|10. Diogenes Laertius, Lives of The Philosophers, 6.2-6.3, 6.7-6.8, 6.10-6.12, 6.24, 6.26, 6.28-6.29, 6.34, 6.39, 6.51, 6.54-6.56, 6.66, 6.71, 6.73, 6.104-6.105, 7.36 (3rd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)
| 6.2. To begin with, he became a pupil of Gorgias the rhetorician, and hence the rhetorical style that he introduces in his dialogues, and especially in his Truth and in his Exhortations. According to Hermippus he intended at the public gathering for the Isthmian games to discourse on the faults and merits of Athenians, Thebans and Lacedaemonians, but begged to be excused when he saw throngs arriving from those cities.Later on, however, he came into touch with Socrates, and derived so much benefit from him that he used to advise his own disciples to become fellow-pupils with him of Socrates. He lived in the Peiraeus, and every day would tramp the five miles to Athens in order to hear Socrates. From Socrates he learned his hardihood, emulating his disregard of feeling, and thus he inaugurated the Cynic way of life. He demonstrated that pain is a good thing by instancing the great Heracles and Cyrus, drawing the one example from the Greek world and the other from the barbarians. 6.3. He was the first to define statement (or assertion) by saying that a statement is that which sets forth what a thing was or is. He used repeatedly to say, I'd rather be mad than feel pleasure, and We ought to make love to such women as will feel a proper gratitude. When a lad from Pontus was about to attend his lectures, and asked him what he required, the answer was, Come with a new book, a new pen, and new tablets, if you have a mind to (implying the need of brains as well). When someone inquired what sort of wife he ought to marry, he said, If she's beautiful, you'll not have her to yourself; if she's ugly, you'll pay for it dearly. Being told that Plato was abusing him, he remarked, It is a royal privilege to do good and be ill spoken of. 6.7. Being asked what learning is the most necessary, he replied, How to get rid of having anything to unlearn. And he advised that when men are slandered, they should endure it more courageously than if they were pelted with stones.And he used to taunt Plato with being conceited. At all events when in a procession he spied a spirited charger he said, turning to Plato, It seems to me that you would have made just such a proud, showy steed. This because Plato was constantly praising horseflesh. And one day he visited Plato, who was ill, and seeing the basin into which Plato had vomited, remarked, The bile I see, but not the pride. 6.8. He used to recommend the Athenians to vote that asses are horses. When they deemed this absurd, his reply was, But yet generals are found among you who had had no training, but were merely elected. Many men praise you, said one. Why, what wrong have I done? was his rejoinder. When he turned the torn part of his cloak so that it came into view, Socrates no sooner saw this than he said, I spy your love of fame peeping through your cloak. Phanias in his work on the Socratics tells us how some one asked him what he must do to be good and noble, and he replied, You must learn from those who know that the faults you have are to be avoided. When some one extolled luxury his reply was, May the sons of your enemies live in luxury. 6.10. For he fell in with some youths from Pontus whom the fame of Socrates had brought to Athens, and he led them off to Anytus, whom he ironically declared to be wiser than Socrates; whereupon (it is said) those about him with much indignation drove Anytus out of the city. If he saw a woman anywhere decked out with ornaments, he would hasten to her house and bid her husband bring out his horse and arms, and then, if the man possessed them, let his extravagance alone, for (he said) the man could with these defend himself; but, if he had none, he would bid him strip off the finery.Favourite themes with him were the following. He would prove that virtue can be taught; that nobility belongs to none other than the virtuous. 6.11. And he held virtue to be sufficient in itself to ensure happiness, since it needed nothing else except the strength of a Socrates. And he maintained that virtue is an affair of deeds and does not need a store of words or learning; that the wise man is self-sufficing, for all the goods of others are his; that ill repute is a good thing and much the same as pain; that the wise man will be guided in his public acts not by the established laws but by the law of virtue; that he will also marry in order to have children from union with the handsomest women; furthermore that he will not disdain to love, for only the wise man knows who are worthy to be loved. 6.12. Diocles records the following sayings of his: To the wise man nothing is foreign or impracticable. A good man deserves to be loved. Men of worth are friends. Make allies of men who are at once brave and just. Virtue is a weapon that cannot be taken away. It is better to be with a handful of good men fighting against all the bad, than with hosts of bad men against a handful of good men. Pay attention to your enemies, for they are the first to discover your mistakes. Esteem an honest man above a kinsman. Virtue is the same for women as for men. Good actions are fair and evil actions foul. Count all wickedness foreign and alien. 6.24. He was great at pouring scorn on his contemporaries. The school of Euclides he called bilious, and Plato's lectures waste of time, the performances at the Dionysia great peep-shows for fools, and the demagogues the mob's lackeys. He used also to say that when he saw physicians, philosophers and pilots at their work, he deemed man the most intelligent of all animals; but when again he saw interpreters of dreams and diviners and those who attended to them, or those who were puffed up with conceit of wealth, he thought no animal more silly. He would continually say that for the conduct of life we need right reason or a halter. 6.26. And one day when Plato had invited to his house friends coming from Dionysius, Diogenes trampled upon his carpets and said, I trample upon Plato's vainglory. Plato's reply was, How much pride you expose to view, Diogenes, by seeming not to be proud. Others tell us that what Diogenes said was, I trample upon the pride of Plato, who retorted, Yes, Diogenes, with pride of another sort. Sotion, however, in his fourth book makes the Cynic address this remark to Plato himself. Diogenes once asked him for wine, and after that also for some dried figs; and Plato sent him a whole jar full. Then the other said, If some one asks you how many two and two are, will you answer, Twenty? So, it seems, you neither give as you are asked nor answer as you are questioned. Thus he scoffed at him as one who talked without end. 6.28. And he would wonder that the grammarians should investigate the ills of Odysseus, while they were ignorant of their own. Or that the musicians should tune the strings of the lyre, while leaving the dispositions of their own souls discordant; that the mathematicians should gaze at the sun and the moon, but overlook matters close at hand; that the orators should make a fuss about justice in their speeches, but never practise it; or that the avaricious should cry out against money, while inordinately fond of it. He used also to condemn those who praised honest men for being superior to money, while themselves envying the very rich. He was moved to anger that men should sacrifice to the gods to ensure health and in the midst of the sacrifice should feast to the detriment of health. He was astonished that when slaves saw their masters were gluttons, they did not steal some of the viands. 6.29. He would praise those who were about to marry and refrained, those who intending to go a voyage never set sail, those who thinking to engage in politics do no such thing, those also who purposing to rear a family do not do so, and those who make ready to live with potentates, yet never come near them after all. He used to say, moreover, that we ought to stretch out our hands to our friends with the fingers open and not closed. Menippus in his Sale of Diogenes tells how, when he was captured and put up for sale, he was asked what he could do. He replied, Govern men. And he told the crier to give notice in case anybody wanted to purchase a master for himself. Having been forbidden to sit down, It makes no difference, said he, for in whatever position fishes lie, they still find purchasers. 6.34. To those who said to him, You are an old man; take a rest, What? he replied, if I were running in the stadium, ought I to slacken my pace when approaching the goal? ought I not rather to put on speed? Having been invited to a dinner, he declared that he wouldn't go; for, the last time he went, his host had not expressed a proper gratitude. He would walk upon snow barefoot and do the other things mentioned above. Not only so; he even attempted to eat meat raw, but could not manage to digest it. He once found Demosthenes the orator lunching at an inn, and, when he retired within, Diogenes said, All the more you will be inside the tavern. When some strangers expressed a wish to see Demosthenes, he stretched out his middle finger and said, There goes the demagogue of Athens. 6.39. To one who by argument had proved conclusively that he had horns, he said, touching his forehead, Well, I for my part don't see any. In like manner, when somebody declared that there is no such thing as motion, he got up and walked about. When some one was discoursing on celestial phenomena, How many days, asked Diogenes, were you in coming from the sky? A eunuch of bad character had inscribed on his door the words, Let nothing evil enter. How then, he asked, is the master of the house to get in? When he had anointed his feet with unguent, he declared that from his head the unguent passed into the air, but from his feet into his nostrils. The Athenians urged him to become initiated, and told him that in Hades those who have been initiated take precedence. It would be ludicrous, quoth he, if Agesilaus and Epaminondas are to dwell in the mire, while certain folk of no account will live in the Isles of the Blest because they have been initiated. 6.51. Good men he called images of the gods, and love the business of the idle. To the question what is wretched in life he replied, An old man destitute. Being asked what creature's bite is the worst, he said, of those that are wild a sycophant's; of those that are tame a flatterer's. Upon seeing two centaurs very badly painted, he asked, Which of these is Chiron? (worse man). Ingratiating speech he compared to honey used to choke you. The stomach he called livelihood's Charybdis. Hearing a report that Didymon the flute-player had been caught in adultery, his comment was, His name alone is sufficient to hang him. To the question why gold is pale, his reply was, Because it has so many thieves plotting against it. On seeing a woman carried in a litter, he remarked that the cage was not in keeping with the quarry. 6.54. On being asked by somebody, What sort of a man do you consider Diogenes to be? A Socrates gone mad, said he. Being asked what was the right time to marry, Diogenes replied, For a young man not yet: for an old man never at all. Being asked what he would take to be soundly cuffed, he replied, A helmet. Seeing a youth dressing with elaborate care, he said, If it's for men, you're a fool; if for women, a knave. One day he detected a youth blushing. Courage, quoth he, that is the hue of virtue. One day after listening to a couple of lawyers disputing, he condemned them both, saying that the one had no doubt stolen, but the other had not lost anything. To the question what wine he found pleasant to drink, he replied, That for which other people pay. When he was told that many people laughed at him, he made answer, But I am not laughed down. 6.55. When some one declared that life is an evil, he corrected him: Not life itself, but living ill. When he was advised to go in pursuit of his runaway slave, he replied, It would be absurd, if Manes can live without Diogenes, but Diogenes cannot get on without Manes. When breakfasting on olives amongst which a cake had been inserted, he flung it away and addressed it thus:Stranger, betake thee from the princes' path.And on another occasion thus:He lashed an olive.Being asked what kind of hound he was, he replied, When hungry, a Maltese; when full, a Molossian – two breeds which most people praise, though for fear of fatigue they do not venture out hunting with them. So neither can you live with me, because you are afraid of the discomforts. 6.56. Being asked if the wise eat cakes, Yes, he said, cakes of all kinds, just like other men. Being asked why people give to beggars but not to philosophers, he said, Because they think they may one day be lame or blind, but never expect that they will turn to philosophy. He was begging of a miserly man who was slow to respond; so he said, My friend, it's for food that I'm asking, not for funeral expenses. Being reproached one day for having falsified the currency, he said, That was the time when I was such as you are now; but such as I am now, you will never be. To another who reproached him for the same offence he made a more scurrilous repartee. 6.66. Being reproached with drinking in a tavern, Well, said he, I also get my hair cut in a barber's shop. Being reproached with accepting a cloak from Antipater, he replied:The gods' choice gifts are nowise to be spurned.When some one first shook a beam at him and then shouted Look out, Diogenes struck the man with his staff and added Look out. To a man who was urgently pressing his suit to a courtesan he said, Why, hapless man, are you at such pains to gain your suit, when it would be better for you to lose it? To one with perfumed hair he said, Beware lest the sweet scent on your head cause an ill odour in your life. He said that bad men obey their lusts as servants obey their masters. 6.71. Nothing in life, however, he maintained, has any chance of succeeding without strenuous practice; and this is capable of overcoming anything. Accordingly, instead of useless toils men should choose such as nature recommends, whereby they might have lived happily. Yet such is their madness that they choose to be miserable. For even the despising of pleasure is itself most pleasurable, when we are habituated to it; and just as those accustomed to a life of pleasure feel disgust when they pass over to the opposite experience, so those whose training has been of the opposite kind derive more pleasure from despising pleasure than from the pleasures themselves. This was the gist of his conversation; and it was plain that he acted accordingly, adulterating currency in very truth, allowing convention no such authority as he allowed to natural right, and asserting that the manner of life he lived was the same as that of Heracles when he preferred liberty to everything. 6.73. And he saw no impropriety either in taking something from a sanctuary or in eating the flesh of any animal; nor even anything impious in touching human flesh, this, he said, being clear from the custom of some foreign nations. Moreover, according to right reason, as he put it, all elements are contained in all things and pervade everything: since not only is meat a constituent of bread, but bread of vegetables; and all other bodies also, by means of certain invisible passages and particles, find their way in and unite with all substances in the form of vapour. This he makes plain in the Thyestes, if the tragedies are really his and not the work of his friend Philiscus of Aegina or of Pasiphon, the son of Lucian, who according to Favorinus in his Miscellaneous History wrote them after the death of Diogenes. He held that we should neglect music, geometry, astronomy, and the like studies, as useless and unnecessary. 6.104. So they get rid of geometry and music and all such studies. Anyhow, when somebody showed Diogenes a clock, he pronounced it a serviceable instrument to save one from being late for dinner. Again, to a man who gave a musical recital before him he said:By men's minds states are ordered well, and households,Not by the lyre's twanged strings or flute's trilled notes.They hold further that Life according to Virtue is the End to be sought, as Antisthenes says in his Heracles: exactly like the Stoics. For indeed there is a certain close relationship between the two schools. Hence it has been said that Cynicism is a short cut to virtue; and after the same pattern did Zeno of Citium live his life. 6.105. They also hold that we should live frugally, eating food for nourishment only and wearing a single garment. Wealth and fame and high birth they despise. Some at all events are vegetarians and drink cold water only and are content with any kind of shelter or tubs, like Diogenes, who used to say that it was the privilege of the gods to need nothing and of god-like men to want but little.They hold, further, that virtue can be taught, as Antisthenes maintains in his Heracles, and when once acquired cannot be lost; and that the wise man is worthy to be loved, impeccable, and a friend to his like; and that we should entrust nothing to fortune. Whatever is intermediate between Virtue and Vice they, in agreement with Ariston of Chios, account indifferent.So much, then, for the Cynics. We must now pass on to the Stoics, whose founder was Zeno, a disciple of Crates. 7.36. of the many disciples of Zeno the following are the most famous: Persaeus, son of Demetrius, of Citium, whom some call a pupil and others one of the household, one of those sent him by Antigonus to act as secretary; he had been tutor to Antigonus's son Halcyoneus. And Antigonus once, wishing to make trial of him, caused some false news to be brought to him that his estate had been ravaged by the enemy, and as his countece fell, Do you see, said he, that wealth is not a matter of indifference?The following works are by Persaeus:of Kingship.The Spartan Constitution.of Marriage.of Impiety.Thyestes.of Love.Exhortations.Interludes.Four books of Anecdotes.Memorabilia.A Reply to Plato's Laws in seven books.