Themistoclea of Delphi
fl. 600 BCE
Moral Philosophy

Kate Lindemann's 

Women Philosophers


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Themistoclea was a priestess of Delphi, a well known temple in Greece. She is reputed to have been the teacher of Pythagoras, who is often called "the Father of philosophy" since it is said that he coined the term 'philosopher'.

Aside: the story goes that Pythagoras was being mentioned as one of the 7 Sages ( Wise men or Sophists), wise men of Greece and he replied that he was not a Sophist (wise man) but a philosopher (lover of wisdom).

Little is known of Themistoclea, who seems to have flourished around 600 BCE. Her name is sometimes spelt as: Themistokleia

She has been called the 'first woman philosopher' but of course this should read the first European woman philosopher since as this web site shows there were women philosophers,ie., 'lovers of wisdom' in Egypt, the Middle East and Asia long before 600 BCE.

Diogenes Laeterius makes note of her in his work,The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers.

In the section concerning the "Life Of Pythagoras" Diogenes Laeterius states that she taught Pythagoras his moral doctrines.

Actually he has this information second hand. He states, "Aristoxenus asserts that Pythagoras derived the greater part of his ethical doctrines from Themistoclea, the priestess at Delphi."

You can read "The Life of Pythagoras" by Diogeners Laertius and you will see this reference at Life of Pythagoras - Themistoclea

One of the things I find interesting is that tradition has it that both Pythagoras and Socrates were taught by women philosophers - as was Plato, whose mother Perictione I was a philosopher. Is this information included in Introduction to Philosophy classes? If not, why not?

This page was last updated 12/18/14

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