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Diogenes the Cynic: Sayings and Anecdotes, with Other Popular Moralists

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Diogenes the Cynic is famed for walking the streets with a lamp in daylight, looking for an honest man. His biting wit and eccentric behavior were legendary, and it was by means of his renowned aphorisms that his moral teachings were transmitted. He scorned the conventions of civilized life, and his ascetic lifestyle and caustic opinions informed the Cynic philosophy and later influenced Stoicism. This unique edition also covers his immediate successors, such as Crates, his wife Hipparchia, and the witty moral preacher Bion. The contrasting teachings of the Cyrenaic school, founded by Aristippos, a pleasure-loving friend of Socrates, complete the volume, together with a selection of apocryphal letters.
About the Series: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

320 pages, Paperback

First published May 10, 2012

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Diogenes of Sinope

19 books259 followers
Diogenes of Sinope (Greek: Διογένης ὁ Σινωπεύς, Diogenēs ho Sinōpeus) was a Greek philosopher and one of the founders of Cynic philosophy. Also known as Diogenes the Cynic (Ancient Greek: Διογένης ὁ Κυνικός, Diogenēs ho Kunikos), he was born in Sinope (modern-day Sinop, Turkey), an Ionian colony on the Black Sea, in 412 or 404 BCE and died at Corinth in 323 BCE.

Diogenes of Sinope was a controversial figure. His father minted coins for a living, and when Diogenes took to debasement of currency, he was banished from Sinope. After being exiled, he moved to Athens to debunk cultural conventions. Diogenes modelled himself on the example of Hercules. He believed that virtue was better revealed in action than in theory. He used his simple lifestyle and behaviour to criticise the social values and institutions of what he saw as a corrupt society. He declared himself a cosmopolitan. There are many tales about him dogging Antisthenes' footsteps and becoming his faithful hound. Diogenes made a virtue of poverty. He begged for a living and slept in a large ceramic jar in the marketplace. He became notorious for his philosophical stunts such as carrying a lamp in the daytime, claiming to be looking for an honest man. He embarrassed Plato, disputed his interpretation of Socrates and sabotaged his lectures. Diogenes was also responsible for publicly mocking Alexander the Great.

After being captured by pirates and sold into slavery, Diogenes eventually settled in Corinth. There he passed his philosophy of Cynicism to Crates, who taught it to Zeno of Citium, who fashioned it into the school of Stoicism, one of the most enduring schools of Greek philosophy. None of Diogenes' many writings has survived, but details of his life come in the form of anecdotes (chreia), especially from Diogenes Laërtius, in his book Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers. All we have is a number of anecdotes concerning his life and sayings attributed to him in a number of scattered classical sources.

Diogenes was born in the Greek colony of Sinope on the south coast of the Black Sea, in either 412 BC or 404 BCE. Nothing is known about his early life except that his father Hicesias was a banker. It seems likely that Diogenes was also enrolled into the banking business aiding his father. At some point (the exact date is unknown), Hicesias and Diogenes became embroiled in a scandal involving the adulteration or debasement of the currency, and Diogenes was exiled from the city. This aspect of the story seems to be corroborated by archaeology: large numbers of defaced coins (smashed with a large chisel stamp) have been discovered at Sinope dating from the middle of the 4th century BCE, and other coins of the time bear the name of Hicesias as the official who minted them. The reasons for the defacement of the coinage are unclear; Sinope was being disputed between pro-Persian and pro-Greek factions in the 4th century, and there may have been political rather than financial motives behind the act.

It was in Corinth that a meeting between Alexander the Great and Diogenes is supposed to have taken place. The accounts of Plutarch and Diogenes Laërtius recount that they exchanged only a few words: while Diogenes was relaxing in the sunlight in the morning, Alexander, thrilled to meet the famous philosopher, asked if there was any favour he might do for him. Diogenes replied, "Yes, stand out of my sunlight". Alexander then declared, "If I were not Alexander, then I should wish to be Diogenes", to which Diogenes replied, "If I were not Diogenes, I should also wish to be Diogenes." In another account of the conversation, Alexander found the philosopher looking attentively at a pile of human bones. Diogenes explained, "I am searching for the bones of your father but cannot distinguish them from those of a slave."

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 72 reviews
Profile Image for Trevor.
1,283 reviews21.5k followers
January 6, 2020
Just about everything I thought I knew about this guy seems unlikely to be true - which is always one of the more annoying things in life. For instance, he is unlikely to have walked around Athens carrying a lamp looking for ‘a good man’ - it turns out he was looking for ‘a man’ of any description. He is unlikely to have said to Alexander, when asked what Alexander could do for him, to get out of his sun - it seems most of his reported interactions with great men were more indicative of what he might have said to them if they’d met, rather than what he actually did say. He probably didn’t live in a large earthenware jar, but rather just about anywhere that was convenient given the time of year and weather outside. And, and this troubles me more than all the rest put together, he probably didn’t walk about the streets masturbating in public and, when asked why, say, ‘if only I could cure my desire for food by merely rubbing my stomach’.

Even so, Diogenes is a curious guy. He was the first cynic - the word comes from the Greek for dog. This was originally meant as a insult used by others against him, but he adopted it because offence can only be ‘taken’ and so by adopting the name himself - seeing himself as a guard dog for his friends’ virtues - the implied insult was deflected. He believed that people spent far too much time acquiring things that they basically didn’t need or even want, and that this was tragic, since life ought to be about much more important things. It would be wrong to think he lead a simple life - rather that, like Socrates, he saw his task as being to be a gadfly who would annoy people into reconsidering their lives. He consciously sought to shock people - to show how foolish their customs were, and how much of their lives were wasted on pointless things. He was compared to a drunken or insane Socrates, but again, not something that particularly bothered him.

He had decided to take the shortest path to virtue - but the shortest path is anything but the easiest path. The metaphor used is of two tracks up to the Parthenon - one a gentle slope winding up the hill, the other nearly straight up the side. The short path being therefore much, much harder.

This is virtually the opposite of Plato’s Socratic dialogues. This consists of a series of what could be called philosophical one-liners. Humour clearly played a large role in Diogenes armoury, as it ought to for all those who try to challenge the existing order.

I came away from this unsure of what to make of Diogenes. It is hard to see how the world could exist if everyone was to follow his advice - for such a man to exist, an entire society must also exist - all the same, we do need people to poke fun at us and make us question our assumptions and even how we live and why. Although, I have to say that spitting in the face of one’s host, so as not to spit on their floor, or masturbating in public, even if only by repute, are probably choosing to live more dangerously than you absolutely need to - even if you are going to be a philosopher.
13 reviews1 follower
June 26, 2013
"358a On seeing the son of a prostitute throwing stones into a crowd, he said, 'Take care you do not hit your father!'"

With such wit and truism, I cannot help but feel that Diogenes knew something that most people do not.
Profile Image for Murat Dural.
Author 14 books552 followers
October 24, 2020
Uzun süredir okuduğum en iyi antik / felsefe kaynağı, çeviri metni olabilir mi acaba? C. Cengiz Çevik antik yunanca ve felsefe çevirisi konusunda bence çıtayı yükseltmiş. Tüm bunlara Türkiye İş Bankası Yayınları'nın özenli basımı ve en önemlisi Antisthenes ve altını çizerek söylüyorum; Diogenes'in eşsiz kişiliği ile kitabı zirveye taşımız. Diogenes'i okurken her cümleyi işaretlemek istedim. Çok başarılı bir yayın. Tavsiye ederim :)
Profile Image for Ossian's Dream.
39 reviews34 followers
December 2, 2017
Heard about him thought he was an insane loser, read him and realized he is extremely wise, his wit was on par with any of the great philosophers and he could have been as wealthy as Plato but he chose to be homeless to prove a point which makes him even more incredible in my eyes. The point in my opinion is: as long as you have your virtue, wit and your self-confidence you can endure any difficulty, if Diogenes can live with pride in the worst situations you really have nothing to complain about and should likewise practice hardening yourself. Not necessarily like him of course, because he was fucking insane but not a loser :)
Profile Image for Atimia Atimia.
Author 2 books10 followers
August 24, 2015
Hilarious read, and like Oxford Classics likes doing, authentic. Which means that it's not a flowery embellished narrative, but just whatever we have left about Diogenes and others (who are honestly equally hilarious).

It's always humbling to see people toiling with issues and realizing that two thousand years ago people were working on solving the same issues. It's a shame Diogenes and the cynics weren't able to leave more of an impression in modern thought, it seems like a decent counterweight to capitalism and its endless excesses.
Profile Image for Jeff Samuelson.
65 reviews
January 10, 2020
Love reading about the dog. Diogenes would probably be my first invitation to my literary/philosophical party.
Profile Image for C. Çevik.
Author 41 books163 followers
September 10, 2020
Kinik Diogenes "nerelisin?" sorusuna "dünya vatandaşıyım" cevabını verir ve olaylar gelişir.
669 reviews5 followers
May 29, 2016
The majority of this wasn't actually about Diogenes. Anecdotes by him and others were repeated up to four, five times in a row, which seemed useless and was annoying. Certain parts were entertaining, and it was informative, but I think it could have been written in a much better way.
Profile Image for Shyam.
225 reviews158 followers
May 19, 2019
Diogenes said he would rather meet with failure among the cultivated than with success among the uncultivated.

‘That was when I was just as you are now; but what I am now, you will never be.’
Diogenes said, ‘People pray to the gods for good health, and yet most of them consistently act in such a way as to damage their health.’

Seeing the servants of Anaximenes moving a large amount of furniture, he asked, ‘Who does that belong to?’, and when they replied, ’To Anaximenes’, he said, ‘Isn’t he ashamed to possess all that when he doesn’t even possess himself?’

This volume collects sayings and anecdotes by and related to Diogenes and a handful of his followers, the same for Arisippos and the Cyrenaics, and also includes some Apocryphal letters. I only read the ones relating to Diogenes.
To him literature, music, mathematics, science, and philosophical investigation and discussion were a distraction and a waste of time . . . Diogenes was a great simplifier who lost sight of an entire dimension of human life by scorning it as a tissue of illusion.

Robin Hard gets at a fundamental question which you may find asking yourself when reading Diogenes; those things: literature, music, mathematics, science, philosophical investigation and discussion . . . do they have value, or are they utterly pointless? If they are utterly pointless, it could be argued that you should take away a great deal more from Diogenes than you hopefully do; but if they do have value, you will realise he has taken Cynic philosophy to an absolute extreme, as Robin Hard also remarks:
It was a commonplace of Socratic thought that one can be rich by being satisfied with little, and so achieve a measure of invulnerability to fortune. Diogenes radicalised this idea, taking it to the utmost extreme. If one takes into account only one’s most basic needs and desires, putting everything else aside as mere fancy and illusion, and is content to satisfy those needs in the simplest and most direct way possible, one needs hardly anything at all; and if one divests oneself of all that one possesses to live as a vagrant, one can anticipate the very worst and become inured to any hardship, and so achieve complete invulnerability to fortune.

in which case you may find yourself leaning towards Plato’s thinking, that Diogenes is a
Socrates gone mad

However, the second opinion may not stop you from sympathising with Alexander, when he is said to have remarked,
If I were not Alexander I should be Diogenes . . .

[May I recount] what Diogenes did with the man who declared that Athens was an expensive city. He took him in hand and led him off to a perfume-seller, and asked how much a half-pint of myrrh cost. ‘A mina’, replied the seller, and Diogenes cried out, ’The city is indeed expensive!’ And then he led the man off to a butcher’s shop and asked the price of a choice cut of meat. ’Three drachmas’, replied the butcher, and Diogenes said, ’The city is indeed expensive!’ Next, to a seller of fine wools, where he asked the price of a full fleece; ‘a mina’ was the reply, and he cried again, ’The city is indeed expensive!’ ‘Here now’, he said, and took the man to a lupin-seller and asked, ‘How much for a quart?’ ‘A copper’, was the reply, and Diogenes cried ‘How cheap the city is!’ And then again to a seller of dried figs: ’Two coppers.’ And to a seller of myrtle berries, ’Two coppers’; ‘How cheap the city is!’ So the fact of the matter is that the city is not cheap or expensive in itself, but expensive if one lives expensively, and cheap if one lives cheaply. (24b)

One day he shouted, ‘Hey men!’, and when some people came along, he struck them with his stick, saying, ‘I called for men not scum!’ (60)

He walked around. Backwards in the public arcade, and when people laughed at him, said, ‘Aren’t you ashamed while you’re walking in the wrong direction along life’s path, you scoff at me for walking backwards?’ (73)

Diogenes said that true pleasure lies in having one’s soul in a calm and cheerful state, and that without that, the riches of a Midas or Croesus will bring no benefit; and if one suffers any distress at all over matters small or great, one is not happy but wretched. (106a)

To someone who said life is bad, he said, ’Not life, but life lived badly.’ (108)

When asked whether a certain man was wealthy, Diogenes replied, ‘I have no idea, because I don’t know how he uses his wealth.’ (143)

Seeing a youth spendthrift who had squandered his inheritance feeding on bread and olives, and drinking water, he said, ‘If you’d breakfasted in that way by force of reason, you wouldn’t be dining in that way by force of necessity.’

Love, he said, is the occupation of the unoccupied. (163)

When asked what is the right time to marry, he replied, ‘For those who are young, not yet, for those who are older, never at all.’ (172)

One day he saw a young man engaging in philosophy. ‘It is a fine thing’, he said, ’that you should cause the lovers of your body to turn to the beauty of your soul.’ (178)

When someone asked how one can become a teacher to oneself, he replied, ‘By reproaching first of all in oneself those faults that one reproaches in others.’ (274)

Diogenes said: from books one should take for use only what is of true value, and the rest one should throw away, just as we do with bones; for we make us of their marrow, while we throw the bones themselves to the dogs. (291)

A disreputable eunuch had inscribed above the entrance to his house, ‘Let nothing evil enter in.’ ‘How, then’, enquired Diogenes, ‘will the master of the house be able to get inside?’ (364)

Diogenes was suffering from pain in his shoulder, because he had been wounded, I think, or perhaps for some other reason. Since the pain seemed to be very severe, someone who was on bad terms with him scoffed at him, saying. ‘Why don’t you die, Diogenes, and free yourself from your sufferings?’, to which Diogenes retorted, ’those who know what they should do in life, and what they should say, those are people for whom it would be better to stay alive’, indicating that he placed himself in that category; ‘As for you,’ he continued, ’since you have no knowledge of what you should say or do, it would be an excellent thing if you were to die; but it would be proper for me, as one who has knowledge of these things, to stay alive.’ (386)

Demetrios says in his book On the Men of the Same Name that Alexander died in Babylon on the same day as Diogenes died in Corinth. He was an old man in the 113th Olympiad. (245)

. . . and you are incapable of sharing my life, because you are afraid of suffering.
Profile Image for A.
356 reviews43 followers
September 1, 2022

This collection brings together all of the anecdotes, exploits, and sayings of Diogenes and his fellow Cynics from the entire classical canon. It must have been quite the enterprise to bring together.

Diogenes and his Cynic followers have a life philosophy close to the Stoics. They disdain material circumstances and back up their words with actions. A cloth will do for clothing (fold it in half for the winter), begging will suffice for food, a backpack will work for one's house, streams will provide water, and the ground will be one's bedding. With nothing to lose, one will not have an unnatural attachment to material circumstances. Instead of being a slave to alcohol, extravagant food, plushy cushions, perfume, and servants, one will be self-sufficient and not dependent upon the wiles of Fortune to be happy.

But Diogenes and his followers are caustic. They will lambast you for your worship of wealth, purple robes, and expensive wine. Diogenes will walk into your mansion, look for a suitable spot to spit, and finally do so on the lowliest thing in the room — yourself. Diogenes said to Alexander the Great that he should get out of his way, as he was "blocking the sun". Another example: "He walked into a theatre against the flow as everyone was streaming out, and when asked why he was doing so, replied, ‘Why, this is what I seek to do my whole life through.’".

Diogenes provides an essential counterbalance to the cultural impetus of modernity. Instead of focusing on money, Diogenes focuses on virtue; instead of devoting his life to a "better job" and a higher position on the career ladder, Diogenes laughs at these slaves of gold; instead of becoming a shape-shifter to fit in with the crowd, Diogenes spits on them and their false values. He is a model of life for us today. His example calls us to live below our means, to reduce our slavery to material goods (women, food, drink, comfort), and to shun the false approval of the falsely-programmed masses around us.

Here are some golden quotes with my commentary:

"Diogenes said that other people lived to eat, but he ate to live." (Stobaeus 3.6.41; G182)

The stomach is a powerful master. Its proclivities along with certain financial interests putting massive amounts of vegetable oil and sugar in our food have led to the creation of soft, mushy creatures. They are, as Diogenes said, "rot[ting] themselves alive". Yet, all this "pleasure" leads to eternal suffering! Day after day the obese person is a slave to their stomach; they cannot stop eating. And they begin to hate themselves because of it. The solution is self-control, self-mastery, and restraints on pleasure. By taking control of pleasure and mastering its wiles, we will actually begin to experience more pleasure in the act of mastering it.

"One day he shouted, ‘Hey, men!’, and when some people came along, he struck them with his stick, saying, ‘I called for men, not scum!’" (Diogenes Laertius 6.32; G278)

What do you see when you look around you? Do you see readers? Do you see leaders? Do you see Faustian spirits with their swords up high, swearing to duty, honor, and obligation to higher standards? I see nothing of the sort! I see hunchbacked phone-scrollers, pretentious picture-posters, illiterate plebians, and a propagandized populace. I see a great herd, not thinking for themselves. Why should we care of their approval? Why should we feel a tightness in our chests when we revolt against modernity? We should not.

"Seeing an Olympic victor repeatedly turning to gaze at a woman of easy virtue, Diogenes said, ‘Look at this fire-breathing ram of ours, caught in a neck-hold by the first wench he comes across!’ " (Diogenes Laertius 6.61; G452)

Women today are masters at visually manipulating men. All makeup — lipstick, blush, eyeliner, perfume — is designed to mimic a female in heat, i.e. a female ready to have children. Everything is fakery, designed to elicit male attention. Add on to that scantily clad clothing and you have a recipe for disaster. Even the best men — the true philosophers, the warriors, the studious scholars, the world-investigators — can fall prey to this great distraction. We best steel ourselves against this presence by separating our time into time meant for women and time not meant for women. To defeat our desires, we should stop masturbating regularly, and especially stop watching porn. We must accomplish our purpose, and that is not simply getting a wet hole.

"When someone proved by an impeccable deduction that he had horns,* he touched his forehead and said, ‘Well, I don’t see any.’ And likewise, when somebody said there is no such thing as motion,* he got up and walked around." (Diogenes Laertius 6.38–9; G479)

The profession of twisting words, of piling them one on top of another, totally displaced from reality, is a hot commodity today. This profession is that of the academic. They conjure up explanation upon explanation — Oedipus complex, systemic racism, the glass ceiling, the proletariat vs. the bourgeoisie, the eternal sin of Whiteness — to pseudo-explain the facts. The more you get trapped in their web, the more confused you get. It is best to run away from it altogether. Run to the simple explanations — those which use simple concepts like evil and biology — to explain our world.

"To one who said, ‘I’m ill-suited to philosophy’, he replied, ‘Then why live at all, if you have no interest in living well?’" (Diogenes Laertius 6.65; G362)

Why live in this world if you do not aspire higher, if you do not obligations you put on your shoulders? What purpose can there be? To maximize sensation, all while getting deadened to all sensation? To try weed, then LSD, then get blackout drunk, then dry-hump some wet hole? What is the point of being a pig? Man was made in the image of God, meaning that we have a higher telos than the animals. We have a higher goal to strive for. We have a duty to become in control of ourselves, to become strong, to take orders vertically (not horizontally with the aim of social approval), to raise a family, and to fight for what is right. We have an objective purpose; from there flows all life. This wicked, inverted world of ours saps all meaning.

"When he fell prey again to some mishap, he would say, ‘Thank you, Fortune, for having confronted me in such a manly fashion!’; and on such occasions he would walk away whistling." (Stobaeus 4.44.71; G351)

All events of Fortune and of Fate that happen to us are tests to make us strong. Does the warrior fight against strawmen? Does the scholar tackle children's books? No! They want a challenge equal to themselves. So too does God want us to have challenges equal to our ability. He wants to test our strength and thus throws events at us that we can rise up to and overcome. So every time a negative event happens — you injure yourself, get rejected, fail a class, screw up a work assignment — say, "Thank you Fortune, thank you God. You are putting me to the test. I will recover; I will become better from this. I look to the future and towards the skies. I go up!"
Profile Image for Illiterate.
1,690 reviews31 followers
October 6, 2020
Sometimes amusing. Sometimes boorish. Of almost no philosophical interest.
Profile Image for Kieran Van De Riet.
27 reviews1 follower
October 27, 2022
I do love the classic anecdotes about Diogenes telling Alexander the great to get out of the way of his sunlight, and his time spend captured and sold as a slave. The guy has the best wit out of all philosophers.

Here are a few not so often mentioned sayings and anecdotes. Highly recommended.

47: One day he begged for money from a statue, and when asked why he was doing so, replied, 'I'm getting practice in being refused'

54: he once asked a disagreeable man for some money, and when the man said 'if you can persuade me', replied, 'If I were capable of doing that, I would have persuaded you to go away and hang yourself.'

69a When the herald proclaimed at the Olympic games 'Dioxippos is Victor over men!', Diogenes replied, 'No, he's Victor over slaves, it's I who am Victor over men.'

82: When someone said to him, 'Most people laugh at you', he replied, 'And doubtless donkeys laugh at thsm; but just as they pay no heed to the donkeys, I pay none to them.'

91: As he was eating his meal in the marketplace, the bystanders kept shouting out 'Dog!' 'It's you who are the dogs', he retorted, 'who keep pressing round me as I eat.'

358a On seeing the son of a prostitute throwing stones into a crowd, he said, 'Take care that you don't hit your father!'
Profile Image for Cheryl .
9,055 reviews392 followers
Shelved as 'sony-or-android'
January 8, 2020
Whether we think him a loser or wise, we have to admit his reputation has been influential. This looks like an interesting way to learn more about him, his context, and his legacy. (If you happen to know a better introductory book on the subject, please let me know in the comments below.)
Profile Image for Richard Wu.
176 reviews36 followers
October 5, 2016
Not since Infinite Jest have I found myself flipping to the footnotes so often. Luckily these, unlike those of that behemoth, provided much-needed context to what is already a largely piecemeal assemblage of aphorisms.

A while ago I concluded that while there is no one way to live correctly, it is of great benefit to understand how others have lived in their respective contexts, as this knowledge can inform the way we go about things as our own situations change. As someone who respects those who practice what they preach, and who has lived an undeniably coddled life to date, I was naturally drawn to Diogenes the Dog.

But what else makes him so compelling? Perhaps we can answer by using the Buddha as a foil. One of the general ideas of Buddhism is that enlightenment can be attained once you stop desiring things; this is of course paradoxical, as to stop desiring is in itself a desire. On the other hand, Diogenes does not deal in such sophisms – his moral system is concrete and linear. Assuming life (that is, the desire to live, perhaps because it is natural for living things to want to live, or at least not to die before, as it were, their proper time) as a given, the question for him then becomes how to proceed, what to make of it. He decides that since fate makes fools of men, it is best to live in vagrant poverty (which to his contemporaries represented the worst** that fate could realistically offer); if you can habituate yourself to the worst and desire no more than the worst, then you will have achieved virtue. Wealth, love, and even friendship were seen as negations of the self-reliance upon which the Cynics prided themselves…

**Cynicism, by the way, is very different from masochism. Diogenes and his successors did not take pleasure in pain per se – did not whip and flog themselves or entertain other such self-harm (yes, there are people today who do).

This focus on ‘virtue’ seems to be a central tenet of ancient Greek philosophy. The question “What constitutes virtue?” foreseeably led to different frames being used, among others Cynicism, Epicureanism, Stoicism, and Platonism, and pitted against each other in what amounted (devolved?) to a grand ol’ battle of wits. Of course the former three, concerned with life and how to live it, would be relegated to the realms of history (as they had little else to say), while the epistemic curiosity initiated by Socrates, carried on by Plato, Aristotle and the like would become the dominant philosophical paradigm in all the Western world.

Which is not to say we don’t need to be scolded once in a while. We become so involved in our lives that we forget how to live, or worse, why we live. The American school system certainly gives no guidance; the best it can come up with is either “pursue what you enjoy doing” or “pursue what the economy demands.” And the questioning stops there, and we run these (spiritually, morally) deficient heuristics until they break and we experience a crisis in our twenties or in midlife. And then we search for the answers we were never given, nor even taught how to find. And so we backpack through Southeast Asia (blatant escapism) or buy the shiny red sports car (shiny new prison), hoping (pretending) like that will fix things.

But they won’t.

So hey. This is a dog barking.

Favorite quotes
74 – Someone said that Diogenes was out of his mind. “It’s not that I’m out of my mind,” he replied, “It’s that I don’t have the same mind as you.”

76 – Diogenes used constantly to say to himself; when most people sing your praises, consider yourself worthy of none, and when no one praises and all condemn, that you are worthy of much.

158 – It is not from barley-eaters that tyrants arise, said Diogenes, but from those who dine on sumptuous fare. [I note: since disproven by dictators from around the world, most notably in South America (so I will continue dining sumptuously whenever possible)]

466 – Apollonius of Tyre recounts that when Crates seized Zeno by the cloak to drag him away from Stilpo, Zeno said, “My dear Crates, the right way to take hold of a philosopher is by the ears; so persuade me and drag me off by those; but if you resort to force, my body will be with you but my mind will remain with Stilpo.”

592 – When he was once seeking a favour from Dionysios on behalf of a friend and met with no success, he fell down at the tyrant’s feet; and when someone mocked him for that, he retorted, “It’s not I who am to blame but Dionysios, for having his ears in his feet.”
Profile Image for Rudvan.
16 reviews
November 1, 2020
Sage as beggar:
At page 71 He was once begging from a skinflint and the man swas slow to respond "come on, man " said Diogneses I m asking you for money to feed myself not to play for my funeral.
At page 73 He would call human beings only those who have a knowledge of what is truly human , just as those who have a knowledge of greammer are grammarians or of music are musicians.
Digones used to say that he had seen many men competing in wrestling and in running but no one competing to surprass in human excellence
At page 74
When someone said that the ad been victor over men at the Phtian Gmes Diognes replied NO its I who am victor over men and you over slaves.
At page 77
When a good person is insulted . the insult is indeed inflicted but it has no effect on him because views it with contempt.So when somone insulted Dioogness and someone else said to him That man has insulted you .Digones he replied But I for my part suffer no inslt or riducule.
At page 77
When someone said to him 'Most people laugh at you he replied And doubtless donkeys laigh at them bt hust as they pay no need ro the donkeys I pay none to them.
Chapter 5 a SHORT cUT TO Philisophy and Virtue
at page 81
Anthisgenes used to say accordingly that thse who have not yet acquired proper self-mastery should not study literature . so as not to become distreacted by extraneous interests. They reject geomerty too and music all such study.
At page 81
Tis wisdom that governs men and cities well . Not the twanging of lyres and whistling of flute.
At page 83
To someone who was talking about astronomical matters he said And how many days did it take you to get down from sky
At page 85
When he was once in SParta and saw his host preparng with great eagerness for a festival he said And doesnt a good man consider every day to be a festival.
Chapter 6 : The world of Ilussion
At page 91
He used to say that neither in a rich city nor ina a rch household can virtue make its dwelling
at page 91
While being recieve in the ghouse of a man who had devoted consireable care to his many prossesions while leaving onyl himselef in itter neglect DIogness cleread his hrtoat and look aroiund him but instead of choosing any nearbysport spart diretly at the mater of thehouse. And when the man gre angry andasked why he had done that he said that he could see nothing in the house that had been so neglected as its owner forver wall awas adonred with wonderfil painthings and there were images of the gods on the floor portrated in magifienct mosaics and all the firnitire was borght and clean and the coverings and couches were beaitifi;;y adorned leaving theie wonders as the sole hing there that cold be seen toh ave been neglectd and its ithe inversal custom in hman sociert to spin the worst available cplace
At page 93
DIogenes laughed at thosew who lock away their treaures with volts and locks and seals but throw open their own body wit all its windows and doors namley their mouth ad genitals and eyes and ears.
At page 94
Digones offered some advic e that was rather coarse in its expression but substantially true when he said Go to a brothel lad and learn that what is worthless differs not at all from what is highly prized
Glook-looking courtesans he compared to a deadly honey-mixture.
Digones called the most beautiful courteasns queens since many men wil fulful their every comandn
at page 97
Ton one who had perfumed himseld he said Watch ou that the fine smell on our head doesnt cause a stink in your life.
Chapter 7 Religin and Superstition
At page 100
To a couple who were sacricing to the fods in the hope of haveing a son he said but oyu dont sacrifice to ensure what kind of a person he will turn out to be.
at page 101
One day on seing the custodians of the temple-treasures leading away aw man who gad stoelen a bowl he said the big thieves are arresting the little thief.
at page 102
When Agesilaos of COs recounted a dream,Diogenes said "you look into how you act and talk in your dreams ,but fail to see where you are making a false step while you are awake"
at page 113
When asked how Dionysios treated his friends, he said "Just like sacks for while they are full ,he hangs them up and when they are empty he throws them away"
at page 119
Chapter 10 Moralistgic and Traditinoal
Cleomenses recounths in his book ON Pedaagogues that the friends of DIogenes wanted to ransom him but he responed by telling them that they were utterly naive: for lions .he explained, are not the slaves of those who feed them , but rather it is those who feed characterizes a slave and wild beasts make men afraid of them.
at page 120
He had once been asked by Xeniades how he wanted to be buried and had replied Face downwards , and why is that asked Xeniades Because after no great while down will be turned into up . he said this because the Macedonians now had the upper hand . and had thuserisen to great heights from a humbele beginners.
at page 121
Diogenes said he would rather meet with failure among the cultivated than with succeses among the uncultivated.
at page 122
Who will be least subject to fear. who could jave greater confidence than one who is conscious of having committed no bad deed.
at page 123
To the foolish the truth is bitter and unpleasent while falsehood is sweet and agreeable and likewise I believe for those who have diseased eyes. light causes pain.
at page 124
darkness brings freedom from pain and is welcome, because it prevents them from being able to see
at page 123 Just as doctors use honey to sweeten the bitteerness of their chosen remedies. so wise men make use of good humour to sweeten their dealings with disagreeable people.
at page 125
Digones said that to come off well in life one need either good friends or ardent enemies for friends instruct you and enemies expose your faults
When he was asked how one can best exactt revenge against an enemy he said By comeing a good and honest man oneself.
at page 126
When some perfidious person spoke ill of him . he said I am glad to have become yoru enemy since its not to your enemies that you seek to bring harm but to your friends
at page 128
When asked what are the most dangerous beasts, he replied IN the mountains lions and bears in the cities tax-collectors and informers.
at page 129
Seeing a rich but uncultivated man. he said Look at the golden sheep.
at page 129
Seeing two women conferring together he said The adders borrowing poison from theviper.
at page 130
When asked what is bad in life he said A good-looking woman.
at page 130 Seeing a woman who was beautiful but small, he said Small is the beauty. but great the evil.
at page 153
He said that we should pursue philosophy until general come to seem no different from donkey-drivers.
chatper 16 Postscript Bion of BOrystthenes
Say Bion you grasp a snake by its middle you will get biten but if you seize it by the head nothing bad will happen to you. And likewise he says the pain tht you may uffer as a result of things outside dpends on how you apprehend them and if you appregend them in the same way as Socrates you wull no pain bt if you take them in any other way, you will suffer not on account of the things themselves but of your own chaacter and false opinin.
at page 173
He said that vain opinoion is the mother of all grief.
at page 174
Bion used to say that the astronmers are most absurd who. when they fail to see the fish on the sea-shore claim to know those in the heavens.
apt page 178
When asked who is subject to the greatest anxiety he said he who aspires after the greates prosperity and happiness.
at page 178
On seeing an envious man with a very glum expression on his face,Bion the sophist said 'Either someting very bad happened to him or something very good to someboy else.
Chapter 17 Anthisthenes as Forerunner of Cynicisim
at page 184
One should pay good heed to one's enemies since they are the first to recognize one's errors.
at page 200
He said that one should accustom oneself to living on litttle so as to do nothing shameful for the purpose of gaining wealth.
at page 201
The man who masters pleasure is not the one who abstains from it but the one who enjoys it without allowing himself to be carried away by it, in just the same way as thee master of a horse or ship is not the one who has nothing to do with it but the one who guides where he wants.
at page 201
Its not going in thhat is bad but being uanble to get out again.
at page 201
To someone who reproached hm for living with a courtesan he said Well then. if one is taking a house doest it make any difference wheter many people lived there boeore or no one at all .
at page page 208
When Aristippos was once a sea-voyage a storm blew up and he became grealty alarmed One of his fellow travellers remarked to him SO youre afraid too ,Aristppos just like anyone else to which he replied yes of course for in your case ddurung this present danger you have only your wrteched life to worry about while for me it is a life of true happiness that is in peril.
at page 208
Aristippos said that is generally diciculous to pry to the gods for benefits and ask them for any particular thing for its not when patients ask their doctors for some food or drink that they give to them but when they judge that it will be of benefit to them
at page 209
To someone who asked him in what respect his son would be better for having an education he said In this if nothing else that when hes at theatre he wong just be one stone sitting on another.,
Profile Image for TheBoxMan.
12 reviews
December 9, 2016
(Please ignore this review, it was never meant to be one in the first place: I ran out of characters in my 'private notes' section).

Ahh yes, the Cynics: simply scrumptious!

Forerunner of Cynicism: Antisthenes

Intriguing Followers of Diogenes:

Crates of Thebes (and Hipparchia of Maroneia)–

"Although he had only a knapsack and a rough cloak, Crates spent his whole life laughing and joking as though he were at a festival."('Sayings, Anecdotes, and Verses of Crates', §423, p.91)

"You have no idea what power a knapsack holds,
And a quart of lupins, and freedom from care." ('Sayings, Anecdotes, and Verses of Crates', §444, p.96)

Aristippos (Cryenaic)–
(Definitely not a classic cynic (hence his being associated with the Cryenaic school of thought over the Cynic); despite this deviance, he makes curious points relating to dogma and 'ideological imprisonment'. Emphasises the importance of flexibility in one's way of life: the truly free individual is one who, like a leaf in the wind, is comfortable in any situation they might be thrust into. Adaptability and Spontaneity)

"He was a man who was skilled in adapting himself to place, and to time, and to person, and played his role in a manner that befitted each circumstance [...]." ('Aristippos of Cyrene', §535, p.125)

"On seeing Aristippos dressed in sumptuous robes, Socrates smeared some dirt on the seat on which he was about to sit; and when Aristippos sat down on it without the least concern, he remarked, 'I thought all along that you possess these clothes and not possessed by them.' (Aristippos of Cyrene', §570, p.132-133)

"It is said that Aristippos, after having invited Diogenes to the baths, made sure that everyone left before them, and then put on the shabby cloak of Diogenes, leaving him his own purple robes. When Diogenes then came out, being unwilling to put on the robes, and asked for his own cloak to be returned to him, Aristippos reproached the Cynic for being a slave to his own reputation, because he preferred to freeze rather than be seen in purple robes." (Aristippos of Cyrene', §597, p.138)
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for j..
17 reviews8 followers
May 12, 2015
seems to make diogenes less funny than he sounds in quotation, but it's unclear whether that's the translator or the effect of seeing six versions of the best lines and at least one or two of a lot of less perennial ones. plus the unfunniness of much ancient humor, anyway. (i haven't compared this to the penguin translation.)

robin hard's introduction is useful enough and his footnotes add value (and are sometimes needed to appreciate the jokes).

diogenes laertius is apparently the major source, which may be why cynical texts had not been in print independently for a while, until recently.

a surprising amount of contempt for effeminacy (maybe more than usual for greek ethics with a socratic-heroic-virtues lineage?) that's usually downplayed in the secondary literature highlights.

includes some cyreniac material - aristippos and others. there are several pages of bion but otherwise not really any coverage of roman 'literary cynics' like lucian.

also some fart jokes, can't have too many of those.
Profile Image for Barış Çeviker.
17 reviews2 followers
June 28, 2021
nasreddin hoca'dan daha hoca, daha bilge ve daha hazır cevap bir adam olarak Diyojen onu tanıdıkça daha çok heyecanlandırıyor insanı... Büyük İskenderin ondan daha büyük olan "evsiz" kankisi, Platon'un felsefi belalısı, kendisine köle olarak kaçıranların bile bir an evvel elinden, dilinden kurtulmak istediği başbelası... İnsanlığa isyanın sancaktarı Diyojen zorla öğrencisi olduğu hocasına bile ders vererek Atinalılara Sokratesi mumla aratmış. Küstah hıyarları ben de elette hiç sevmem, ama küstah bilgeler ile başetmek imkansızdır, "2 fırça daha atsa da kendimize gelsek" diye beklerim hep. Diyojen olabilmek için sanırım sadece Diyojen olmak gerekir. Büyük İskender, "eğer Büyük İskender olmasaydım, Diyojen olmak isterdim" demiş. Benim seçim şansım olsaydı, Büyük İskender olmak yerine ben de direkt Diyojen olmak isterdim, orası kesin...
Profile Image for Stephen.
14 reviews
August 6, 2013
Diogenes is a very entertaining character and his witticisms are quite funny, and they illuminate the roles of the philosopher and the public sphere in the Greek polis. This book isn't much fun to read, however, as there is no narrative other than a general chronology of events in Diogenes' life and the anecdotes that accompany them. You should only bother with this text if you are interested in the context of ancient Greek philosophy, and/or are extremely entertained by misanthropic one-upmanship.
Profile Image for Cooper Renner.
Author 21 books42 followers
July 20, 2014
A fine introduction to Cynic philosophy, along with some attention to related "schools". Diogenes is one of my two favorite philosophers, the other being Epictetus, whose Discourses are very much worth reading. The layout of this volume is a bit of a pain--endnotes instead of footnotes--so that one is constantly flipping pages back and forth, but nothing can tamp down the humor, wit and fire of Diogenes' statements.
Profile Image for Ross Cohen.
408 reviews11 followers
June 30, 2015
After reading this collection, I'm not sure if Diogenes was the first Cynic philosopher or the first performance artist. Regardless, he was an interesting personality pointing his lantern toward necessary and uncomfortable truths.
28 reviews2 followers
January 31, 2016
I liked the first section which was specifically about Diogenes, but the next sections were a bit repetitive. And while the anecdotes were quite funnyit didn't really explain why he did all the things/ his philosophy.
Profile Image for Jackson Cyril.
836 reviews88 followers
February 21, 2017
When Plato defined Man as " a featherless biped", Diogenes plucked the feathers off of a chicken and ran around screaming "behold, Plato's Man!" Plato then changed the definition to "a featherless biped with five toes". This was Diogenes; the Nietzsche of classical Athens.
Profile Image for Crito.
234 reviews69 followers
May 8, 2017
Sure there isn't anything profound or important here, but it's a fun ride, and since Diogenes is so confrontational, reading of his alleged encounters with people gives a far better sense of ancient Athens as a living breathing community than any other ancient Greek work I've read.
Profile Image for AdrianLB.
29 reviews3 followers
January 27, 2017
That such a man as Diogenes lived and that these remarkable anecdotes of his have survived over 2000 years is amazing. I admire this man and grateful to have shared his company.
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