Socrates solves his clothing problems.
|C.The Caucus-race and a Long Tale
1. "Curious and Curiouser!" – History can be boring. So, it’s up to you to spice things up for us. Pick any person in history. Write up a short story about this person with titles as ridiculous as “Ghengis Khan Gets a New Haircut”. In others words, make it fun! (<1000 words)
Socrates Buys a Suit
Socrates swore under his breath as, for the second time that morning, his robe unravelled itself and landed in a tangled mess at his feet. It was so unbecoming for a renowned philosopher to be exposed in this way in front of his students. The class suppressed its amusement as well as it could.
As he draped the offending cloth around himself again, Socrates decided that it was time for him to do something about the problem. He would speak to young Plato who was bound to know the very latest in fashionable clothing that did not abandon its duties at every opportunity.
He returned to his task of laying the wisdom of years on the dull ears of his audience. The one object of hope, Plato, scribbled away on his slate as ever.
Later, Socrates spoke to the young man and was delighted at his response. So pleased was Plato at the prospect of assisting his master through his problem, that he interrupted before the old man had finished his tale.
“I know exactly what you need!” he announced. “There is a Phoenician tailor recently arrived in the city and he guarantees that his clothing is hard-wearing, distinctive and reliable. He can create something ideal for your needs. His name is Euripides.”
Without hesitation, Socrates agreed to see the man and they set out there and then to visit Euripides’ emporium. They were deep into the poorer section of Athens before Socrates expressed his growing apprehension.
“This is merely temporary,” explained Plato. “A cheap premises in this area is all Euripides can afford until he becomes better known and can move to more genteel surroundings. Purely a matter of time, I assure you.”
Socrates grunted and they continued, shortly to arrive before a delapidated store front bearing the grand title of Euripides & Eumenides, Bespoke Tailors to the King of Carthage. Plato explained that Eumenides was a partner who had stayed in Carthage to run the rest of the concern. The two philosophers entered.
It was cramped in the store with barely enough room for them to stand and regard the proprietor, a small, sunburnt man in a fez who did not look up from his sewing of a seam until he had finished. When he did, his accent was strong, making it hard for Socrates to understand.
“Yes, yes, my friends, how can I help you this fine day? A new chiton, perhaps, or a colourful robe to set you apart in the forum? Come, take a look at the wonderful materials I have on offer and make your choice. Euripides is well able to make whatever you desire.” He indicated the swathes of cloth hanging from the walls and heaped upon every horizontal surface.
Plato found enough room to step forward. “This is the famous philosopher, Socrates,” he said. “He is hoping that you would make him one of those new and exciting combinations of clothing that you call suits. His robe has fallen apart on him once too often and he is tired of it.”
Eumenides rubbed his hands as he regarded his customer, clearly measuring with his eyes and calculating the profit he could make from the deal. “You have come to the right place, dear sirs. Euripides’ suits are faithful to the end and never betray the trust a wearer places in them.”
With that, he produced a tape measure, apparently from thin air, and began to take Socrates’ measurements, obsequiously moving an arm or a leg when more intimate assessments were required. Plato faded into the background.
A few days later, Plato received notice that the suit was ready and could be picked up at any time. He hurried to collect it, eager to see his teacher elevated above his problems at last. And so it was, when Socrates rose from his bed the next day, Plato was there to greet him with the new suit. Socrates examined the clothes, uncertain as to how he was to wear them. Plato assisted.
“This, I am told, is called a shirt. You put it on first, thusly.” He threaded the old man’s arms through the sleeves as he spoke, then fastened the buttons at the front. “You will find that it is cool in the summer and yet, with the addition of the jacket,” and here he indicated the bulky, dark garment that lay on the bed, “it is proof against the worst of Greek winters.”
They proceeded to the trousers and then the jacket, Socrates protesting only briefly when Plato tied a length of cloth about his neck. “It’s a tie,” Plato reassured.
“I can see that you’re tying it,” grumbled the old man. “The question is, why?”
“It’s the final touch,” insisted his student.
They finished and Plato held up the hammered brass mirror so that Socrates could see how he looked. He found it to be quite attractive, so much neater than the unruly clothing he was so pestered by. The two set out for the forum to address the assembled students.
How sad it was that the reaction of the young men was not at all what Socrates had expected. Unable to suppress their laughter, they doubled over in paroxysms of glee, rolled in the aisles, holding their sides as they took in the ridiculous sight of the master in such silly clothing. It became a riot of untamed hilarity and Socrates, red in the face with both anger and embarrassment, had to retire and hurry homewards.
Asked by Plato whether he would wear the suit again, he rasped, “I’d rather take hemlock!”
Word Count: 994