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Children Stories for Grown-Ups: The Nagging Wife Children Stories for Grown-Ups: The Nagging Wife
by Rene Davila
2009-02-26 10:55:16
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The old saying: “behind every great man there is a great nagging wife” is a valid saying. Consider the following:

Once upon a time there was a nagging wife who drove her husband crazy, actually, it got worse;
he became a Philosopher.

It happened about the year 450 BC in Greece. He was unemployed, but was out of the house by nine in the morning, he could not endure the nagging from his wife which started as soon as they woke up usually around five in the morning. The nagging continued as soon as he got home at six in the evening. It became a daily routine that lasted for many years.

The husband would gladly listen to her as if he wanted to hear more, and more, and more. He had become immune to her bickering about everything. He would just absorb every word she uttered;

Why don’t you get a job?

Why don’t you buy me new clothes?

What good is it to be such a wise man if you don’t even own a pair of shoes?

Why are you so shabbily dressed? Your tunic is all in shreds!

He would just stand there and listen to her with such intensity as if in a trance. And she would continue;

Why don’t you learn from our neighbors Protagoras and Thrasymachus. Their wives wear fine clothes and just purchased a new Jaguar?

The used chariot you bought five years ago has a broken wheel and you never fixed it, besides, the horse died of hunger two years ago!

Why do you spend so much time arguing with people in the market-place?

Why don’t you buy me tickets to go watch the Olympics?

Why don’t we go out at night?

Even the sons of Heraclitus own a souvenir shop at the new shopping mall in the center of Athens!

People in the neighborhood talk about Pythagoras leaving a great sum of money in his will to his family!

Why can’t you be like that?

Why don’t you become a Sophist?

You just never think, do you?

And this one way arguing would go on, and on, and on… the husband when leaving the house would say in a low voice, almost in a murmur:
    “The unexamined life is not worth living”
    “I am a gad-fly, I stir up the lazy”
    “I know that I don’t know”
    “I am a Philosopher, I am the one and only Socrates”
…and the rest is History.


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Emanuel Paparella2009-02-26 12:11:48
The charges against Socrates at his famous trial in Plato’s Apology was “corruption of youth and disrespect for the gods.” We know they were misguided charges for what Socrates was doing was to teach them how to think for themselves without appeal to the gods. They would have been more on target if they had charged him with dereliction of wife and children but there too the charge would have been false for while Socrates was not in love with wealth and fame and perhaps not even with his carping wife Xantippa he did actually have a job, he was a stone cutter; not prestigious enough for Xantippa perhaps, not enough to buy a new jaguar or a new lion every year, but enough to live modestly and to avert the charge of laziness and dereliction of duty toward his family. Ah, the intricacies of genius. I am now thinking of Marx and Tolstoy who also had quarrels with their wives for both were in love with social justice via philosophy and literature and had carping wives, which I suppose proves your point Renè. But the wives had a point too, for one can be in love with mankind and not be able to live with a particular member of mankind, one’s wife, which then makes one wonder if Socrates, Marx and Tolstoy were really in love with mankind. It gets pretty complicated, and that’s why we have philosophy classes. Socrates would disapprove of that too. Philosophy classes assume that wisdom can be taught, when in fact it cannot and philosophy can be taught in the agora and not in expensive universities. But then one would have the carping wife to go with it. Let’s say it is a philosophical problem.


Rene Davila2009-02-26 16:24:25
Very philosophical and comical insights.
Thank you Professor Paparella.


Emanuel Paparella2009-02-26 18:02:14
Here is more funny stuff on Socrates. There is a tradition stemming I suppose from Xenophon's Symposium that Socrates' wife Xanthippe did not appreciate his wont of investigating and indulging in celestial navigation, so to speak, when the ship was sinking because of poor plumbing. Socrates was apparently undismayed and quipped when, after one of her tirades, she poured a vase of cold water on him: "After the thunder comes the rain."

This is much more funny if you see a picture of it. I've forwarded you one Renè. Enjoy!


Emanuel Paparella2009-02-26 18:10:42
P.S. Of course Socrates could have imitated the Sophists and could have charged for his lessons in the agora, but then he would have been known as just another sophist.


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