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Cynicism ( grc, κυνισμός) is a school of thought of ancient Greek philosophy as practiced by the Cynics ( grc, Κυνικοί; la, Cynici). For the Cynics, the purpose of life is to live in virtue, in agreement with nature. As reasoning creatures, people can gain happiness by rigorous training and by living in a way which is natural for themselves, rejecting all conventional desires for wealth, power, and fame, and even flouting conventions openly and derisively in public. Instead, they were to lead a simple life free from all possessions. The first philosopher to outline these themes was
Antisthenes Antisthenes (; el, Ἀντισθένης; c. 446c. 366 BC) was a Greek philosopher and a pupil of Socrates. Antisthenes first learned rhetoric Rhetoric () is the Art (skill), art of persuasion, which along with grammar and logic (or ...
, who had been a pupil of
Socrates Socrates (; ; –399 BC) was a Greek philosopher from Athens Athens ( ; el, Αθήνα, Athína ; grc, Ἀθῆναι, Athênai (pl.) ) is the capital city, capital and List of cities in Greece, largest city of Greece. Athens domi ...

Socrates
in the late 5th century BCE. He was followed by
Diogenes Diogenes ( ; grc, Διογένης, Diogénēs ), also known as Diogenes the Cynic (, ), was a Greek philosopher and one of the founders of Cynicism (philosophy), Cynic philosophy. He was born in Sinop, Turkey, Sinope, an Ionians, Ionian colony ...

Diogenes
, who lived in a ceramic jar on the streets of
Athens , image_skyline = File:Athens Montage L.png, center, 275px, alt=Athens montage. Clicking on an image in the picture causes the browser to load the appropriate article. rect 15 15 985 460 rect 15 475 485 874 rect 500 475 ...

Athens
. Diogenes took Cynicism to its logical extremes, and came to be seen as the archetypal Cynic philosopher. He was followed by
Crates of Thebes Crates is a Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as ...

Crates of Thebes
, who gave away a large fortune so he could live a life of Cynic poverty in Athens. Cynicism gradually declined in importance after the 3rd century BCE, but it experienced a revival with the rise of the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post- period of . As a it included large territorial holdings around the in , , and ruled by . From the t ...

Roman Empire
in the 1st century. Cynics could be found begging and preaching throughout the cities of the empire, and similar
ascetic Asceticism (; from the el, ἄσκησις ''áskesis'', "exercise, training") is a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from sensual pleasures, often for the purpose of pursuing spiritual goals. Ascetics may withdraw from the world for their ...
and rhetorical ideas appeared in early Christianity. By the 19th century, emphasis on the negative aspects of Cynic philosophy led to the modern understanding of cynicism to mean a disposition of disbelief in the sincerity or goodness of human motives and actions.


Origin of the Cynic name

The term ''cynic'' derives (
genitive In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as ...
: ''kynos''). One explanation offered in ancient times for why the Cynics were called "dogs" was because the first Cynic, Antisthenes, taught in the
CynosargesCynosarges ( grc-gre, Κυνόσαργες ''Kynosarges'') was a famous temple of Heracles Heracles ( ; grc-gre, Ἡρακλῆς, ''Hēraklês'', Glory/Pride of ''Hēra'', "Hera Hera (; grc-gre, Ἥρᾱ, ''Hērā''; , ''Hērē'' in Io ...
gymnasium at Athens. The word ''cynosarges'' means the "place of the white dog". It seems certain, however, that the word ''dog'' was also thrown at the first Cynics as an insult for their shameless rejection of conventional manners, and their decision to live on the streets. Diogenes, in particular, was referred to as the "Dog", a distinction he seems to have revelled in, stating that "other dogs bite their enemies, I bite my friends to save them." Later Cynics also sought to turn the word to their advantage, as a later commentator explained:


Philosophy

Cynicism is one of the most striking of all the Hellenistic philosophies. It claimed to offer people the possibility of happiness and freedom from suffering in an age of uncertainty. Although there was never an official Cynic doctrine, the fundamental principles of Cynicism can be summarized as follows:Navia, Luis E. Classical Cynicism: A Critical Study. pg 140. * The goal of life is ''
eudaimonia Eudaimonia (Ancient Greek, Greek: :Wiktionary:εὐδαιμονία, εὐδαιμονία ; sometimes anglicized as eudaemonia or eudemonia, ) is a Greek word literally translating to the state or condition of 'good spirit', and which is commonl ...
'' and mental clarity or lucidity (ἁτυφια)—literally "freedom from smoke (τύφος)" which signified false belief, mindlessness, folly, and conceit. * ''Eudaimonia'' is achieved by living in accord with
Nature Nature, in the broadest sense, is the natural, physical, material world or universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxies, and all other forms of matter and ...
as understood by human
reason Reason is the capacity of consciously applying logic Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, applying logic Logic (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ...

reason
. * Arrogance (τύφος) is caused by false judgments of value, which cause negative
emotions Emotions are mental state, psychological states brought on by neurophysiology, neurophysiological changes, variously associated with thoughts, feelings, behavioural responses, and a degree of pleasure or suffering, displeasure. There is currentl ...

emotions
, unnatural desires, and a vicious character. * ''Eudaimonia'', or human flourishing, depends on self-sufficiency (αὐτάρκεια),
equanimity Equanimity (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Rep ...

equanimity
, ''
arete ''Arete'' (Ancient Greek, Greek: wikt:ἀρετή, ἀρετή) is a concept in ancient Greek thought that, in its most basic sense, refers to "excellence" of any kind.Henry Liddell, Liddell, H.G. & Robert Scott (philologist), Scott, R. ''A Gre ...
'',
love of humanity
love of humanity
, ''
parrhesia In rhetoric Rhetoric () is the art Art is a diverse range of (products of) human activities involving creative imagination to express technical proficiency, beauty, emotional power, or conceptual ideas. There is no generally agre ...
'', and indifference to the vicissitudes of life (''
adiaphora Adiaphoron (, plural: adiaphora from the Greek language, Greek ἀδιάφορα (pl. of ἀδιάφορον), is the negation of διάφορα, meaning "not different or differentiable". In Cynicism (philosophy), Cynicism, adiaphora represents ...
'' ἁδιαφορία). * One progresses towards flourishing and clarity through ascetic practices (ἄσκησις) which help one become free from influences such as wealth, fame, and power that have no value in Nature. Instead they promoted living a life of ''
ponos Ponos or Ponus (Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ) ...
.'' For the Cynics, this did not seem to mean actual physical work.
Diogenes of Sinope Diogenes ( ; grc, Διογένης, Diogénēs ), also known as Diogenes the Cynic (, ), was a Greek philosopher and one of the founders of Cynicism (philosophy), Cynic philosophy. He was born in Sinop, Turkey, Sinope, an Ionians, Ionian colony ...

Diogenes of Sinope
, for example, lived by begging, not by doing manual labor. Rather, it means deliberately choosing a hard life—for instance, wearing only a thin cloak and going barefoot in winter. * A Cynic practices shamelessness or impudence (Αναιδεια) and defaces the '' nomos'' of society: the laws, customs, and social conventions that people take for granted. Thus a Cynic has no property and rejects all conventional values of money, fame, power and reputation. A life lived according to nature requires only the bare necessities required for existence, and one can become free by unshackling oneself from any needs which are the result of convention. The Cynics adopted
Heracles Heracles ( ; grc-gre, Ἡρακλῆς, , glory/fame of Hera Hera (; grc-gre, Ἥρα, Hḗrā; grc, Ἥρη, Hḗrē, label=none in Ionic Ionic or Ionian may refer to: Arts and entertainment * Ionic meter, a poetic metre in anci ...

Heracles
as their hero, as epitomizing the ideal Cynic.Diogenes Laërtius, vi. 2, 71; Dio Chrysostom
''Orations'', viii. 26–32
Pseudo-Lucian

13; Lucian

4, 33, 36.
Heracles "was he who brought
Cerberus In Greek mythology Greek mythology is the body of myth Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A bel ...

Cerberus
, the hound of Hades, from the underworld, a point of special appeal to the dog-man, Diogenes."Orlando Patterson
''Freedom''. p. 186
/ref> According to
Lucian Lucian of Samosata, '; la, Lucianus Samosatensis (Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referre ...
, "Cerberus and Cynic are surely related through the dog." The Cynic way of life required continuous training, not just in exercising judgments and mental impressions, but a physical training as well:
iogenesused to say, that there were two kinds of exercise: that, namely, of the mind and that of the body; and that the latter of these created in the mind such quick and agile impressions at the time of its performance, as very much facilitated the practice of virtue; but that one was imperfect without the other, since the health and vigour necessary for the practice of what is good, depend equally on both mind and body.
None of this meant that a Cynic would retreat from society. Cynics were in fact to live in the full glare of the public's gaze and be quite indifferent in the face of any
insults An insult is an expression or statement (or sometimes behavior) which is disrespectful or scornful. Insults may be intentional or accidental. An insult may be fact A fact is an occurrence in the real world. The usual test for a statement ...
which might result from their unconventional behaviour. The Cynics are said to have invented the idea of
cosmopolitanism Cosmopolitanism is the idea that all human being Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an o ...
: when he was asked where he came from, Diogenes replied that he was "a citizen of the world, (''kosmopolitês'')." The ideal Cynic would evangelise; as the
watchdog Watchdog or watch dog may refer to: Animals *Guard dog A guard dog or watchdog (not to be confused with an attack dog) is a dog The domestic dog (''Canis familiaris'' or ''Canis lupus familiaris'') is a domesticated form of wolf. Th ...
of humanity, they thought it their duty to hound people about the error of their ways. The example of the Cynic's life (and the use of the Cynic's biting
satire Satire is a of the , , and s, usually in the form of and less frequently , in which vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, often with the intent of shaming or exposing the perceived flaws of individuals, corpora ...
) would dig up and expose the pretensions which lay at the root of everyday conventions. Although Cynicism concentrated primarily on
ethics Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, ...
, some Cynics, such as
Monimus Image:Monimus.jpg, Monimus of Syracuse Monimus (; grc-gre, Μόνιμος; 4th century BC) of Syracuse, Italy, Syracuse, was a Cynicism (philosophy), Cynic philosopher who endorsed philosophical skepticism, denying that there was a criterion of tru ...

Monimus
, addressed
epistemology Epistemology (; ) is the Outline of philosophy, branch of philosophy concerned with knowledge. Epistemologists study the nature, origin, and scope of knowledge, epistemic Justification (epistemology), justification, the Reason, rationality o ...

epistemology
with regard to ''tuphos'' (τῦφος) expressing
skeptical Skepticism (American English, American and Canadian English) or scepticism (British English, British, Hiberno-English, Irish, Australian English, Australian, and New Zealand English) is generally a questioning attitude or doubt towards one or m ...
views. Cynic philosophy had a major impact on the Hellenistic world, ultimately becoming an important influence for
Stoicism Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy Hellenistic philosophy is the period of Western philosophy Western philosophy encompasses the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, s ...
. The Stoic Apollodorus, writing in the 2nd century BC, stated that "Cynicism is the short path to virtue."


History of Cynicism

The classical
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
and
Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Laz ...
Cynics regarded virtue as the only necessity for happiness, and saw virtue as entirely sufficient for attaining it. Classical Cynics followed this philosophy to the extent of neglecting everything not furthering their perfection of virtue and attainment of happiness, thus, the title of ''Cynic'', derived from the Greek word ''κύων'' (meaning "dog") because they allegedly neglected society, hygiene, family, money, etc., in a manner reminiscent of dogs. They sought to free themselves from conventions; become self-sufficient; and live only in accordance with nature. They rejected any conventional notions of happiness involving money,
power Power most often refers to: * Power (physics) In physics, power is the amount of energy In , energy is the that must be to a or to perform on the body, or to it. Energy is a ; the law of states that energy can be in form, bu ...
, and
fame Fame is the quality of being well-known and in the public eye. Celebrities are famous by definition. Fame may also refer to: Places in the United States * Fame, Mississippi * Fame, West Virginia Books * ''Fame: an art project'', a 2013 book and s ...
, to lead entirely virtuous, and thus happy,
lives Lives may refer to: * The plural form of ''life Life is a characteristic that distinguishes physical entities A bubble of exhaled gas in water In common usage and classical mechanics, a physical object or physical body (or simply an o ...

lives
.''Cynics''
– ''The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy''
The ancient Cynics rejected conventional social values, and would criticise the types of behaviours, such as greed, which they viewed as causing suffering. Emphasis on this aspect of their teachings led, in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, to the modern understanding of cynicism as "an attitude of scornful or jaded negativity, especially a general distrust of the integrity or professed motives of others." This modern definition of cynicism is in marked contrast to the ancient philosophy, which emphasized "virtue and moral freedom in liberation from desire."


Influences

Various philosophers, such as the
Pythagoreans Pythagoreanism originated in the 6th century BC, based on the teachings and beliefs held by Pythagoras and his followers, the Pythagoreans. Pythagoras established the first Pythagorean community in Crotone, Italy. Early Pythagorean communities spr ...
, had advocated
simple living Simple living encompasses a number of different voluntary practices to simplify one's lifestyle Lifestyle often refers to: * Lifestyle (sociology), the way a person lives * ''Otium'', ancient Roman concept of a lifestyle * Style of life (german: ...
in the centuries preceding the Cynics. In the early 6th century BC,
Anacharsis . Anacharsis (; grc, Ἀνάχαρσις) was a Scythians, Scythian philosopher; he travelled from his homeland on the northern shores of the Black Sea, to Athens , image_skyline = File:Athens Montage L.png, center, 275p ...

Anacharsis
, a
Scythian The Scythians (from grc, wiktionary:Σκύθης, Σκύθης , ) or Scyths, also known as Saka and Sakae ( ; egy, wiktionary:sk#Etymology 2, 𓋴𓎝𓎡𓈉, translit=sk, italic=no, ; grc, wikt:Σάκαι, Σάκαι ; la, Sacae), a ...
sage, had combined plain living together with criticisms of Greek customs in a manner which would become standard among the Cynics. Perhaps of importance were tales of
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi Hindi (Devanagari: , हिंदी, ISO 15919, ISO: ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: , ISO 15919, ISO: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in Hindi Belt, ...

India
n philosophers, known as ''
gymnosophists Gymnosophists (Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: M ...
'', who had adopted a strict
asceticism Asceticism (; from the el, ἄσκησις ''áskesis'', "exercise, training") is a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from sensual pleasures, often for the purpose of pursuing spiritual goals. Ascetics may withdraw from the world for thei ...
. By the 5th century BC, the
sophists A sophist ( el, σοφιστής, ''sophistes'') was a teacher in ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a civilization belonging to a period of History of Greece, Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th ...
had begun a process of questioning many aspects of Greek society such as
religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and whether the exchange is voluntary/involuntary. Etymology ...

religion
, law and ethics. However, the most immediate influence for the Cynic school was
Socrates Socrates (; ; –399 BC) was a Greek philosopher from Athens Athens ( ; el, Αθήνα, Athína ; grc, Ἀθῆναι, Athênai (pl.) ) is the capital city, capital and List of cities in Greece, largest city of Greece. Athens domi ...

Socrates
. Although he was not an ascetic, he did profess a love of virtue and an indifference to wealth, together with a disdain for general opinion. These aspects of Socrates' thought, which formed only a minor part of
Plato Plato ( ; grc-gre, Πλάτων ; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was an Classical Athens, Athenian philosopher during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece, founder of the Platonist school of thought and the Platoni ...

Plato
's philosophy, became the central inspiration for another of Socrates' pupils, Antisthenes.


Symbolisms

Cynics were often recognized in the ancient world by their apparel—an old cloak and a staff. The cloak came as an allusion to
Socrates Socrates (; ; –399 BC) was a Greek philosopher from Athens Athens ( ; el, Αθήνα, Athína ; grc, Ἀθῆναι, Athênai (pl.) ) is the capital city, capital and List of cities in Greece, largest city of Greece. Athens domi ...

Socrates
and his manner of dress, while the staff was to the club of Heracles. These items became so symbolic of the Cynic vocation that ancient writers accosted those who thought that donning the Cynic garb would make them suited to the philosophy. In the social evolution from the archaic age to the
classical Classical may refer to: European antiquity *Classical antiquity, a period of history from roughly the 7th or 8th century B.C.E. to the 5th century C.E. centered on the Mediterranean Sea *Classical architecture, architecture derived from Greek and ...
, the public ceased carrying weapons into the ''
poleis ''Polis'' (, ; grc-gre, πόλις, ), plural ''poleis'' (, , ), literally means "city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (199 ...
''. Originally it was expected that one carried a sword while in the city; However, a transition to spears, and then to staffs occurred until wearing any weapon in the city became a foolish old custom. Thus, the very act of carrying a staff was slightly taboo itself. According to modern theorists, the symbol of the staff was one which both functions as a tool to signal the user's dissociation from physical labour, that is, as a display of conspicuous leisure, and at the same time it also has an association with sport and typically plays a part in hunting and sports clothing. Thus, it displays active and warlike qualities, rather than being a symbol of a weak man's need to support himself. The staff itself became a message of how the Cynic was free through its possible interpretation as an item of leisure, but, just as equivalent, was its message of strength - a virtue held in abundance by the Cynic philosopher.


Antisthenes

The story of Cynicism traditionally begins with Antisthenes (c. 445–365 BC), who was an older contemporary of Plato and a pupil of Socrates. About 25 years his junior, Antisthenes was one of the most important of Socrates' disciples. Although later classical authors had little doubt about labelling him as the founder of Cynicism, his philosophical views seem to be more complex than the later simplicities of pure Cynicism. In the list of works ascribed to Antisthenes by
Diogenes Laërtius Diogenes Laërtius ( ; grc-gre, Διογένης Λαέρτιος, Dīogénēs Lāértios; ) was a biographer of the Ancient Greece, Greek philosophers. Nothing is definitively known about his life, but his surviving ''Lives and Opinions of Em ...
, writings on
language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the ...

language
,
dialogue Dialogue (sometimes spelled dialog in American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of variety (linguistics), varieties of the English language native ...
and
literature Literature broadly is any collection of written Writing is a medium of human communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share") is the act of developing Semantics, meaning among Subject (philosophy), entitie ...

literature
far outnumber those on ethics or
politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations between individuals, such as the distribution of res ...

politics
, although they may reflect how his philosophical interests changed with time. It is certainly true that Antisthenes preached a life of
poverty Poverty is the state of having little material possessions or income In microeconomics, income is the Consumption (economics), consumption and saving opportunity gained by an entity within a specified timeframe, which is generally expresse ...

poverty
:
I have enough to eat till my hunger is stayed, to drink till my thirst is sated; to clothe myself as well; and out of doors not
ven Ven may refer to: Places * Ven, Heeze-Leende, a hamlet in the Netherlands * Ven (Sweden) Ven ( da, Hven, older Swedish spelling Hven) is a small Swedish island in the Øresund Øresund or Öresund (, ; da, Øresund ; sv, Öresund ), com ...

ven
Callias there, with all his riches, is more safe than I from shivering; and when I find myself indoors, what warmer shirting do I need than my bare walls?


Diogenes of Sinope

Diogenes (c. 412–323 BC) dominates the story of Cynicism like no other figure. He originally went to Athens, fleeing his home city, after he and his father, who was in charge of the mint at Sinope, got into trouble for falsifying the coinage. (The phrase "defacing the currency" later became proverbial in describing Diogenes' rejection of conventional values.) Later tradition claimed that Diogenes became the disciple of Antisthenes, but it is by no means certain that they ever met. Diogenes did however adopt Antisthenes' teachings and the ascetic way of life, pursuing a life of self-sufficiency (''autarkeia''), austerity (''askēsis''), and shamelessness (''anaideia''). There are many anecdotes about his extreme asceticism (sleeping in a tub), his shameless behaviour (eating raw meat), and his criticism of conventional society ("bad people obey their lusts as servants obey their masters"), and although it is impossible to tell which of these stories are true, they do illustrate the broad character of the man, including an ethical seriousness.


Crates of Thebes

Crates of Thebes Crates is a Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as ...

Crates of Thebes
(c. 365–c. 285 BC) is the third figure who dominates Cynic history. He is notable because he renounced a large fortune to live a life of Cynic poverty in Athens. He is said to have been a pupil of Diogenes, but again this is uncertain. Crates married
Hipparchia of Maroneia Hipparchia of Maroneia (; el, Ἱππαρχία ἡ Μαρωνεῖτις; fl. c. 325 BC) was a Cynic philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, φιλόσοφος, , translit= ...
after she had fallen in love with him and together they lived like beggars on the streets of Athens, where Crates was treated with respect. Crates' later fame (apart from his unconventional lifestyle) lies in the fact that he became the teacher of
Zeno of Citium Zeno of Citium (; grc-x-koine, Ζήνων ὁ Κιτιεύς, ; c. 334 – c. 262 BC) was a Hellenistic philosophy, Hellenistic philosopher from Kition, Citium (, ), Cyprus. Zeno was the founder of the Stoicism, Stoic school of philosophy, w ...

Zeno of Citium
, the founder of
Stoicism Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy Hellenistic philosophy is the period of Western philosophy Western philosophy encompasses the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, s ...
. The Cynic strain to be found in early Stoicism (such as Zeno's own radical views on sexual equality spelled out in his ''
Republic A republic () is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a month ...
'') can be ascribed to Crates' influence.


Other Cynics

There were many other Cynics in the 4th and 3rd centuries BC, including
Onesicritus Alexander the Great receives a visit from Thalestris, queen of the Amazons, one of the legends recounted by Onesicritus. Onesicritus ( el, Ὀνησίκριτος; c. 360 BC – c. 290 BC), a Greeks, Greek historical writer and Cynicism (philosop ...
(who sailed with
Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc-gre, Αλέξανδρος}, ; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king (''basileus ''Basileus'' ( el, βασιλεύς) is a Greek term and title A title ...

Alexander the Great
to India), the skeptic
Monimus Image:Monimus.jpg, Monimus of Syracuse Monimus (; grc-gre, Μόνιμος; 4th century BC) of Syracuse, Italy, Syracuse, was a Cynicism (philosophy), Cynic philosopher who endorsed philosophical skepticism, denying that there was a criterion of tru ...

Monimus
, the moral satirist
Bion of Borysthenes Bion of Borysthenes ( el, Βίων Βορυσθενίτης, ''gen''.: Βίωνος;  BC) was a Ancient Greece, Greek philosopher. After being sold into slavery, and then released, he moved to Athens, where he studied in almost every school of ...
, the diatribist Teles and Menippus of Gadara. However, with the rise of Stoicism in the 3rd century BC, Cynicism as a serious philosophical activity underwent a decline, and it is not until the Roman era that Cynicism underwent a revival.


Cynicism in the Roman world

There is little record of Cynicism in the 2nd or 1st centuries BC;
Cicero Marcus Tullius Cicero ( ; ; 3 January 106 BC – 7 December 43 BC) was a Ancient Rome, Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, philosopher and Academic skepticism, Academic Skeptic, who tried to uphold optimate principles during crisis of ...

Cicero
(c. 50 BC), who was much interested in
Greek philosophy Ancient Greek philosophy arose in the 6th century BC, at a time when the inhabitants of ancient Greece were struggling to repel devastating invasions from the east. Greek philosophy continued throughout the Hellenistic period The Hellenistic p ...
, had little to say about Cynicism, except that "it is to be shunned; for it is opposed to modesty, without which there can be neither right nor honor." However, by the 1st century AD, Cynicism reappeared with full force. The rise of
Imperial Rome The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Roman Republic, Republican period of ancient Rome. As a polity it included large territorial holdings ar ...
, like the Greek loss of independence under
Philip Philip, also Phillip, is a male given name, derived from the Greek language, Greek (''Philippos'', lit. "horse-loving" or "fond of horses"), from a compound of (''philos'', "dear", "loved", "loving") and (''hippos'', "horse"). Prominent Philip ...
and Alexander three centuries earlier, may have led to a sense of powerlessness and frustration among many people, which allowed a philosophy which emphasized self-sufficiency and inner-happiness to flourish once again. Cynics could be found throughout the empire, standing on street corners, preaching about virtue.
Lucian Lucian of Samosata, '; la, Lucianus Samosatensis (Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referre ...
complained that "every city is filled with such upstarts, particularly with those who enter the names of Diogenes, Antisthenes, and Crates as their patrons and enlist in the Army of the Dog," and
Aelius Aristides Publius Aelius Aristides Theodorus ( grc-gre, Πόπλιος Αίλιος Αριστείδης Θεόδωρος ''Poplios Elios Aristidis Theodoros''; 117–181 AD) was a Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or rela ...
observed that "they frequent the doorways, talking more to the doorkeepers than to the masters, making up for their lowly condition by using impudence."Aelius Aristides, iii. 654–694 The most notable representative of Cynicism in the 1st century AD was
Demetrius Demetrius is the Latinization of names, Latinized form of the Ancient Greek male name, male Greek given names, given name ''Dēmḗtrios'' (), meaning “Demetris” - "devoted to goddess Demeter". Alternate forms include Demetrios, Dimitrios, ...
, whom
Seneca Seneca may refer to: People and language *Seneca (name), a list of people with either the given name or surname *Seneca the Elder, a Roman rhetorician, writer and father of the stoic philosopher Seneca the Younger *Seneca the Younger, a Roman Stoi ...
praised as "a man of consummate wisdom, though he himself denied it, constant to the principles which he professed, of an eloquence worthy to deal with the mightiest subjects." Cynicism in Rome was both the butt of the satirist and the ideal of the thinker. In the 2nd century AD, Lucian, whilst pouring scorn on the Cynic philosopher
Peregrinus Proteus Peregrinus Proteus ( grc-gre, Περεγρῖνος Πρωτεύς; c. 95 – 165 AD) was a Greeks, Greek Cynicism (philosophy), Cynic philosopher, from Parium in Mysia. Leaving home at a young age, he first lived with the Christians in Palestine (r ...
, nevertheless praised his own Cynic teacher, Demonax, in a dialogue. Cynicism came to be seen as an idealised form of
Stoicism Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy Hellenistic philosophy is the period of Western philosophy Western philosophy encompasses the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, s ...
, a view which led
Epictetus Epictetus (; grc-gre, Ἐπίκτητος, ''Epíktētos''; 50 135 AD) was a Greek Stoic philosopher. He was born into slavery at Hierapolis Hierapolis ( grc, Ἱεράπολις, lit. "Holy City") was an ancient Greek city located on h ...

Epictetus
to eulogise the ideal Cynic in a lengthy discourse. According to Epictetus, the ideal Cynic "must know that he is sent as a messenger from
Zeus Zeus or , , ; grc, Δῐός, ''Diós'', label=genitive In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Ling ...

Zeus
to people concerning good and bad things, to show them that they have wandered." Unfortunately for Epictetus, many Cynics of the era did not live up to the ideal: "consider the present Cynics who are dogs that wait at tables, and in no respect imitate the Cynics of old except perchance in
breaking wind ''Breaking Wind'' is a 2012 comedy horror parody film, directed by Craig Moss and based on the The Twilight Saga (film series), ''Twilight'' film series, specifically ''The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, Eclipse''. It stars Heather Ann Davis, Eric Callero ...
." Unlike Stoicism, which declined as an independent philosophy after the 2nd century AD, Cynicism seems to have thrived into the 4th century. The emperor, Julian (ruled 361–363), like Epictetus, praised the ideal Cynic and complained about the actual practitioners of Cynicism. The final Cynic noted in classical history is Sallustius of Emesa in the late 5th century. A student of the Neoplatonic philosopher
Isidore of AlexandriaIsidore of Alexandria (; also Isidorus ; el, Ἰσίδωρος ὁ Ἀλεξανδρεύς; ) was an Egyptian or GreekEncyclopædia BritannicaIsidore of Alexandria (Greek philosopher)/ref> philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices phil ...
, he devoted himself to living a life of Cynic asceticism.


Cynicism and Christianity


Jesus as a Jewish Cynic

Some historians have noted the similarities between the teachings of
Jesus Jesus, likely from he, יֵשׁוּעַ, translit=Yēšūaʿ, label=Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it ...

Jesus
and those of the Cynics. Some scholars have argued that the
Q document The Q source (also called Q document, Q Gospel, or Q from german: Quelle, meaning "source") is a Hypothesis, hypothetical written collection of primarily Jesus' sayings (λόγια : ). Q is part of the common material found in the Gospel of Ma ...
, a hypothetical common source for the gospels of Matthew and Luke, has strong similarities to the teachings of the Cynics.Leif Vaage, (1994), ''Galilean Upstarts: Jesus' First Followers According to Q''. TPI Scholars on the
quest for the historical Jesus The quest for the historical Jesus consists of academic efforts to determine what words and actions, if any, may be attributed to Jesus Jesus; he, יֵשׁוּעַ, '' Yēšū́aʿ''; ar, عيسى, ʿĪsā ( 4 BC AD 30 / 33), also refer ...
, such as Burton L. Mack and
John Dominic Crossan John Dominic Crossan (born 1934) is an Irish-American New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, Transliteration, transl. ; la, Novum Testamentum. (NT) is the second division of the Biblical canon#Christian canons, ...
of the
Jesus Seminar The Jesus Seminar was an American group of about 50 critical biblical scholars and 100 laymen In religious organizations, the laity consists of all members who are not part of the clergy Clergy are formal leaders within established religions ...
, have argued that 1st-century AD
Galilee Galilee (; he, הַגָּלִיל, ha-galil; ar, الجليل, al-jalīl) is a region located in northern Israel and southern Lebanon. Galilee traditionally refers to the mountainous part, divided into Upper Galilee (, ; , ) and Lower Galil ...

Galilee
was a world in which
Hellenistic The Hellenistic period spans the period of History of the Mediterranean region, Mediterranean history between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the emergence of the Roman Empire, as signified by the Battle of Actium in 31  ...
ideas collided with Jewish thought and traditions. The city of
Gadara Gadara ( el, Γάδαρα ''Gádara''), in some texts Gedaris, was an ancient Hellenistic The Hellenistic period spans the period of History of the Mediterranean region, Mediterranean history between the death of Alexander the Great in 323&n ...
, only a day's walk from
Nazareth Nazareth ( ; ar, النَّاصِرَة, ''an-Nāṣira''; he, נָצְרַת, ''Nāṣəraṯ''; arc, ܢܨܪܬ, ''Naṣrath'') is the largest city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human ...

Nazareth
, was particularly notable as a centre of Cynic philosophy, and Mack has described Jesus as a "rather normal Cynic-type figure." For Crossan, Jesus was more like a Cynic sage from a Hellenistic Jewish tradition than either a
Christ Jesus, likely from he, יֵשׁוּעַ, translit=Yēšūaʿ, label=Hebrew/Aramaic ( AD 30 / 33), also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus Christ, is the central figure of Christianity, the Major religious groups, world's largest ...

Christ
who would die as a substitute for sinners or a
messiah In Abrahamic religions, a messiah or messias (; , ; , ; ) is a salvation, saviour or liberator of a group of people. The concepts of ''Messiah in Judaism, mashiach'', Messianism#Judaism, messianism, and of a Messianic Age#Judaism, Messianic Ag ...
who wanted to establish an independent Jewish state of Israel. Other scholars doubt that Jesus was deeply influenced by the Cynics and see the Jewish prophetic tradition as of much greater importance.


Cynic influences on early Christianity

Many of the ascetic practices of Cynicism may have been adopted by
early Christians The history of Christianity concerns the Christian religion Christianity is an Abrahamic The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of Semitic-originated religi ...
, and Christians often employed the same
rhetoric Rhetoric () is the Art (skill), art of persuasion, which along with grammar and logic (or dialectic – see Martianus Capella), is one of the Trivium, three ancient arts of discourse. Rhetoric aims to study the techniques writers or sp ...
al methods as the Cynics. Some Cynics were martyred for speaking out against the authorities. One Cynic,
Peregrinus Proteus Peregrinus Proteus ( grc-gre, Περεγρῖνος Πρωτεύς; c. 95 – 165 AD) was a Greeks, Greek Cynicism (philosophy), Cynic philosopher, from Parium in Mysia. Leaving home at a young age, he first lived with the Christians in Palestine (r ...
, lived for a time as a Christian before converting to Cynicism, whereas in the 4th century, Maximus of Alexandria, although a Christian, was also called a Cynic because of his ascetic lifestyle. Christian writers would often praise Cynic poverty, although they scorned Cynic shamelessness, Augustine of Hippo, Augustine stating that they had, "in violation of the modest instincts of men, boastfully proclaimed their unclean and shameless opinion, worthy indeed of dogs."Augustine, The ascetic orders of Christianity (such as the Desert Fathers) also had direct connection with the Cynics, as can be seen in the wandering mendicant monks of the early church, who in outward appearance and in many of their practices differed little from the Cynics of an earlier age. Emmanuel College, Toronto, Emmanuel College scholar Leif E. Vaage compared the commonalities between the
Q document The Q source (also called Q document, Q Gospel, or Q from german: Quelle, meaning "source") is a Hypothesis, hypothetical written collection of primarily Jesus' sayings (λόγια : ). Q is part of the common material found in the Gospel of Ma ...
and Cynic texts, such as the Cynic epistles. The epistles contain the wisdom and (often polemical) ethics preached by Cynics along with their sense of purity and aesthetic practices.Leif E. Vaage, (1990), ''Cynic Epistles (Selections)'', in Vincent L. Wimbush, ''Ascetic Behavior in Greco-Roman Antiquity: A Sourcebook'', pages 117-118. Continuum International During the 5th century, Crescens the Cynic clashed with Justin Martyr, recorded as claiming the Christians were ''atheotatous'' (“the most atheist ones”), in reference to their rejection of the Paganism, pagan gods and their absence of temples, statues, or sacrifices. This was a popular criticism of the Christians and it continued on into the 4th century.


See also

* Anticonformism * Asceticism * Cynic epistles * Encratites * Foolishness for Christ * List of ancient Greek philosophers * List of Cynic philosophers * Natural law *
Stoicism Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy Hellenistic philosophy is the period of Western philosophy Western philosophy encompasses the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, s ...
* Kotzker Rebbe (a chasidic "Cynic" in the ancient sense of the word)


Notes


References

* * * * * * *


Further reading


Primary sources


''Socratis et Socraticorum Reliquiae'', ed. G. Giannantoni, 4 volumes (Naples, 1990).
Volume 2 collects fragments of the early Cynics from Antisthenes to Crates.
''The Cynic Philosophers'', ed. R. Dobbin (Penguin, 2012)

''Diogenes the Cynic: Sayings and Anecdotes: With Other Popular Moralists'', ed. R. Hard (Oxford, 2012)
*
Diogenes Laërtius Diogenes Laërtius ( ; grc-gre, Διογένης Λαέρτιος, Dīogénēs Lāértios; ) was a biographer of the Ancient Greece, Greek philosophers. Nothing is definitively known about his life, but his surviving ''Lives and Opinions of Em ...

''Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, Book VI: The Cynics''
*Dio Chrysostom, Cynic Discourses
''Oration 6''
*
Epictetus Epictetus (; grc-gre, Ἐπίκτητος, ''Epíktētos''; 50 135 AD) was a Greek Stoic philosopher. He was born into slavery at Hierapolis Hierapolis ( grc, Ἱεράπολις, lit. "Holy City") was an ancient Greek city located on h ...

Epictetus

''Discourse 3.22, On Cynicism''
*Pseudo-Lucian
''The Cynic''
*Julian the Apostate
''6th Oration - To the Uneducated Cynics''
*Julian the Apostate
''7th Oration - To the Cynic Heracleios''


Secondary sources

*Ian Cutler, (2005), ''Cynicism from Diogenes to Dilbert''. McFarland & Co. *William D. Desmond, (2006), ''The Greek Praise of Poverty: Origins of Ancient Cynicism''. University of Notre Dame Press. *————, (2008), ''Cynics''. Ancient Philosophies Series. Acumen Publishing. *F. Gerald Downing, (1992), ''Cynics and Christian Origins''. T. & T. Clark. *Luis E. Navia, (1996), ''Classical Cynicism: A Critical Study''. Greenwood Press. *Lousa Shea (2009)
''The Cynic Enlightenment: Diogenes in the Salon''
Johns Hopkins University Press. *H. C. Baldry, "Zeno's Ideal State". Published in ''The Journal of Hellenic Studies'', Vol. 79 (1959), pp. 3–15. DOI: 10.2307/627917 *Kathy L. Gaca, "Early Stoic Eros: The Sexual Ethics of Zeno and Chrysippus and their Evaluation of the Greek Erotic Tradition". Published in ''Apeiron: A Journal for Ancient Philosophy and Science'', Vol. 33, No. 3 (September 2000), pp. 207–238.


External links

* *
"Cynicism"
in ''The Dictionary of the History of Ideas'' *
''Lives & Writings on the Cynics''
directory of literary references to Ancient Cynics {{Good article Cynicism, Asceticism