers of Socrates

  3. Teachers of Socrates: Diotima of Mantinea:

    The dialogue called the Symposium offers a long discussion of the meaning of love. Several friends, Agathon, Alcibiades, Aristophanes, , Eryximachus,Pausanias, Phaedrus, Plato and Socrates gathered at Agathon's house, probably to celebrate his winning Agathon's first prize for a tragedy. Aristodemus, the deme of Cydathenaeum was also there since it was he who related what happened that night to Apolodorus and Phoenix. Apolodorous, who was not at the banquet, says that he had checked with Socrates about the story he heard and Socrates confirmed that the events did happen as Aristodemus described.

    After they had eaten and were about to start drinking, they decided not to make drinking their main object but concentrate instead on good conversation. Eryximachus says, "for I mean to propose that each of us in turn, going from left to right, shall make a speech in honour of Love

    . Let him give us the best which he can; and Phaedrus, because he is sitting first on the left hand, and because he is the father of the thought, shall begin." [ Symposium translated by Benjamin Jowett. ]

    The dialogue continues and each person speaks of love. Towards the very end it is Agathon's turn and when he finishes Socrates says :

    "You made a very good speech, Agathon, replied Socrates; but there is yet one small question which I would fain ask:-Is not the good also the beautiful?

    Yes.

    Then in wanting the beautiful, love wants also the good?

    I cannot refute you, Socrates, said Agathon:-Let us assume that what you say is true.

    Say rather, beloved Agathon, that you cannot refute the truth; for Socrates is easily refuted." Symposium translated by Benjamin Jowett.

    At that point Socrates continues:

    "And now, taking my leave of you, I would rehearse a tale of love which I heard from

    Diotima of Mantinea, a woman wise in this and in many other kinds of knowledge, who in the days of old, when the Athenians offered sacrifice before the coming of the plague, delayed the disease ten years. She was my instructress in the art of love, and I shall repeat to you what she said to me...." You can read the rest of the in the Symposium by Plato

    To read more about this philosopher Diotima of Mantinea one of the Teachers of Socrates

  4. Go to Articles about Women philosophers

    HOME