Sunday, April 13, 2003
Hi Neil,
This is not a question but a reaction to your Diogenes post, I believe, as quite every of my greece-talking professors over the years told me the same story, the Diogenes actually wandered around "looking for a man" not necessarilly an honest one, and is why he wandered around like that in Athenes and most of the country but never set foot in Sparta...
Even though every student here knows that the educational system in France is getting very bad, I'd like to know if you're sure about you're story or not.

Damien, Paris.

It sounds like your teachers were making, or repeating, a joke they'd heard, and possibly no longer realised was a joke, although the original quote is certainly open to interpretation. The way the story is told in English, he was looking for a honest man. Let's see -- instant web references would be, with a wonderful painting by Waterhouse of Diogenes in his tub, and at we find a really fascinating collection of Diogenes anecdotes. We learn that,

Belief that virtue was better in action than in theory made him plunged himself into a life of austerity and dedicated his time to protest against what he believed, a corrupt society. He is said to have gone about Athens carrying a blazing lantern in the daytime, claiming to be looking for an honest man - but never finding one. He often claimed that the gods had given men an easy life but that it had been spoiled by their seeking after honey, cheese cakes and unguents.

(I love the idea of the gods sitting grumbling about men eating cheesecake) not to mention

At a banquet once the guests threw bones at him as if he were a dog. On his way out he cocked his leg against them. Instead of anointing his head with oil, he anointed his feet, explaining that the perfumes from his head were lost in the air but those from his feet mounted to his nose. When asked why people give money to beggars but not to philosophers, he replied that it is because they think they might well end up one day as beggars but will never become philosophers.

But if you go to the original quote, you learn that that he lit a candle/lantern in the daytime and said "I am looking for a man". He then goes on to chide lots of male humans for not being men. See

On the other hand, if you aren't interested in Diogenes or the ins and outs of Greek Philosophy, you could just click on this link to find out how to properly fold a cat for storage in a sweater drawer.

Right. Tea break's over. Back on my head.