Xanthippe was the wife of Socrates. There are far more stories about her than there are facts. She is believed to have been much younger than the philosopher, perhaps by as much as forty years. She was famed for her sharp tongue and is said to have been the only person to ever have beaten Socrates in a discussion. After one particular quarrel, she was supposed to have emptied a chamber pot on Socrates's head, causing him to remark, "After thunder there generally falls rain."
Her name now means any nagging scolding person, especially a shrewish wife. According to some sources, Socrates later remarried.
The following clerihew was written about her:
- Whenever Xanthippe
- Wasn't feeling too chippy
- She would say to Socrates:
- "Why can't you have been Hippocrates?"
In Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew, Petruchio compares Katherina "As Socrates' Xanthippe or a worse" in Act 1 Scene 2. (Read here)