The cynics of ancient Greece traced back their roots to Socrates though one of his pupils, Antisthenes (Hock, Undated). Nevertheless, it is confirmed that the actual propounder of this school of philosophy is one Diogenes of Sinope (404-323 B.C.) (Hock, Undated). From Diogenes Laertius it is known that Diogenes fled to Athens when his father, a banker, started adulterating money. There he met with Antisthenes and inducted some of the philosophical thought his teacher was heir to from Socrates. Thereafter he started leading what the cynics construe as a truly virtuous life - doubling up his cloak, carrying a begging bag for his food and eating and conversing wherever he could (Hock, Undated). He believed that 'the minimum is the optimum' - the cynic philosophy put in a nutshell (Hock, Undated). This may be taken as a very brief introduction to cynicism and a lengthier version of the background to cynicism will become available later in the paper. Hereafter the paper shall contrive to use some incidents or anecdotes, called chreiai in Greek, from Diogenes' own life and some from his close disciple Crates (358-290 B.C.) (Hock, Undated) to bring out the essence of this thesis proposal. It shall also use some supplementary texts to do this.
The Essential Cynic:
The essence of cynicism is that the minimum of life is the optimum to live with (Hock, Undated). The extent to which the initiators - Diogenes and his students such as Crates - involved their personal lives with this minimalist philosophical precept is evidenced from their rigorously frugal life-styles. Diogenes even forsook the perusal of his drinking cup, which he took out of his begging bag and threw away, when he saw a boy drinking water with his bare hands (Hock, Undated). His envy at this simple act caused him to exclaim - "A mere child has defeated me in simple living" (Hock, Undated). That Diogenes understood the value of things in daily life of the people of his time is best evidenced by his following observation - "Things of great value can be had for almost next to nothing whereas things of no value command great prices" (Hock, Undated). The observation is in context to the fact that a statue, in those days, used to cost over 3,000 dollars while a daily ration of barley would cost only a few pennies (Hock, Undated). This may be taken as a commentary on the aristocracy of that time in Greece. Aristocrats chose to waste huge sums of money on trivia while the common people had to eke out a meager living.
A Historical Background:
Previous to the cynicism of Diogenes, Greek philosophers had become disillusioned by the habits of their times and renounced such ill-practices as prevailed in no uncertain terms (Russell, 1946, p. 240-241). They had, nevertheless, retained some hope of retraction from what they perceived as evil practices in the societies of their times. This measure of hope, no matter how slight, had enabled them to make efforts in seeking ways and means through which they could persuade those in charge to make the necessary changes and retract society to the desired levels of moral capabilities (Russell, 1946,