CERP: Day 40 – Heraclitus Eps. 1 and 2.

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I. King Darius greets Heraclitus of Ephesus, a wise man (p. 187)
Darius of Persia writes to convince Heraclitus to come to him and explain his teachings, since they seem to fly in the face of the common understanding but still bear the stamp of a reasoned position.  Not only does he make the request, but he offers what he suspects will be enticing benefits.

II. Heraclitus to King Darius, Son of father Hystaspes, greetings (p. 189)
Heraclitus replies:  “Nah.”

 


This is part of the Cynic Epistles Reading Plan.

CERP: Day 39 – Introduction: The Epistles of Heraclitus (p. 22)

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Introduction: The Epistles of Heraclitus (p. 22)
This introduction is laying the scholarly and chronological context for the following letters.  While there are only 9, we’re still looking at multiple authors, at least two possibly more.

The fact that scholars were divided as to the Cynico-Stoic nature of the letters versus a Jewish authorship is interesting.  Heraclitus is an interesting figure, almost a zen poet of the west.  Reading his fragments is a very different experience than reading a Stoic treatise, for instance.


This is part of the Cynic Epistles Reading Plan.

CERP: Day 38 – Diogenes Eps. 49-51.

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XLIX. untitled: “The Cynic to Aroueca…” (p. 181)
The allusion to the philosopher as “doctor for the soul” is an interesting one.  Reminds of me of the stigma which is placed on mental health issues, or at least the ones in the DSM-5.  We don’t see the same prejudice against folks with “diseases” of their desires and aversions, with their passions ruling their lives.  In fact, a certain amount of this sort of suffering is viewed as normal, or even healthy.  So, like the Cynic says, choose the doctor well.

L. To Charmides, greetings (p. 181)
“Those who propose to cure others of what they haven’t been able to cure themselves.”  I saw a documentary about Buddhist hermits in China, and one of the interviewers asks the monk to teach something of Zen.  He replies, ‘there’s nothing to say, it’s all in the text.  I can’t save someone else if I haven’t been able to save myself.’  Or something along those lines.

LI. To Epimenedes, greetings (p. 183)
So, this and the previous letter both speak to appearances versus actual reality.  The decorated but empty box, the promise of virtue, but laziness in the doing.  This is a good thing to keep in mind.


This is part of the Cynic Epistles Reading Plan.

CERP: Day 37 – Diogenes Eps. 41-45.

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XLVI. To Plato, the Sage, greetings (p. 177)
So the rich appetites of Plato are compared to the gluttony of sheep, ever eating.  This harkens to the “wealth is not in having many possessions, but few desires” line we hear in Cynic and Stoic sources.  I do especially like the parting shot and mic drop of “But if this does not convince you, then practice fondness of pleasure and mock us for not knowing much.”  Boom.

XLVII. To Zeno, do well (p. 179)
This is a pretty pessimistic outlook, and its interesting how much this changed with Stoicism, esp. Musonius for whom family life is a form of piety.

XLVIII. To Rhesus, greetings (p. 179)
This is a strange little quip of a letter.  “Dude wants to see some horses, he doesn’t eat much, please oblige.”


This is part of the Cynic Epistles Reading Plan.

CERP: Day 36 – Diogenes Eps. 41-45.

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XLI. To Melesippus (p. 173)
Whoa.  It’s not controversial to state that not everyone *will* be virtuous, but it’s another thing entirely to say that not every *is capable* of virtue.  And to think, the Stoics are considered elitists!

XLII. To the wise Melesippe, greetings (p. 173)
Oh, Diogenes, flouting the νόμος.

XLIII. To the Maroneans, do well (p. 173)
**Even though** Hipparchia is a woman, she’ s a good figure to name a city after.  <rolls_eyes>.  I wonder if there would have been a “Cynic temperance movement” a la the WCTU in the 1920s and 1930s.  I suppose they wouldn’t have used the state in horrifying way, rather they’d have pointed out the absurdity of the drunkards.  We probably would have avoided the rise of the mafia, and NFA ’34, though…

XLIV. To Metrocles, do well (p. 175)
I don’t recall ever seeing “manual labor” as taking the place of interpersonal romantic activities.  Crates and Hipparchia come to mind as two Cynics who continued to engage in martial relations of a sort.

It’s interesting that the Ps-Diogenes is here advocating, effectively, a form of celibacy.  Maybe Diogenes’ Cynic really did anticipate the future priestly classes.

XLV. To Perdiccas, do well (p. 175)
Here, the Ps-Diogenes, friend of the gods, warns someone threatening him that only bad things would result from killing him.  I wonder how this meshes with the issue of Diogenes beating up an interlocutor, and also his public shaming of those who assaulted him?  I’m not sure if those stories are here, but I’ll keep my eye out for them.

 


This is part of the Cynic Epistles Reading Plan.

CERP: Day 35 – Diogenes Ep. 40.

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XL. Diogenes the Cynic to Alexander (p. 169)
Here, we see some of the proto-anarchist tinge to the Ps-Diogenes.  Likening tyrants to children, to the diseased, to those fearfully hiding behind walls.  He points that they (and specifically Alexander) hire men to watch after their health, but where are those who watch after their souls?

“For it is quite enough for them to be wicked by themselves; but, by giving a salary besides to very wicked men, you present them with the opportunity of doing no good.  And you yourself have a hand at doing things like this and worse.”

 


This is part of the Cynic Epistles Reading Plan.