Xanthippe, a Comedic Dialog

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Read an excerpt of this book! Add to Wishlist. USD 0. Sign in to Purchase Instantly. Explore Now. Buy As Gift. Overview A humorous, irreverent look at one of the most famous marriages in history--Socrates and Xanthippe. Famous for her wild temper, Xanthippe held her own with the famous philosopher and then some. A comedic dialog examining marriage and the philosophical life.

A parody of Plato's dialogs and a tribute to Aristophanes, "Xanthippe" is sharp and insightful--a modern classic.

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Xanthippe, a comedy

Average Review. Write a Review. Related Searches. Anna of Kleve, the Princess in the Portrait. Newly widowed and the father View Product. Bad Dreams and Other Stories. Empress of the Night: A Novel of Catherine. Granta 40th-Birthday Special. The priestess at Delphi declared to Chaerephon [a good democrat who was exiled during the oligarchy] that there was no man wiser than Socrates, and yet he confessed his own ignorance, unlike others with pretensions of wisdom sofia.

As a result of the oracle, he took upon himself "a sort of pilgrimage" to interview those professing knowledge, and found most of them to be deficient: politicians, poets who were inspired with a message they often did not understand , and craftsmen. He says "real wisdom is the property of God, and this oracle is his way of telling us that human wisdom has little or no value The wisest of you men is he who has realized, like Socrates, that in respect of wisdom he is really worthless. Yet he asks who influences the young for the better? He was unpaid for his work.

He names his current accusers Meletus, Anytus and Lycon and cites their current charges: he is "guilty of corrupting the minds of the young [most notably Alcibiades c. He questions Meletus as to who influences the young for the better, and proves that Meletus has taken no interest in this in the past.

He defends his belief in gods such as the sun and the moon and in other supernatural beings for how could one believe in supernatural activities and not in supernatural beings. He states his heroic dedication to the philosophical life even in the face of criticism and hostility: "Where a man has once taken up his stand,.. He questions the fear of death, since it could be the greatest blessing that can happen to man.

He refuses to disobey God: "I owe a greater obedience to God than to you. So far from pleading on my behalf, as might be supposed, I am really pleading on yours, to save you from misusing the gift of God by condemning me. He predicts they will soon slap him just like a fly and return to their complacent slumbers. He has neglected his own affairs in helping others and lives in poverty.

He has conducted himself in the pursuit of justice in private and not as a politician which would have quickly led to his losing his life. He recounts a proposed trial of 10 naval commanders in which he alone opposed trying them en bloc [they were accused of abandoning the survivors and the dead during the battle of Arguinusae in ]. Later, during the Oligarchy of 30 , he disobeyed a tyrannical order to fetch Leon for execution. He values doing good over living. He is open to all who will argue with him and answers questions of rich and poor alike. He is entertaining. He names some of his many students: Crito, Antiphon, Plato, etc.

He mentions his 3 sons but rejects making an emotional appeal or bringing in his family to appeal for mercy. He leaves his fate in the hands of the jury and God. It was a close vote to convict, out of Meletus is demanding death. He plays with the jury regarding his punishment--he should be rewarded for his actions with free maintenance by the state.

He gently chastises that his trial has been allowed only one day. He has no money for a fine and says he would be just as irritating to those in another country to which he might be exiled, since he cannot change his ways. If I say that this would be disobedience to God, and that is why I cannot 'mind my own business', you will not believe that I am serious.

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If on the other hand I tell you that to let no day pass without discussing goodness and all the other subjects about which you hear me talking and examining both myself and others is really the very best thing that a man can do, and that life without this sort of examination is not worth living, you will be even less inclined to believe me. Nevertheless that is how it is, gentlemen, as I maintain, though it is not easy to convince you of it. He is defiant. His execution will damage the reputation of Athens. It will shorten his life only slightly. He is condemned not because of a lack of an adequate defense but because of his lack of impudence and refusal to grovel.

He is resolved to uphold the law and not attempt to escape death, which would be wrong.

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Those who voted against him are depraved and wicked, and will be punished. His execution will not stop the criticism that has previously been suppressed. He admonishes them to make themselves as good as they can be. He speaks warmly to those who voted to acquit. He welcomes death, and notes that his execution was not divinely opposed. He reflects on death, which is either an annihilation or a change, a transmigration of souls and removal to Hades. Socrates explores the meaning of temperance or self-control sophrosyne with a handsome youth. It is an ideal embodied in the Delphic inscriptions "Know thyself" and "Never too much.

The morning of his execution, Crito tries unsuccessfully to persuade Socrates to escape, but Socrates wants "not to live but to live well.


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A wrong can never be justified; a citizen must uphold the law. Socrates explores piety or holiness with a lawyer prosecuting his own father, prior to Socrates' own trial. Socrates argues with the famous rhetorician and Sophist Gorgias and his pupil Polus that rhetoric, though possibly giving power and persuasion, produces belief without knowledge. Socrates maintains that it is worse to do wrong than to suffer it. Callicles asserts a philosophy of might is right, saying that philosophy is suitable only for youth, and that the better and wiser man should rule and have more.

They that can succeed indulge their appetites, whil others are forced to praise moderation and temperance. But Socrates argues that some pleasures are not good and that pleasure and good are not the same.

Xanthippic Dialogues

After the judgement at the crossroads, the man "who has led a godly and righteous life departs after death to the Isles of the Blessed and there lives in all happiness exempt from ill, but the godless and unrighteous man departs to a prison of vengeance and punishment which they call Tartarus. And you may let anyone despise you as a fool and do you outrage, if he wishes, yes, and you may cheerfully let him strike you with that humiliating blow, for you will suffer no harm thereby This is the best way of life-- to live and die in the pursuit of righteousness and all other virtues.

Socrates discusses art techne with the Homeric rhapsodist Ion. Unlike the knowledge acquired in other arts, Socrates asserts that the poetic art is not an art at all but a divine gift like magnetism. Poets are possessed by the gods like bacchants and "it is the god himself who speaks, and through them becomes articulate to us. The Lesser Hippias is an inferior dialogue in which Socrates argues with Hippias the Sophist about voluntary vs involuntary wrongdoing.

Greater Hippias is on the beautiful. The authenticity of both has been questioned. Again ask what virtue is and if it can be taught. Discusses immortality of the soul and its multiple rebirths and demonstrates that we have knowledge that can be recalled by questioning a slave boy about triangles etc. Virtue is not learned but is a divine dispensation, and its possessors are to others as Tiresias was to the flitting shades of the underworld.

Anytus warns Socrates against slander. Phaedo recounts to Echecrates the last hours of Socrates sometime after his death, a day to which he was a witness along with Apollodorus, Menexenus, etc. The execution had been delayed awaiting the return of the ship which was sent to Delos on an annual religious mission. Phaedo recalls how happy Socrates seemed, how cheerfully he looked forward to death. Xanthippe appears and is hysterical, and Socrates sends her away Plato seems quite unsympathetic to her. Socrates notes the similarity of pleasure and pain, and that they are often experienced together--he suggests that they are like two bodies attached to the same head, as in some imagined Aesop fable.

He recalls a recurring dream he has had, in which he is exhorted: "Socrates, practice and cultivate the arts. He argues against suicide to Cebes, saying we are put in a sort of guard post and that the gods are our keepers and we their possessions, and we will be punished if we destroy ourselves.

The senses are inaccurate. The soul finds truth, not with the senses, but through pure thought and reflection divorced from the senses. The intellect can contemplate absolute truths such as "absolute uprightness. We must separate ourselves from these urges to attain pure knowledge. Pure knowledge may only come from the purification of death. Philosophers make their occupation the freeing and separation of soul from body.

The courage and self-control non-philosophers display are based merely on fear of losing pleasures.

Plato Dialogs (Dialogues) Summary

Wisdom must be the ultimate goal of life--it makes possible true courage, self-control, and integrity. Socrates looks forward to being dead, as his soul will be able to mix with past rulers and great thinkers. But Cebes is skeptical about the afterlife and the persistence of the soul--he wonders if the soul does not merely disperse at death and no longer exists. Socrates considers the question whether souls transmigrate, and recounts the legend that they do in fact return from the dead. He provides an elaborate argument about opposites begetting opposites, that death and life are opposites, and that death must therefore beget life rebirth or palligenesia--this argument seems to be based on a fallacious assumption!

He believes souls return from the world of the dead and that "what we recollect now we must have learned at some time before," and that "learning is recollection" or recovery of knowledge formerly known but temporarily forgotten after birth. This recollection or anamnesis occurs when questions are asked in just the right way. For example, we have a built-in knowledge of absolute equality.

Cebes remains unconvinced, arguing that we may indeed recall previously forgotten knowledge, but that does not prove the soul lives on after death. Socrates presents another elaborate argument based on composite objects, and that which is invisible being invariant, etc. The body confuses the soul. Upon death, "it [the soul] passes into the realm of the pure and everlasting and immortal and changeless The soul is like that which is divine, indissoluble, invariable.

The soul of a good man who has led a pure life goes " It is a happy fate, released from uncertainty and fears. But the souls of the wicked or impure are "compelled to wander about these places [on earth] as punishment Or because of their craving for the corporeal, they may be reincarnated as base animals such as the donkey. No soul which has not practiced philosophy, and is not absolutely pure when it leaves the body, may attain to the divine nature; that is only for the lover of wisdom.

Philosophy sets the soul free, rid of human ills.

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Pleasure and pain are impure, corporeal, and bind the soul like rivets to the body. Socrates compares his expression of joy at his impending death to that shown by the dying swan [the swan song], which sings most loudly and sweetly then in anticipation of going into the presence of the gods, and not as an expression of grief. But Simmias is still unconvinced of the immortality of the soul. He addresses several concerns. Socrates loves to argue.

He also refutes the concept of souls wearing out He acknowledges he in unsuited to pursue natural science. He does not "understand how things becomes one, nor, in short, why anything else comes or ceases or continues to be, according to this method of inquiry. He distrusts observational sciences: "I was afraid that by observing objects with my eyes and trying to comprehend them with each of my senses I might blind my soul altogether" as can occur by watching an eclipse.

He gives his own theory of causation: "I am assuming the existence of absolute beauty and goodness Whatever else is beautiful apart from absolute beauty is beautiful because it partakes of that absolute beauty The one thing that makes that object beautiful is the presence in it or association with in it, in whatever way the relation comes about, of absolute beauty. Socrates proves the immortality of the soul by claiming that absolute forms do not coexist with their opposites: the soul confers life, the opposite of life is death, thus the soul will not admit death and is therefore immortal.

Souls are imperishable, but nonetheless must be cared for in life and for all time--the only escape from evil is becoming good. Socrates describes his theory of the earth. The earth, if spherical, is in the middle of the heavens aether , and being suspended in equilibrium requires no force to keep it from falling. It is vast, and there are many hollow places in which water, mist, and air collect and in which we ordinary humans actually live, though we incorrectly believe we live on the surface and that the air we see about us is the true heavens.

The earth and stones we are surrounded by are corroded, not like the true earth and heaven, which are out of sight. The idealized real earth has more vivid and extensive colors than what we experience, and the trees, flowers, mountains, stones, etc. Rich metals are abundant. Idealized humans live in the air beyond our sight , free from disease and superior in their senses to us. They have temples inhabited by gods and see the true sun, moon and stars as they really are. The hollows that we live in are interconnected by underground channels, subterranean rivers of water, mud, and lava, and these flows have a natural oscillation.

The largest cavity in the earth is Tartarus, into which all the great rivers flow and reemerge again in a type of oscillation accompanied by great winds. The great streams include: 1 the mightiest, Oceanus, 2 Acheron which arrives at the Acherusian Lake where the souls of the dead come , 3 Pryriphlegethon which belches forth jets of lava , and 4 the Cocytus river which forms the lake Styx in the Stygian region. The newly dead are submitted to judgement. Those who lived a neutral life go to Acheron for purification and absolution from sins.

The very wicked receive eternal punishment in Tartarus and never reemerge. Redeemable sinners stay in Tartarus for a year, then are borne by the river to the Acherusian Lake etc. But those who have lived holy lives "are released and set free from confinement in these regions of the earth, and passing upward to their pure abode, make their dwelling upon the earth's surface [i. Living a life of self-control and goodness, courage, and liberality and truth is the way a man can be free from all anxiety about the fate of the soul. He should devote himself to the pleasures of acquiring knowledge.

Crito asks if he has any words for his children, but he has no new advice.



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