CERP: Day 32 – Diogenes Ep. 37


XXXVII. To Monimus, do well (p. 155)
Again, we have one of the more elegantly composed letters.  Here, the Ps-Diogenes in visiting a friend, he meets with apparent hardship, but when his earthly guest snubs him he takes the hospitality of the gods.  I assume this means he was sleeping in the temple (scandalous), but I’d like to also think it mean he was sleeping rough, in the home of the Gods which they themselve built:  the earth itself.

After finally meeting his friend, and chiding him mildly, he proceeds to turn every “kindness” and “hospitality” on its head.  He’s presented with the common sort, as we might expect a guest to receive.  Lavish furnishing, fine foods, attendants, etc.  Diogenes discards all of these, and prefers the simple gifts of philosophers, but there’s a crucial difference.

The “opportunistic hedonism” of Cynicism varies with the Stoic perspective here.  Instead of seeing these things as a spiritual discipline (although that’s mentioned), Diogenes has learned to enjoy these things qua these things.  He no longer forces himself to take the less pleasurable choice, he actually is more pleased with the simpler one.

I’m enjoying these longer letters, which speak to a depth to the school which is not immediately apparent upon first glance.  Those of us who are spies from the Stoic camp may take a keener interest in these.


This is part of the Cynic Epistles Reading Plan.

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