SOCRATES THROUGH THEOPHRASTUS
THERE is little evidence that any of the philosophers before Socrates and after Empedocles were vegetarians. There is some indication that Heraclitus sustained himself on grass and herbs as he wandered in the mountains, but this was due more to his misanthropy than to vegetarian theory.1 Nor was Socrates a vegetarian, an opinion shared by Porphyry and Haussleiter.2 His attitudes toward eating, however, show some Pythagorean influences and prepare the way for a consideration of Plato and Aristotle, in that both were obviously admirers of Socrates.
What is most prominent about Socrates' view of eating is his indifference. It is said that when some rich men came to dinner his wife, Xanthippe, was ashamed of her meal. Socrates told her not to mind because if the visitors were reasonable they would put up with the meal, and if not there would be no need to care about them.3 It is not that Socrates neglected his body, for he realized that no one could exist without nourishment, nor did he praise those who did neglect their bodies; rather, he disapproved of overeating.4 Passages from the Symposium remind us that Socrates was once an able soldier (220A). Whenever he was invited for dinner he easily kept himself from overeating, and he advised those who could not do so to avoid food