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Fiction

Socrates’ Home Life

Lydia Masseron finds out exactly what’s on Xanthippe’s mind.

Setting: Xanthippe’s home. Lamprocles (6) and Sophroniscus (4) are running about. Xanthippe has just found out that she’s pregnant again. Akantha, her friend, has just popped in.

Akantha: Greetings Xanthippe! I hear congratulations are in order.

Xanthippe: Thank you Akantha, though I’m not sure it’s a blessing. These days I seem to be doing the work of both parents.

Akantha: How so, Xanthippe?

Xanthippe: You try being married to Socrates! He’s always down the agora talking nonsense with his fellow layabouts. I tell you – that man is nothing if not workshy. I can’t remember the last time he did a day’s work!

Akantha: I have heard he has a fine intellect and is the most eloquent orator in Athens.

Xanthippe: Being a chatterbox does not put food on the table. My father is fed up of providing for us.

A small child approaches, crying.

Xanthippe: Oh Sophroniscus, what is it now?

Sophroniscus: Lamprocles hit me.

Xanthippe: Excuse me Akantha, whilst I deal with my squabbling children.

Akantha: You go ahead, Xanthippe. I’m here to avoid my own quarrelsome brood.

Xanthippe leaves the room. The sound of scolding followed by wailing can be heard. Xanthippe re-enters, looking exasperated.

Xanthippe: [sighs] Socrates encourages them to wrestle, but never deals with the inevitable tears that occur afterwards.

Akantha: Your Socrates was a fine wrestler in his day.

Xanthippe: Yes, but that’s besides the point. Lamprocles is so much bigger than Sophroniscus that it’s unfair to make them fight. Poor little Sophroniscus always comes off worse.

Akantha nods sympathetically. There’s a moment’s silence.

Akantha: Did I mention that Thaddaeus heard Socrates discussing the good life in front of an audience of some thirty young men last week?

Xanthippe: What does he know of the good life? The good life for me would be having a husband who went to work and supported his family instead of having a layabout who is either drunk or about to get drunk. Surely living a good life involves being a loving and thoughtful husband and father?

Akantha: You mean like my Thaddeus? He’s at home with the children as we speak… He may not go down in history as a great thinker, but he’s the living embodiment of a good man. Anyway, I must be going. I just popped by to wish you well.

Xanthippe: Goodbye, Akantha, it’s nice to see you.

Akantha pats Xanthippe on the shoulder and takes her leave.

Sophroniscus reenters the room, crying.

Sophroniscus: Lamprocles hit me again.

© Lydia Masseron 2022

Lydia Masseron is a supply teacher in Wiltshire, where she spends her time inserting philosophy into a wide range of subjects.

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