The other Aphrodite

Her name is Diotima of Mantinea. Who?

Diotima of Mantinea is a female philosopher and seer from ancient Greece. She plays an important role in Plato’s Symposium and her ideas are the original concept of Platonic love. There are no other historical records of the seer except for Plato’s metaphysical hocus-pocus, it is uncertain whether she was real or a fictional creation. However, Plato has the reputation to refer to real persons living in ancient Athens. This is one of her portraits.

In Symposium, the party goers discuss the meaning of love. Socrates, Plato’s teacher, says that in his youth he was taught “the philosophy of love” by Diotima of Mantinea, who successfully postponed the plague with her magical weapon: LOVE. In Socrates’ view  love represents the feminine wisdom.

For the ancient Greek, god is love. The Celestial Aphrodite and the Vulgar Aphrodite. Although the Celestial love is deemed the purest, any love may become a stepping stone to the Divine form whether it be romantic love, maternal love, or the love of friends. All are ruled by Aphrodite and all may be forms of Diotimic or Platonic love.

* I thank my friend Jerin Tahapary who brought me to Diotimic matters as we discussed ancient female philosophers inclucing Hypathia of Alexandia.

julie 超辣

Determined dreamer. Published author in English, Dutch, and Chinese. Former People’s Liberation Army (PLA) captain turned artist entrepreneur and screenwriter. She survived the Cultural Revolution as a baby. In the 1990’s she left for London and has lived and worked in free exile ever since. Her work covers a wide spectrum. As journalist, she creates content covering a range of topics on contemporary China from an insider perspective. In 2008, during the Beijing Olympics, she hosted a 5-episode talk show TV China for Netherlands’ national broadcaster and discussed China’s media landscape with media stars and experts from both China and the Netherlands. From 2013-2016 she was the Editor-in-Chief of the English/Chinese bilingual magazine XiN 新, focusing on today’s China shaped by consumerism. O’yang contributes a weekly column to Hoje Macau on contemporary Chinese art and culture. Her English language book titles include: Butterfly, a historical crime love story set in the Second World War. Since May 2016 O'yang has been collaborating with Flemish photographer Filip Naudts on an art project, which has resulted in the photo novel The Picture of Dorya Glenn. Julie works from the Netherlands and Denmark.

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1 Comment

  1. Hypathia, THAT’S HER NAME! Thank you, Julie, I was trying to remember who this women was, but forgot. Now 2012 will be better… Pim

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