Who is Diogenes
Diogenes was an Ancient Greek philosopher born around 404-412 BC and is known as one of the founders of Cynicism, a form of philosophy that believes the purpose of life should be to live in virtue, in agreement with nature.
After being exiled from his family home in Sinope, he went to Athens and didn’t approve of the city he found, instead deciding to model himself on Heracles, believing that action is a better way to live in virtue than simply the theory of it. He lived in relative poverty, often begging for a living, whilst being a vocal critic of the social values he saw around him, including criticising some important people in history such as Plato and Alexander the Great.
Eventually, Diogenes was captured by pirates and his fate was to be sold into slavery, following which he ended up in Corinth. It was here that he taught his ideas to Crates, who in turn passed the philosophy of cynicism down to Zeno. It was Zeno who transformed these ideas into the Stoicism school of philosophy, perhaps one of the most well known and enduring schools of philosophy to date.
Unfortunately, we have no writings of Diogenes to learn from but other sources share an insight into his life, his stories and events around the time he was alive. This is where we get such thought-provoking and inspiring quotations from.
1. Dogs and philosophers do the greatest good and get the fewest rewards.
2. Of what use is a philosopher who doesn’t hurt anybody’s feelings?
3. Self-taught poverty is a help toward philosophy, for the things which philosophy attempts to teach by reasoning, poverty forces us to practice.
4. Even if I am but a pretender to wisdom, that in itself is philosophy.
5. As a matter of self-preservation, a man needs good friends or ardent enemies, for the former instruct him and the latter take him to task.
6. A friend is one soul abiding in two bodies.
7. If you are to be kept right, you must possess either good friends or red-hot enemies. The one will warn you, the other will expose you.
8. Other dogs bite only their enemies, whereas I bite also my friends in order to save them.
9. To arrive at perfection, a man should have very sincere friends or inveterate enemies; because he would be made sensible of his good or ill conduct, either by the censures of the one or the admonitions of the other.
10. When two friends part they should lock up each other’s secrets and exchange keys. The truly noble mind has no resentments.
11. The great thieves lead away the little thief.
12. The art of being a slave is to rule one’s master.
13. Wise leaders generally have wise counselors because it takes a wise person themselves to distinguish them.
14. Young men not ought to marry yet, and old men never ought to marry at all.
15. No man is hurt but by himself.
16. It takes a wise man to discover a wise man.
17. Most men are within a finger’s breadth of being mad.
18. People who talk well but do nothing are like musical instruments; the sound is all they have to offer.
19. Man is the most intelligent of the animals – and the most silly.
20. We have two ears and one tongue so that we would listen more and talk less.
21. Why not whip the teacher when the pupil misbehaves?
22. To one who asked what was the proper time for lunch, he said, ‘If a rich man, when you will; if a poor man, where you can.
23. In a rich man’s house, there is no place to spit but his face.
24. He has the most who is most content with the least.
25. You will become a teacher of yourself when for the same things that you blame others, you also blame yourself.
26. The noblest people are those despising wealth, learning, pleasure, and life; esteeming above them poverty, ignorance, hardship, and death.
27. Modest is the color of virtue.
28. Those that have virtue always in their mouths, and neglect it in practice, are like a harp, which emits a sound pleasing to others, while itself is insensible of the music.
29. Poverty is a virtue which one can teach yourself.
30. To become self-educated you should condemn yourself for all those things that you would criticize others.
31. The foundation of every state is the education of its youth.
32. Education gives sobriety to the young, comfort to the old, riches to the poor and is an ornament to the rich.
33. Aristotle was once asked what those who tell lies gain by it. Said he – That when they speak truth they are not believed.
34. Virtue cannot dwell with wealth either in a city or in a house.
35. The vine bears three kinds of grapes: the first of pleasure, the second of intoxication, the third of disgust.
36. I threw my cup away when I saw a child drinking from his hands at the trough.
37. There is only a finger’s difference between a wise man and a fool.
38. It is not that I am mad, it is only that my head is different from yours.
39. I have nothing to ask but that you would remove to the other side, that you may not, by intercepting the sunshine, take from me what you cannot give.
40. The only way to gall and fret effectively is for yourself to be a good and honest man.
41. What I like to drink most is wine that belongs to others.
42. We come into the world alone and we die alone. Why, in life, should we be any less alone?
43. I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world.
44. As houses well stored with provisions are likely to be full of mice, so the bodies of those that eat much are full of diseases.
45. If I lack awareness, then why should I care what happens to me when I am dead?
46. The mob is the mother of tyrants.
47. If your cloak was a gift, I appreciate it; if it was a loan, I’m not through with it yet.
48. There is a false love that will make you something you are not.
49. Aren’t you ashamed, you who walk backward along the whole path of existence, and blame me for walking backward along the path of the promenade?
50. The most beautiful thing in the world is freedom of speech.
51. I pissed on the man who called me a dog. Why was he so surprised?
52. One original thought is worth a thousand mindless quotings
53. If only it was as easy to banish hunger by rubbing the belly as it is to masturbate.
54. People who talk well but do nothing are like musical intruments; the sound is all they have to offer.
55. Fools! You think of “god” as a sentient being. God is the word used to represent a force. This force created nothing, it just helps things along. It does not answer prayers, although it may make you think of a way to solve a problem. It has the power to influence you, but not decide for you.
56. In a rich man’s house there is no place to spit but his face.
57. He lit a lamp in broad daylight and said, as he went about, “I am looking for a human.
58. I am Diogenes the Dog. I nuzzle the kind, bark at the greedy and bite scoundrels.
59. Discourse on virtue and they pass by in droves. Whistle and dance the shimmy, and you’ve got an audience.
60. Aristotle was once asked what those who tell lies gain by it. Said he – That when they speak truth they are not believed.