Diogenes was some ancient Greek philosopher of the school of the cynics. When caught masturbating in public, his infamous response was "If only I could stop hunger by rubbing my stomach." A very witty cynic, that Diogenes.

There was also a Diogenes of Oenoanda in Lycia, an adherent of Epicurus, who wrote and displayed this pithy summary of Epicureanism in a cloister in the town:
Áphobon ho Theós.
Anaísthe:ton ho Thánatos.
To agathon eúkte:ton.
To deinon euekkartére:ton.

No fearing God.
No feeling Death.
Good is attainable.
Evil is endurable.

Diogenes also provided the best refutation of Zeno's paradoxes: he stood up and walked out of the room.

Diogenes' masturbatory episode is referred to darkly by Bertrand Russell in his tome A History Of Western Philosophy, in the following passage:
The cynics thought that one should be without shame, and Diogenes would have none of it, wishing to be in all things like a dog; yet even he, after one attempt, abandoned, in practice, this extreme of shamelessness.
(The word 'cynic' is derived from the greek for 'dog'.)

Diogenes is also known for wandering around Athens carrying a lit lantern, in bright daylight. When challenged as to his purpose in this, he's said to have replied: "I'm looking for an honest man."

Thus, he's often depicted alongside a dog, and holding a lantern.

seeking an honest man before whose lantern
the sun of a brave alexander may darken
a dog and a slave a conqueror unconquered
out he strode into daylight bearing his lantern
'hey here he comes, alright dio' all eager for their eyeful
into each grinning face he plunged his all seeing shine
stuffed them full til they choked on his insight
old dio that nutter, always delightful
and finding only teeth, tongue, the curious smell
of something decaying, and a nervous sort of giggle
he balked in confusion then searched on, determined
unmoored unfettered alienated ungrounded
endlessly stumbling through darkness ever beckoning
great emperors, humbled, dimmed their lights in recognition
his shadows moved freely in native surroundings
before his lantern even the sun darkened
and the ever insatiate present feasted on noisily
his world was small, what's the use of extravagance
he was master of all adrift on an island barking
shining into the abyss now forever opaque
immediately omniscient, he never resurfaced
into the light of any other man
most never come back down the mountain
and diogenes never resurfaced

Di*og"e*nes (?), n.

A Greek Cynic philosopher (412?-323 B. C.) who lived much in Athens and was distinguished for contempt of the common aims and conditions of life, and for sharp, caustic sayings.

Diogenes' crab Zool., a species of terrestrial hermit crabs (Cenobita Diogenes), abundant in the West Indies and often destructive to crops. -- Diogenes' tub, the tub which the philosopher Diogenes is said to have carried about with him as his house, in which he lived.


© Webster 1913.

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