Everyone knows who Socrates was, so he needs no introduction. But perhaps the same does not happen with Diotima de Mantinea, the woman who made Socrates changed his way of perceiving the world.
Diotima of Mantinea (Διοτίμα) was a female philosopher and priestess known exclusively through the works of Plato. It is uncertain whether Diotima existed or was a fictional character, since the ancient Hellenic writers focussed more on her ideas and not her life, so it doesn’t know much about her as a person.
She was described as incredibly beautiful, but through Socrates’ words, we can reveal that she had a very strong personality and was a self-confident woman. He admired her great intelligence and how thinking out of the box. Unfortunately, many women like her have gone through history completely silent. But, beyond doubt, Diotima put him onto the path of philosophy.
Diotima’s ideas were the origin of the concept of Platonic love. In Plato’s Symposium when the members discuss the meaning of love. Socrates said that in his youth he was taught the philosophy of love by Diotima.
According to Diotima, Love is not a god at all, but is rather a spirit that mediates between people and the objects of their desire. Love is neither wise nor beautiful, but is rather the desire for wisdom and beauty.
Plato, The Symposium
Books about Socrates and Diotima of Mantinea
Socrates in Love by Armand D’Angour
Socrates’ Daimonic Art by Elizabeth S Belfiore