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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Diotima

Perhaps literary, reputedly flourished circa 450 B.C.E., ancient Greece

We know of Diotima from a single source in ancient literature: she appears in Plato’s Symposium as a prophet and priestess who tutored Socrates and profoundly shaped his conceptions of Eros (love). Moreover, in the Symposium, she is virtually credited with inventing the Socratic method of question and answer. Recent scholars have debated whether Diotima was an actual historical personage, providing persuasive evidence pro and con. As against the arguments that Diotima is a literary creation who functioned as Plato’s mouthpiece, some feminist scholars have noted in her words a “feminine” vision of an ethic of care that distinguishes her from her male contemporaries.