Tuesday 28 April 2015

X as in Xanthippe

Xanthippe, 400 BC, was the name of Socrates wife. It is also an expression of quarrelsome and ill-tempered woman, originally aimed at her.

There are many stories about Xantippa but not many can be considered facts. It is often mentioned that she had a sharp tongue and she was the only one who could close the mouth of Socrates (and the only one to have ever defeated him in a discussion). Xenophon portrays her as a combative and malevolent woman with a bad temper.

In an anecdote comes Socrates home to Xanthippe, who scolds him before he came through the door and ends with a pouring the contents of a chamber pot over him. Socrates remarks then that it was often so with Xanthippe, that "rain comes after the storm."

When Socrates in Xenophon's dialogue Symposium will be asked why he married Xanthippe, he replies that he is like the man who wants to become ride expert and therefore choosing a temperamental horse.