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moral precepts and apothegms alone which have reached is would amply repay us for the study. But Diogenes presents us a still stronger inducement. There have been few men of any age from whom more valuable lessons can be learned, altogether independently of his wit and wisdom, reminding us, as he does, by what he has accomplished, often under the most unfavorable circumstances, that no calamity is so great, no disgrace so notorious or overwhelming, but that it can be counteracted or repaired by a resolute, honest will.
Diogenes the Cynic was born at Sinope, a small town in Asia Minor, in the fourth year of the ninetieth Olympiad — 413 before Christ. Of his early life nothing is known; he is first heard of in connection with his father, Isecius, who being accused of counterfeiting the public money, while pursuing the business of a small banker at Corinth, was banished from the state. Some think that Diogenes was as guilty as his father, nor does he seem to deny the fact himself; at all events, the son fled as quickly as the father. He first appears to have wandered about without any fixed object, but with the determination of pursuing forever after an upright, honest course. That he had obtained a good education in his youth, is evident even from his conduct at this time. He knew there were other cities more wealthy than Athens, but he also knew that the latter had more knowledge than any of its rivals, and the lesson which he had learned at Corinth caused him to prefer knowledge to money.
On reaching Athens he was attracted by the fame of Antisthenes, who had for many years been a disciple of Socrates, and had recently established a school of his own which had already become famous, although so rigid was the discipline of the master that it had but few pupils. Diogenes was informed on inquiry, that the reason why Antisthenes had so few disciples was that he treated them as surgeons did their patients.
Far from being deterred by this, it caused the Sinopean to ap* ply to him all the more eagerly. Antisthenes refused to accept
him on any conditions; Diogenes persisted in trying to in duce him ; some say that he urged his case so strongly that the master threatened to strike him. “You may strike if you
will,” said Diogenes, "you will find no stick hard enough to prevent me from coming to hear your lessons."*
Even the founder of the Cynic sect could not help being moved by this reply, and he at once accepted Diogenes as a disciple. Nor had he any other disciple who loved or esteemed him more, or took more zealous pains to propagate his doctrines. Such was the reverence of Diogenes for his master that he refused to open any school of his own as long as that of Antisthenes existed; but long after he had become much more illustrious than his teacher he continued to call himself a . disciple of the latter; nor did he cease to do so while the latter lived.
All the earlier biographers of Diogenes represent him as having lived in a tub, or large vessel, and he frequently speaks of the tub himself as his house or place of residence. Both Juvenal and Seneca refer to it in a manner that leaves no doubt of their having accepted the story as true; and Lucian ridicules the sage for having gone to such extremes in his selfdenial and avoidance of luxuries. Others think, however, that the story is inconsistent with the references made by Diogenes himself to his house and to his servant. That he once had both is abundantly proved; but it is doubtful whether he had one or the other after his banishment. But whatever time he parted with his slave, it would appear that it was against his will he did so; for some of his friends having advised him to pursue the fugitive, his reply was, “Would it not be ridiculous that Menades could live without Diogenes, but that Diogenes could not live without Menades ?”
Elian explains the apparent inconsistency by showing that Diogenes had not yet become a philosopher at the time of the escape of his slave; and this view of the case is accepted by Seneca and all other authors save those who have given credence, without examination, to the calumnies of the philosopher's enemies.t
It is generally believed that Diogenes wandered about many years after parting with his servant before he made any place
* Diog. Laert. in Vita, + Vide Elian. Var. Hist. lib. xiii. cap. xviii.
his permanent home. The philosopher relates himself, in one of his letters, according to Laertes, how it was he came to live in a tub. He says that he ordered a friend to have a cell made for him; the friend forgot or neglected his wishes ; he, growing impatient, took up his abode in a large tub which he found in one of the porticoes of the Temple of Juno. Laertes informs us that a mischievous youth broke the tub; and that the Athenians proved their affection and veneration for Diogenes by condemning the culprit to be publicly whipped, and furnishing a new tub to the philosopher.*
The enlightened citizens of Athens did not esteem the philosopher anything the less because he had often satirized them. He ridiculed their weaknesses much more cuttingly than So. crates had done. Thus, for example, when they decreed divine honors to Alexander under the name of Bacchus, he sarcastically said, “Decree also that I am Serapis."
Nor was it the Athenians alone that treated Diogenes and his tub with consideration, if we are to believe the most reliable historians. At Corinth, as well as at Athens, he was allowed peculiar privileges in consideration of his noble and highly successful efforts as a public instructor. We are informed that he happened to be in the former city when Philip, King of Macedon, threatened to attack it. Observing all the citizens laboriously and anxiously occupied in fortifying the place, and not wishing to be entirely idle while all others were at work, he amused himself by rolling his tub.
It seems that, notwithstanding the cheerful, happy disposition for which he was remarkable among his friends, he was subject to fits of despondency in the earlier part of his career as a philosopher. When in this frame of mind, he would say, according to Laertes, that all the imprecations of the tragic poets were applicable to him, since he belonged to no city, had no house, was banished from his country, was poor, a wanderer, barely subsisting from day to day.t.
He had now become so much in the habit of teaching in public, in the inarket-place, at cross-roads, in the porticoes of the
* Diog. Laert. Vide also Lucianus de Conscrib. Historia.
+ Απολις, άοικος, πατρίδο έστερημένος.
Titwxós, Thavýtns, Biov éxov tovo' huépav.
temples, in short, wherever he found two or three persons, or more, who were willing to hear him, that he determined to open no school in any particular place. Perhaps no serious objection could have been made to this; but we are informed that he insisted on being equally public in almost every thing else he did, maintaining that whatever was right in private was right in public, that nature made no distinction, and that, in order to be at once virtuous and free, we must obey her voice in all things.
Some, indeed, think that this should be ranked among the many other calumnies of his enemies, although it is admitted by Diogenes Laertes, the most friendly of all his earlier biographers whose works have reached us. But some of the gross indecencies attributed to the philosopher on this ground are entirely inconsistent with many facts which are abundantly authenticated. Thus, for example, it is not likely that Alexander the Great, the accomplished and fastidious pupil of Aristotle, would have had such esteem for one who violated the most ordinary rules of decency as to seek out the philosopher in his miserable abode, and ask him to choose whatever it was in his power to bestow on him. The most faithful and reliable of biographers bears testimony to this incident, and his statement is corroborated by that of Diogenes Laertes and of several other authors of eminence. “A general assembly of Greeks being held at the Isthmus of Corinth,” says Plutarch, in his Life of Alexander, " they came to a resolution to send their quotas with Alexander against the Persians, and he was unanimously elected captain-general. Many statesmen and philosophers came to congratulate him on the occasion, and he hoped that Diogenes of Sinope, who then lived at Corinth, would be of the number. Finding, however, that he made bnt little account of Alexander, and that he preferred the enjoyment of his leisure in a part of the suburbs called Cranium, he went to see him. Diogenes happened to be lying in the sun ; and, at the approach of so many people, he raised himself a little, and fixed his eyes on Alexander. The king addressed him in a complimentary manner, and asked him if there was anything he could serve him in. 'Only stand a little out of my sun,' said Diogenes. Alexander, we are told, was struck
with so much surprise at finding himself so little regarded, and saw something so great in this, that while his courtiers were ridiculing the philosopher as a monster, he said, 'If I were not Alexander, I should wish to be Diogenes.'»*
It is almost needless to remark that when this happened Alexander was well acquainted with the character of Diogenes. Then, if the philosopher had really been habitually guilty of disgraceful conduct, is it likely that the pupil of the Stagyrite would have wished to be Diogenes? There is not the slightest probability that he would. Nevertheless, he has been severely censured for having made such a remark, although only by those who have accepted the representations of the philosopher's enemies. Among this class are men like Balzac-men who ought to devote themselves to the vindication of the illustrious dead, rather than to the reproduction of the worst slanders of their enemies. The Abbé de Tastu preaches an eloquent sermon on the wish of Alexander in regard to Diogenes, and maintains that it did honor both to the king and the philosopher. This excites the indignation of Balzac, who condemns in turn the preacher, the king, and the philosopher. “The preacher," he says, “regards this as extremely good; I regard it as extremely bad. For, in truth, what is it to be Diogenes? I will tell you by merely translating the Greek text, without making any addition of my own. To be Diogenes is to violate established customs and received laws; it is to have neither shame nor decency; it is to recognize neither relative, nor host, nor friend; it is to bark or bite constantly; it is to eat in the open market raw bread or bloody meat; it is to offend the eyes of the people by actions still more filthy or more indecent, actions for which there cannot be sufficient secrecy or a sufficiently profound solitude.”+
This indeed is, as Balzac tells us, in strict accordance with the Greek text; it is in accordance with more than one Greek text; but it is far too literal a rendering of the worst. Diogenes Laertes is undoubtedly an honest biographer; but there are certain things considered so disgraceful at the present day that they cannot be mentioned, which the Greek biographer
* Plutarch's Life of Alexander. + Balzac, Socrat. Chrétien, p. 243.