Wikiquote:Transwiki/Anecdotes about Diogenes preserved by Aelian

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  • “Diogenes the Sinopean used to say of himself, that he fulfilled and suffered the imprecations mentioned in tragedy, being a vagabond, destitute of a house, deprived of his country, a beggar, ill-clothed, having his livelihood only from day to day: And yet he was more pleased with this condition, then Alexander with the command of the whole world, when having conquered the Indians he returned to Babylon.” — Aelian, Varia Historia, iii. 29

  • “Diogenes said that Socrates himself was luxurious: for he was too proud in his little house, and in his little bed, and in the sandals which he used to wear.” — Aelian, Varia Historia, iv. 11

  • “Diogenes receiving a little money of Diotimus the Carystian said,[n 1]

    The Gods immortal grant
    To thee what thou dost want,
    A man and house.

    It seems that this Diotimus was effeminate.” — Aelian, Varia Historia, iv. 27

  • “Diogenes the Sinopean, being sick to death, and scarce able to go, cast himself from a bridge which was near the place of exercise, and charged the keeper of the place that as soon as he was quite dead, he should throw him into the [River] Ilissus; so little did Diogenes value death or burial.Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; refs with no name must have content” — Aelian, Varia Historia, viii. 14

  • “As on a time Diogenes was at dinner in a cook's shop, he called to Demosthenes who passed by. But he taking no notice, "Do you think it a disparagement, Demosthenes, (said he) to come into a cook's shop? your master comes here every day"; meaning the common people, and implying that orators and lawyers are servants of the vulgar.” — Aelian, Varia Historia, ix. 19

  • “A Spartan commending this verse of Hesiod:[n 2]

    Not so much as an ox can die,
    Unless a bad neighbour be by;

    and Diogenes hearing him, "But, said he, the Messenians and their oxen were destroyed, and you are their neighbours."[n 3]” — Aelian, Varia Historia, ix. 28

  • “Diogenes coming to Olympia, and seeing at the solemnity some young men, Rhodians, richly attired, laughing said, "This is pride." The meeting with some Lacedemonians clad in coats coarse and sordid, "This (said he) is another pride."” — Aelian, Varia Historia, ix. 34

  • “Diogenes had a pain in his shoulder by some hurt, as I conceive, or from some other cause: and seeming to be much troubled, one that was present being vexed at him, derided him, saying, "Why then do you not die, Diogenes, and free yourself from ills?" He answered, "It was fit those persons who knew what was to be done and said in life, (of which he professed himself one) should live. Wherefore for you (said he) who know neither what is fit to be said or done, it is convenient to die; but me, who know these things, it is necessary to live."” — Aelian, Varia Historia, x. 11

  • “Antisthenes invited many to learn philosophy of him, but none came. At last, growing angry, he would admit none at all, and therefore bade Diogenes be gone also. Diogenes continuing to come frequently, he chid and threatened him, and at last struck him with his Staff. Diogenes would not go back, but persisting still in desire of hearing him, said, "Strike if you will, here is my head, you cannot find a staff hard enough to drive me from you, until you have instructed me." Antisthenes overcome with his perseverance, admitted him, and made him his intimate friend.[n 4]” — Aelian, Varia Historia, x. 16

  • “Diogenes the Sinopean said many things in the reproof of the ignorance and want of discipline of the Megareans, and would rather choose to be a ram belonging to a Megarean, then his son. He implied that the Megareans had great care of their flocks, but none of their children.[n 5]” — Aelian, Varia Historia, xii. 56

  • “Dioxippus the Athenian, an Olympic victor in Wrestling, was driving through Athens, according to the custom of wrestlers. The multitude flocked together, and crowded to behold him. Amongst these a woman of extraordinary beauty came to see the show. Dioxippus beholding her, was immediately overcome with her beauty, and looked fixedly upon her, and turned his head back, often changing colour, whereby he was plainly detected by the people to be taken extraordinarily with the woman. But Diogenes the Sinopean did chiefly reprehend his passion thus: "Behold, said he, your great wrestler with his neck writhed about by a girl."[n 6]” — Aelian, Varia Historia, xii. 58

  • “Diogenes the Sinopean was left alone deserted by all men, not being able by reason of his indigence to entertain any man, nor would any one entertain him, all avoiding him because of his sower way of reprehension, and because he was morose in all his actions and sayings. Hereupon he became troubled, and did feed on the tops of leaves; for this food was ready for him. But a mouse coming thither, fed upon some crumbs of Bread which she found scattered there; which Diogenes diligently observing, smiled, and becoming more cheerful and pleasant to himself said; "This mouse requires not the plentiful diet of the Athenians, and art thou Diogenes troubled that thou dost not feast with them?" By this means he acquired tranquillity to himself.[n 7]” — Aelian, Varia Historia, xiii. 26

  • “When Diogenes left his country, one of his servants followed him; who not brooking his conversation run away. Some persuading Diogenes to make enquiry after him, he said, "Is it not a shame that Manes should not need Diogenes, and that Diogenes should need Manes?"[n 8] But this servant wandering to Delphos, was torn in pieces by Dogs, paying to his Masters name [Cynic] the punishment of his running away.” — Aelian, Varia Historia, xiii. 28

  • “Diogenes being present at a discourse of Plato's, would not pay attention, whereat Plato angry said, "You dog, why do you not pay attention?" Diogenes unmoved, answered, "Yet I never return to the place where I was sold, as dogs do;" alluding to Plato's voyage to Sicily.[n 9] It is reported that Plato used to say of Diogenes, "This man is Socrates gone mad."[n 10]” — Aelian, Varia Historia, xiv. 33


  1. Homer, Odyssey, vi. 180-181
  2. Hesiod, Works and Days, v. 348
  3. Messania spent a long period under the subjugation of Sparta from the 8th/7th century BC until it achieved independence in 369 BC.
  4. Cf. Diogenes Laërtius, vi. 21; Jerome, Adversus Jovinianum, ii. 14
  5. Cf. Diogenes Laertius, vi. 41; Plutarch, Moralia, 526C
  6. Cf. Plutarch, Moralia, 521B
  7. Cf. Diogenes Laërtius, vi. 22
  8. Cf. Diogenes Laërtius, vi. 37; Seneca, On Tranquility of Mind, 8
  9. On one of Plato's voyages to Sicily, he angered the tyrant Dionysius, who in response had Plato sold as a slave; cf. Diogenes Laertius, iii. 18-23. Diogenes too had been sold into slavery.
  10. Cf. Diogenes Laertius, vi. 54