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Diotima® Classic

By Linotype

Diotima Classic is a total upheaval for the 21st century of Gudrun Zapf von Hesse's mid-20th-century Diotima, one of the most beautiful types ever cast in metal. Its roots lay in a calligraphic sheet written by Gudrun Zapf von Hesse. The text was the Hyperion to Diotima" by Friedrich Hölderlin; Diotima is the name of a Greek priestess in Plato's dialogue about love. In the philosopher's imagination, she should appear slim and beautiful.
In 1948, Gudrun Zapf von Hesse finished the typeface's Roman. The Diotima family was released as a metal typeface for hand setting by D. Stempel AG in 1951-53. This original Diotima is a festive design particularly suited to invitations, programs, and poems. The delicate Italic drew attention to text passages that should be emphasized.
Linotype's previous digital Diotima only had one weight, which looked great in display sizes, but was too thin for text setting. Diotima Classic has four weights. The new Regular has more robust serifs and thicker hairlines, making it more appropriate for text sizes. The Diotima variation with finer serif remains under the name Light. Gudrun Zapf von Hesse also took the opportunity in 2008 to add an extremely heavy weight to the family. In comparison to the old Diotima, letterforms of the Diotima Classic are more harmonious and balanced. The rhythm of the Italic letters in Diotima Classic is more consistent. The lining figures of the Diotima Classic align with caps, and the letter spacing of the tabular lining figures in Diotima Classic is significantly better. The forms of the figures have been improved as well."

It’s been said that the Diotima® design is one of the most beautiful typefaces ever cast in metal. Drawn by Gudrun Zapf von Hesse, a practicing calligrapher for over 70 years, the design dates back to the beginning of her career. At the time, Zapf von Hesse was working as a bookbinder, and her calligraphic handwriting rendering for text from Hyperion to Diotima, by Friedrich Hölderlin, served as the foundation for Diotima Italic. It wasn’t until 1948 that a roman design was added to the family. Shortly after this, the D. Stempel AG type foundry became aware of the design and began to produce the first metal fonts of Diotima in 1951.

This original Diotima was particularly suited to display applications such as invitations, social announcements, and brochures. The two-weight family was eventually made into fonts for phototypesetting equipment – and finally into digital fonts.

In 2008, Akira Kobayashi, Linotype’s type director, and Zapf von Hesse collaborated to revive and reinterpret Diotima for both text and display typography. The result of their work is Diotima Classic, a four-weight family – each with a complementary Italic design. The new Diotima Classic Light captures the delicate spirit of the original Diotima, while the Regular weight has more robust serifs and thicker hairlines, making it ideally suited for copy in text sizes. The Bold weight provides emphasis in text copy, while the Heavy is perfect for those instances when you want to make an important point – but in the nicest of all possible ways.

The new Diotima Classic family is also available as a suite of OpenType Pro fonts. Graphic communicators can now work with this versatile design while taking advantage of OpenType’s capabilities, including the automatic insertion of old style figures, ligatures and small caps.

The Diotima Classic Pro fonts also offer an extended character set supporting most Central European and many Eastern European languages.