The pack of dogs surrounded the
barrel, which was comprised of old pieces of timber, a dirty rug and a figure
who was ensconced within it. The pack yelped, shrieked and dispersed once the
figure rose. This figure went by the name of Diogenes, a notorious eccentric,
Cynic philosopher and vagrant. However, calling him a philosopher might be a
stretch for some people. Unlike Plato, whose work Diogenes dismissed as a
waste of time, Diogenes did not write detailed treatises which explored
the nature of metaphysics, ontology or ethics. On the other hand, although he
did not write, he was not an orator in the style of Socrates, who engaged in
dialectical discussions and arguments. Diogenes was a
philosopher-as-performance-artist, someone who questioned the values of others
through his disconcerting behaviour and antics. He lived a life of deliberate
poverty because he detested acquisitive hedonism and he performed stunts which
challenged the conformity of others.
Diogenes was a haggard and
scrawny old man and his skimpy rag barely covered his body. The weather was
boiling and sultry. He walked away from his home his barrel and
his beloved dogs followed him. He reached the market place, stripped his flimsy
robe and he was completely naked. Some of the people raised their eyebrows
whilst many winced and covered their eyes. Many of the market dwellers were
completely used to this disgusting spectacle. Diogenes started masturbating in
broad daylight in front of everyone. Once he finished, he turned back and the
pack of dogs followed him. One of the women in the market place called him a
scoundrel, but he ignored her and returned to his barrel. Masturbating was a
very easy way of satisfying his desires if only he could satisfy his
hunger by rubbing his stomach?
According to Diogenes, an
individual could be rich and satisfied with very few material possessions.
Additionally, an individual who lived like this should do everything in public.
Diogenes behaved like this so as to shock conventional social attitudes. To
become a true individual, one had to turn away from society and reject its
values. His onanistic performances were meant to shock civilised society
and so they did.
Diogenes took out his lamp and
knapsack his only possessions apart from his dogs from his
barrel. He was enjoying the sunlight, so he thought that he would bathe in it.
This was a permissible luxury.
A group of people approached
from the distance. They were led by a virile man who had bronze body armour, a
bronze helmet and a red robe on top of it. This man led a group of soldiers who
were dressed in a similar way and who wielded lances.
Diogenes grunted and evinced an
air of indifference. Diogenes
I am Alexander the Great.
So what? barked
Diogenes. The throng of soldiers laughed and seemed nonplussed.
Alexander was used to
obsequious servility, but he still smiled. I have come from Corinth
We are about to go on an expedition against Persia. Many statesmen went over
there to congratulate me
Many philosophers went to congratulate me and
offer me words of advice. Aristotle, my faithful teacher, was there. The
greatest minds were all there and they all offered me encouragement. We are
prepared to conquer more and more of Europe
and now we want to reach
and conquer Persia
But we noticed a glaring omission
on this occasion
the great Cynic philosopher, the great Diogenes of
Sinope, was not present
So we came all the way to Isthmus to speak to
Diogenes continued to bathe in
the sunlight and appeared equally indifferent. Why do you want to conquer
so much land? Why do you want so much wealth? Wealth is for scoundrels.
Once you annex
you want more
So as to instil others with Hellenic
values and our great culture
And wealth? Why do you
want wealth? I am a rich person and all I have is my barrel
and my dogs.
I am a rich person, even though I lead of life of deprivation and
I want to
conquer more of the world
as much as I like
And I want more
Diognes looked at Alexander
with contempt. And, even though you have all those things
clearly not satisfied
You want to conquer more land
You want more
You want more and more and
more and you are still not satisfied
Me? I am satisfied with my loyal
With my barrel
And the occasional wank.
The throng of soldiers burst
into laughter. Diogenes, I am the most powerful man in the world
You lead a life of deprivation, but you are clearly wise
What do you want
from me? I can give you anything you want! Alexander waved his arms
around as he said this.
Diognes grimaced and shouted:
Step away from my sunlight!
The group of soldiers once more
burst into laughter whilst Diogenes looked indifferent and slightly annoyed.
Well, you are clearly blocking his sunlight, Alexander! one of his
courtiers told him.
Alexander smiled and the whole
group turned back and walked away. Well, what do you make out of that
exchange? the same courtier asked Alexander.
If I were not Alexander,
I would be Diogenes! the king said.
But could Alexander be
Diogenes? The latter led a life of extreme privation and asceticism whilst the
other figure led a life of abundant luxury. Once he offered him anything he
wanted, Diogenes rebuked him. All this no longer mattered. The soldiers had now
met the mad street philosopher and they were now destined for Persia. Diogenes,
meanwhile, would continue to enjoy his sunlight.