Cynicism


Diogenes Laertius, Book VI - Menedemus

Whate'er of good or ill within our halls is wrought."

They also dispense with the ordinary subjects of instruction. At least Antisthenes used to say that those who had attained discretion had better not study literature, lest they should be perverted by alien influences. 104. So they get rid of geometry and music and all such studies. Anyhow, when somebody showed Diogenes a clock, he pronounced it a serviceable instrument to save one from being late for dinner. Again, to a man who gave a musical recital before him he said:

By men's minds states are ordered well, and households, Not by the lyre's twanged strings or flute's trilled notes.

They hold further that "Life according to Virtue" is the End to be sought, as Antisthenes says in his Heracles: exactly like the Stoics. For indeed there is a certain close relationship between the two schools. Hence it has been said that Cynicism is a short cut to virtue; and after the same pattern did Zeno of Citium live his life.

105. They also hold that we should live frugally, eating food for nourishment only and wearing a single garment. Wealth and fame and high birth they despise. Some at all events are vegetarians and drink cold water only and are content with any kind of shelter or tubs, like Diogenes, who used to say that it was the privilege of the gods to need nothing and of god-like men to want but little.

They hold, further, that virtue can be taught, as Antisthenes maintains in his Heracles, and when once acquired cannot be lost; and that the wise man is worthy to be loved, impeccable, and a friend to his like; and that we should entrust nothing to fortune. Whatever is intermediate between Virtue and Vice they, in agreement with Ariston of Chios, account indifferent.

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