Special Sub-Topic: Diogenes the Dog (and his Friends)
|Most of the anecdotes in this quiz are based on the stories of historian Diogenes Laertius (no relative). He isn't always trustworthy, but my motto is: never let the truth interfere with a good story.
When the famous Alexander the Great was in Athens, he visited Diogenes. They met in the streets of Athens and Alexander asked if he could do something for Diogenes. What did Diogenes reply?|
Step aside: I was just enjoying the sun and now you're blocking it.. When Diogenes had surprised everyone with this answer, Alexander asked him if he wasn't afraid to be so brutal. Diogenes inquired: 'Are you a good or a bad person?' 'A good one, of course', Alexander smiled. 'Then why should I be afraid?', replied Diogenes.
|Diogenes was a representative of the cynical movement. The cynics made fun of the Athenian establishment, not just for fun's sake, but as a radical method to question everything and everyone. To what kind of animal does the word 'cynical' originally refer? |
dog. 'My life as a dog' could have been a movie about Diogenes. He once remarked: 'I am like a dog: I wag my tail for those who give me presents, I bark at those who don't give me anything and I bite everyone who gets on my system'. The fact that the meeting place of the cynics was called Kunosargous did also play an important role in choosing a name for the movement.
|Another cynical philosopher was Metrocles. What did he once do to prove that embarassment is not a deadly thing?|
He ate a dish of beans and broke wind all over the city, even in the presence of politicians.. Crates, the unofficial leader of the movement, and his friend Hipparchia used to make love in public. They may be considered as Greek hippies. Metrocles however was the bean-eater. When one of his students had broken wind during a lesson, the boy was so embarassed that he wanted to commit suicide. Metrocles 'cured' the boy by eating the beans, then lifting his dress and breaking wind to most everyone they met in the town. Afterwards he could state that there was no reason why he would die now...
|When Crates, the first of the cynics, was old and very ill, he told Diogenes that he would be happy if he got a sword and stabbed him, to get it over with. When Diogenes had returned with a sword and lifted it, what did Crates say?|
I already feel much better, thank you. No need to proceed.. He was a blatant coward, that's what he was. All words, words, words, but no guts. When he first met his girlfriend Hipparchia, he took off all his clothes and told her: 'Here you have me, with everything I possess'. The braggart!
|When Diogenes witnessed a particularly clumsy archer, who was practising his skills, what did he say or do?|
He sat down in front of the target, which he considered the only safe place.. I think he could have said or done all of the above, but Diogenes Laertius mentions only one correct answer.
|When someone showed Diogenes a tree, from which a woman had hung herself the previous day, what did Diogenes say?|
If only all trees could bear such fruit!. I know it's all very rude and sexist, but hey: I didn't invent the man. I just make up some of his remarks, but he always out-brutals me. He enjoyed making fun of women. He once saw a woman in a temple, kneeling and then touching the ground with her forehead. He asked her why she would do that and she said she wanted to pay respect to the god Zeus. He warned her that gods are everywhere and that she was therefore showing her behind to Zeus!
|When he had visited the wealthy house of a very rich man, with carpets, mosaics,etc.., what did Diogenes do or say? |
He spat in the face of the rich man, saying: 'I didn't dare to spit anywhere else'.. I really love this anecdote. How I wish it were true! A guided tour in Diogenes's house would have been virtually impossible, as he lived in a barrel, in front of the Metro÷n. (Mother's Temple).
|Diogenes was once seen in full daylight, carrying a burning lamp. What did he reply, when people asked him what his purpose was?|
'I seek a human being.'. This anecdote is pretty well known. By the way, Diogenes does not mention that he is looking for an HONEST person. Any human being will do, according to the text. Many painters have made their own version of this story. You really should try Google or whatever to find some fine examples. By the way: the Olympic torch is an invention of modern times. The Greeks just held the Olympic Games in Olympia, so there was hardly any need for a run with a torch.
|When he heard that the musician Didumon (literally: Twin) was condemned for adultery, Diogenes made a very witty remark. What did he say?|
'They should hang him by both of his 'didumoi' (testicles).'. It's rude, I know. But don't you just love the wit of the remark. In Greek it's even funnier, because the 'didumoi' are written in the form 'didumon' (genitive of contact). A great 'jeu de mots'.
|Another anecdote. A rich Athenian once asked Diogenes if he would become his son's teacher. Diogenes refused. The man tried to convince him, saying: 'My son really is a smart and educated boy'. What was the answer of Diogenes?|
'If he's so well educated, he certainly doesn't need me for a teacher!'. Just one more for the road: the philosopher Plato was the favourite target of Diogenes and his friends. When Plato was teaching and defined a man as 'a featherless creature with two feet', Diogenes went off to buy a chicken. He then plumed it, went back to Plato and threw the chicken at Plato's head, saying: 'Here you have a human being'.
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