Western Australian sculptor Victor Hawley Wager carved the statues of Socrates and Diotima for the sum of £75 each.
His other accomplishments include the publishing of a book "Plaster Casting for the Student Sculptor" and the design of the oval Ford insignia that is still in use today.
He was also responsible for much of the carving at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne where a ray of light falls on an inscription, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Wager also did the carving on many of the 12 frieze panels around the Sanctuary at the heart of the memorial.
He was born on 17 September 1900 in Weston-super-Mare in the United Kingdom.
The statue of Socrates was commissioned in 1931. It was a gift to The University of Western Australia from its Vice-Chancellor, Professor H.E. Whitfeld.
It was the Vice-Chancellor who proposed to the Senate that the Undercroft area of Winthrop Hall be dedicated to Socrates, the ancient Greek thinker of the fifth century BC. It was thought that he would be the ideal symbol of the spirit of free discussion and scientific inquiry from which universities arose.
The statue of Diotima is located on the south end of Winthrop Hall.
In 1936 Professor Whitfeld and his wife commissioned the Diotima statue as a companion piece to the statue of Socrates. While Socrates was a real person, Diotima was not – even though it is said that she was one of Socrates’ instructors.
She is an invented character, a wise woman of the city of Mantinea, who is mentioned in Plato’s Dialogue, The Symposium.
Uni News 26 July 1993: 12(13).
Senate Minutes, 15 December 1930:8