previous next

XANTHIPPE, the wife of the philosopher Socrates, is said to have been ill-tempered and quarrelsome to a degree, with a constant flood of feminine tantrums and annoyances day and night. Alcibiades, amazed at this outrageous conduct of hers towards her husband, asked Socrates what earthly reason he had for not showing so shrewish a woman the door. “Because,” replied Socrates, “it is by enduring such a person at home that I accustom and train myself to bear more easily away from home the impudence and injustice of other persons.”

In the same vein Varro also said in the Menippean Satire 1 which he entitled On the Duty of a Husband: 2 “A wife's faults must be either put down or put up with. He who puts down her faults, makes his wife more agreeable; he who puts up with them, improves himself.” Varro contrasted the two words tollere and ferre very cleverly, 3 to be sure, [p. 87] but he obviously uses tollere in the sense of “correct.” It is evident too that Varro thought that if a fault of that kind in a wife cannot be corrected, it should be tolerated, in so far of course as a man may endure it honourably; for faults are less serious than crimes.

1 Varro's Menippean Satires, in 150 books, based to some extent on the σπευδογέλοιον of Menippus, a Cynic philosopher of the third century B.C., treated in a mixture of prose and verse a great variety of moral and serious topics in a playful and sometimes jocose manner. For other titles see Index under (M.) Terentius Varro, and for the fragments, Bücheler's Petronius, 3d. ed., Berlin, 1882, pp. 161 ff.

2 Fr 83, Bücheler.

3 For a similar play on two meanings of tollere, cf. Suet. Aug. xii.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Introduction (John C. Rolfe, 1927)
load focus Latin (John C. Rolfe, 1927)
hide References (2 total)
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (2):
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: