Page:Essays and phantasies by James Thomson.djvu/235

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223
A WORD FOR XANTIPPE.

become the title of the piece, says: "When we entered, we found Socrates just freed from his bonds, and Xantippe, you know her, holding his little boy and sitting by him. As soon as Xantippe saw us, she wept aloud, and said such things as women usually do on such occasions—as, 'Socrates, your friends will now converse with you for the last time, and you with them.' But Socrates, looking towards Crito, said, 'Crito, let some one take her home.' Upon which some of Crito's attendants led her away, wailing and beating herself. But Socrates, sitting up in bed, drew up his leg, and rubbed it with his hand, and as he rubbed it, said: 'What an unaccountable thing, my friends, that seems to be which men call pleasure; etc., etc., etc.'" A wonderfully cold-blooded touch, this, in the divine Phædo.

Socrates, engaged in sublime discourse about the immortality of the human soul, cannot concern himself about mundane wife and children, but after he has drunk the poison, we read in the last section that the friends about him began weeping and lamenting, and he said: "What are you doing, my admirable friends? I indeed, for this reason chiefly, sent away the women, that they might not commit any folly of this kind." His last words were, "Crito, we owe a cock to Æsculapius; pay it, therefore, and do not neglect it."

Now, how stood the case as between Socrates and Xantippe, husband and wife? This is the sole point for us here, and the public relations of Socrates, the sage and martyr, to the world in general are quite beside the question. An unfortunate woman (would that she had left her own statement of the case!) who appears to have been no less warm-hearted than hot-tempered, has the foolish goodness to marry a man who is not only much older than herself and absurdly ugly, but who is also a public character and a philosopher. As he was well up in years when he