Various passages in Socratic literature suggest that the link between pleasure and pain plays a major role in Socrates’ moral psychology. This link is evident in Antisthenes, who claims that hedonai should be pursued only after ponoi, never before them (SSR V A 126. See also 82 and 127). In Aristippus, the enjoyment of hedone depends upon the capacity of self-control and self-sufficiency, that is, the ability to deal also with non-hedonic, at times even with painful, circumstances (SSR IV A 13 34, 76, 86, 87, 122, and 160). Even in Phaedo, Socrates’ lustful nature is characterized by the ability to restrain it – i.e., to renounce pleasure (frs. 6, 7, 10, 11, 21, 22 Rossetti). In Xenophon, self-control “produces the greatest pleasure” (Mem. 4.5.9), as only by enduring the suffering of abstaining from the four hedonai sex, eating, drinking, and sleep, one can “experience a pleasure worth mentioning”. In Plato’s Phaedo, pleasure and pain are reciprocally connected, “as if they were attached to a single head”: catching one of them entails catching the other one as well (60b). This paper will explore these connections and relate them to two anecdotal traditions which deal with Socrates’ endurance of pain: 1) The tradition on Socrates’s habit of wearing a worn-out cloak and walking barefoot both in the summer and winter; and 2) the tradition on Xanthippe. Curiously enough, these two traditions seem to be connected to each other, as we have reports on Xanthippe stealing Socrates’ cloak (Ael. Var. hist. 7.10, Marc. Aur. Med. 11.28, and Diog. Laert. 2.37). As to 1), the tradition goes back to Socrates’ lifetime: the Comics’ portrayals of Socrates feature him walking barefoot and wearing a threadbare cloak which he uses both in the summer and the winter (Amips. ap. DL 2.28; Aristoph. Nub. 103–104 and 363). Plato and Xenophon confirm this (Plat. Symp.174a and 220b; Phaedr. 229a; Xenoph. Mem. 1.6.2). The general context of the passages in Plato’s Symposium shows that both Socrates’ walking barefoot and his cloak are ways to exercise his karteria (Stavru 2016); this is confirmed by Diogenes of Sinope, according to whom his cloak (the same τρίβων Socrates wears) serves to “thoroughly exercise oneself” (DL 6.22-23). As to 2), the tradition begins with Xenophon, who depicts Xanthippe as “the harshest woman ever” (khalepotate, at Symp. 2.10; see also Mem. 2.2. Later sources all confirm this feature of Xanthippe, e.g. Plut. De cohib. ira 13, 161D; Plut. V. Cat. 20; Epict. Dissert. 4.5.33; Gell. Noct. Att. 1.17.1-3; Diog. Laert. 2.37; Suid. s.v. τροχιλέας). The evidence suggests that Socrates wants Xanthippe to be harsh: as Antisthenes asks him why he would not educate her – as he does with all his other fellow citizens – he replies “If I can endure her, I will easily get along with every other human being.” (Xen. Symp. 2.10). This could entail that Socrates regards Xanthippe as a necessary exercise (Gell. Noct. Att. 1.17.1-3), or, to put it in a more radical way: as the daily exercise he needs to easily (rhadios) get along with his fellow citizens. Without the training of Xanthippe’s harshness, Socrates would not be able to sustain the burden of dealing with all of Athens’ citizens (cf. Plat. Apol. 21b-22e), which would entail the failure of his paideutic mission. Xanthippe plays therefore a key role for Socrates, possibly even more than other charismatic women from which he learns important notions (e.g. Diotima, Conno, Aspasia: see Maxim. Tyr. Diss. 38.4, Theodor. Graec. aff. cur. 1.17). The paper explores the parallelism between Socrates’ barefootedness/cloak and his relation with Xanthippe: as it turns out, in both cases he deliberately chooses to endure suffering. I show the philosophical import of this choice, which becomes evident once both of these issues are related to the connection between pleasure and pain outlined in the texts of the first-generation Socratics. This sheds light on the much-debated issue of Socrates’ and the Socratics’ views on hedonism: as the sources suggest, Socratic pleasure is not possible without pain.

Piacere e dolore nella letteratura socratica antica

Stavru
2020

Abstract

Various passages in Socratic literature suggest that the link between pleasure and pain plays a major role in Socrates’ moral psychology. This link is evident in Antisthenes, who claims that hedonai should be pursued only after ponoi, never before them (SSR V A 126. See also 82 and 127). In Aristippus, the enjoyment of hedone depends upon the capacity of self-control and self-sufficiency, that is, the ability to deal also with non-hedonic, at times even with painful, circumstances (SSR IV A 13 34, 76, 86, 87, 122, and 160). Even in Phaedo, Socrates’ lustful nature is characterized by the ability to restrain it – i.e., to renounce pleasure (frs. 6, 7, 10, 11, 21, 22 Rossetti). In Xenophon, self-control “produces the greatest pleasure” (Mem. 4.5.9), as only by enduring the suffering of abstaining from the four hedonai sex, eating, drinking, and sleep, one can “experience a pleasure worth mentioning”. In Plato’s Phaedo, pleasure and pain are reciprocally connected, “as if they were attached to a single head”: catching one of them entails catching the other one as well (60b). This paper will explore these connections and relate them to two anecdotal traditions which deal with Socrates’ endurance of pain: 1) The tradition on Socrates’s habit of wearing a worn-out cloak and walking barefoot both in the summer and winter; and 2) the tradition on Xanthippe. Curiously enough, these two traditions seem to be connected to each other, as we have reports on Xanthippe stealing Socrates’ cloak (Ael. Var. hist. 7.10, Marc. Aur. Med. 11.28, and Diog. Laert. 2.37). As to 1), the tradition goes back to Socrates’ lifetime: the Comics’ portrayals of Socrates feature him walking barefoot and wearing a threadbare cloak which he uses both in the summer and the winter (Amips. ap. DL 2.28; Aristoph. Nub. 103–104 and 363). Plato and Xenophon confirm this (Plat. Symp.174a and 220b; Phaedr. 229a; Xenoph. Mem. 1.6.2). The general context of the passages in Plato’s Symposium shows that both Socrates’ walking barefoot and his cloak are ways to exercise his karteria (Stavru 2016); this is confirmed by Diogenes of Sinope, according to whom his cloak (the same τρίβων Socrates wears) serves to “thoroughly exercise oneself” (DL 6.22-23). As to 2), the tradition begins with Xenophon, who depicts Xanthippe as “the harshest woman ever” (khalepotate, at Symp. 2.10; see also Mem. 2.2. Later sources all confirm this feature of Xanthippe, e.g. Plut. De cohib. ira 13, 161D; Plut. V. Cat. 20; Epict. Dissert. 4.5.33; Gell. Noct. Att. 1.17.1-3; Diog. Laert. 2.37; Suid. s.v. τροχιλέας). The evidence suggests that Socrates wants Xanthippe to be harsh: as Antisthenes asks him why he would not educate her – as he does with all his other fellow citizens – he replies “If I can endure her, I will easily get along with every other human being.” (Xen. Symp. 2.10). This could entail that Socrates regards Xanthippe as a necessary exercise (Gell. Noct. Att. 1.17.1-3), or, to put it in a more radical way: as the daily exercise he needs to easily (rhadios) get along with his fellow citizens. Without the training of Xanthippe’s harshness, Socrates would not be able to sustain the burden of dealing with all of Athens’ citizens (cf. Plat. Apol. 21b-22e), which would entail the failure of his paideutic mission. Xanthippe plays therefore a key role for Socrates, possibly even more than other charismatic women from which he learns important notions (e.g. Diotima, Conno, Aspasia: see Maxim. Tyr. Diss. 38.4, Theodor. Graec. aff. cur. 1.17). The paper explores the parallelism between Socrates’ barefootedness/cloak and his relation with Xanthippe: as it turns out, in both cases he deliberately chooses to endure suffering. I show the philosophical import of this choice, which becomes evident once both of these issues are related to the connection between pleasure and pain outlined in the texts of the first-generation Socratics. This sheds light on the much-debated issue of Socrates’ and the Socratics’ views on hedonism: as the sources suggest, Socratic pleasure is not possible without pain.
9788857565798
Pleasure, pain, enkrateia, hedone, Xanthippe
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