Diogenes as Prototype Western Secular Urban Hermit

The eccentric Greek philosopher Diogenes (412-323 BCE) is perhaps the classical world's prototype of urban hermit. Diogenes lived without possessions or social ties, and offered sharp public rebukes to the hypocrisy and greed of his day. But he went further, begging food, sleeping in a barrel,  eating in the marketplace, performing bodily functions in public, and openly defying or disrespecting figures of authority and repute. His blatant gestures intentionally mocked human vanity about civilized behavior, counterpoised to his radical simplicity. His sayings sharply criticize society, authority, convention, and inconsistent ethics.

Contemporaries considered Diogenes mad and his life that of a dog, hence the application of the word "cynic" or "kuvikoi" -- meaning dog in Greek -- to the school of philosophy he helped engender, Cynicism.

Diogenes is unique to Western history in sharing characteristics of secular Western hermits living in the city, instructing or counseling others with his life and sharp tongue. However, his public actions belie those of hermits.

The most obvious influence of Diogenes on later Westerners is the famous anecdote of his carrying a lamp to shine in others' faces, claiming he was looking for an honest or intelligent person. This image is the basis of the famous image of the hermit in the Tarot.

None of his alleged writings remain; the anecdotes and sayings are from various sources collected by Diogenes Laertius (3rd century CE) in book 6 of his The Lives of the Eminent Philosophers. Representative passages here are from the Hicks translation (Loeb Classical Library; see bibliographical references below). Headers have been added sporadically to highlight familiar anecdotes and sayings. Numbering and references are omitted.


On being asked what he had gained from philosophy, Diogenes replied, "This at least, if nothing else -- to be prepared for every fortune."

To the man who said to him, "You don't know anything, although you are a philosopher," he replied, "Even if I am but a pretender to wisdom, that in itself is philosophy."

Being asked what was the most beautiful thing in the world, he replied, "Freedom of speech."

Asked where he came from, he said, "I am a citizen of the world."

He would ridicule good birth and fame and all such distinctions, calling them showy ornaments of vice. The only true commonwealth was, he said, that which is as wide as the universe.


Diogenes was a native of Sinope, son of Hicesius, a banker. Diocles relates that he went into exile because his father was entrusted with the money of the state and adulterated the coinage. But Eubulides in his book on Diogenes says that Diogenes himself did this and was forced to leave home along with his father. Moreover Diogenes himself actually confesses in his Pordalus that he adulterated the coinage. Some say that having been appointed to superintend the workmen he was persuaded by them, and that he went to Delphi or to the Delian oracle in his own city and inquired of Apollo whether he should do what he was urged to do. When the god gave him permission to alter the political currency, not understanding what this meant, he adulterated the state coinage, and when he was detected, according to some he was banished, while according to others he voluntarily quit the city for fear of consequences.

Being reproached one day for having falsified the currency, he said, "That was the time when I was such as you are now; but such as I am now, you will never be."

When some one reproached him with his exile, his reply was, "Nay, it was through that, you miserable fellow, that I came to be a philosopher." Again, when some one reminded him that the people of Sinope had sentenced him to exile, "And I them," said he, "to home-staying."


On reaching Athens he fell in with [the philosopher] Antisthenes. Being repulsed by him, because he never welcomed pupils, by sheer persistence Diogenes wore him out. Once when he stretched out his staff against him, the pupil offered his head with the words, "Strike, for you will find no wood hard enough to keep me away from you, so long as I think you've something to say." From that time forward he was his pupil, and, exile as he was, set out upon a simple life.

After many years in Athens, Diogenes was captured by pirates and sold into slavery, after which he lived the rest of his life in Corinth.


When he was sold as a slave, he endured it most nobly. For on a voyage to Aegina he was captured by pirates under the command of Scirpalus, conveyed to Crete and exposed for sale. When the auctioneer asked in what he was proficient, he replied, "In ruling men." Thereupon he pointed to a certain Corinthian with a fine purple border to his robe, the man named Xeniades above-mentioned, and said, "Sell me to this man; he needs a master." Thus Xeniades came to buy him, and took him to Corinth and set him over his own children and entrusted his whole household to him. And he administered it in all respects in such a manner that Xeniades used to go about saying, "A good genius has entered my house."

When he was captured [by pirates] and put up for sale, he was asked what he could do. He replied, "Govern men." And he told the crier to give notice in case anybody wanted to purchase a master for himself. Having been forbidden to sit down, "It makes no difference," said he, "for in whatever position fishes lie, they still find purchasers."

And he said he marvelled that before we buy a jar or dish we try whether it rings true, but if it is a man are content merely to look at him. To Xeniades who purchased him he said, "You must obey me, although I am a slave; for, if a physician or a steersman were in slavery, he would be obeyed." Eubulus tells us that this was how he trained the sons of Xeniades. After their other studies he taught them to ride, to shoot with the bow, to sling stones and to hurl javelins. Later, when they reached the wrestling-school, he would not permit the master to give them full athletic training, but only so much as to heighten their colour and keep them in good condition.

The boys used to get by heart many passages from poets, historians, and the writings of Diogenes himself; and he would practise them in every short cut to a good memory. In the house too he taught them to wait upon themselves, and to be content with plain fare and water to drink. He used to make them crop their hair close and to wear it unadorned, and to go lightly clad, barefoot, silent, and not looking about them in the streets. He would also take them out hunting. They on their part had a great regard for Diogenes and made requests of their parents for him. The same Eubulus relates that he grew old in the house of Xeniades, and when he died was buried by his sons.

There Xeniades once asked him how he wished to be buried. To which he replied, "On my face." "Why?" inquired the other. "Because," said he, "after a little time down will be converted into up." This because the Macedonians had now got the supremacy, that is, had risen high from a humble position.

To Xeniades, who purchased him, he said, "Come, see that you obey orders." When Xeniades quoted the line, "Backward the streams flow to their founts," Diogenes asked, "If you had been ill and had purchased a doctor, would you then, instead of obeying him, have said 'Backward the streams flow to their founts'?"


Through watching a mouse running about, says Theophrastus in the Megarian dialogue, not looking for a place to lie down in, not afraid of the dark, not seeking any of the things which are considered to be dainties, Diogenes discovered the means of adapting himself to circumstances.

He was the first, say some, to fold his cloak because he was obliged to sleep in it as well, and he carried a wallet to hold his victuals, and he used any place for any purpose, for breakfasting, sleeping, or conversing. And then he would say, pointing to the portico of Zeus and the Hall of Processions, that the Athenians had provided him with places to live in.

He did not lean upon a staff until he grew infirm; but afterwards he would carry it everywhere, not indeed in the city, but when walking along the road with it and with his wallet.

He had written to someone to try and procure a cottage for him. When this man was a long time about it, he took for his abode the tub in the Metron. And in summer he used to roll in it over hot sand, while in winter he used to embrace statues covered with snow, using every means of inuring himself to hardship.

He once begged alms of a statue, and, when asked why he did so, replied, "To get practice in being refused." In asking alms -- as he did at first by reason of his poverty -- he used this form: "If you have already given to anyone else, give to me also; if not, begin with me."


He used to affirm that training was of two kinds, mental and bodily: the latter being that whereby, with constant exercise, perceptions are formed such as secure freedom of movement for virtuous deeds; and the one half of this training is incomplete without the other, good health and strength being just as much included among the essential things, whether for body or soul. And he would adduce indisputable evidence to show how easily from gymnastic training we arrive at virtue. For in the manual crafts and other arts it can be seen that the craftsmen develop extraordinary manual skill through practice. Again, take the case of flute-players and of athletes: what surpassing skill they acquire by their own incessant toil; and, if they had transferred their efforts to the training of the mind, how certainly their labours would not have been unprofitable or ineffective.

Nothing in life, however, he maintained, has any chance of succeeding without strenuous practice; and this is capable of overcoming anything. Accordingly, instead of useless toils men should choose such as nature recommends, whereby they might have lived happily. Yet such is their madness that they choose to be miserable. For even the despising of pleasure is itself most pleasurable, when we are habituated to it; and just as those accustomed to a life of pleasure feel disgust when they pass over to the opposite experience, so those whose training has been of the opposite kind derive more pleasure from despising pleasure than from the pleasures themselves. This was the gist of his conversation; and it was plain that he acted accordingly, adulterating currency in very truth, allowing convention no such authority as he allowed to natural right, and asserting that the manner of life he lived was the same as that of Heracles when he preferred liberty to everything.


He was great at pouring scorn on his contemporaries. The school of Euclides he called bilious, and Plato's lectures waste of time, the performances at the Dionysia great peep-shows for fools, and the demagogues the mob's lackeys. He used also to say that when he saw physicians, philosophers, and pilots at their work, he deemed human beings the most intelligent of all animals; but when again he saw interpreters of dreams and diviners and those who attended to them, or those who were puffed up with conceit of wealth, he thought no animal more silly. He would continually say that for the conduct of life we need right reason or a halter.

When one day he was gravely discoursing and nobody attended to him, he began whistling, and as people clustered about him, he reproached them with coming in all seriousness to hear nonsense, but slowly and contemptuously when the theme was serious. He would say that men strive in digging and kicking to outdo one another, but no one strives to become a good man and true.

And he would wonder that the grammarians should investigate the ills of Odysseus, while they were ignorant of their own. Or that the musicians should tune the strings of the lyre, while leaving the dispositions of their own souls discordant; that the mathematicians should gaze at the sun and the moon, but overlook matters close at hand; that the orators should make a fuss about justice in their speeches, but never practise it; or that the avaricious should cry out against money, while inordinately fond of it.

He used also to condemn those who praised honest men for being superior to money, while themselves envying the very rich. He was moved to anger that men should sacrifice to the gods to ensure health and in the midst of the sacrifice should feast to the detriment of health. He was astonished that when slaves saw their masters were gluttons, they did not steal some of the viands.

He would praise those who were about to marry and refrained, those who intending to go a voyage never set sail, those who thinking to engage in politics do no such thing, those also who purposing to rear a family do not do so, and those who make ready to live with potentates, yet never come near them after all. He used to say, moreover, that we ought to stretch out our hands to our friends with the fingers open and not closed.

Someone took him into a magnificent house and warned him not to expectorate, whereupon having cleared his throat he discharged the phlegm into the man's face, being unable, he said, to find a meaner receptacle.

One day he shouted out for men, and when people collected, hit out at them with his stick, saying, "It was men I called for, not scoundrels."

He described himself as a hound of the sort which all men praise, but no one, he added, of his admirers dared go out hunting along with him. When some one boasted that at the Pythian games he had vanquished men, Diogenes replied, "Nay, I defeat men, you defeat slaves."

To those who said to him, "You are an old man; take a rest," "What?" he replied, "if I were running in the stadium, ought I to slacken my pace when approaching the goal? ought I not rather to put on speed?" Having been invited to a dinner, he declared that he would not go; for, the last time he went, his host had not expressed a proper gratitude. He would walk upon snow barefoot. He even attempted to eat meat raw, but could not manage to digest it.

To one who asked what was the proper time for lunch, he said, "If a rich man, when you will; if a poor man, when you can."

At Megara he saw the sheep protected by leather jackets, while the children went bare. "It's better," said he, "to be a Megarian's ram than his son."

To one who had brandished a beam at him and then cried, "Look out," he replied, "What, are you intending to strike me again?" He used to call the demagogues the lackeys of the people and the crowns awarded to them the efflorescence of fame.


Cercidas of Megalopolis (or of Crete) writes thus: "He who aforetime was a citizen of Sinope, That famous one who carried a staff, doubled his cloak, and lived in the open air. ... In truth he was rightly named Diogenes, a true-born son of Zeus, a hound of heaven."

Being asked what kind of hound he was, he replied, "When hungry, a Maltese; when full, a Molossian -- two breeds which most people praise, though for fear of fatigue they do not venture out hunting with them. So neither can you live with me, because you are afraid of the discomforts."

Being asked why people give to beggars but not to philosophers, he said, "Because they think they may one day be lame or blind, but never expect that they will turn to philosophy."

All the curses of tragedy, he used to say, had alighted upon him. At all events he was "a homeless exile, to his country dead. A wanderer who begs his daily bread."

Three topics contain famous passages: on money, on discarding a bowl as a possession, and carrying a lamp in midday in order to find an honest person, the latter the origins of the famous Tarot image of the hermit.


The love of money he declared to be mother-city of all evils.

To the question why gold is pale, his reply was, "Because it has so many thieves plotting against it."


One day, observing a child drinking out of his hands, he cast away the cup from his wallet with the words, "A child has beaten me in plainness of living." He also threw away his bowl when in like manner he saw a child who had broken his plate taking up his lentils with the hollow part of a morsel of bread.


He lit a lamp in broad daylight and said, as he went about, "I am looking for a man."

He was going into a theatre, meeting face to face those who were coming out, and being asked why, "This," he said, "is what I practise doing all my life."

One day he got a thorough drenching where he stood, and, when the bystanders pitied him, Plato said, "If they really pitied him, they should move away," alluding to his vanity.


Being asked why athletes are so stupid, his answer was, "Because they are built up of pork and beef."

To the question what wine he found pleasant to drink, he replied, "That for which other people pay."

When breakfasting on olives amongst which a cake had been inserted, he flung it away and addressed it thus: "Stranger, betake thee from the princes' path."

When Craterus wanted him to come and visit him, "No," he replied, "I would rather live on a few grains of salt at Athens than enjoy sumptuous fare at Craterus's table."

He went up to Anaximenes the rhetorician, who was fat, and said, "Let us beggars have something of your paunch; it will be a relief to you, and we shall get advantage." And when the same man was discoursing, Diogenes distracted his audience by producing some salt fish. This annoyed the lecturer, and Diogenes said, "An obol's worth of salt fish has broken up Anaximenes' lecture-class."

Being reproached for eating in the market-place, "Well, it was in the market-place," he said, "that I felt hungry."

Plato saw him washing lettuces, came up to him and quietly said to him, "Had you paid court to Dionysius, you wouldn't now be washing lettuces," and that he with equal calmness made answer, "If you had washed lettuces, you wouldn't have paid court to Dionysius."

He was begging of a miserly man who was slow to respond; so he said, "My friend, it's for food that I'm asking, not for funeral expenses."

He was breakfasting in the marketplace, and the bystanders gathered round him with cries of "dog." "It is you who are dogs," cried he, "when you stand round and watch me at my breakfast."

Seeing a spendthrift eating olives in a tavern, he said, "If you had breakfasted in this fashion, you would not so be dining."

The anecdotes about Plato and Demosthenes clearly refer to when Diogenes lived in Athens. The anecdotes concerning Phillip and Alexander would plausibly refer to when he lived in Corinth.


Observing Plato one day at a costly banquet taking olives, "How is it," he said, "that you the philosopher who sailed to Sicily for the sake of these dishes, now when they are before you do not enjoy them?" "Nay, by the gods, Diogenes," replied Plato, "there also for the most part I lived upon olives and such like." "Why then," said Diogenes, "did you need to go to Syracuse? Was it that Attica at that time did not grow olives?"

Again, another time he was eating dried figs when he encountered Plato and offered him a share of them. When Plato took them and ate them, he said, "I said you might share them, not that you might eat them all up."

And one day when Plato had invited to his house friends coming from Dionysius, Diogenes trampled upon his carpets and said, "I trample upon Plato's vainglory." Plato's reply was, "How much pride you expose to view, Diogenes, by seeming not to be proud." Others tell us that what Diogenes said was, "I trample upon the pride of Plato," who retorted, "Yes, Diogenes, with pride of another sort." Diogenes once asked him for wine, and after that also for some dried figs; and Plato sent him a whole jar full. Then the other said, "If some one asks you how many two and two are, will you answer, Twenty? So, it seems, you neither give as you are asked nor answer as you are questioned." Thus he scoffed at him as one who talked without end.

When mice crept on to the table he addressed them thus, "See now even Diogenes keeps parasites." When Plato styled him a dog, "Quite true," he said, "for I come back again and again to those who have sold me."

Plato had defined the human being as an animal, biped and featherless, and was applauded. Diogenes plucked a fowl and brought it into the lecture-room with the words, "Here is Plato's man." In consequence of which there was added to the definition, "having broad nails."

As Plato was conversing about Ideas and using the nouns "tablehood" and "cuphood," he said, "Table and cup I see; but your tablehood and cuphood, Plato, I can no wise see." "That's readily accounted for," said Plato, "for you have the eyes to see the visible table and cup; but not the understanding by which ideal tablehood and cuphood are discerned."

On being asked by somebody, "What sort of a man do you consider Diogenes to be?" "A Socrates gone mad," said he.


He once found Demosthenes the orator lunching at an inn, and, when he retired within, Diogenes said, "All the more you will be inside the tavern." When some strangers expressed a wish to see Demosthenes, he stretched out his middle finger and said, "There goes the demagogue of Athens."

He used to say that he followed the example of the trainers of choruses; for they too set the note a little high, to ensure that the rest should hit the right note. Most people, he would say, are so nearly mad that a finger makes all the difference. For, if you go around with your middle finger stretched out, some one will think you mad, but, if it's the little finger, he will not think so.


After Chaeronea he was seized and dragged off to Philip, and being asked who he was, replied, "A spy upon your insatiable greed." For this he was admired and set free.


Alexander once came and stood opposite him and said, "I am Alexander the great king." "And I," said he, "am Diogenes the Cynic." Being asked what he had done to be called a hound, he said, "I fawn on those who give me anything, I yelp at those who refuse, and I set my teeth in rascals."

Alexander is reported to have said, "Had I not been Alexander, I should have liked to be Diogenes."

When he was sunning himself in the Craneum, Alexander came and stood over him and said, "Ask of me any boon you like." To which he replied, "Stand out of my light."

Alexander having on one occasion sent a letter to Antipater at Athens by a certain Athlios, Diogenes, who was present, said: "Graceless son of graceless sire to graceless wight by graceless squire."

Perdiccas [Alexander's general] threatened to put him to death unless he came to him. "That's nothing wonderful," said he, "for a beetle or a tarantula would do the same." Instead of that he would have expected the threat to be that Perdiccas would be quite happy to do without his company.

When someone was extolling the good fortune of Callisthenes [historian and nephew of Alexander] and saying what splendour he shared in the suite of Alexander, "Not so," said Diogenes, "but rather ill fortune; for he breakfasts and dines when Alexander thinks fit."

When Alexander stood opposite him and asked, "Are you not afraid of me?" "Why, what are you?" said he, "a good thing or a bad?" Upon Alexander replying "A good thing," "Who then," said Diogenes, "is afraid of the good?"


When Lysias the druggist asked him if he believed in the gods, "How can I help believing in them," said he, "when I see a god-forsaken wretch like you?" Seeing some one perform religious purification, he said, "Unhappy man, don't you know that you can no more get rid of errors of conduct by sprinklings than you can of mistakes in grammar?" He would rebuke men in general with regard to their prayers, declaring that they asked for those things which seemed to them to be good, not for such as are truly good.

He used also to reason thus: "All things belong to the gods. The wise are friends of the gods, and friends hold things in common. Therefore all things belong to the wise." One day he saw a woman kneeling before the gods in an ungraceful attitude, and wishing to free her of superstition, he came forward and said, "Are you not afraid, my good woman, that a god may be standing behind you? -- for all things are full of his presence -- and you may be put to shame?"

As for those who were excited over their dreams he would say that they cared nothing for what they did in their waking hours, but kept their curiosity for the visions called up in their sleep. At Olympia, when the herald proclaimed Dioxippus to be victor over the men, Diogenes protested, "Nay, he is victorious over slaves, I over men."

The Athenians urged him to become initiated, and told him that in the other world those who have been initiated enjoy a special privilege. "It would be ludicrous," he said, "if Agesilaus and Epaminondas are to dwell in the mire, while certain folk of no account will live in the Isles of the Blest because they have been initiated."

He would often insist loudly that the gods had given to men the means of living easily, but this had been put out of sight, because we require honeyed cakes, unguents and the like. Hence to a man whose shoes were being put on by his servant, he said, "You have not attained to full felicity, unless he wipes your nose as well; and that will come, when you have lost the use of your hands."

Once he saw the officials of a temple leading away some one who had stolen a bowl belonging to the treasurers, and said, "The great thieves are leading away the little thief." Noticing a lad one day throwing stones at a cross (gibbet), "Well done," he said, "you will hit your mark."

When some one expressed astonishment at the votive offerings in Samothrace, his comment was, "There would have been far more, if those who were not saved had set up offerings." He was asking alms of a bad-tempered man, who said, "Yes, if you can persuade me." "If I could have persuaded you," said Diogenes, "I would have persuaded you to hang yourself."

Certain parents were sacrificing to the gods, that a son might be born to them. "But," said he, "do you not sacrifice to ensure what manner of man he shall turn out to be?"

Being asked whether death was an evil thing, he replied, "How can it be evil, when in its presence we are not aware of it?"


To one who by argument had proved conclusively that he had horns, he said, touching his forehead, "Well, I for my part don't see any." In like manner, when somebody declared that there is no such thing as motion, he got up and walked about.

When some one was discoursing on celestial phenomena, "How many days," asked Diogenes, "were you in coming from the sky?"

When some boys clustered round him and said, "Take care he doesn't bite us," he answered, "Never fear, boys, a dog does not eat beetroot." To one who was proud of wearing a lion's skin his words were, "Leave off dishonouring the habiliments of courage."

Being short of money, he told his friends that he applied to them not for alms, but for repayment of his due. When behaving indecently in the marketplace, he wished it were as easy to relieve hunger by rubbing an empty stomach.

Seeing a youth starting off to dine with satraps, he dragged him off, took him to his friends and bade them keep strict watch over him. When a youth effeminately attired put a question to him, he declined to answer unless he pulled up his robe and showed whether he was man or woman. A youth was playing cottabos [any of a number of tossing games] in the baths. Diogenes said to him, "The better you play, the worse it is for you."

At a feast certain people kept throwing all the bones to him as they would have done to a dog. Thereupon he played a dog's trick and drenched them.

Being asked what creature's bite is the worst, he said, "Of those that are wild a sycophant's; of those that are tame a flatterer's."

Being asked whether he had any maid or boy to wait on him, he said "No." "If you should die, then, who will carry you out to burial?" "Whoever wants the house," he replied.

Being asked what was the right time to marry, Diogenes replied, "For a young man not yet: for an old man never at all."

When some one declared that life is an evil, he corrected him: "Not life itself, but living ill."

When some one said, "Most people laugh at you," his reply was, "And so very likely do the asses at them; but as they don't care for the asses, so neither do I care for them."

When some people commended a person who had given him a gratuity, he broke in with "You have no praise for me who was worthy to receive it."

When some one asked that he might have back his cloak, "If it was a gift," replied Diogenes, "I possess it; while, if it was a loan, I am using it."


Rhetoricians and all who talked for reputation he used to call "thrice human," meaning thereby "thrice wretched." An ignorant rich man he used to call "the sheep with the golden fleece."

Seeing a notice on the house of a profligate, "To be sold," he said, "I knew well that after such surfeiting you would throw up the owner."

To a young man who complained of the number of people who annoyed him by their attentions he said, "Cease to hang out a sign of invitation."

Of a public bath which was dirty he said, "When people have bathed here, where are they to go to get clean?"

The musician who was always deserted by his audience he greeted with a "Hail, chanticleer!" and when asked why he so addressed him, replied, "Because your song makes every one get up."

A young man was delivering a set speech, when Diogenes, having filled the front fold of his dress with lupins, began to eat them, standing right opposite to him. Having thus drawn off the attention of the assemblage, he said he was greatly surprised that they should desert the orator to look at himself.

Hegesias having asked him to lend him one of his writings, he said, "You are a simpleton, Hegesias; you do not choose painted figs, but real ones; and yet you pass over the true training and would apply yourself to written rules."

Seeing a youth dressing with elaborate care, he said, "If it's for men, you're a fool; if for women, a knave." One day he detected a youth blushing. "Courage," quoth he, "that is the hue of virtue."

One day after listening to a couple of lawyers disputing, he condemned them both, saying that the one had no doubt stolen, but the other had not lost anything.

When Phryne set up a golden statue of Aphrodite in Delphi, Diogenes is said to have written upon it: "From the licentiousness of Greece."

Seeing an Olympian victor casting repeated glances at a courtesan, "See," he said, "yonder ram frenzied for battle, how he is held fast by the neck fascinated by a common minx."

Handsome courtesans he would compare to a deadly honeyed potion.

Seeing the child of a courtesan throw stones at a crowd, he cried out, "Take care you don't hit your father."

A boy having shown him a dagger that he had received from an admirer, Diogenes remarked, "A pretty blade with an ugly handle."

A eunuch of bad character had inscribed on his door the words, "Let nothing evil enter." "How then," he asked, "is the master of the house to get in?"

Some one having reproached him for going into dirty places, his reply was that the sun too visits cesspools without being defiled.

Seeing a young man behaving effeminately, "Are you not ashamed," he said, "that your own intention about yourself should be worse than nature's: for nature made you a man, but you are forcing yourself to play the woman."

To a man who was urgently pressing his suit to a courtesan he said, "Why, hapless man, are you at such pains to gain your suit, when it would be better for you to lose it?" To one with perfumed hair he said, "Beware lest the sweet scent on your head cause an ill odour in your life." He said that bad men obey their lusts as servants obey their masters.


Standard translations of Book 6.2 are included in: The Lives of the Eminent Philosophers by Diogenes Laertes, translated by Robert Drew Hicks (Cambridge: Harvard Universtiy Press, 1931-38; Loeb Classical Library) and The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, translated by Charles Duke Yonge (London: Bell, 1891). These are also widely available online.