Diogenes

By A. G. Moore              May 2, 2011
Diogenes, by Jules Bastein LepageDiogenes was an ancient Greek philosopher who was said to go about the streets of Athens in broad daylight with a lamp.  When asked why he carried a lamp while the sun shone, it is reported that he answered, “I am looking for an honest man.”  Whether or not this is an apocryphal story, it is certain that Diogenes was critical of most people’s intellectual habits.  His own life was a refutation of rumor and sloppy thinking. He would shock his fellow Athenians by doing the unexpected.  He, for example, lived in a tub and was reported to have instructed that his body be thrown outside the walls of the city when he died.  There are various accounts of his meeting with Alexander, but all are consistent on one count:  Diogenes was disrespectful and indifferent to the consequences that might come from his lack of obeisance.  An artist’s impression of Diogenes in his tub appears below.
Painting by Jean-Leon Gerome

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