A Cynic Philosopher Diogenes, born at Si-nope, in Paphlagonia, Asia Minor, about 412 B. C, died near Corinth in 323. His father was a banker, and was condemned for having adulterated the coinage; and whether his son was involved in the same condemnation or not, it is certain that he left his native country and took refuge in Athens. Here he became a disciple of Antisthenes, the founder of the Cynic school of philosophy. The latter was at first unwilling to receive him, driving him rudely from his door, and threatening him with his staff. "Strike," said Diogenes; "you cannot find a stick so hard as to compel me to go away while you speak that which I wish to hear." Diogenes soon gained a reputation superior to that of his master for rough and caustic wit. It is said that one day at Athens the citizens saw him with a lantern in his hand, although it was broad day, apparently searching for something. On being asked what he was seeking, he replied, "A man." He had found children, he said, in Sparta, and women in Athens, but men he had never seen. He used to carry a small cup, but broke it on seeing a boy drink from the hollow of his hand. He slept either under the portico of some building, or in a tub, which, according to some authors, was his ordinary dwelling, and which he carried about with him.
The truth of this, however, has been much disputed by both ancient and modern critics. He taught in the streets and public places, speaking with the utmost plainness, often with rudeness, and was altogether insensible to reproaches and insults. His wit was ready and severe. Plato defined man as a two-legged animal without feathers; whereupon Diogenes, having stripped a fowl of its plumage, threw it among the pupils of the great academician, bidding them behold one of Plato's men. Being asked which is the most dangerous animal, he answered: "Of wild animals, the slanderer; of tame, the flatterer." On a voyage to the island of AEgina he was captured by pirates, and afterward sold as a slave. While in the market place, waiting for a purchaser, being asked what he could do, he answered that he knew how to govern men, and bade the crier ask, " Who wants to buy a master?" He was purchased by Xeniades, a Corinthian, who carried him home, and afterward set him at liberty, intrusting to him the education of his children. The rest of his days Diogenes divided between Athens and Corinth, and it was at the latter place that his celebrated but apocryphal interview with Alexander the Great is said to have taken place.
The king of Macedon, surprised at the indifference with which he was regarded by the ragged philosopher, who was comfortably basking in the sun before his tub, said to him, "I am Alexander." "And I," was the reply, "am Diogenes." Alexander desired him to ask a favor; but all that the Cynic wished was, that Alexander would not stand between him and the sun. Struck with this extraordinary insensibility to the usual weaknesses of humanity, the Macedonian remarked, "Were I not Alexander, I would be Diogenes." Diogene3 loved to display his contempt of the common courtesies of life. Plato was giving a magnificent dinner to some friends, and Diogenes entered unbidden, and stamping with his dirty feet on the carpets, exclaimed, "Thus I trample on the pride of Plato." "But with greater pride, O Diogenes," replied Plato. Surly, independent, a voluntary outcast, he lived on till his 90th year. According to some authors he wrote several works, but nothing has come down to us except some sayings preserved by Diogenes Laertius, and it is generally believed that he wrote nothing whatever.
He did not teach by lectures, but uttered his philosophy in short, pithy sentences, as occasion offered.