Diogenes of Sinope

4th-century BC Greek Cynic philosopher

Diogenes of Sinope (or Diogenes the Cynic) was an Ancient Greek philosopher. He was born in the town of Sinope (now called Sinop, Turkey) around the year 412 BC and died in the city of Corinth, Greece, in the year 323 BC.

Diogenes of Sinope

After being exiled for debasing the currency,[1] he moved to Athens. He had a simple lifestyle and behaviour. That gave him a basis to criticize the social values and institutions of the corrupt and confused society that he saw around him.

Diogenes made a virtue of poverty. He begged for a living and often slept in a large ceramic jar in the marketplace.[2] He became notorious for his philosophical stunts. He used to carry a lamp during the day and claimed he was looking for an honest man.

Diogenes criticized Plato and disputed his interpretation of Socrates. He sabotaged Plato's lectures by distracting attenders by bringing food and eating during the discussions. He was also noted for having publicly mocked Alexander the Great.[3][4][5]

Diogenes helped Antisthenes create cynicism, a philosophy that focuses on living a simple life without the need for money, fame, power, or possessions. He also made a notion of "cosmopolitan" on world citizenship first time in history.

Diogenes was captured by pirates and sold into slavery. Eventually, he settled in Corinth. There he explained cynicism to Crates, who taught it to Zeno of Citium. Zeno worked on stoicism, which became one of the main schools of Greek philosophy.

None of Diogenes' writings survived, but there are some details of his life from anecdotes that come from Diogenes Laërtius' book Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers and some other sources.[6]


  1. This usually means something like 'clipping bits off the silver coins'.
  2. The original Greek word describing Diogenes' "jar" is pithos, a large jar for storing wine, grain, or olive oil. Modern variations include barrel, tub, vat, wine-vat, and kennel. Desmond, William (2008). Cynics. University of California Press. p. 21. ISBN 9780520258358.
  3. Laërtius & Hicks 1925, Ⅵ:32; Plutarch, Alexander, 14, On Exile, 15.
  4. Plutarch, Alexander 14
  5. John M. Dillon (2004). Morality and custom in Ancient Greece. Indiana University Press. pp. 187–88. ISBN 978-0-253-34526-4.
  6. Diogenes of Sinope "The basics of philosophy". Retrieved November 13, 2011.