Aulus Gellius 1.17
Translation copyright 2000 Neil W. Bernstein; all
How calmly Socrates (1) tolerated his wife's intractable
nature; and what Marcus Varro (2) wrote in a certain satire about
the husband's duty.
- Xanthippe, the wife of the philosopher Socrates, is said
to have been very stubborn and prone to complaint. She
was brimming day and night with womanly angers and
- Alcibiades (3) was amazed by her fury against her
husband, and asked Socrates why he did not kick such a
troublesome woman out of his house.
- "Because I endure such a woman at home," said
Socrates, "and am trained and accustomed to her,
once I am out of the house I can endure other peoples'
arrogance and insult more easily."
- Varro followed the same idea in a Menippean satire (4)
that he wrote about the husband's duty: "A wife's
fault should either be removed or endured. The husband
who removes his wife's fault makes her more agreeable;
the husband who endures the fault makes himself
- The words that Varro used, remove and endure,
were charming choices; but remove appears
to have been written in place of correct.
- It seems, furthermore, that Varro thought that a fault in
this kind of woman should be endured if it cannot be
corrected; that is, to be sure, if it is a fault that can
be endured by a respectable husband (as faults are less
serious than disgraceful acts).
- Perseus Encyclopedia entry (Socrates #2).
- 116-27 BC; the surviving works of Varro, "the most learned of the Romans", include an essay on farming (Res Rustica) and part of a treatise on the Latin language (de Lingua Latina).
- Perseus Encyclopedia entry (Alcibiades #2).
- A literary genre associated with Menippus of Gadara (3rd c. BC), featuring outrageous satire written in a mixture of prose and verse. Though the satires of Varro have been lost, some idea of Menippean satire can be reconstructed from surviving Roman works such as Seneca's Apocolocyntosis and Petronius' Satyricon.
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