45 — Diogenes of Sinope

Diogenes of Sinope

a.k.a: Diogenes the Cynic

Occupation: Philosopher

Born: circa 412 BCE

Died: 323 BCE

Brief Description:
Diogenes is regarded as one of the founders of the cynic philosophy, which later inspired stoic doctrines. While the factual description of his life would sound boring, the anecdotes behind the man and his philosophy are awesome and give a deep insight into the character, so I shall focus on these…

Diogenes was born in Sinope (mordern-day Turkey). His father was a banker and it is likely he was helping him out. At some point, they became embroiled in a scandal involving the defacement of the currency and Diogenes got exiled from the city. Little else is known about his early life.
After his exile, Diogenes moved to Athens. There, he used his simple lifestyle and behavior to criticize the social values and institutions of what he saw as a corrupt society.
He made a virtue of poverty. He lived in a large ceramic jar and was known for carrying a lantern in the daylight, looking for an honest man.
Later in his life, he got captured by pirates and got sold to a Corinthian. Stories vary regarding what happened next but he most likely lived the rest of his life in Corinth, preaching his doctrines.


– When he was asked where he came from, he replied that he was a citizen of the world (cosmopolitan).

– When Plato gave Socrates’ definition of man as “featherless bipeds” and was much praised for the definition, Diogenes plucked a chicken and brought it into Plato’s Academy, saying, “Behold! I’ve brought you a man.” After this incident, “with broad flat nails” was added to Plato’s definition.

– When Alexander The Great met Diogenes. He was very thrilled to meet the famous philosopher and asked him if there was anything he could do for him. Diogenes, who was relaxing in the sunlight, replied: “Yes, stand out of my sunlight.” As everybody laughed, Alexander declared: “If I were not Alexander, then I should wish to be Diogenes.” To that, Diogenes replied: “If I were not Diogenes, I too should wish to be Diogenes.”

– When he once visited the magnificent house of a rich man, he spat in the rich man’s face then said: “I didn’t dare to spit anywhere else.”

– When he was going to be sold as a slave, he was asked what his trade was. He replied that the only trade he knew was that of governing men and therefore, that he wished to be sold to a man who needed a master.

There’s plenty more but these are my favorite. Besides, it’s meant to be a brief description, so I’m keeping it as such.

Why he’s on the list:
The Cynics’ philosophy is to live in agreement with Nature and to become free from the influences of desire such as wealth, power and sex which have no value in Nature.
I always thought this was bullshit and I still do.
However, another one of the Cynics’ principle states that happiness depends on being self-sufficient and a master of mental attitude and for this, I respect them.
Diogenes has been able, throughout his life, to live by those principles and has always shown virtue through actions rather than theory.
But that wouldn’t be enough to make it on this list: this list is for badass people only.
That being said, Diogenes is a critical thinker who doesn’t respect anybody or anything except truth and virtue and those who apply them.
Combine this genuine attitude with the fact that he just doesn’t give a shit about anything and now it makes perfect sense that he’s on this list.

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