(?412–323 BC)



By constant flattery the hedonistic philosopher Aristippus managed to gain a comfortable position at the court of Dionysius, tyrant of Syracuse. One day, observing Diogenes preparing some lentils for a meager meal, Aristippus offered some worldly wisdom to his fellow sage: “If you would only learn to compliment Dionysius, you wouldn’t have to live on lentils.”

“And if you would only learn to live on lentils, you wouldn’t have to flatter Dionysius,” retorted Diogenes.


Dogs and philosophers do the greatest good and get the fewest rewards.

Biographical Note: 
statue of Diogenes with dog and lamp

Diogenes was born at Sinope on the Black Sea, in Asia Minor. Forced into exile from Sinope he went eventually to Athens, where he was seen wandering the streets in broad daylight with a lantern searching for an honest man. Diogenes was an exponent of Cynicism, which called for a repudiation of most human convention and complete independence of mind and spirit. He lived in accordance with the teaching of their belief that a man, in order to attain wisdom and virtue, must be independent of himself, of others, and of the acquisition of fortune. Cynics further believed that it was necessary to give up all the pleasures of life that stand in the way of self mastery. Diogenes believed that a man should be free of all material things and so he got rid of all his possessions except a cloak and purse and wooden bowl. He used a tub or large earthenware jar for shelter and walked the streets barefoot. When Alexander the Great came to see Diogenes, who was sunning himself, the world conquerer said: “Ask any favor you wish.” Diogenes replied: “Then I would have you stand between me and the sun.” Diogenes’ unconventional life and acid temper caused many legends to grow up around him.

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