|An Emblem book print portraying Xanthippe emptying a chamber pot over Socrates, from Emblemata Horatiana illustrated by Otho Vaenius, 1607|
"Xanthippe means "yellow horse". Hers is one of many Greek personal names with a horse theme (cf. Philippos: "friend of horses"; Hippocrates: "horse tamer" etc.). The "hippos" in an ancient Greek name often suggested aristocratic heritage One additional reason for thinking Xanthippe's family was socially prominent was that her eldest son was named Lamprocles instead of "Sophroniscus" (after Socrates' father): the ancient Greek custom was to name one's first child after the more illustrious of the two grandfathers. Xanthippe's father is believed to have been named Lamprocles. Since he was even more well-established in Athenian aristocracy than was Socrates' father, his name would have been the preferred choice for the name of the first-born son.
CharacterWhat I learned about Xanthippe was, that she was a real bitch especially to her husband, the great Greek philosopher Socrates. Well you can see for yourself if you look at the picture on this page. She was his second wife and a lot younger than Socrates.
Still Plato suggests that she was nothing less than a devoted wife and mother.Though her son Lamprocles complains of her harshness.It is only in Xenophon's Symposium where we have Socrates agree that she is "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:
It is 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.
We thank Denise Nesbitt, who created ABC, and we must thank Roger too for the weekly job to find ten bloggers for each of the ABC Team members to visit and to read their posts. For more interesting ABC posts click on the logo in the sidebar . This week we are looking for words beginning with X.