“Is there anyone to whom you speak less than to your wife?”
Socrates, in Xenophon’s The Estate Manager

Thomas Aquinas suggests that spouses ought to have the greatest of friendships. His central reason is that they share in the “whole course of daily life.”

In Socrates’ discussion of domestic life with Critobulus, he asks the above question about marital conversation. In context the question clearly means: do you speak to your wife in a way that is commensurate with the nature of the spousal relationship?

Here indeed is a point for reflection: what is the quantity and quality of our marital conversation?

Socrates puts the responsibility especially on the husband. Again, in context the question suggests that as Critobulus goes about his business he puts more stock in extra-marital conversation than he does in marital conversation.

Socrates does not explicitly indicate what in his view would be the primary subject of the conversation of spouses. Yet as the main issue of The Estate Manager is just what are the nature and the end of household life, we are left to ponder. Surely the conversation of spouses will itself be, among other things, an exercise in considering this most vital of realities.

Just what is the nature and end of our life together? What is this astounding reality—this natural masterpiece of family and household—that is ours to discover and to enact together? In what ways should we enact it, and how are we doing at it?

In another place, after asserting that the unexamined life is not worth living, Socrates says that he spends his days—every day—in serious discussion about the good life. Spouses have the privilege, even if at times an onerous charge, to spend their days discussing this with one another. For them, the good life will always begin, every day, in the home.

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.

Join the Community.

Become a LifeCraft Member and gain access to our online courses and exclusive content. It's FREE of charge. Period.

If you join as a contributing member, you will help make this content available to an increasing audience and enable me to spend more time in this work. I thank you in advance.

Join the LifeCraft community today and get access to:

  • Man of the Household (Course)
  • Woman of the Household (Course)
  • Concepts Made Clear (Mini-course)
  • Dinner at Home (Mini-course)
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:
Ordinary Means for an Extraordinary Holiday Season

Ordinary Means for an Extraordinary Holiday Season

“We must also remember that no metamorphosis since pre-historic times is in any way comparable to the metamorphosis that we are now undergoing.” “[Man is] a creature which is not only capable of gratuitous acts but of which it can be said that such acts are this...

read more
Presence when Absent: A Husband’s Gift

Presence when Absent: A Husband’s Gift

“The beloved is said to be in the lover… [even] in the absence of the beloved, because of the lover’s longing towards…the good he wills to the beloved with a love of friendship.” Thomas Aquinas One thing my marriage has taught me is that really ‘being-present’ to...

read more
Does Everyone Need an Obi-wan?

Does Everyone Need an Obi-wan?

“And if someone dragged him away from there by force, up the rough, steep path, and didn’t let him go until he had dragged him into the sunlight, wouldn’t he be pained and irritated at being treated that way?” Socrates, Plato’s Republic We seldom reflect on a stark...

read more

Pin It on Pinterest