Then Socrates: The question would seem at any rate to be debatable. Suppose we defer it till another time, and for the present not interrupt the program of proceedings. I see, the dancing-girl is standing ready; they are handing her some hoops.
And at the instant her fellow with the flute commenced a tune to keep her company, whilst some one posted at her side kept handing her the hoops till she had twelve in all. With these in her hands she fell to dancing, and the while she danced she flung the hoops into the air-- overhead she sent them twirling--judging the height they must be thrown to catch them, as they fell, in perfect time.
Then Socrates: The girl's performance is one proof among a host of others, sirs, that woman's nature is nowise inferior to man's. All she lacks is strength and judgment; and that should be an encouragement to those of you who have wives, to teach them whatever you would want them to know.
Antisthenes rejoined: If that is your conclusion, Socrates, why do you not tutor your own wife, Xanthippe, one of the most difficult women of times past, present, or future?
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.
I'm fascinated by her. Did she deserve this reputation? Here she is again speaking with Socrates just before he is about to die:
On our going to the prison, the jailer who answered the door, instead of admitting us, came out and bade us wait and he would call us. "For the Eleven," he said, "are now with Socrates; they are taking off his chains, and giving orders that he is to die to-day." He soon returned and said that we might come in. On entering we found Socrates just released from chains, and Xanthippe, whom you know, sitting by him, and holding his child in her arms. When she saw us she uttered a cry and said, as women will: "O Socrates, this is the last time that either you will converse with your friends, or they with you." Socrates turned to Crito and said: "Crito, let someone take her home." Some of Crito's people accordingly led her away, crying out and beating herself. And when she was gone, Socrates, sitting up on the couch, began to bend and rub his leg, saying, as he rubbed: "How singular is the thing called pleasure, and how curiously related to pain, which might be thought to be the opposite of it; for they never come to a man together, and yet he who pursues either of them is generally compelled to take the other.
It seems to me that history has been a little too unkind to Xanthippe. If she was a little harsh to Socrates, that's probably understandable: all that philosophering about the marketplace can't have bought in the money, now, can it?