Good morning and welcome to the day dedicated to the most unpopular letter of the alphabet. My Webster Collegiate Dictionary, purchased when I was in university has only a page and a quarter of X words. So, it didn’t take me long to go through them. We’ve all seen Xmas used for Christmas, but I didn’t know you could abbreviate Christina with Xn, and Christianity with Xnty, or that there was a three-masted Mediterranean boat called a xebec.
I read through the other words, now quite interested in X words and finally found one that piqued my curiosity. You guessed it: Xanthippe, which interestingly enough was Socrates’s shrewish wife, and according to the dictionary can be used to describe an ill-tempered woman. Finally, we can give the word bitch a rest.
X is for Xanthippe
Xanthippe was Socrates’ wife and matron of ancient Athens. The couple had three sons, Lamprokles, Sophroniskos and Menexenos, and she is said to have had a bad temper and to have been the very personification of the constantly nagging wife.
Her contemporaries did not picture her as such a terrible person as the later Romans did. According to later stories, Socrates knew he was marrying a hag, but did so to practice his patience.
A well known anecdote about the angry Xanthippe is the one where she was so angry with her husband that she threw a bucket of washing water on him. The philosopher then replied: after thunder comes rain. Socrates’ saying “Marry or marry not, in any case you’ll regret it” was supposedly in contemplation of his wife.
I recommend you visit this blog post for a humorous and probably realistic take on the story.
When you’ve done that, check out the other X blogs.