“My opinion is that when a wife is a good partner in the house, her contribution is just as beneficial as the husband’s. …if both of these jobs are done well the household flourishes; but if they are done badly, households suffer.”
Socrates, in Xenophon, The Estate Manager

Socrates sets his view apart from one which underestimates the contribution of a wife in a household. He also sets it apart from one which fails to see the wife’s role as unique: different from while also complementary to a husband’s.

As any good philosopher—or really any person concerned with the truth, Socrates spends his time trying to discern a wisdom that is written into reality. It’s seldom easy. Personal or cultural prejudice can get in the way, as Socrates is well aware.

The Socrates of Xenophon’s The Estate Manager is especially concerned to discern the place of woman in the household. The text is subtle, even confusing. This much is clear: the natural design for husband and wife has always been a matter for very careful consideration.

Socrates seems to begin with at least one conviction. When the power and the purpose of the natural difference between man and woman is unlocked and lived, the fruits in the household, and in all of our lives, are nothing short of stunning.

NOTE: In the next few weeks I intend to examine more closely the understanding of Xenophon’s Socrates of the place of woman in the household.

Xenophon (430-354 B.C.) was a soldier, historian, and philosopher of Athens. Like Plato he wrote dialogues featuring Socrates as a great teacher. Among these dialogues is Oeconomicus, translated as The Estate Manager, in which we get an insight into the structure and principles of the ancient household.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:

Living with Yourself

“And a virtuous man wishes to live with himself; for he does so with pleasure, since the memories of his past acts are delightful and his hopes for the future are good, and therefore pleasant. His mind is well stored too with subjects of contemplation.” Aristotle,...

read more

Might vs. Valor

Phalinus, messenger from Persian King Artaxerxes, demands that the Persians (who had fought with Cyrus, now dead, against Artaxerxes) put down their arms. Xenophon responds: “Phalinus, at this moment, as you see for yourself, we have no other possessions save arms and...

read more

Bethany Weekends: Spring, Summer Schedule

Socrates insisted on the centrality of examining our lives. The purpose of such examination is clear: we will come closer to being the persons we can be if we accept the challenge of our human identity, of being rational. This is our privilege: to use our reason to...

read more

Pin It on Pinterest