CERP: Day 20 – To Crates, To Metrocles, do well, To Crates, do well, To the same, do well

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IX. To Crates (p. 103)

Ps-Diogenes relates to us the “initiation” of Crate into the Cynic life.  The thing that sticks out at me, is that he is bidden to come back, as it’s “not safe to linger where there is no one like you.”

This brings to mind Gadara, which is reported to have been a Cynic hub of sorts.  I usually picture Diogenes living alone, taking students irregularly.  But maybe that’s inaccurate.

X. To Metrocles, do well (p. 103)
Ps_Diogenes clearly here is making an argument for begging.  This tells us that like today, the idea of begging was distasteful to Diogenes’ audience.

Ps-Diogenes makes a couple arguments by analogy, showing how kings beg from their subjects; the sick beg from their doctors; and people from the objects of their desire.  Even Heracles begged, he says, as he received strength.

The issue is whether we request something fitting, or not fitting.  Then, if we give back something of greater value.  A Cynic’s begging, then, is a pedagogical tool as well as a necessity of life.  That we would go against the popular conception itself is a worthwhile thing in teaching the meaning of our respective philosophies.

XI. To Crates, do well (p. 105)
This letter contains an outlier.  Of course, Epictetus criticizes Diogenes’ statue-endeavors, even though he holds him generally in very high regard.  If the Cynic is only to be begging from the wise, would he ever meet with the frustrations that this letter suggests he inoculate himself against?

In the previous letter, it says even Heracles begged from these without sense, but we’ve been told up until now that such a thing is inappropriate.
XII. To the same, do well (p. 107)
Ps-Diogenes makes a good point, that philosophers and the untrained alike are moving towards what they believe to be good.  However, we’re focused on vastly differently things.  The fact that we discuss “apparent goods” and “actual goods” show that we recognize just how easy it is to make this mistake.  We ourselves made (still make?) it.

Indeed, then, as Ps-Diogenes notes, when the untrained person is nudged towards the actual good, and see show difficult the road, they’re turned aside.  Because they still see the “apparent good” a the place to end up.

I see lots of this in online Stoic communities.  Epictetus, Marcus, Seneca, and Musonius (so much of Musonius) state unequivocally that philosophers must engage in askesis, and folks trip over themselves to claim that it has no place in modern practice.

 


This is part of the Cynic Epistles Reading Plan.

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