Diogenes, Greek Philosopher


412-323 BC

Born in Sinope (today's Turkey), Diogenes studied in Athens under Antisthenes after forcing himself into his school.

Diogenes was to be what we today call an ascet, eating plainly, wearing shreaded clothes and sleeping in the streets. Though an eccentric, he was greatly admired by his time and is sometimes called the founder of the Cynic school instead of Antisthenes.

When travelling to Aegina he was captured and sold as a slave by pirates. Xeniades of Corinth bought him, set him free and had him teach his children.

Diogenes often visited the famous prostitute Lais, and said that the difference between what costs money and what does not cost anything one can see at the nearest brothel.

There are many anectodes about this man, who laughed at aristocrats and is said to have walked around Corinth with a lit lamp in daytime, looking for "a human being". The most famous one is the one about his meeting with Alexander the Great. When Alexander asked the cynic, who lived in a barrel (actually, it was a huge clay jar), what he could do for him, Diogenes replied that he could step out of his sunlight, something which greatly impressed the king, who said "truly, were I not Alexander I would have wished to be Diogenes".

Diogenes also said that each man should find either a true friend or mortal enemy, so that he would either get loving attention or angry scrutinisation. In that way, he would not commit wrongful actions.

Tradidion holds that Diogenes died on the same day as Alexander the Great. He was 96 years old, and died in his barrel in Corinth. Though the philosopher had requested his body be thrown in some ditch, he was given a magnificent funeral.

"Most men are within a finger's breadth of being mad."

"Nothing can be produced out of nothing."

"It takes a wise man to discover a wise man."

"The sun too penetrates into privies, but is not polluted by them."

"I am looking for an honest man."



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