Xanthippe dousing Socrates , Reyer van Blommendael c. 1655, Oil on canvas, 210 x 198 cm Musée des Beaux-Arts, Strasbourg
Antisthenes: If that is your conclusion, Socrates, why do you not tutor your own wife, Xanthippe, instead of letting her remain, of all the wives that are, indeed that ever will be, I imagine, the most shrewish?
Socrates: Well now, I will tell you (he answered). I follow the example of the rider who wishes to become an expert horseman: "None of your soft-mouthed, docile animals for me," he says; "the horse for me to own must show some spirit": in the belief, no doubt, if he can manage such an animal, it will be easy enough to deal with every other horse besides. And that is just my case. I wish to deal with human beings, to associate with man in general; hence my choice of wife. I know full well, if I can tolerate her spirit, I can with ease attach myself to every human being else.
Xanthippe was the wife of Socrates. There are far more stories about her than there are facts. She is believed to have been much younger than the philosopher, perhaps by as much as forty years. She was famed for her sharp tongue and is said to have been the only person to ever have beaten Socrates in a discussion. After one particular quarrel, she was supposed to have emptied a chamber pot on Socrates's head, causing him to remark, "After thunder there generally falls rain."
Her name now means any nagging scolding person, especially a shrewish wife. According to some sources, Socrates later remarried.
The following clerihew was written about her:
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