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Diogenes




There are two men from ancient Greece who bear the name of Diogenes. The most renowned of these is Diogenes of Sinope, the philosopher who walked throughout Athens carrying a lantern in daylight, searching for an honest man. The other is Diogenes Laertius, who lived in the 3rd Century CE and was an historian of various teachers of philosophy, including the teachings and customs of the Druids. The following are articles written about each of these men with whom I share not only a name, but common interests as well.



Diogenes of Sinope
by Robert S. Brumbaugh


Diogenes of Sinope, d. c.320 BC, was a Greek philosopher, perhaps the most noted of the CYNICS. He pursued the Cynic ideal of self-sufficiency, a life that was natural and not dependent upon the nonessential luxuries of civilization. A student of ANTISTHENES, he is credited with the development of the chreia (moral epigram), with a scandalous attack of convention entitled Republic (which influenced ZENO OF CITIUM), and with tragedies illustrative of the human predicament.

Because Diogenes believed that virtue was better revealed in action than in theory, he made his life a protest against what he thought of as a corrupt society. He is said to have lived in a large tub, rather than house, and to have gone about Athens with a lantern in the daytime, claiming to be looking for an honest man--but never finding one. In later art, Diogenes is often depicted in a torn cloak, with a dog, carrying a lantern.

Bibliography: Hoistad, Ragner, Cynic Hero and Cynic King (1949).

****************************************************************** The Cynics
by Robert S. Brumbaugh


The Cynics {sin'-iks} were adherents of a Greek philosophic school founded in the 4th century BC by ANTISTHENES. Its best-known member was DIOGENES OF SINOPE. Antisthenes held that happiness is achieved by cultivating virtue for its own sake. This is attained, he said, by conducting a life free of dependence on possessions and pleasures.

The Cynics admired SOCRATES for his self-sufficiency and his indifference to unnecessary luxury and possessions. A good life, they taught, involves a return to nature, giving up the decadence of civilized urban life and living simply and strenuously. Their name is generally supposed to come from the Greek kynikos, "doglike," presumably a commentary on their severely critical philosophic style; or it may be derived from Cynosarges, the name of the gymnasium in which the group met under Antisthenes. The Cynics are important in the history of philosophy because of their influence, both in Greece and Rome, on SOICISM.

Bibliography:
Copleston, F. J., A History of Philosophy: Greece and Rome (1962; repr. (1993);
Dudley, D. R., A History of Cynicism (1937; repr. 1980); Rankin, H. D., Sophists, Socratics, and Cynics (1983).
The above two quotes are from the Academic American Encyclopedia, available on Compuserve.


*********************************************************************** The Legacy of Diogenes
by Colin Pringle


Ah, the synch, my friends. Doesn't this sound like the values of Henry David Thoreau as well as some of the Beat Generation or the Digger faction of the Hippies. Looks like Bohemians have been around for quite some time. In case you're wondering how I made this discovery, it's from Time Magazine. They had a cover story on the Hippies dated July 7, 1967 (Vol. 90 No.1) that attempted to explain the philosophy of the Hippies, and it was probably the best article ever written about the Hippies that ever appeared in the "establishment" press. On the other hand, I don't think Life did a single article on the Hippies, which is strange since we're such a photogenic bunch of people. Actually, I think they did have a story on one of the poster artists and I think they did photograph some of the Pranksters and Kesey's bus (in black and white, see Tom Wolfe's Acid Test book) but that story seemed to wind up on the cutting room floor. Most of the other articles on the Hippies were very negative indeed, but the Time article was the least hostile and you should definitely try to find a copy of it for your archives.


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Diogenes of Sinope (4th cn. BCE.)
The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy


Diogenes was a Cynic philosopher of Sinope. His father, Icesias, a banker, was convicted of debasing the public coin, and was obliged to leave the country; or, according to another account, his father and himself were charged with this offense, and the former was thrown into prison, while the son escaped and went to Athens. Here he attached himself, as a disciple, to Antisthenes, who was at the head of the Cynics. Antisthenes at first refused to admit him into his house and even struck him with a stick. Diogenes calmly bore the rebuke and said, "Strike me, Antisthenes, but you will never find a stick sufficiently hard to remove me from your presence, while you speak anything worth hearing." The philosopher was so much pleased with this reply that he at once admitted him among his scholars.

Diogenes fully adopted the principles and character of his master. Renouncing every other object of ambition, he distinguished himself by his contempt of riches and honors and by his invectives against luxury. He wore a coarse cloak, carried a wallet and a staff, made the porticoes and other public places his habitation, and depended upon casual contributions for his daily bread. He asked a friend to procure him a cell to live in; when there was a delay, he took up abode in a pithos, or large tub, in the Metroum. It is probable, however, that this was only a temporary expression of indignation and contempt, and that he did not make it the settled place of his residence. This famous "tub" is indeed celebrated by Juvenal; it is also ridiculed by Lucian and mentioned by Seneca. But no notice is taken of this by other ancient writers who have mentioned this philosopher. It cannot be doubted, however, that Diogenes practiced self-control and a most rigid abstinence -- exposing himself to the utmost extremes of heat and cold and living upon the simplest diet, casually supplied by the hand of charity. In his old age, sailing to Aegina, he was taken by pirates and carried to Crete, where he was exposed to sale in the public market. When the auctioneer asked him what he could do, he said, "I can govern men; therefore sell me to one who wants a master." Xeniades, a wealthy Corinthian, happening at that instant to pass by, was struck with the singularity of his reply and purchased him. On their arrival at Corinth, Xeniades gave him his freedom and committed to him the education of his children and the direction of his domestic concerns. Diogenes executed this trust with so much judgment and fidelity that Xeniades used to say that the gods had sent a good genius to his house.

During his residence at Corinth, an interview between him and Alexander is said to have taken place. Plutarch relates that Alexander, when at Corinth, receiving the congratulations of all ranks on being appointed to command the army of the Greeks against the Persians, missed Diogenes among the number, with whose character he was acquainted. Curious to see the one who exhibited such haughty independence of spirit, Alexander went in search of him and found him sitting in his tub in the sun. "I am Alexander the Great," said the monarch. "And I am Diogenes the Cynic," replied the philosopher. Alexander then requested that he would inform him what service he could render him. "Stand from between me and the sun," said the Cynic. Alexander, struck with the reply, said to his friends, who were ridiculing the whimsical singularity of the philosopher, "If I were not Alexander, I should wish to be Diogenes."

This story is too good to be omitted, but there are several circumstances which in some degree diminish its credibility. It supposes Diogenes to have lived in his tub at Corinth, whereas it is certain that he lived there in the house of Xeniades, and that, if he had ever dwelt in a tub, he left it behind him at Athens. Alexander, moreover, was at this time scarcely twenty years old, and could not call himself Alexander the Great, for he did not receive this title till his Persian and Indian expedition, after which he never returned to Greece; yet the whole transaction represents him as elated with the pride of conquest. Diogenes probably was visited by Alexander, when the latter held the general assembly of the Greeks at Corinth, and was received by him with rudeness and incivility, which may have given rise to the whole story. The philosopher at this time would have been about seventy years of age.

Various accounts are given concerning the manner and time of his death. It seems most probable that he died at Corinth, of mere decay, in the ninetieth year of his age and in the 114th Olympiad. A column of Parian marble, terminating in the figure of a dog, was raised over his tomb. His fellow-townsmen of Sinope also erected brazen statues in memory of the philosopher. Diogenes left behind him no system of philosophy. After the example of his school, he was more attentive to practical than to theoretical wisdom.

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Diogenes Laertius (3rd cn. CE.)
The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy


Diogenes Laertius, native of Laerte in Cilicia, was a biographer of ancient Greek philosophers. His Lives of the Philosophers (Philosophoi Biol), in ten books, is still extant an is an important source of information on the development of Greek philosophy. The period when he lived is not exactly known, but it is supposed to have been during the reigns of Septimius Severus and Caracalla. Diogenes is thought to have belonged to the Epicurean School. He divides all the Greek philosophers into two classes: those of the Ionic and those of the Italic school. He derives the first from Anaximander, the second from Pythagoras. After Socrates, he divides the Ionian philosophers into three branches:

(a) Plato and the Academics, down to Clitomachus;
(b) the Cynics, down to Chrysippus;
(c) Aristotle and Theophrastus.

The series of Italic philosophers consists, after Pythagoras, of the following: Telanges, Xenophanes, Parmenides, Zeno of Elea, Leucippus, Democritus, and others down to Epicurus. The first seven books are devoted to the Ionic philosophers; the last three treat of the Italic school.

The work of Diogenes is a crude contribution towards the history of philosophy. It contains a brief account of the lives, doctrines, and sayings of most persons who have been called philosophers; and though the author is limited in his philosophical abilities and assessment of the various schools, the book is valuable as a collection of facts, which we could not have learned form any other source, and is entertaining as a sort of pot-pourri on the subject. The article on Epicurus is especially valuable, as containing some original letters of that philosopher, which comprise a summary of the Epicurean doctrines.

*********************************************************************** Some Writings of Diogenes Laertius

Vitae, Introduction, I, 5 - - - - - translated by T.D. Kendrick


Some say that the study of philosophy was of barbarian origin. For the Persians had their Magi, the Babylonians or the Assyrians the Chaldeans, the Indians their Gymnosophists, while the Kelts and the Galatae had seers called Druids and Semnotheoi. or so Aristotle says in the 'Magic', and Solon in the twenty-third book of his 'Succession of Philosophers.'...

Those who think that philosophy is an invention of the barbarians explain the systems prevailing among each people. They say that the Gymnosophists and Druids make their pronouncements by means of riddles and dark sayings, teaching that the gods must be worshipped, and no evil done, and manly behaviour maintained.

IX, 31 (DK 67A1)


Leucippus holds that the whole is infinite. . . part of it is full and part void. . . Hence arise innumerable worlds, and are resolved again into these elements. The worlds come into being as follows: many bodies of all sorts of shapes move `by abscission from the infinite' into a great void; they come together there and produce a single whirl, in which, colliding with one another and revolving in all manner of ways, they begin to separate apart, like to like. But when their multitude prevents them from rotating any longer in equilibrium, those that are fine go out towards the surrounding void as if sifted while the rest abide together and, becoming entangled, unite their motions and make a first spherical structure. This structure stands apart like a `membrane' which contains in itself all kinds of bodies; and as they whirl around owing to the resistance of the, middle, the surrounding membrane becomes thin, while contiguous atoms keep flowing together owing to contact with the whirl.

So the earth came into being, the atoms that had been borne to the middle abiding together there. Again the containing membrane is itself increased, owing to the attraction of bodies outside; as it moves around in the whirl it takes in anything it touches. Some of these bodies that get entangled form a structure that is at first moist and muddy, but as they revolve with the whirl of the whole they dry out and then ignite to form the substance of the heavenly bodies.



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