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Diotima’s instruction to Socrates

Updated: Mar 20, 2021

It is fitting that during Women's History Month we celebrate Diotima of Mantinea, an ancient Greek prophetess and philosopher (circa 440 B.C.) who publicly debated Socrates on the definition, meaning and nature of love in all its forms. Socrates credits her wisdom for informing his view of love as the highest good and virtue.

Diotima believed that as we progress through life, we grow in our conception of love. We move up the "ladder of love" from body love (eros) to love of the good, beautiful and wise. A philo (lover) of sophos (wisdom) describes exactly the philosopher's pursuit.

This thinking places love at the epicenter of one's personal philosophy, conduct towards others (ethics), their community and world.

If love was a serious topic of discussion among ancient Greek philosophers and civic leaders, why should it not be today? Thankfully the idea of love-based leadership and love-based communities is making a comeback during the time of disruption and rebirth.

For more on why Love is the Greatest Civic Virtue, read Chapter 7 of Save Your City.


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