Themistoclea - Teacher of Pythagoras - Priestress of Delphi

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".


Info Rapid

when? 6th Century BCE ...... where? Ancient Greece



All that is known is her name, her occupation (priestess at Delphi), and the approximate time she lived. Presumably she was the Pythia: the Delphic priestess who was responsible for delivering the all-important oracles. 


Diogenes Laërtius (3rd century CE) in his biography of Pythagoras in "Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers", he states that she taught Pythagoras his moral doctrines. "Life of Pythagoras - Themistoclea" 


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


Porphyry (233 - 305 CE) Porphyry repeats the claim that she was the teacher of Pythagoras.

The Oracle of Delphi .... practiced from approx. 1400 BC until 362 AD

The priestress of the mystical Oracle of Delphi, also known as the Pythia, was a very powerful figure in ancient Greece. She was the giver of prophecies from the great god Apollo, to whom the city of Delphi was sacred. There were many Oracles around Greece, but the oracle of Delphi was the most famous, as it was said she was chosen by Apollo himself. As legend has it, the Oracle could not give straight answers; only talk in mutters or in strange riddles. Modern scientists have learned that ethylene gas may have come from the earth, putting the Pythia into a trance and then she would tell the future. The Greeks would come from all around for a consultation with the Oracle of Delphi. No important decision could be made without her. 


The Greeks considered Pythagoras the “father of philosophy.” He taught a system of natural science, mathematics, and ethics that profoundly influenced the Western canon.  


Pythagoras was named as one of the 7 Sages ( Wise men or Sophists), wise men of Greece.

more information: books, films etc.

  1. ^ Mary Ellen Waithe, Ancient women philosophers, 600 B.C.–500 A.D., p. 11
  2. Jump up^ Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers
  3. Jump up^ Gilles Ménage, (1984), The history of women philosophers, page 48. University Press of America. "The person who is referred to as Themistoclea in Laertius and Theoclea in Suidas, Porphyry calls Aristoclea."
  4. Jump up^ Porphyry, Life of Pythagoras
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