“One morning Socrates was thinking about something which he could not resolve; he would not give it up, but continued thinking from early dawn until noon – there he stood fixed in thought; and at noon attention was drawn to him, and the rumor ran through the wondering crowd that Socrates had been standing and thinking about something since the break of day. At last, in the evening after supper, some Ionians out of curiosity (I should explain that this was not in winter but in summer), brought out their mats and slept in the open air that they might watch him and see whether he would stand all night. There he stood until following morning; and with the return of light he offered up a prayer for the sun, and went his way.” —Plato, Symposium
I was thinking about Socrates at Potidaea and Nietzsche’s famous nervous breakdown while walking a Pomeranian today. In college I had been taught Nietzsche saw a carriage horse being brutally beaten in the street from his window, and rushed out to the carriage driver beating him. He’s said to have thrown his arms around the horse (to protect it? in sympathy?) before sinking to the ground, being led away and then institutionalized, dying years later.
I believed that story most of my adult life, but it appears it’s untrue. And who is to believe Plato’s account of Socrates? Most of what we know about Socrates, who philosophized en plein air, comes from Plato. Weak. We want to believe these things though, like (all?) religious stories, so they persist.