CERP: Day 7 – To To Hipparchia, his students, Hermascus


I. To Hipparchia (p. 55)
This is a strange piece, and short.  Shouldn’t it rather be, “come and see that not even this is a terrifying circumstance to one devoted to Philosophy?”

II. To His Students (p. 55)
Pseudo-Crates is talking to his students here, and he’s instructing them in the proper way for a Cynic to beg food and the other necessities of life.  Mendicant religious folks dot the history of the West, often as a footnote.  The role seems to be more common in the East than it is here.  Crates injunctions are particularly strict.

He tells his students not to accept the necesseties from just anyone, but only from other Philosophers, the virtuous.  This is because ‘virtue must not be supported by vice.’

How many Cynics starved to death, were that the case?  It is true, that the Cynics suspect virtue and even Sagehood is quite a bit more easily achieved than the Stoics think it is.  Still… the virtuous seems pretty thin on the ground in these parts.

III. To the Same (p. 55)
Pseudo-Crates seems to present a dichotomy between the mind/soul and body.  It’s unclear to me whether generally the Hellenes believed that there was a strict dichotomy, or whether they had a more holistic understanding of the self.  I’ve seen both positions claimed.

We credit Decartes with “mind/body dualism,” often called Cartesian dualism.  But as I am learning, despite the fact that more modern and European philosophers and theologians are credited with certain discoveries (Origen, Anslem, Acquinas, Decartes, and more all come to mind), they are often just rehashing the writings of the Greeks of this period.

IV.  To Hermascus (p. 57)
Say ‘toil’ one more time.
I suppose the point here is that πόνος is not to be feared or avoided.  This seems firmly in the Cynic camp, although I would expect rather a  φιλόπονος, “love of toil.”

V.  To His Students (p. 57)
Can it be more relevant?


VI. To the Same (p. 57)
The progress of the Cynic is much easier to grasp than the progress of the Stoic.  While I beat the drum of Stoic praxis nearly incessantly, one can’t half-ass the labors of the Cynic.  The Cynic hypocrite is immediately apparent.  One has to put up or shut up, there’s no middle of the road.

The Stoic on the other hand, more easily conceals the intent and inner states which put the lie to the philosophy.  It’s not to say that the former is greater than the latter per se, but merely that the circumstance for self-disillusionment is markedly lessened.

This is part of the Cynic Epistles Reading Plan.

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