Who is Diogenes?

Diogenes was born in Simope (which is now modern day Sinop, Turkey) and would later grow up to become known as “the Cynic” , a Greek philosopher that thrived around between 412 BC and 323 BC. To trace the details of his life , many anecdotes have been left behind , especially in a book titled “Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers.”

Diogenes of Sinope is believed to have come from the ranks of Antisthenes, who (if you take the word of Plato in “Phaedo”) was present at the time of Socrates’ death. At first, Diogenes lived life as a beggar , who called the streets of Athens his home. He came out of extreme poverty in his early years, spending most of his time campaigning to discredit social values and proper institutions.

A common theme of Diogenes was to refer to his behavior as “doglike.” He is also said to have admired the virtues of the canine species. He embraced the theme of a dog for his own pleasure. It is said that many people called him “doggish” during his lifetime.  

The death of Diogenes has many tales attached to it. One account has him holding his breath until death to falling ill after eating raw octopus to suffering an infection due to a dog bite. History states that when he was asked what were his wishes for burial , he replied that he left instructions to be “thrown outside of the city so that the wild animals would feast upon [his] body.” To the very end of his death, he was known to have made fun of the concern people shown for how he would be treated in death. Once he was gone, the Corinthians constructed a pillar to honor his memory. On it , a dog of Parian marble was on display.

To remember the Cynic philosopher, why not take a look at some of his quotes that he has left behind. They include:

“No man is hurt but by himself”

“Discourse on virtue and they pass by in droves, whistle and dance the shimmy, and you’ve got an audience.”

“Modesty is the color of virtue.”

“Calumny is only the noise of madmen.”

“Wise leaders generally have wise counselors because it takes a wise person themselves to distinguish them.”

“Of what use is a philosopher who doesn’t hurt anybody’s feelings?”

“Why not whip the teacher when the pupil misbehaves?”

“In a rich man’s house there is no place to spit but his face.”

“The art of being a slave is to rule one’s master.”

Other Diogenes’ in History
When it comes to remembering Diogenes, it is important to specify that he was from Sinope, as there are plenty of others by the same name that even lived around the same time as he. They include:

Diogenes Apolloniates , philosopher

Diogenes of Babylon (also known as Diogenes the Stoic) (around 230 to 150 BCE) , this Stoic philosopher was from Seleucia

Diogenes of Seleucia (Epicurean) (2nd century BCE) , Epicurean philosopher, who served as an adviser to King Alexander of Syria.

Diogenes of Tarsus (2nd century BCE) , Epicurean philosopher

Diogenes of Judea (around 100-76 BC) – General and advisor of the Hasmonean king named Alexander Jannaeus

Diogenes Laertius (lived between 200-500 CE) , Historian

Diogenes (1st century CE) , Greek merchant and explorer

Diogenes , Bishop of Byzantium, who lived between 114 and 129 CE

Diogenes of Oenoanda , (2nd century CE), who was Epicurean