Wise women: 6 ancient female philosophers you should know about - Deepstash

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Aspasia of Miletus (400 BCE)

Aspasia of Miletus (400 BCE)

  • Famously known for being Perciles' mistress and the woman behind his speech during the beginning of the Peloponnesian War;
  • Remembered for her captivating beauty and mind in Classical Athens;
  • Played verbal roles in at least three dialogues: Plato's Menexenus, and the Aspasia dialogues by Aeschines and Antisthenes; and 
  • Socrates claimed Aspasia to be his teacher where he learned how to construct persuasive speeches.

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Clea (100 CE)

  • A highly esteemed political intellectual in the ancient world;
  • She was a priestess at Delphi who provided many opportunities for in-depth philosophical conversations; and
  • She was included in Plutarch's works in the prefaces of On the Bravery of Women and On Isis and Osiris where they have invigorating conversations on topics such as death, virtue, and religious history.

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Thecla (1st century CE)

Thecla (1st century CE)

  • Lived her life as a teacher that had an illustrious career;
  • She appeared on the scene in the Acts of Paul and Thecla; and 
  • Despite the speculations that Thecla may have never actually existed, she has inspired many women to pursue a life of philosophy.

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Sosipatra (4th century CE)

Sosipatra (4th century CE)

  • A respected and successful teacher in the Neoplatonic tradition;
  • She interpreted difficult texts and mediated with divine knowledge;
  • She was mentioned in Eunapios' biography where it was claimed that Sisopatra was famous and that many students preferred her inspiring teaching; and
  • Sisopatra was the wife of Eustathius and they had a content family life

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Macrina The Younger (330-379 CE)

Macrina The Younger (330-379 CE)

  • She was the eldest in a family of ten who was influential and well-educated from Cappadocia;
  • She had a wide knowledge and understanding of philosophy, scripture, and the physical sciences;
  • Through her sharp mind, strong will, and devout soul, she transformed her ancestral estate into a successful community of ascetics of both sexes; and
  • She was commemorated by her brother through a biography, Life of Macrina, and philosophical dialogue, On the Soul and Resurrection, which talked about death.

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50 reads

Hypatia of Alexandria (355-415 CE)

Hypatia of Alexandria (355-415 CE)

  • Famously known for her brutally dramatic death at the hands of the Christian mob;
  • She was a Neoplatonic teacher who was admired for her mathematical and astronomical works;
  • She exchanged information with her student, the Christian bishop Synesius, about obscure mathematical instruments and philosophy; and
  • Edited her father Theon's astronomical commentary which was later acknowledged at publication.

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