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THE PHILOSOPHER SOCRATES
WHEN Pericles died, the Peloponnesian War had already
been carried on for more than three years, but was not
nearly at an end. As the Athenians felt the need of a
leader, they soon chose Nicias to take the place left
vacant by Pericles.
This Nicias was an honest man; but he was unfortunately
rather dull, and very slow about deciding anything.
Whenever he was called upon to see to matters of state,
he hesitated so long, and was so uncertain, that the
Greeks often had cause to regret the loss of Pericles.
There was another man of note in Athens at this time,
the philosopher Socrates, a truly wise and good man. He
was no politician, however; and, instead of troubling
himself about the state, he spent all his spare moments
in studying, or in teaching the young men of Athens.
Like his friend Anaxagoras, Socrates was a very deep
thinker. He, too, always tried to find out the exact
truth about everything. He was specially anxious to
 the earth had been created, who the Being was who gave
us life, and whether the soul died with the body, or
continued to live after the body had fallen into dust.
Socrates was a poor man, a stonecutter by trade; but he
spent every moment he could spare from his work in
thinking, studying, and questioning others. Little by
little, in spite of the contrary opinion of his
fellow-citizens, he began to understand that the
stories of the Greek gods and goddesses could not be
He thought that there must surely be a God far
greater than they,—a God who was good and powerful
and just, who governed the world he had created, and
who rewarded the virtuous and punished the wicked.
Socrates believed that everybody should be as good and
gentle as possible, and freely forgive all injuries.
This belief was very different from that of all ancient
nations, who, on the contrary, thought that they should
try to avenge every insult, and return evil for evil.
The philosopher Socrates not only taught this
gentleness, but practiced it carefully at home and
abroad. He had plenty of opportunity to make use of it;
for he had such a cross wife, that her name,
Xanthippe, is still used to describe a scolding and
 Whenever Xanthippe was angry, she used to scold poor
Socrates soundly. He always listened without flying
into a passion, or even answering her; and when her
temper was too unbearable, he quietly left the house,
and went about his business elsewhere.
This gentleness and meekness only angered Xanthippe the
more; and one day, when he was escaping as usual, she
caught up a jug full of water and poured it over his
Socrates good-naturedly shook off the water, smiled,
and merely remarked to his companions, "After the
thunder comes the rain."