April 27, 2012

Xanthippe & Xenophon = X: Blogging from A to Z

Ah, X. Game on. I can't take credit for thinking of Xanthippe (nod to Mom, thanks!) or for knowing anything about Socrates' wife (or that he had one). Too often in history those who support and uplift are relegated to the dark background. I'm still waiting for someone to tell me the name of Noah's wife. You can't tell me she wasn't doing her fair share on that Ark, so it seems her name should at least be mentioned.

But back to Xanthippe.

Xanthippe [zænˈθɪpɪ], n
1. (Biographies / Xanthippe F, Greek, MISC: wife of Socrates) the wife of Socrates, proverbial as a scolding and quarrelsome woman
2. any nagging, peevish, or irritable woman

Wow, that's quite the legacy. Now, I'm sure Socrates must have been one tough man to live with for her to have earned such a reputation. One particular story has Xanthippe dumping a chamber pot on Socrates' head. According to various online sources, she was almost 40 years his junior and they had three sons close in age.

Can you imagine being married to a man "known for confusing, stinging and stunning his conversation partners into the unpleasant experience of realizing their own ignorance, a state sometimes superseded by genuine intellectual curiosity"? (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) And also one known for this quote: "As to marriage or celibacy, let a man take which course he will, he will be sure to repent."

I'm thinking some repenting caused the chamber pot incident. Just a theory, so Socrates would be proud.

Did you know Socrates didn't write philosophical texts? Most of his legacy is told through his star pupil, Plato. Scholars aren't sure how much of Plato's version is strictly fact or fictionalized character. Another pupil, Xenophon, is credited with sullying Xanthippe's good name.

From Wikipedia: It is only in Xenophon's Symposium where we have Socrates agree that she is (in Antisthenes' words) "the hardest to get along with of all the women there are." Nevertheless, Socrates adds that he chose her precisely because of her argumentative spirit.

Sounds like Xanthippe should get some credit for pushing Socrates to greater heights. Of all of Socrates' famous quotes, I'm hoping he utilized this one most at home: "As for me, all I know is that I know nothing."

If your name could live on, what definition would you like it to represent?

As for me, I'm happy that Tia stands for Truth in Advertising. I want to be known for representing myself truthfully and openly.


Only two to go. I bet you can hardly hide your excitement! Please check back for Y & Z. I'd give you a preview, but I'm still mulling over my options.

Check out some other X posts, and great blogs, here.


Julie Glover said...

This was fascinating! I didn't know about Xanthippe. Perhaps Socrates' skills were honed at home by his wife's "argumentative spirit." Great stuff for X, Tia!

Jaleh D said...

Truth in Advertising...I love it! My name means dewdrop, so my mom always told me that I glisten in the dawn of a new day. If I take it as sparkly, I can live with that as something I should strive to be remembered for. Better that than people thinking, "Oh she's that girl whose name we have trouble saying." LOL

Great choice for X!

Francene Stanley said...

Great post. Both the women you mention play no positive role in history. This reflects a mysoginist society of the past. Would anything be different now days? I'd like to think so, but I'm not sure.


Tia Bach said...

Julie, If he picked her, he picked her for a reason. Socrates doesn't strike me as a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type. ;-)

Jaleh, I like dewdrop and glistening in the dawn of a new name. I think you should keep it. ;-)

Francene, I couldn't agree more. I guess the same will be true of great women, though. Do you know anything about Margaret Thatcher's husband? :-) That makes me a feel a bit better.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting, ladies!

Fairview said...

IDK, sounds like Xanthippe got a bad rap. She probably could hold her own with Socrates is what I'm thinking...

Tia Bach said...

Fairview, I totally agree with you. Xanthippe helped make Socrates the thinker he was, I'm sure! ;-)