Xanthippe ("xanthos"="blonde", "hippos"="horse") was the wife of Socrates. He married her late in life, around 50, and they had three children.

The hapless Xanthippe has become the quintessential example of the shrewish wife due to comments made about her attributed to Socrates and others, mostly in the dialogues of Plato.

A few examples:

• When a man asked Socrates if he should marry or not, the philosopher replied "Do what you want, either way you will regret it."

• During an argument, she poured a bucket of water over his head. Socrates: "I knew that the thunders of Xanthippe sooner or later would be followed by rain."

At Socrates’ death, depicted in Plato’s Phaedo, she is a whiny weeping soon to be widow, clinging to him until she was sent home so he could do some serious talking with the boys.

Perhaps Xanthippe has gotten a bad rap. If your husband made no money and then willingly committed suicide leaving you to care for three kids (including one infant), wouldn’t you be a bit bitchy too?
A passage in Xenophon (his Memorabilia of Socrates) says however that she did have qualities that made Socrates approve of her. Also, the philosopher honed his legendary patience by dealing with her. He compared her to a wild horse: if he could put up with her, he could put up with anyone.

Her name itself has become proverbial for a shrew or scold. In English it's often in the un-Greek form Xantippe, and Shakespeare has an even more altered form Zentippe in The Taming of the Shrew, where Petruchio, in announcing he comes to Padua to seek a rich wife, says he is indifferent to all else,

Be she as foule as was Florentius Loue,
As old as Sibell, and as curst and shrow'd
As Socrates Zentippe, or a worse:
The contemporary British philosopher Roger Scruton wrote a book Xanthippic Dialogues in 1998, an imaginative exercise somewhere between dialogue and novel, including Xanthippe's Republic and Xanthippe's Laws, and other "newly discovered" philosophical works by women, putting a modern gloss on the arguments. She comes out much better in this.

There is a computer font for classical Greek called Xanthippe.

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