412–323 BC

Diogenes the Cynic, was a Greek philosopher, who was born at Sinope about 412 B.C., and died in 323 at Corinth. His father, Icesias, a money-changer, was imprisoned or exiled on the charge of adulterating the coinage. Diogenes was included in the charge, and went to Athens with one attendant, whom he dismissed, saying, "If Manes can live without Diogenes, why not Diogenes without Manes?" Attracted by the ascetic teaching of Antisthenes, be became his pupil, despite the brutality with which he was received, and rapidly excelled his master both in reputation and in the austerity of his life. The stories which are told of him are probably true; in any case, they serve to illustrate the logical consistency of his character.

He inured himself to the vicissitudes of weather by living in a tub belonging to the temple of Cybele. The single wooden bowl he possessed he destroyed on seeing a peasant boy drink from the hollow of his hands. On a voyage to Aegina he was captured by pirates and sold as a slave in Crete to a Corinthian named Xeniades. Being asked his trade, he replied that he knew no trade but that of governing men, and that he wished to be sold to a man who needed a master. As tutor to the two sons of Xeniades, he lived in Corinth for the rest of his life, which he devoted entirely to preaching the doctrines of virtuous self-control. At the Isthmian games he lectured to large audiences who turned to him from Antisthenes. It was, probably, at one of these festivals that he craved from Alexander the single boon that he would not stand between him and the sun, to which Alexander replied "If I were not Alexander, I would be Diogenes."

On his death, about which there exist several accounts, the Corinthians erected to his memory a pillar on which there rested a dog of Parian marble. His ethical teaching will be found in the article Cynics. It may suffice to say here that virtue, for him, consisted in the avoidance of all physical pleasure; that pain and hunger were positively helpful in the pursuit of goodness; that all the artificial growths of society appeared to him incompatible with truth and goodness; that moralization implies a return to nature and simplicity. He has been credited with going to extremes of impropriety in pursuance of these ideas; probably, however, his reputation has suffered from the undoubted immorality of some of his successors.

—Adapted from the 1911 Encylopaedia Britannica.

Key events during the life of Diogenes:

412 BC
Born in Sinope.
  Moved to Corinth.
  Studied under Anisthenes.
  Captured at sea. Sold as a slave to Xeniades.
336 BC
Met Alexander the great and asked him to move.
323 BC
Died in Corinth.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Diogenes the Wise Man  in  Fifty Famous Stories Retold  by  James Baldwin
Alexander and Diogenes  in  The Story of the Greeks  by  H. A. Guerber
Aristotle, Zeno, Diogenes and Apelles  in  Famous Men of Greece  by  John H. Haaren and A. B. Poland
Diogenes  in  Back Matter  by  books/horne/statesmen/_back.html
Alexander and Diogenes  in  The Story of Greece  by  Mary Macgregor
The Wise Man Who Lived in a Tub  in  Stories of the Ancient Greeks  by  Charles D. Shaw
Alexander the Great  in  The Story of the Greek People  by  Eva March Tappan

Image Links

Diogenes and Alexander
 in Fifty Famous Stories Retold

Diogenes in his tub, Montegazza
 in Famous Men of Greece

Diogenes looking for a man, Rubens
 in Famous Men of Greece

The Search of Diogenes
 in Greatest Nations - Greece

 in Back Matter

Diogenes in his tub
 in Back Matter

Alexander and Diogenes
 in Stories from Greek History

Stand out of my Sunshine!'
 in Stories of the Ancient Greeks

Diogenes looking for an honest man.
 in The Story of the Greek People

Alexander and Diogenes
 in Plutarch's Lives W. H. Weston

Short Biography
Antisthenes Cynic philosopher who was student of Socrates and teacher of Diogenes.
Xeniades Corinthian who purchased Diogenes after he was captured by pirates.
Alexander the Great Greatest general of ancient times. Conquered Persian Empire with 40,000 soldiers.