The Typical Scold, Wife of Socrates
5th – 4th century B.C.

For twenty-seven years the Greeks, whom Xerves’ army of millions could not conquer, had been zealously at work as was their wont, inferociously [sic] killing each other in those civil conflicts known as the Peloponnesian wars; and at last Athens (founded 1556 B.C.) was conquered and its walls demolished, and the liberties of Greece went out in the darkness under the reign of the Thirty and Ten Tyrants. It was at this period that Socrates, greatest spirit of all the pagan world, fell victim to the superstition of his time, accused of neglecting worship of the gods, introducing new deities, and corrupting the youth of Athens; and 339 B.C., this loftiest genius of the ancients, who had brought more wisdom into the storehouse of ages than has any other philosopher, came to his death at the hands of Envy.

His wife passed into history as the typical scold. Yet it must be confessed that few women could have endured with patience the life of abject poverty he chose to live, and the trials to which he subjected her. For, as an opponent truthfully said to him, “A slave whose master made him live as you do would run away.”

Women among the Greeks, while perhaps better treated than elsewhere, were yet slaves. Being asked by Alcibiades how he could live with such a woman, Socrates is said to have replied, “She exercises my patience, and enables me to bear with all of the injustice I experience from others.” It is probable, however, that Xantippe’s faults have been exaggerated. Socrates evidently entertained a sincere regard for her, and gave her credit for many domestic virtues.


Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World. Designed and Arranged by William C. King. Published in 1900 by The King-Richardson Co. Copyright 1903 The King-Richardson Co.