Friday, 29 March 2019

Diogenes

Diogenes is certainly an interesting character from ancient history. He was also known as Diogenes the Cynic (you'll learn why later) and was born in either 412 or 404 BC (not sure which) and died in 323 BC.

He was a controversial figure. His father was a banker who minted coins for a living, and for a while Diogenes worked with him. There was a banker's scandal and Diogenes was banished from Sinope, the city where he lived.

He moved to Athens where he proclaimed many of his theories:

He believed that virtue is better shown in action rather than in theory.

He criticised the social values and institutions and the corruption in society.

He believed in living the simple life without too many possessions and clutter. (He did not even have a TV because it was yet to be invented).

Diogenes made a virtue of poverty and begged for a living. He slept in a large ceramic jar (or tub) in the marketplace; and was notorious for his philosophical stunts - like carrying a lamp in the daytime, claiming to be looking for an honest man.

When he arrived in Athens Diogenes had a slave called Manes who ran away from him. Diogenes declared: "If Manes can live without Diogenes, why not Diogenes without Manes?" explaining that it was wrong for a master to have a servant doing things for him.

As I mentioned earlier, he lived in poverty in a tub in the market place with no possesions but a small bowl from which he drank. One day he saw a boy drinking from the hollow of his hands; so Diogenes destroyed the bowl and was much grieved that for years he had a useless possession.

In those days it was forbiden to eat in the marketplace. Remember it was the days before fast-food outlets and milkshakes - even chocolate ones, because chocolate too, like TV, had not yet been invented.

Notwithstanding the lack of a good hamburger, Diogenes would still eat in the markeplace. When he was told off he replied: "It's when I'm in the marketplace that I am hungry; not somewhere else!" A logic which today would have earned him a punch on the nose.

In those days in Athens there were other clever men like Plato, (I believe he could spin twenty plates on long sticks which he would shake every now and then to keep them spinning) and Socrates who much enjoyed the show and made 10% from ticket sales.

During one of his performances Plato described man as a "featherless biped" and the audience applauded in delight at this joke. Easily pleased I suppose!

So Diogenes plucked a chicken and declared to Plato "Behold! I've brought you a man." It is not recorded how Plato reacted; but no doubt the distraction made him loose concentration and he smashed many plates spinning on sticks.

17 comments:

  1. ...featherless biped...

    For reasons I can't articulate, this seems like a title I should wave proudly in the air as a taunt against my enemies.

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    1. I think I understand. I know quite a few bird-brains myself.

      God bless you, Sandi.

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  2. Certainly, I've heard the name … but was never so entertained while in school! Thanks for translating history on my behalf!

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    1. I agree! They left all the good facts out of the textbooks.

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    2. Hi Mevely and Kathy,

      Most of what I said in this post is true. I'll be posting more history articles from time to time. Please call again and be surprised.

      God bless you both.

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  3. I had to look him up, I never heard of the person. They never mentioned him in the school I went to.

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    1. Most of this stuff I wrote is true, Bill. I hope you enjoyed this article. More to follow in due course.

      God bless my friend. Happy weekend.

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  4. A very entertaining history lesson and your artistic license just made it more fun! Looking forward to your next lesson!

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    1. The intriguing thing is that it is mostly true, Terri. Planning another history lesson soon.

      God bless.

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  5. As I recall, Plato was a regular on the Ed Sullivan Show.

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    1. Yes JoeH, I remember seeing him on TV often in the old days.

      God bless you.

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  6. Hello, there, Victor! I thought of you tonight and wanted to drop by and say hello, as it has been a while since I got around to visiting here. I hope all is well with you, my friend. Sending many blessings your way!

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    1. How nice it is of you to visit me here Cheryl, and of thinking of me. I hope and pray you and your family are well. Please call again soon and often.

      God bless you and yours.

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  7. I have said it before but it is worth repeating "you are an amazing story teller and would have been very popular back in the day when story tellers were traveled acroos the lands and entertained the people~

    God's Blessings Victor~

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    1. I am not appreciated in my own time, Jan, or at any time for that matter.

      Thank you for your kind words.

      God bless you.

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  8. Today, Diogenes would have a blog called "The Minimalists," and would go viral on social media. He was ahead of his time.
    Enjoyed this, Victor :) Thanks!

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    1. I guess being a minimalist Blog it would have no title and he would not write anything in it!!!

      Sorry Chris ... my sense of humour sometimes often takes over my writing before I've had time to think.

      More history lessons soon.

      God bless.

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