A Meeting of Minds

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A Meeting of Minds

A Greek philosopher.

'Call yourself a philosopher – why can't you get a proper job, like Arachne's husband?'

'Philosophy is a real job! It's the most important job in the world, in fact. Man, know thyself!'

'What about women? Does philosophy put food on the table? No.'

'It feeds the mind!'

'See how long your empty stomach finds that funny. You and your fancy ideas. Get your head out of the clouds and do something useful with your life!'

'Thinking is useful!'

'To you, maybe. Can't you at least do something round the house or go hunting food like other men? You used to be a soldier, so you were useful to someone, once upon a time.'

'My students need me!'

'I need you! I married you to support me, not the other way round.'

'And I wanted an obedient wife, so we're both disappointed aren't we? I'm going out.'

'Like the wood on the fire. Why don't you at least top that up, so I can cook your supper on it?'

'I shall eat out at the tavern or grab something from the market ,but I will stoke the fire before I go out.'

'That's all you will stoke, as your fire went out a long time ago.'

'With a wife like you is that surprising?'

Socrates stormed out, slamming the door behind him.

'Students, gather round. Are any of you married?'

A rumble of discussion starts, with some voices assenting, but most not, as they are young bachelors in the main.

'Well I am, and I am wondering if it is a blessing or a curse and who for.'

A voice cries out.

'Who would marry an ugly so-and-so like you?'

'Good point, but one woman did and I have had three children by her and before you say anything, they are not all as bad-looking as me.'

Murmurs of approval, mixed with laughter.

'Children, go outside and play. I have work to do! Now, Penelope, what's the local gossip and who is it about?'

'Today let us talk about the state and unity. How we as individuals working together, create a great nation, a great family life and indeed a sane individual, that turns insane and violently attacks his fellows, when this co-operation dies. Can we be loyal to ourselves, our families and our state, all at the same time or does one have to suffer for the betterment of one of the others?'

'Who cares?'

'Ah Arestes – kind of you to join us from the gutter. This is the man who inspired me to say the unexamined life is worth nothing.'

Laughter ensues.

'So, who does care and why?'

'I do.'

'And why, may I ask?'

'Because by supporting others, they will support me –'

'– only if they see the wisdom of what you're saying, but what if they don't? What if they are lazy like Arestes, expecting others to pick up the tab of his life? What if they are criminals who actively steal from the state or cowards that won't fight for their country? What then?'

'We make allowances for the weakness and stupidity of men but don't expect anything back from those people, who let themselves and everybody else down. We jail them, kick them out of the country or otherwise chastise their bad citizenship. While we may hope for their help in times of need, we will never be foolish enough to rely on those with such character flaws, totally.'

'Well said, young man –'

' – Plato.'

'Well said, Plato.'

And so began a philosophical dynasty...

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