Thursday, March 24, 2011


This post is brought to you as part of Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday.  Click the button on the right to join the fun.

Xanthippe (zan-tip-ee) was the wife of Socrates and the mother of their three sons.  It is surmised that she came from a wealthy family and was significantly younger (possibly by 40 years) than her husband. 

Plato portrayal of her in his Phaedo was of a devoted wife and mother.  Xenophon, another of Socrates’ pupils, portrayed her in the same light in his Memorabilia.  He did, however, include some comments from her oldest son that she was harsh.  It is unknown if this was an exaggeration of a child regarding a strict parent or an accurate personality trait of Xanthippe.

In a later work (Symposium), Xenophon recorded that Antisthenes said Socrates described his wife as “the hardest to get along with of all the women there are.”  And yet, he chose her because of her augmentative spirit for just as a rider would choose a difficult horse to control and show they could thereby control any horse, Socrates was determined to tolerate Xanthippe’s spirit which would allow him to “with ease attach myself to every human being.”

I am not sure Socrates (who is credited with being one of the founders of Western Philosophy) thought sufficiently through his line of reasoning.  After all, Xanthippe eventually came to represent every scolding and quarrelsome woman.  

Personally, I think this is a prime example of God’s wisdom being above man’s wisdom.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9)

God shares His thoughts on the wisdom of choosing a quarrelsome woman as a wife via the writer of Proverbs.

It is better to live in a desert land
than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman. (Proverbs 21:19)

A foolish son is ruin to his father,
and a wife's quarreling is a continual dripping of rain. (Proverbs 19:13)

This is not a happy picture of wedded bliss and I doubt Socrates found his house a restful retreat after a long, hard day of work.

I don’t know if Xanthippe lived up to her quarrelsome reputation or if being quarrelsome was her dominate character trait, but I can say with great confidence that being quarrelsome is a choice.  It is based upon the attitude with which you determine to address a situation.  Being quarrelsome is not conducive to a resolution of an issue nor is it the best way to build relationships.

I am thankful that God has provided me with a better example of a wife than Xanthippe; an example that will draw others to me rather than drive them away.
Proverbs 31

        10 An excellent wife who can find?
                    She is far more precious than jewels.

        25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
                    and she laughs at the time to come.
        26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
                    and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
        27 She looks well to the ways of her household
                    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
        28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
                    her husband also, and he praises her:
        29 “Many women have done excellently,
                    but you surpass them all.”
        30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
                    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
        31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
                    and let her works praise her in the gates.

I’m praying for God’s continued help as I grow to be an excellent wife instead of an imitator of Xanthippe who, by the way, was the inspiration for Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew.

Lisa H.


  1. excellent treatise on Xanthippes, and the biblical link. enjoyed reading your post today.

  2. Great History lesson, interesting the connection with Shakespeare.

  3. Boy, you and Gattina were on the same page here. You did a great job of introducing Xanthippe.


  4. Great X post! Someone I'd never heard of.

  5. Lol ! that's really funny that we both wrote about Xanthippe !!

  6. Wonderful post for X-Day! Thanks for sharing and have a GREAT day!

  7. I think I actually know that woman!!!!

  8. X day is tricky, but what a wonderful treatment. I have to admit that I had never heard of Xanthippe before. I have now learned my one new thing for today.

  9. Guess what, Lisa. You won first place in my giveaway, so come on over and let me know which pendant you prefer because you get first choice! Also, I will need your snail mail address, which you can email to me (my address is on my profile) or leave in a comment, whichever you prefer.



  10. I didn't know that about Taming of the Shrew, but I thought of it as I read this post. It's one of my favorite plays.

  11. Hi Lisa, I find this really fascinating. I think I might have preferred my first husband to call me this instead of all the other names he came up with - ha!

    Thanks for an x-cellent and fascinating stop on our little journey through Alphabe-Thursday's letter 'x'.

    I hope your husband appreciates you!