Themista and her husband Leonteus were students of the philosopher Epicurus, whose school was held in a garden in Athens and allowed women to attend.
Epicureans believed that pleasure is the greatest good and that the way to attain pleasure is to live a modest life and gain knowledge of the world and oneself. The goal was to reach a tranquil state in which you would be free from fear and physical pain – which would be the highest form of happiness.
It is clear that Themista had a voice at Epicurus’ school and that her ideas were treated as equal to the men she studied alongside. Roman orator Cicero later criticised Epicurus for praising Themista in ‘countless volumes’ rather than ‘more worthy’ men.
Themista and Leonteus obviously held their teacher in equally high esteem, as they named their son Epicurus.
Hypatia’s Heritage: A History of Women in Science from Antiquity through the Nineteenth Century – Margaret Alic
The Invention and Gendering of Epicurus – Pamela Gordon
Philosophers of the Ancient World: An A to Z Guide – Trevor Cunrow