Aspasia, Doctor of Rhetoric and Doctor of Love

Athenaeus, Deiphnosophists 5.61

“Indeed, wise Aspasia, Sophocles’ rhetoric teacher, says in those words that are attributed to her which Herodicus, Crates’ student, includes:

Socrates, you can’t fool me—your mind is paralyzed by desire
For the son of Deinomakhê and Kleinias*. But listen
If you want to seduce boys well and don’t doubt
The messenger, but believe and it will be much better for you.
When I heard this, happiness made my body shine with sweat
And a cry fell from my eyes—and I was not unhappy.
“Prepare by filling your hearth with a persuasive muse
Who will help you capture him, and pour her onto desirous ears.
She is the beginning of mutual friendship—you will master him
With her by providing his ears visions of your soul.

The fine Socrates then went hunting with his love-teacher, the Milesian at his side. But he is not hunted, as Plato claims, a beast trapped by Alcibiades. And, surely, he never stops weeping as it were just not his day. For, when Aspasia sees what kind of state he’s in, she says:

Why have you been crying, dear Socrates?
Does the broken desire residing in your chest
And streaking across your eyes move you for the unmoveable boy?
I promised I would domesticate him for you!

Plato makes it clear in his Protagoras that Socrates really loves Alcibiades, even though he is just a bit under thirty!”


Aspasia was married to Perikles



᾿Ασπασία μέντοι ἡ σοφὴ τοῦ Σωκράτους διδάσκαλος τῶν ῥητορικῶν λόγων ἐν τοῖς φερομένοις ὡς αὐτῆς ἔπεσιν, ἅπερ ῾Ηρόδικος ὁ Κρατήτειος παρέθετο, φησὶν οὕτως (cf. Bergk PL II 288)·

Σώκρατες, οὐκ ἔλαθές με πόθῳ δηχθεὶς φρένα τὴν

σὴν παιδὸς Δεινομάχης καὶ Κλεινίου. ἀλλ’ ὑπάκουσον,
εἰ βούλει σοι ἔχειν εὖ παιδικά· μηδ’ ἀπιθήσῃς
ἀγγέλῳ, ἀλλὰ πιθοῦ· καί σοι πολὺ βέλτιον ἔσται.
κἀγὼ ὅπως ἤκουσα, χαρᾶς ὕπο σῶμα λιπάνθη
ἱδρῶτι, βλεφάρων δὲ γόος πέσεν οὐκ ἀθελήτῳ.
στέλλου πλησάμενος θυμὸν Μούσης κατόχοιο,
ᾗ τόνδ’ αἱρήσεις, ὠσὶν δ’ ἐνίει ποθέουσιν·
ἀμφοῖν γὰρ φιλίας ἥδ’ ἀρχή· τῇδε καθέξεις
αὐτόν, προσβάλλων ἀκοαῖς ὀπτήρια θυμοῦ.

κυνηγεῖ οὖν ὁ καλὸς Σωκράτης ἐρωτοδιδάσκαλον ἔχων τὴν Μιλησίαν, ἀλλ’ οὐκ αὐτὸς θηρεύεται, ὡς ὁ Πλάτων ἔφη, λινοστατούμενος ὑπὸ ᾿Αλκιβιάδου. καὶ μὴν
οὐ διαλείπει γε κλαίων ὡς ἄν, οἶμαι, δυσημερῶν. ἰδοῦσα γὰρ αὐτὸν ἐν οἵῳ ἦν καταστήματι ᾿Ασπασία φησίν·

τίπτε δεδάκρυσαι, φίλε Σώκρατες; ἦ σ’ ἀνακινεῖ
στέρνοις ἐνναίων σκηπτὸς πόθος ὄμμασι θραυσθεὶς
παιδὸς ἀνικήτου; τὸν ἐγὼ τιθασόν σοι ὑπέστην

ὅτι δὲ ὄντως ἤρα τοῦ ᾿Αλκιβιάδου δῆλον ποιεῖ Πλά-των ἐν τῷ Πρωταγόρᾳ, καίτοι μικρὸν ἀπολείποντος τῶν τριάκοντα ἐτῶν.