Wikiquote:Transwiki/Anecdotes about Diogenes preserved by Galen

  • “Diogenes compared them [the ignorant rich] to fig-trees growing over precipices; for their fruit was devoured by daws and crows, not by men.[n 1]” — Galen, Exhortation to Study the Arts, 7.[1]

  • “Diogenes received an invitation to dine with one whose house was splendidly furnished, in the highest order and taste, and nothing therein wanting. Diogenes, hawking, and as if about to spit, looked in all directions, and finding nothing adapted thereto, spat right in the face of the master. He, indignant, asked why he did so? "Because," Diogenes, "I saw nothing so dirty and filthy in all your house. For the walls were covered with pictures, the floors of the most precious tessellated character[n 2] — and ranged with the various images of gods, and other ornamental figures."[n 3]” — Galen, Exhortation to Study the Arts, 8.[2]

  • “Diogenes the Cynic, it is related, was mighty of all people in regard to everything from self-control to endurance. He indulged in sexual lusts, not associating it with pleasure, an attractive good thing to some, but because of the harm that the retention of semen would cause if he avoided the habit of releasing it. When a prostitute who promised to visit him was delayed for some time, he rubbed his genitals with his hand, ejecting semen. After the whore arrived, he sent her away, saying: "my hand celebrated the wedding-hymn first." But it is clearly correct that, likewise, the disciplined man does not on account of pleasure indulge in lusts, but in order to relieve the hindrance acting as if this was not associated with pleasure.[n 4]” — Galen, On the Affected Parts, 6.[3]


  1. Cf. Stobaeus, iv. 31b. 48
  2. Literary evidence that mosaics existed in the 4th-century BC. This is confirmed by archeological evidence for pebble mosaics in Corinth around this time.
  3. Cf. Diogenes Laërtius, vi. 32
  4. Translated from the Latin text in the 1813 Dictionaire des sciences médicales: "Diogenem cynicum narrant, virum alioqui omnium mortalium quod ad continentiam pertinet constantissimum, libidini tamen indulsisse, non a copulata illa voluptate veluli bono aliquo illectum, sed ut noxam quae a retento semine provenire solet, evitaret. Cum meretrix adire pollicita, cum diutius cessaret, ipse manu pudendis admota, semen projecit, ad venientem deinde mulierculam remisit inquiens: manus hymenaeum celebrando te praevenit. At plane constat," ajoute Galien, "modestos viros, non ob voluptatem sed ut ab impedimento praeserverentur, libidini indulgere perinde ac si nulla esset ei voluptas conjugata." (Galenus, de locorum affectorum notitia.)


  1. Wakefield 1796, p. 217
  2. Coxe 1846, p. 479
  3. Alard 1813, p. 104


  • Alard, Marie Joseph Louis (1813), Dictionaire des sciences médicales, 6 
  • Coxe, John Redman (1846), The writings of Hippocrates and Galen 
  • Wakefield, Gilbert (1796), Observations on Pope