Wednesday, March 4

Troll Hall of Fame #2: Diogenes of Sinope

We're staying in Ancient Greece for our second Troll Hall of Fame inductee, Diogenes of Sinope.

For us "Troll" is a term of endearment.  Our Troll Hall of Fame honors great men and women from history and literature who are uncouth, unshaved and unmannerly, but who are true originals, and who have had a profound affect on society despite playing by their own rules. Sure, they might drink a little... or a lot.  But they have stamped their muddy footprints on the world's culture and history.  

Diogenes of Sinope (412 BC - 323 BC) -- Diogenes is one of the founding fathers of Cynicism. Diogenes was known as "the Dog philosopher" because he likened his philosophy to that of living life like a dog.  Diogenes held up the dog's life as a symbol of simplicity and virtue, a life free from anxiety.  He believed that happiness was not tied to material wealth, and that society put too much emphasis on rigid customs, manners and material possessions.  He proposed that to be truly happy you had to forego humanity's comforts and possessions.  

In practice this meant that Diogenes lived in a tub by the side of the road, wandered around naked in public, bathed irregularly and ate grubby, beggarly scraps of food in the city marketplace.  He also allegedly whacked off in public, peed on people that annoyed him, flipped off gawkers and once took a crap in the theatre.  So he was also one of the world's first drama critics, too.  Diogenes famously wandered the streets of Athens in daylight waving around a lantern, and when questioned why, explained: "I am looking for an honest man."  

The most famous anecdote about Diogenes is that once Alexander The Great, conqueror of Greece, and the most powerful man in the West went looking for Diogenes to honor his philosophical greatness.  Alexander found Diogenes sun-bathing in the road.  He asked the philosopher: "I want to honor your greatness.  Is there anything in the world I can give to you."  "Yeah," grumbled Diogenes, "Get out of my sunlight."  

Critics called Diogenes: "An obnoxious beggar and an offensive grouch."  Yes, exactly.  That's why we love him.  And that's why he's now enshrined in the Troll Hall of Fame.  Huzzah!

1 comment:

Snail said...

We had a chappie in Bideford, Devon, not dissimilar to this guy - particilarly in appearance. I reckon 'Perkins' (for that was his name) was something of a philosopher as he was surrounded by acolytes who gave him offerings of Carlsberg Special Brew.

Fortunately our 'Perkins' refrained from lounging around the town square naked. Mostly he wore his 'The Proclaimers' t-shirt or, for a change, his 'T'Pau' one.

He died many years ago.

There are no plans to erect a statue in his honour - as far as I know.