16 June 2009

an odd thing

On entering we found Socrates, just released, and Xanthippe—you know her—holding his little boy and sitting beside him. When she saw us, Xanthippe broke out and said just the kinds of thing that women are given to saying: 'So this is the very last time, Socrates, that your good friends will speak to you and you to them.' At which Socrates looked at Crito and said: 'Crito, someone had better take her home.'
  So she was taken away by some of Crito's people, calling out and lamenting; Socrates, meanwhile, sat up on the bed, bent his leg, and rubbed it down with his hand. As he rubbed it, he said: 'What an odd thing it seems, friends, this state that people call "pleasant"; and how curiously it's related to its supposed opposite, "painful": to think that the pair of them refuse to visit a person together, yet if anybody pursues one of them and catches it, he's always pretty well bound to catch the other as well, as if the two of them were attached to a single head. I do believe that if Aesop had thought of them, he'd have made up a story telling how God wanted to reconcile them in their quarrelling, but when he couldn't he fastened their heads together, and that's why anybody visited by one of them is later attended by the other as well. That is just what seems to be happening in my own case: there was discomfort in my leg because of the fetter, and now the pleasant seems to have come to succeed it.'

Plato, Phaedo (1993: 4)