Jean-Léon Gérôme, Diogenes, 1860

Diogenes (412-323BC) was a Greek philosopher and one of the founders of Cynic philosophy, which advocates a life of asceticism and harmony with nature. He attended lectures by Plato, but would mock the great philosopher, saying that he had misinterpreted the teachings of Socrates. When Diogenes met Alexander the Great, one account tells us that Diogenes was looking at a pile of human bones and when Alexander asked what he was doing, Diogenes stated “I am searching for the bones of your father but cannot distinguish them from those of a slave.”
In Athens he lived in a large clay pot on the edge of the market and was known for walking about in the daytime with a lit lantern, looking for an honest man. In this painting the philosopher holds court with a pack of dogs, which were emblems of the Cynic (Greek: “kynikos,” dog-like) philosophy.

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