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Crates and Hipparchia: Cynic Handbook

ENDNOTES = […] at end of passages

Crates Thebes Wealth Crates and Hipparchia were a couple bound together by the principles and wonders of Cynic Philosophy. One of the only philosophical couples known from antiquity, their relationship and their individual lives inspired future generations of Cynic philosophers and educated many people on the ideas of Virtue and Happiness. This compilation uses open and available texts to piece together the fragments of their lives and attempts to produce a coherent handbook for use as a reference by the scholar and the student.

Primary Sources: Crates of Thebes

Crates of Thebes | Aelian, Varia Historia XXX.6

Chap. VI.: Of the Magnanimity of Crates. Crates the Theban is known to have been a magnanimous person, as well by other things, as by his despising what the Vulgar admire, as also his Wealth and Country. That he gave the Thebans his estate is generally known. But this other action perhaps is less notorious. He left Thebes newly restored, saying, “I have no need of a City which Alexander or some other may subvert.”[i]

Crates of Thebes | Alciphron, Book III, Letter 44

Gnathon to Leichopinax

We are thought no more of than Megareans or Aegians; at the present time Gryllion alone is in good repute, and holds sway over the city: every house is open to him, as if he were Crates the Cynic from Thebes. It seems to me that he has got hold of some Thessalian or Acarnanian sorceress, with whose assistance he bewitches the unhappy youths of our city. What a fund of talk he possesses! how delightful is his conversation! But perhaps the Graces have looked upon him with favourable eyes, so that, while others have the inside of the loaf, we must be content if anyone throws us the leavings, like dogs, after he has wiped his hands upon it. But perhaps he is no magician, but only very fortunate; for it is fortune that prevails beyond everything in human affairs. Prudence counts for nothing, fortune is everything; the man who is fortunate is pleasant, and has the reputation of being so.[ii]

Crates of Thebes | Apuleius, Apologia 22

22. I therefore regarded it as a compliment when to insult me you asserted that my whole household consisted of a wallet and a staff. Would that my spirit were made of such stern stuff as to permit me to dispense with all this furniture and worthily to carry that equipment for which Crates sacrificed all his wealth! Crates, I tell you, though I doubt if you will believe me, Aemilianus, was a man of great wealth and honour among the nobility of Thebes; but for love of this habit, which you cast in my face as a crime, he gave his large and luxurious household to his fellow citizens, resigned his troops of slaves for solitude, so contemned the countless trees of his rich orchards as to be content with one staff, exchanged his elegant villas for one small wallet, which, when he had fully appreciated its utility, he even praised in song by diverting from their original meaning certain lines of Homer in which he extols the island of Crete. I will quote the first lines, that you may not think this a mere invention of mine designed to meet the needs of my own case:

There is a town named Wallet in the midst

Of smoke that's dark as wine.

The lines which follow are so wonderful, that had you read them you would envy me my wallet even more than you envy me my marriage with Pudentilla. You reproach philosophers for their staff and wallet. You might as well reproach cavalry for their trappings, infantry for their shields, standard-bearers for their banners, triumphant generals for their chariots drawn by four white horses and their cloaks embroidered with palm-leaves. The staff and wallet are not, it is true, carried by the Platonic philosophers, but are the badges of the Cynic school. To Diogenes and Antisthenes they were what the crown is to the king, the cloak of purple to the general, the cowl to the priest, the trumpet to the augur. Indeed the Cynic Diogenes, when he disputed with Alexander the Great, as to which of the two was the true king, boasted of his staff as the true sceptre. The unconquered Hercules himself, since you despise my instances as drawn from mere mendicancy, Hercules that roamed the whole world, exterminated monsters, and conquered races, god though he was, had but a skin for raiment and a staff for company in the days when he wandered through the earth. And yet but a brief while afterwards he was admitted to heaven as a reward for his virtue.[iii]

Crates of Thebes | Apuleius, Florida - On Crates the Cynic 14

14. These arguments and the like which he had heard from the lips of Diogenes, together with others which suggested themselves to him on other occasions, had such influence with Crates, that at last he rushed out into the market-place and there renounced all his fortune as being a mere filthy encumbrance, a burden rather than a benefit. His action having caused a crowd to collect, he cried in a loud voice, saying, 'Crates, even Crates sets thee free.' Thenceforth he lived not only in solitude, but naked and in perfect freedom and, so long as he lived, his life was happy. And such was the passion he inspired that a maiden of noble birth, spurning suitors more youthful and more wealthy than he, actually went so far as to beg him to marry her. In answer Crates bared his shoulders which were crowned with a hump, placed his wallet, staff and cloak upon the ground, and said to the girl, 'There is all my gear! and your eyes can judge of my beauty. Take good counsel, lest later I find you complaining of your lot.' But Hipparche accepted his conditions, replying that she had already considered the question and taken sufficient counsel, for nowhere in all the world could she find a richer or a fairer husband. 'Take me where you will!' she cried….[iv]

Crates of Thebes | Apuleius, Florida - On the Virtues of Crates 22

22. Crates, the well-known disciple of Diogenes, was honoured at Athens by the men of his own day as though he had been a household god. No house was ever closed to him, no head of a family had ever so close a secret as to regard Crates as an unseasonable intruder: he was always welcome; there was never a quarrel, never a lawsuit between kinsfolk, but he was accepted as mediator and his word was law. The poets tell that Hercules of old by his valour subdued all the wild monsters of legend, beast or man, and purged all the world of them. Even so our philosopher was a very Hercules in the conquest of anger, envy, avarice, lust, and all the other monstrous sins that beset the human soul. He expelled all these pests from their minds, purged households, and tamed vice. Nay, he too went half-naked and was distinguished by the club he carried, aye, and he sprang from that same Thebes, where Hercules, men say, was born. Even before he became Crates pure and simple, he was accounted one of the chief men in Thebes: his family was noble, his establishment numerous, his house had a fair and ample porch: his lands were rich and his clothing sumptuous. But later, when he understood that the wealth which had been transmitted to him, carried with it no safeguard whereon he might lean as on a staff in the ways of life, but that all was fragile and transitory, that all the wealth that is in all the world was of no assistance to a virtuous life….[v]

Crates of Thebes | Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae 158.a-d

N.B. A favorite Cynic dish was lentil soup.

Indeed, “Lentil soup is known to the tragic stage; they say that Agatharchus once painted a picture of Orestes guzzling it when he had recovered from his disease.” So speaks the comic poet Sophilus. It is a Stoic belief, too, that the wise man will do all things rightly, even to the wise seasoning of lentil soup. Wherefore Timon of Phlius speaks of one “who had never learned wisely to make a Zenonian lentil soup,” as if a lentil soup could not be made otherwise than according to the Zenonian prescription. For he said: “Into the lentil soup put the twelfth part of a coriander seed.” And Crates of Thebes said: “Exalt not the dish of stew above a plate of lentil soup and so set us to quarrelling.' In like manner Chrysippus, in his essay On the Good, introduces to us certain maxims in these words: 'Never eat an olive when you have a nettle. In the winter season, a bulb-andlentil soup, oh me, oh my! For bulb-andlentil soup is like ambrosia in the chilly cold.' And the witty Aristophanes, in Gerytades, has said: 'Are you teaching him to make barley gruel or lentil soup?' And in Amphiaraus: 'You, who dare insult lentil soup, sweetest of delicacies!' Epicharmus, in The Dionysi: 'A kettle of lentil soup was simmering.' Antiphanes in Just Alike: 'It proved to be a piece of good luck, that one of the natives was teaching me how to make lentil soup.' I know also that the sister of Odysseus, most prudent and sagacious, was called Lentil, though others name her Callisto, Das recorded by Mnaseas of Patrae in the third book of his European History; my authority is Lysimachus, in the third book of his Returns.”[vi]

Crates of Thebes | Clement, Stromata Book 2 Chapter 20

Wherefore the divine law appears to me necessarily to menace with fear, that, by caution and attention, the philosopher may acquire and retain absence of anxiety, continuing without fall and without sin in all things. For peace and freedom are not otherwise won, than by ceaseless and unyielding struggles with our lusts. For these stout and Olympic antagonists are keener than wasps, so to speak; and Pleasure especially, not by day only, but by night, is in dreams with witchcraft ensnaringly plotting and biting. How, then, can the Greeks any more be right in running down the law, when they themselves teach that Pleasure is the slave of fear? Socrates accordingly bids “people guard against enticements to eat when they are not hungry, and to drink when not thirsty, and the glances and kisses of the fair, as fitted to inject a deadlier poison than that of scorpions and spiders.” And Antisthenes chose rather “to be demented than delighted.” And the Theban Crates says:—

“Master these, exulting in the disposition of the soul,

Vanquished neither by gold nor by languishing love,

Nor are they any longer attendants to the wanton.”

And at length infers:—

“Those, unenslaved and unbended by servile Pleasure,

Love the immortal kingdom and freedom.”

He writes expressly, in other words, “that the stop to the unbridled propensity to amorousness is hunger or a halter.”[vii]

Crates of Thebes | Demetrius of Phalerum, On Style 170

170. Even sensible persons will indulge in jests on such occasions as feasts and carousals, or when they are addressing a word of warning to men inclined to good living. A reference to ' the far-gleaming meal-bag ' may then be found salutary. The same may be said of the poetry of Crates; and it would be well if you were to read the 'Praise of the Lentil ' in a party of free-livers. The Cynic humour is, for the most part, of this character. Such jests, in fact, play the part of maxims and admonitions.[viii]

Crates of Thebes | Diogenes Laertius, Book 2 §114

And besides these [Stilpo] won over Phrasidemus the Peripatetic, an accomplished physicist, and Alcimus the rhetorician, the first orator in all Greece; Crates, too, and many others he got into his toils, and, what is more, along with these, he carried off Zeno the Phoenician.[ix]

Crates of Thebes | Diogenes Laertius, Book 6 §15

Antisthenes gave the impulse to the indifference of Diogenes, the continence of Crates, and the hardihood of Zeno, himself laying the foundations of their state. Xenophon calls him the most agreeable of men in conversation and the most temperate in everything else.[x]

Crates of Thebes | Diogenes Laertius, Book 6 §82

Monimus of Syracuse was a pupil of Diogenes; and, according to Sosicrates, he was in the service of a certain Corinthian banker, to whom Xeniades, the purchaser of Diogenes, made frequent visits, and by the account which he gave of his goodness in word and deed, excited in Monimus a passionate admiration of Diogenes. For he forthwith pretended to be mad and proceeded to fling away the small change and all the money on the banker's table, until at length his master dismissed him; and he then straightway devoted himself to Diogenes. He often followed Crates the Cynic as well, and embraced the like pursuits; whereupon his master, seeing him do this, was all the more persuaded that he was mad.[xi]

Crates of Thebes | Diogenes Laertius, Book 6 §85-93

85. Crates, son of Ascondas, was a Theban. He too was amongst the Cynic's famous pupils. Hippobotus, however, alleges that he was a pupil not of Diogenes, but of Bryson the Achaean. The following playful lines are attributed to him:

There is a city Pera in the midst of wine-dark vapour,

Fair, fruitful, passing squalid, owning nought,

Into which sails nor fool nor parasite

Nor glutton, slave of sensual appetite,

But thyme it bears, garlic, and figs and loaves,

For which things' sake men fight not each with other,

Nor stand to arms for money or for fame.

86. There is also his widely circulated day-book, which runs as follows:

Set down for the chef ten minas, for the doctor Pne drachma, for a flatterer talents five, For counsel smoke, for mercenary beauty A talent, for a philosopher three obols.

He was known as the “Door-opener” – the caller to whom all doors fly open – from his habit of entering every house and admonishing those within. Here is another specimen of his composition:

That much I have which I have learnt and thought,

The noble lessons taught me by the Muses:

But wealth amassed is prey to vanity.

And again he says that what he has gained from philosophy is

A quart of lupins and to care for no one.

This too is quoted as his:

Hunger stops love, or, if not hunger,


Or, failing both these means of help, – a halter.

87. He flourished in the 113th Olympiad.

According to Antisthenes in his Successions, the first impulse to the Cynic philosophy was given to him when he saw Telephus in a certain tragedy carrying a little basket and altogether in a wretched plight. So he turned his property into money, – for he belonged to a distinguished family, – and having thus collected about 200 talents, distributed that sum among his fellow-citizens. And (it is added) so sturdy a philosopher did he become that he is mentioned by the comic poet Philemon. At all events the latter says:

In summer-time a thick cloak he would wear

To be like Crates, and in winter rags.

Diocles relates how Diogenes persuaded Crates to give up his fields to sheep pasture, and throw into the sea any money he had.

88. In the home of Crates Alexander is said to have lodged, as Philip once lived in Hipparchia's. Often, too, certain of his kinsmen would come to visit him and try to divert him from his purpose. These he would drive from him with his stick, and his resolution was unshaken. Demetrius of Magnesia tells a story that he entrusted a banker with a sum of money on condition that, if his sons proved ordinary men he was to pay it to them, but, if they became philosophers, then to distribute it among the people: for his sons would need nothing, if they took to philosophy. Eratosthenes tells us that by Hipparchia, of whom we shall presently speak, he had a son born to him named Pasicles, and after he had ceased to be a cadet on service, Crates took him to a brothel and told him that was how his father had married.

89. The marriage of intrigue and adultery, he said, belonged to tragedy, having exile or assassination as its rewards; while the weddings of those who take up with courtesans are material for comedy, for as a result of extravagance and drunkenness they bring about madness.

This man had a brother named Pasicles, who was a disciple of Euclides.

Favorinus, in the second book of his Memorabilia, tells a pleasant story of Crates. For he relates how, when making some request of the master of the gymnasium, he laid hold on his hips; and when he demurred, said, “What, are not these hip-joints yours as much as your knees?” It was, he used to say, impossible to find anybody wholly free from flaws; but, just as in a pomegranate, one of the seeds is always going bad. Having exasperated the musician Nicodromus, he was struck by him on the face. So he stuck a plaster on his forehead with these words on it, “Nicodromus's handiwork.”

90. He carried on a regular campaign of invective against the courtesans, habituating himself to meet their abuse.

When Demetrius of Phalerum sent him loaves of bread and some wine, he reproached him, saying, “Oh that the springs yielded bread as well as water!” It is clear, then, that he was a water-drinker. When the police-inspectors found fault with him for wearing muslin, his answer was, “I'll show you that Theophrastus also wears muslin.” This they would not believe: so he led them to a barber's shop and showed them Theophrastus being shaved. At Thebes he was flogged by the master of the gymnasium – another version being that it was by Euthycrates and at Corinth; and being dragged by the heels, he called out, as if it did not affect him:

Seized by the foot and dragged o'er heaven's high threshold:

91. Diocles, however, says that it was by Menedemus of Eretria that he was thus dragged. For he being handsome and being thought to be intimate with Asclepiades the Phliasian, Crates slapped him on the side with a brutal taunt; whereupon Menedemus, full of indignation, dragged him along, and he declaimed as above.

Zeno of Citium in his Anecdotes relates that in a fit of heedlessness he sewed a sheepskin to his cloak. He was ugly to look at, and when performing his gymnastic exercises used to be laughed at. He was accustomed to say, raising his hands, “Take heart, Crates, for it is for the good of your eyes and of the rest of your body.

92. You will see these men, who are laughing at you, tortured before long by disease, counting you happy, and reproaching themselves for their sluggishness.” He used to say that we should study philosophy to the point of seeing in generals nothing but donkey-drivers. Those who live with flatterers he declared to be as defenceless as calves in the midst of wolves; for neither these nor those have any to protect them, but only such as plot against them. Perceiving that he was dying, he would chant over himself this charm, “You are going, dear hunchback, you are off to the house of Hades, – bent crooked by old age.” For his years had bowed him down.

93. When Alexander inquired whether he would like his native city to be rebuilt, his answer was, “Why should it be? Perhaps another Alexander will destroy it again.” Ignominy and Poverty he declared to be his country, which Fortune could never take captive. He was, he said, a fellow-citizen of Diogenes, who defied all the plots of envy. Menander alludes to him in the Twin Sisters in the following lines:

Wearing a cloak you'll go about with me,

As once with Cynic Crates went his wife:

His daughter too, as he himself declared,

He gave in marriage for a month on trial.[xii]

Crates of Thebes | Diogenes Laertius, Book 6 §94

Metrocles of Maroneia was the brother of Hipparchia. He had been formerly a pupil of Theophrastus the Peripatetic, and had been so far corrupted by weakness that, when he made a breach of good manners in the course of rehearsing a speech, it drove him to despair, and he shut himself up at home, intending to starve himself to death. On learning this Crates came to visit him as he had been asked to do, and after advisedly making a meal of lupins, he tried to persuade him by argument as well that he had committed no crime, for a prodigy would have happened if he had not taken the natural means of relieving himself. At last by reproducing the action he succeeded in lifting him from his dejection, using for his consolation the likeness of the occurrences. From that time forward Metrocles was his pupil, and became proficient in philosophy.[xiii] Crates of Thebes | Diogenes Laertius, Book 6 §96-98

96. Hipparchia too, sister of Metrocles, was captured by their doctrines. Both of them were born at Maroneia.

She fell in love with the discourses and the life of Crates, and would not pay attention to any of her suitors, their wealth, their high birth or their beauty. But to her Crates was everything. She used even to threaten her parents she would make away with herself, unless she were given in marriage to him. Crates therefore was implored by her parents to dissuade the girl, and did all he could, and at last, failing to persuade her, got up, took off his clothes before her face and said, “This is the bridegroom, here are his possessions; make your choice accordingly; for you will be no helpmeet of mine, unless you share my pursuits.”

97. The girl chose and, adopting the same dress, went about with her husband and lived with him in public and went out to dinners with him. Accordingly she appeared at the banquet given by Lysimachus, and there put down Theodorus, known as the atheist, by means of the following sophism. Any action which would not be called wrong if done by Theodorus, would not be called wrong if done by Hipparchia. Now Theodorus does no wrong when he strikes himself: therefore neither does Hipparchia do wrong when she strikes Theodorus. He had no reply wherewith to meet the argument, but tried to strip her of her cloak. But Hipparchia showed no sign of alarm or of the perturbation natural in a woman.

98. And when he said to her:

“Is this she Who quitting woof and warp and comb and loom?” she replied, “It is I, Theodorus, – but do you suppose that I have been ill advised about myself, if instead of wasting further time upon the loom I spent it in education?” These tales and countless others are told of the female philosopher.

There is current a work of Crates entitled Epistles, containing excellent philosophy in a style which sometimes resembles that of Plato. He has also written tragedies, stamped with a very lofty kind of philosophy; as, for example, the following passage:

Not one tower hath my country nor one roof,

But wide as the whole earth its citadel

And home prepared for us to dwell therein.

He died in old age, and was buried in Boeotia.[xiv]

Crates of Thebes | Diogenes Laertius, Book 7 §2-4

[Zeno] was a pupil of Crates, as stated above. Next they say he attended the lectures of Stilpo and Xenocrates for ten years – so Timocrates says in his Dion – and Polemo as well. It is stated by Hecato and by Apollonius of Tyre in his first book on Zeno that he consulted the oracle to know what he should do to attain the best life, and that the god's response was that he should take on the complexion of the dead. Whereupon, perceiving what this meant, he studied ancient authors. Now the way he came across Crates was this. He was shipwrecked on a voyage from Phoenicia to Peiraeus with a cargo of purple. He went up into Athens and sat down in a bookseller's shop, being then a man of thirty.

3. As he went on reading the second book of Xenophon's Memorabilia, he was so pleased that he inquired where men like Socrates were to be found. Crates passed by in the nick of time, so the bookseller pointed to him and said, “Follow yonder man.” From that day he became Crates's pupil, showing in other respects a strong bent for philosophy, though with too much native modesty to assimilate Cynic shamelessness. Hence Crates, desirous of curing this defect in him, gave him a potful of lentil-soup to carry through the Ceramicus; and when he saw that he was ashamed and tried to keep it out of sight, with a blow of his staff he broke the pot. As Zeno took to flight with the lentil-soup flowing down his legs, “Why run away, my little Phoenician?” quoth Crates, “nothing terrible has befallen you.”

4. For a certain space, then, he was instructed by Crates, and when at this time he had written his Republic, some said in jest that he had written it on Cynosura, i.e. on the dog's tail. Besides the Republic he wrote the following works:

Of Life according to Nature.

Of Impulse, or Human Nature.

Of Emotions.

Of Duty.

Of Law.

Of Greek Education.

Of Vision.

Of the Whole World.

Of Signs.

Pythagorean Questions.


Of Varieties of Style.

Homeric Problems, in five books.

Of the Reading of Poetry.

There are also by him:

A Handbook of Rhetoric.


Two books of Refutations.

Recollections of Crates.


This is a list of his writings. But at last he left Crates, and the men above mentioned were his masters for twenty years. Hence he is reported to have said, “I made a prosperous voyage when I suffered shipwreck.” But others attribute this saying of his to the time when he was under Crates.[xv]

Crates of Thebes | Diogenes Laertius, Book 7 §12

Antigonus of Carystus tells us that he never denied that he was a citizen of Citium. For when he was one of those who contributed to the restoration of the baths and his name was inscribed upon the pillar as “Zeno the philosopher,” he requested that the words “of Citium” should be added. He made a hollow lid for a flask and used to carry about money in it, in order that there might be provision at hand for the necessities of his master Crates.[xvi]

Crates of Thebes | Diogenes Laertius, Book 7 §24

One day at a banquet he was reclining in silence and was asked the reason: whereupon he bade his critic carry word to the king that there was one present who knew how to hold his tongue. Now those who inquired of him were ambassadors from King Ptolemy, and they wanted to know what message they should take back from him to the king. On being asked how he felt about abuse, he replied, “As an envoy feels who is dismissed without an answer.” Apollonius of Tyre tells us how, when Crates laid hold on him by the cloak to drag him from Stilpo, Zeno said, “The right way to seize a philosopher, Crates, is by the ears: persuade me then and drag me off by them; but, if you use violence, my body will be with you, but my mind with Stilpo.”[xvii]

Crates of Thebes | Diogenes Laertius, Book 7 §32

Hence he had been well trained even before he left his native place. And thus it came about that on [Zeno's] arrival at Athens he attached himself to Crates. And it seems, he adds, that, when the rest were at a loss how to express their views, Zeno framed a definition of the end. They say that he was in the habit of swearing by “capers” just as Socrates used to swear by “the dog.” Some there are, and among them Cassius the Sceptic and his disciples, who accuse Zeno at length. Their first count is that in the beginning of his Republic he pronounced the ordinary education useless: the next is that he applies to all men who are not virtuous the opprobrious epithets of foemen, cnemies, slaves, and aliens to one another, parents to children, brothers to brothers, friends to friends.[xviii]

Crates of Thebes | Epictetus, Discourses 3.22

'Yes, but Crates married.'

The case you mention was a special one and a love-match, and you have to assume a wife who was a Crates herself. Our inquiry is concerned with ordinary marriages which are liable to distraction; and from this point of view we do not find that in these circumstances marriage has a primary claim on the Cynic.[xix]

Crates of Thebes | Greek Anthology, Excerpt Hymn to Simplicity

104.— Crates the Philosopher

Hail! divine lady Simplicity, child of glorious Temperance, beloved by good men. All who practise righteousness venerate thy virtue.[xx]

Crates of Thebes | Gregory Nazianzen, Oration 43

Such being [Basil's] mind, and such his life, he had no need of an altar and of vainglory, nor of such a public announcement as “Crates sets Crates the Theban free.” For his aim was ever to be, not to seem, most excellent. Nor did he dwell in a tub, and in the midst of the market-place, and so by luxuriating in publicity turn his poverty into riches: but was poor and unkempt, yet without ostentation: and taking cheerfully the casting overboard of all that he ever had, sailed lightly across the sea of life.[xxi]

Crates of Thebes | Jerome, Against Jovinianus Book 2

That there is no difference (morally) between one who fasts and one who takes food with thanksgiving. Jovinian has quoted many texts of Scripture to show that God has made animals for men's food. But there are many other uses of animals besides food. And there are many warnings like 1 Cor. vi. 13, as to the danger arising from food. There are among the heathen many instances of abstinence. They recognize the evil of sensual allurements, and often, like Crates the Theban, have cast away what would tempt them; the senses, they teach, should be subject to reason; and, that except for athletes (Christians do not want to be like Milo of Crotona) bread and water suffice. Horace, Xenophon and other eminent Greeks, the Essenes and the Brahmans, as well as philosophers like Diogenes, testify to the value of abstinence. The Old Testament stories of Esau's pottage, of the lusting of Israel for the flesh-pots of Egypt, and those in the New Testament of Anna, Cornelius, etc., commend abstinence. If some heretics inculcate fasting in such a way as to despise the gifts of God, and weak Christians are not to be judged for their use of flesh, those who seek the higher life will find a help in abstinence.

Hence it was that Crates the famous Theban, after throwing into the sea a considerable weight of gold, exclaimed, “Go to the bottom, you evil lusts: I will drown you that you may not drown me.” But if anyone thinks to enjoy keenly meat and drink in excess, and at the same time to devote himself to philosophy, that is to say, to live in luxury and yet not to be hampered by the vices attendant on luxury, he deceives himself. For if it be the case that even when far distant from them we are frequently caught in the snares of nature, and are compelled to desire those things of which we have a scant supply: what folly it is to think we are free when we are surrounded by the nets of pleasure! We think of what we see, hear, smell, taste, handle, and are led to desire the thing which affords us pleasure. That the mind sees and hears, and that we can neither hear nor see anything unless our senses are fixed upon the objects of sight and hearing, is an old saw. It is difficult, or rather impossible, when we are swimming in luxury and pleasure not to think of what we are doing: and it is an idle pretence which some men put forward that they can take their fill of pleasure with their faith and purity and mental uprightness unimpaired. It is a violation of nature to revel in pleasure, and the Apostle gives a caution against this very thing when he says, 1 Timothy 5:6 “She that gives herself to pleasure is dead while she lives.”[xxii]

Crates of Thebes | Jerome, Letter 66

For he to whom you would give is richer than you the giver. It is moreover a kind of sacrilege to give what belongs to the poor to those who are not poor. Yet to be a perfect and complete Christian it is not enough to despise wealth or to squander and fling away one's money, a thing which can be lost and found in a single moment. Crates the Theban did this, so did Antisthenes and several others, whose lives show them to have had many faults.[xxiii]

Crates of Thebes | Julian, Orations 6.197-202

[197] Do you not know how people lure away the young from philosophy by continually uttering now one slander and then another against all the philosophers in turn? The genuine disciples of Pythagoras and Plato and Aristotle are called sorcerers and sophists and conceited and quacks. [198] If here and there among the Cynics one is really virtuous he is regarded with pity. For instance I remember that once my tutor said to me when he saw my fellow-pupil Iphicles with his hair unkempt and his clothes in tatters on his chest and wearing a wretched cloak in severe winter weather: “What evil genius can have plunged him into this sad state which makes not only him pitiable but even more so his parents who reared him with care and gave him the best education they could! And now he goes about in this condition, neglecting everything and no better than a beggar!” At the time I answered him with some pleasantry or other. But I assure you that the multitude hold these views about genuine Cynics also. And that is not so dreadful, but do you see that they persuade them to love wealth, to hate poverty, to minister to the belly, to endure any toil for the body's sake, to fatten that prison of the soul, to keep up an expensive table, never to sleep alone at night, provided only that they do all this in the dark and are not found out? Is not this worse than Tartarus? Is it not better to sink beneath Charybdis and Cocytus or ten thousand fathoms deep in the earth than to fall into a life like this, enslaved to lust and appetite, and not even to these simply and openly, like the beasts, but to take pains so that when we act thus we may be hidden under cover of darkness? And yet how much better is it to refrain altogether from all this! And if that be difficult the rules of Diogenes and Crates on these matters are not to be despised: “Fasting quenches desire, and if you cannot fast, hang yourself.” Do you not know that those great men lived as they did in order to introduce among men the way of plain living? “For” says Diogenes, [199] “it is not among men who live on bread that you will find tyrants, but among those who eat costly dinners.” Moreover Crates wrote a hymn to Plain Living: “Hail, goddess and Queen, darling of wise men, Plain Living, child of glorious Temperance.” Then let not the Cynic be like Oenomaus shameless or impudent, or a scorner of everything human and divine, but reverent towards sacred things, like Diogenes. For he obeyed the Pythian oracle nor did he repent of his obedience. But if anyone supposes that because he did not visit the temples or worship statues or altars this is a sign of impiety, he does not think rightly. For Diogenes possessed nothing that is usually offered, incense or libations or money to buy them with. But if he held right opinions about the gods, that in itself was enough. For he worshipped them with his whole soul, thus offering them as I think the most precious of his possessions, the dedication of his soul through his thoughts. Let not the Cynic be shameless, but led by reason let him first make subservient to himself the emotional part of his soul so that he may entirely do away with it and not even be aware that he is superior to pleasures. For it is nobler to attain to this, I mean to complete ignorance whether one has any such emotions. And this comes to us only through training. And that none may think I say this at random I will add for your benefit a few lines from the lighter verse of Crates: “Glorious children of Memory and Olympian Zeus, ye Muses of Pieria, hearken to my prayer! Give me without ceasing victuals for my belly which has always made my life frugal and free from slavery. . . . To my friends make me useful rather than agreeable. As for money I desire not to amass conspicuous wealth, [200] seeking after the wealth of the beetle or the substance of the ant; nay, I desire to possess justice and to collect riches that are easily carried, easily acquired, of great avail for virtue. If I may but win these I will propitiate Hermes and the holy Muses not with costly dainties but with pious virtues.” If it be of any use to write for you about such things I could recite still more maxims by this same Crates. But if you will read Plutarch of Chaeronea, who wrote his Life, there will be no need for you to learn his character superficially from me.

But let me go back to what I said before, that he who is entering on the career of a Cynic ought first to censure severely and cross-examine himself, and without any self-flattery ask himself the following questions in precise terms: whether he enjoys expensive food; whether he cannot do without a soft bed; whether he is the slave of rewards and the opinion of men; whether it is his ambition to attract public notice and even though that be an empty honour he still thinks it worth while. Nevertheless he must not let himself drift with the current of the mob or touch vulgar pleasure even with the tip of his finger, as the saying is, until he has succeeded in trampling on it; then and not before he may permit himself to dip into that sort of thing if it come his way. For instance I am told that bulls which are weaker than the rest separate themselves from the herd and pasture alone while they store up their strength in every part of their bodies by degrees, until they rejoin the herd in good condition, and then they challenge its leaders to contend with them, in confidence that they are more fit to take the lead. Therefore let him who wishes to be a Cynic philosopher not adopt merely their long cloak [201] or wallet or staff or their way of wearing the hair, as though he were like a man walking unshaved and illiterate in a village that lacked barbers' shops and schools, but let him consider that reason rather than a staff and a certain plan of life rather than a wallet are the mintmarks of the Cynic philosophy. And freedom of speech he must not employ until he have first proved how much he is worth, as I believe was the case with Crates and Diogenes. For they were so far from bearing with a bad grace any threat of fortune, whether one call such threats caprice or wanton insult, that once when he had been captured by pirates Diogenes joked with them; as for Crates he gave his property to the state, and being physically deformed he made fun of his own lame leg and hunched shoulders. But when his friends gave an entertainment he used to go, whether invited or not, and would reconcile his nearest friends if he learned that they had quarrelled. He used to reprove them not harshly but with a charming manner and not so as to seem to persecute those whom he wished to reform, but as though he wished to be of use both to them and to the bystanders.

Yet this was not the chief end and aim of those Cynics, but as I said their main concern was how they might themselves attain to happiness and, as I think, they occupied themselves with other men only in so far as they comprehended that man is by nature a social and political animal; and so they aided their fellow-citizens, not only by practising but by preaching as well. Then let him who wishes to be a Cynic, earnest and sincere, first take himself in hand like Diogenes and Crates, and expel from his own soul and from every part of it all passions and desires, and entrust all his affairs to reason and intelligence and steer his course by them. For this in my opinion was the sum and substance of the philosophy of Diogenes.

And if Diogenes did sometimes visit a courtesan - though even this happened only once perhaps or not even once - let him who would be a Cynic first satisfy us that he is, like Diogenes, [202] a man of solid worth, and then if he see fit to do that sort of thing openly and in the sight of all men, we shall not reproach him with it or accuse him. First however we must see him display the ability to learn and the quick wit of Diogenes, and in all other relations he must show the same independence, self-sufficiency, justice, moderation, piety, gratitude, and the same extreme carefulness not to act at random or without a purpose or irrationally. For these too are characteristic of the philosophy of Diogenes. Then let him trample on vaingloriousness, let him ridicule those who though they conceal in darkness the necessary functions of our nature - for instance the secretion of what is superfluous - yet in the centre of the market-place and of our cities carry on practices that are most brutal and by no means akin to our nature, for instance robbery of money, false accusations, unjust indictments, and the pursuit of other rascally business of the same sort. On the other hand when Diogenes made unseemly noises or obeyed the call of nature or did anything else of that sort in the market-place, as they say he did, he did so because he was trying to trample on the conceit of the men I have just mentioned, and to teach them that their practices were far more sordid and insupportable than his own. For what he did was in accordance with the nature of all of us, but theirs accorded with no man's real nature, one may say, but were all due to moral depravity.[xxiv]

Crates of Thebes | Julian, Oration 7.211-215

[211] Now if from such works any man chooses to demonstrate to us the character of the Cynic philosophy, and to blaspheme the gods and bark at all men, as I said when I began, let him go, let him depart to the uttermost parts of the earth whithersoever he pleases. But if he do as the god enjoined on Diogenes, and first “give a new stamp to the common currency,” then devote himself to the advice uttered earlier by the god, the precept “Know Thyself,” which Diogenes and Crates evidently followed in their actual practice, then I say that this is wholly worthy of one who desires to be a leader and a philosopher. For surely we know what the god meant? He enjoined on Diogenes to despise the opinion of the crowd and to give a new stamp, not to truth, but to the common currency. Now to which of these categories shall we assign self-knowledge? Can we call it common currency? Shall we not rather say that it is the very summary of truth, and by the injunction “Know Thyself” we are told the way in which we must “give a new stamp to the common currency”? For just as one who pays no regard whatever to conventional opinions but goes straight for the truth will not decide his own conduct by those opinions but by actual facts, so I think he who knows himself will know accurately, not the opinion of others about him, but what he is in reality. It follows then, does it not? that the Pythian god speaks the truth, and moreover that Diogenes was clearly convinced of this since he obeyed the god and so became, instead of an exile, I will not say greater than the King of Persia, but according to the tradition handed down actually an object of envy to the man who had broken the power of Persia and was rivalling the exploits of Heracles and ambitious to surpass Achilles. Then let us judge of the attitude of Diogenes towards gods and men, [212] not from the discourses of Oenomaus or the tragedies of Philiscus - who by ascribing their authorship to Diogenes grossly slandered that sacred personage - but let us, I say, judge him by his deeds.

Why in the name of Zeus did he go to Olympia? To see the athletes compete? Nay, could he not have seen those very athletes without trouble both at the Isthmian games and the Panathenaic festival? Then was it because he wished to meet there the most distinguished Greeks? But did they not go to the Isthmus too? So you cannot discover any other motive than that of doing honour to the god. He was not, you say, awestruck by a thunderstorm. Ye gods, I too have witnessed such signs from Zeus over and over again, without being awestruck! Yet for all that I feel awe of the gods, I love, I revere, I venerate them, and in short have precisely the same feelings towards them as one would have towards kind masters or teachers or fathers or guardians or any beings of that sort. That is the very reason why I could hardly sit still the other day and listen to your speech. However, I have spoken thus as I was somehow or other impelled to speak, though perhaps it would have been better to say nothing at all.

To return to Diogenes: he was poor and lacked means, yet he travelled to Olympia, though he bade Alexander come to him, if we are to believe Dio. So convinced was he that it was his duty to visit the temples of the gods, but that it was the duty of the most royal monarch of that day to come to him for an interview. And was not that royal advice which he wrote to Archidamus? Nay, not only in words but in deeds also did Diogenes show his reverence for the gods. For he preferred to live in Athens, but when the divine command had sent him away to Corinth, even after he had been set free by the man who had bought him, he did not think he ought to leave that city. [213] For he believed that the gods took care of him, and that he had been sent to Corinth, not at random or by some accident, but by the gods themselves for some purpose. He saw that Corinth was more luxurious than Athens, and stood in need of a more severe and courageous reformer.

To give you another instance: Are there not extant many charming poems by Crates also which are proofs of his piety and veneration for the gods? I will repeat them to you if you have not had time to learn this from the poems themselves: “Ye Muses of Pieria, glorious children of Memory and Olympian Zeus, grant me this prayer! Give me food for my belly from day to day, but give it without slavery which makes life miserable indeed. . . . . Make me useful rather than agreeable to my friends. Treasure and the fame thereof I desire not to amass; nor do I crave the wealth of the beetle and the substance of the ant. But justice I desire to attain, and to collect riches that are easily carried, easily acquired, precious for virtue. If I attain these things I will worship Hermes and the holy Muses, not with costly and luxurious offerings, but with pious and virtuous actions.”

You see that, far from blaspheming the gods as you do, he adored and prayed to them? For what number of hecatombs are worth as much as Piety, whom the inspired Euripides celebrated appropriately in the verses “Piety, queen of the gods. Piety”? Or are you not aware that all offerings whether great or small that are brought to the gods with piety have equal value, whereas without piety, I will not say hecatombs, but, by the gods, even the Olympian sacrifice of a thousand oxen [214] is merely empty expenditure and nothing else? This I believe Crates recognised, and so with that piety which was his only possession he himself used to honour the gods with praises, and moreover taught others not to honour expensive offerings more than piety in the sacred ceremonies. This then was the attitude of both those Cynics towards the gods but they did not crowd audiences together to hear them, nor did they entertain their friends with similes and myths, like the wise men of today. For as Euripides well says, “Simple and unadorned is the language of truth.” Only the liar and the dishonest man, he says, have any use for a mysterious and allusive style. Now what was the manner of their intercourse with men? Deeds with them came before words, and if they honoured poverty they themselves seem first to have scorned inherited wealth; if they cultivated modesty, they themselves first practised plain living in every respect; if they tried to expel from the lives of other men the element of theatrical display and arrogance, they themselves first set the example by living in the open market places and the temple precincts, and they opposed luxury by their own practice before they did so in words; nor did they shout aloud but proved by their actions that a man may rule as the equal of Zeus if he needs nothing or very little and so is not hampered by his body; and they reproved sinners during the lifetime of those who had offended but did not speak ill of the dead; for when men are dead even their enemies, at least the more moderate, make peace with the departed. But the genuine Cynic has no enemy, even though men strike his feeble body or drag his name in the mire, or slander and speak ill of him, because enmity is felt only towards an opponent, but that which is above personal rivalry is usually loved and respected. [215] But if anyone is hostile to a Cynic, as indeed many are even to the gods, he is not that Cynic's enemy, since he cannot injure him; rather he inflicts on himself the most terrible punishment of all, namely ignorance of one who is nobler than himself; and so he is deserted and bereft of the other's protection.[xxv]

Crates of Thebes | Lucian, Demonax 48

[Demonax] waged constant warfare against all whose philosophy was not practical, but for show. So when he saw a cynic, with threadbare cloak and wallet, but a braying-pestle instead of a staff, proclaiming himself loudly as a follower of Antisthenes, Crates, and Diogenes, he said: ‘Tell us no lies; your master is the professor of braying.’[xxvi]

Crates of Thebes | Lucian, Dialogues of the Dead excerpts

Crates. Diogenes

Cra . Did you know Moerichus of Corinth, Diogenes? A shipowner, rolling in money, with a cousin called Aristeas, nearly as rich. He had a Homeric quotation:- Wilt thou heave me? shall I heave thee?

Diog . What was the point of it?

Cra . Why, the cousins were of equal age, expected to succeed to each other's wealth, and behaved accordingly. They published their wills, each naming the other sole heir in case of his own prior decease. So it stood in black and white, and they vied with each other in showing that deference which the relation demands. All the prophets, astrologers, and Chaldean dream-interpreters alike, and Apollo himself for that matter, held different views at different times about the winner; the thousands seemed to incline now to Aristeas's side, now to Moerichus's.

Diog . And how did it end? I am quite curious.

Cra . They both died on the same day, and the properties passed to Eunomius and Thrasycles, two relations who had never had a presentiment of it. They had been crossing from Sicyon to Cirrha, when they were taken aback by a squall from the north-west, and capsized in mid-channel.

Diog . Cleverly done. Now, when we were alive, we never had such designs on one another. I never prayed for Antisthenes's death, with a view to inheriting his staff - though it was an extremely serviceable one, which he had cut himself from a wild olive; and I do not credit you, Crates, with ever having had an eye to my succession; it included the tub, and a wallet with two pints of lupines in it.

Cra . Why, no; these things were superfluities to me - and to yourself, indeed. The real necessities you inherited from Antisthenes, and I from you; and in those necessities was more grandeur and majesty than in the Persian Empire.

Diog . You allude to –

Cra . Wisdom, independence, truth, frankness, freedom.

Diog . To be sure; now I think of it, I did inherit all this from Antisthenes, and left it to you with some addition.

Cra . Others, however, were not interested in such property; no one paid us the attentions of an expectant heir; they all lad their eyes on gold, instead.

Diog . Of course; they had no receptacle for such things as we could give; luxury had made them so leaky - as full of holes as a worn-out purse. Put wisdom, frankness, or truth into them, and it would have dropped out; the bottom of the bag would have let them through, like the perforated cask into which those poor Danaids are always pouring. Gold, on the other hand, they could grip with tooth or nail or somehow.

Cra . Result: our wealth will still be ours down here; while they will arrive with no more than one penny, and even that must be left with the ferryman.

Diogenes. Antisthenes. Crates

Diog . Now, friends, we have plenty of time; what say you to a stroll? we might go to the entrance and have a look at the new-comers - what they are and how they behave.

Ant . The very thing. It will be an amusing sight - some weeping, some imploring to be let go, some resisting; when Hermes collars them, they will stick their heels in and throw their weight back; and all to no purpose.

Cra . Very well; and meanwhile, let me give you my experiences on the way down.

Diog . Yes, go on, Crates; I dare say you saw some entertaining sights.

Cra . We were a large party, of which the most distinguished were Ismenodorus, a rich townsman of ours, Arsaces, ruler of Media, and Oroetes the Armenian. Ismenodorus had been murdered by robbers going to Eleusis over Cithaeron, I believe. He was moaning, nursing his wound, apostrophizing the young children he had left, and cursing his foolhardiness. He knew Cithaeron and the Eleutherae district were all devastated by the wars, and yet he must take only two servants with him - with five bowls and four cups of solid gold in his baggage, too. Arsaces was an old man of rather imposing aspect; he expressed his feelings in true barbaric fashion, was exceedingly angry at being expected to walk, and kept calling for his horse. In point of fact it had died with him, it and he having been simultaneously transfixed by a Thracian pikeman in the fight with the Cappadocians on the Araxes. Arsaces described to us how he had charged far in advance of his men, and the Thracian, standing his ground and sheltering himself with his buckler, warded off the lance, and then, planting his pike, transfixed man and horse together.

Ant . How could it possibly be done simultaneously?

Cra . Oh, quite simple. The Median was charging with his thirty-foot lance in front of him; the Thracian knocked it aside with his buckler; the point glanced by; then he knelt, received the charge on his pike, pierced the horse's chest - the spirited beast impaling itself by its own impetus -, and finally ran Arsaces through groin and buttock. You see what happened; it was the horse's doing rather than the man's. However, Arsaces did not at all appreciate equality, and wanted to come down on horseback. As for Oroetes, he was so tender-footed that he could not stand, far less walk. That is the way with all the Medes - once they are off their horses, they go delicately on tiptoe as if they were treading on thorns. He threw himself down, and there he lay; nothing would induce him to get up; so the excellent Hermes had to pick him up and carry him to the ferry; how I laughed!

Ant . When I came down, I did not keep with the crowd; I left them to their blubberings, ran on to the ferry, and secured a comfortable seat for the passage. Then as we crossed, they were divided between tears and sea-sickness, and gave me a merry time of it.

Diog . You two have described your fellow passengers; now for mine. There came down with me Blepsias, the Pisatan usurer, Lampis, an Acarnanian freelance, and the Corinthian millionaire Damis. The last had been poisoned by his son, Lampis had cut his throat for love of the courtesan Myrtium, and the wretched Blepsias is supposed to have died of starvation; his awful pallor and extreme emaciation looked like it. I inquired into the manner of their deaths, though I knew very well. When Damis exclaimed upon his son, 'You only have your deserts,' I remarked,-'an old man of ninety living in luxury yourself with your million of money, and fobbing off your eighteen-year son with a few pence! As for you, sir Acarnanian'- he was groaning and cursing Myrtium -, 'why put the blame on Love? it belongs to yourself; you were never afraid of an enemy - took all sorts of risks in other people's service - and then let yourself be caught, my hero, by the artificial tears and sighs of the first wench you came across.' Blepsias uttered his own condemnation, without giving me time to do it for him: he had hoarded his money for heirs who were nothing to him, and been fool enough to reckon on immortality. I assure you it was no common satisfaction I derived from their whinings.

But here we are at the gate; we must keep our eyes open, and get the earliest view. Lord, lord, what a mixed crowd! and all in tears except these babes and sucklings. Why, the hoary seniors are all lamentation too; strange! has madam Life given them a love-potion? I must interrogate this most reverend senior of them all.- Sir, why weep, seeing that you have died full of years? has your excellency any complaint to make, after so long a term? Ah, but you were doubtless a king.

Pauper . Not so.

Diog . A provincial governor, then?

Pauper . No, nor that.

Diog . I see; you were wealthy, and do not like leaving your boundless luxury to die.

Pauper . You are quite mistaken; I was near ninety, made a miserable livelihood out of my line and rod, was excessively poor, childless, a cripple, and had nearly lost my sight.

Diog . And you still wished to live?

Pauper . Ay, sweet is the light, and dread is death; would that one might escape it!

Diog . You are beside yourself, old man; you are like a child kicking at the pricks, you contemporary of the ferryman. Well, we need wonder no more at youth, when age is still in love with life; one would have thought it should court death as the cure for its proper ills.- And now let us go our way, before our loitering here brings suspicion on us: they may think we are planning an escape.[xxvii]

Crates of Thebes | Lucian, The Death of Peregrine 15

Meanwhile, indictments and accusations were brewing: an attack might be looked for at any moment: as for the common people, they were in a state of furious indignation and grief at the foul butchery of a harmless old man; for so he was described. In these trying circumstances, observe the ingenuity and resource of the sagacious Proteus. He makes his appearance in the assembly: his hair (even in these early days) is long, his cloak is shabby; at his side is slung the philosopher's wallet, his hand grasps the philosopher's staff; truly a tragic figure, every inch of him. Thus equipped, he presents himself before the public, with the announcement that the property left him by his father of blessed memory is entirely at their disposal! Being a needy folk, with a keen eye to charity, they received the information with ready applause: “Here is true philosophy; true patriotism; the spirit of Diogenes and Crates is here!” As for his enemies, they were dumb; and if any one did venture an allusion to parricide, he was promptly stoned. [xxviii]

Crates of Thebes | Lucian, The Runaways

The city swarms with these vermin, particularly with those who profess the tenets of Diogenes, Antisthenes, and Crates. Followers of the Dog, they care little to excel in the canine virtues; they are neither trusty guardians nor affectionate, faithful servants: but for noise and greed and thievery and wantonness, for cringing, fawning cupboard-love,–there, indeed, they are perfect. Before long you will see every trade at a standstill, the workmen all at large: for every man of them knows that, whilst he is bent over his work from morning to night, toiling and drudging for a starvation wage, idle impostors are living in the midst of plenty, commanding charity where they will, with no word of thanks to the giver, and a curse on him that withholds the gift. Surely (he will say to himself) the golden age is returned, and the heavens shall rain honey into my mouth.

They are sufficiently provided at last, and then off goes the hated uniform: lands and houses are bought, and soft raiment, and comely pages. Inquire of them now for Crates's wallet, Antisthenes's cloak, Diogenes's tub: they know nothing of the matter. When men see these things, they spit in the face of philosophy; they think that all philosophers are the same, and blame me their teacher. It is long since I have won over any to my side. I toil like Penelope at the loom, and one moment undoes all that I have done. Ignorance and Wickedness watch my unavailing labours, and smile.[xxix]

Crates of Thebes | Origen, Contra Celsus Book 2 Chapter 41

In the person of the Jew, Celsus continues to find fault with Jesus, alleging that “he did not show himself to be pure from all evil.” Let Celsus state from what “evil” our Lord did not, show Himself to be pure. If he means that, He was not pure from what is properly termed “evil,” let him clearly prove the existence of any wicked work in Him. But if he deems poverty and the cross to be evils, and conspiracy on the part of wicked men, then it is clear that he would say that evil had happened also to Socrates, who was unable to show himself pure from evils. And how great also the other band of poor men is among the Greeks, who have given themselves to philosophical pursuits, and have voluntarily accepted a life of poverty, is known to many among the Greeks from what is recorded of Democritus, who allowed his property to become pasture for sheep; and of Crates, who obtained his freedom by bestowing upon the Thebans the price received for the sale of his possessions. Nay, even Diogenes himself, from excessive poverty, came to live in a tub; and yet, in the opinion of no one possessed of moderate understanding, was Diogenes on that account considered to be in an evil (sinful) condition.[xxx]

Crates of Thebes | Origen, Contra Celsus Book 7 Chapter 7

In regard to the prophets among the Jews, some of them were wise men before they became divinely inspired prophets, while others became wise by the illumination which their minds received when divinely inspired. They were selected by Divine Providence to receive the Divine Spirit, and to be the depositories of His holy oracles, on the ground of their leading a life of almost unapproachable excellence, intrepid, noble, unmoved by danger or death. For reason teaches that such ought to be the character of the prophets of the Most High, in comparison with which the firmness of Antisthenes, Crates, and Diogenes will seem but as child's play.[xxxi]

Crates of Thebes | Philostratus, Life of Apollonius 1.13

So when all was well between him [Apollonius] and his brother, he at once turned his attention to his other relatives, and conciliated such of them as were in want by bestowing on them the rest of his property, leaving only a trifle to himself; for he said that Anaxagoras of Clazomenae kept his philosophy for cattle rather than for men when he abandoned his fields to flocks and goats, and that Crates of Thebes, when he threw his money into the sea benefited neither man nor beast.[xxxii]

Crates of Thebes | Philostratus, Life of Apollonius 7.2

Then there were Diogenes of Sinope and Crates of Thebes, of whom the former went direct to Chaeronea, and rebuked Philip for his treatment of the Athenians, on the ground that, though asserting himself to be a descendant of Heracles he yet was destroying by force of arms those who had taken up arms in defense of the descendants of Heracles.

The other Crates, when Alexander declared that he would rebuild Thebes for his sake, replied that he would never stand in need of a country or of a city, which anyone could raze to the ground by mere force of arms.[xxxiii]

Crates of Thebes | Plutarch, How to Tell a Flatterer from a Friend

They tell us a story to this purpose of Demetrius Phalereus, that, when he dwelt an exile at Thebes in mean beggarly circumstances, he was once extremely concerned to observe the philosopher Crates making towards him, expecting to be treated by him with all the roughness of a cynical behavior. But when Crates had addressed himself courteously to him, and discoursed him upon the point of exile, endeavoring to convince him that it had nothing miserable or uneasy in it, but on the contrary rather rescued him from the nice and hazardous management of public affairs, — advising him withal to repose his confidence in himself and his own conscience, — Demetrius was so taken and encouraged by his discourse, that he is reported to have said to his friends, Cursed be those employs which robbed me so long of the acquaintance of such an excellent person.[xxxiv]

Crates of Thebes | Plutarch, Life of Demetrius 46

But as soon as he had entered upon the path of hope, as upon a royal highway, and had gathered about himself a body and form of sovereignty, he restored to the Thebans their ancient form of government; the Athenians, however, revolted from him. They voted to elect archons as had been their custom of old, and took away from Diphilus, who had been appointed priest of the Saviour-gods, the privilege of giving his name to the current year; and when they saw that Demetrius had more strength than they expected, they summoned Pyrrhus to their aid from Macedonia. Demetrius came up against them in a rage, and began a strenuous siege of the city. But the people sent to him Crates the philosopher, a man of great repute and influence, and Demetrius, partly because he was induced to grant the ambassador's appeals in behalf of the Athenians, and partly because he was convinced when the philosopher showed him what would be an advantageous course, raised the siege, and after assembling all the ships he had, and putting on board eleven thousand soldiers, together with his cavalry, he sailed for Asia, to wrest Caria and Lydia from Lysimachus.[xxxv]

Crates of Thebes | Plutarch, Rules for Preservation of Health

Wherefore Crates, supposing that luxury and prodigality were the chief cause of seditions and insurrections in a city, in a droll advises that we should never go beyond a lentil in our meals, lest we bring ourselves into sedition.[xxxvi]

Crates of Thebes | Simplicius, Commentary on Epictetus 10

For the same reason, Epictetus would tell you, that poverty is no such formidable thing neither: because he can produce the example of Crates the Theban to the contrary; who, when he disposed of all he was worth to the public, and said,

Let others keep, or mourn lost, store, Crates’ own hands make Crates poor,

That moment put an end to his slavery; and his freedom commenced, from the time he had disburdened himself of his wealth. Now the manifest consequence of all this is, that nothing of this kind is terrible and insupportable in its own nature, as we fondly imagine. So far from it, that there may be some cases, when such things are much more eligible, and better for us: I mean, when they are converted to higher and more excellent purposes for our own selves; by tending to the advantage and improvement of the reasonable soul.[xxxvii]

Crates of Thebes | Suda, Kappa 2341

Son of Askondas, a Theban, a Cynic philosopher, a student of Diogenes and Bryson the Achaean. He liquidated his property and gave the money to a money-changer, telling him that if his sons were philosophers he should give it to the people, but if not, to the sons themselves. He married Hipparchia of Maroneia and called their marriage “dog-coupling” (cynogamy). He had a son by her, Pasikles. He flourished in the 113th Olympiad. He was called “Door-opener” because he shamelessly entered anyone's house he wanted. This man, having abandoned his property [to be] sheep-pasturage, took to the altar and said, “Krates manumits Krates the Theban!” He wrote philosophical works. Krates said: “hunger stops passion; if not, time [does]; but if not even that can – a halter.” This man threw his property into the sea, as Philostratus the Lemnian says in his Life of Apollonius of Tyana.[xxxviii]

Primary Sources: Hipparchia of Maronea

Hipparchia of Maronea | Diogenes Laertius, Book 6 §96-98

96. Hipparchia too, sister of Metrocles, was captured by their doctrines. Both of them were born at Maroneia.

She fell in love with the discourses and the life of Crates, and would not pay attention to any of her suitors, their wealth, their high birth or their beauty. But to her Crates was everything. She used even to threaten her parents she would make away with herself, unless she were given in marriage to him. Crates therefore was implored by her parents to dissuade the girl, and did all he could, and at last, failing to persuade her, got up, took off his clothes before her face and said, “This is the bridegroom, here are his possessions; make your choice accordingly; for you will be no helpmeet of mine, unless you share my pursuits.”

97. The girl chose and, adopting the same dress, went about with her husband and lived with him in public and went out to dinners with him. Accordingly she appeared at the banquet given by Lysimachus, and there put down Theodorus, known as the atheist, by means of the following sophism. Any action which would not be called wrong if done by Theodorus, would not be called wrong if done by Hipparchia. Now Theodorus does no wrong when he strikes himself: therefore neither does Hipparchia do wrong when she strikes Theodorus. He had no reply wherewith to meet the argument, but tried to strip her of her cloak. But Hipparchia showed no sign of alarm or of the perturbation natural in a woman.

98. And when he said to her:

“Is this she who quitting woof and warp and comb and loom?”

she replied, “It is I, Theodorus, – but do you suppose that I have been ill advised about myself, if instead of wasting further time upon the loom I spent it in education?” These tales and countless others are told of the female philosopher.

There is current a work of Crates entitled Epistles, containing excellent philosophy in a style which sometimes resembles that of Plato. He has also written tragedies, stamped with a very lofty kind of philosophy; as, for example, the following passage:

Not one tower hath my country nor one roof,

But wide as the whole earth its citadel

And home prepared for us to dwell therein.

He died in old age, and was buried in Boeotia.[xxxix]

Hipparchia of Maronea | Suda, Iota 517

Hipparchia. Sister of Metrokles the Cynic, from Maroneia, Cynic philosopher, wife of Krates the Cynic, who was an Athenian, student of Bryson from Achaia, or as some say of Diogenes. She wrote philosophical discussions and some essays and propositions addressed to Theodoros, the one called Atheist. She flourished in the 111th Olympiad.[xl]

Hipparchia of Maronea | Palatine Anthology, 413 - Antipater of Sidon

I, Hipparchia, chose not the tasks of amply-robed woman, but the manly life of the Cynics. Nor do tunics fastened with brooches and thick-soled slippers and the hair-caul wet with ointment please me, but rather the wallet and its fellow-traveller the staff and the course double mantle suited to them, and a bed strewn on the ground. I shall have a greater name than that of Arcadian Atalanta by so much as wisdom is better than racing over the mountains.[xli]

Secondary Sources

The History of Philosophy: from the earliest times to the beginning of the present century; drawn up from Brucker's Historia critica philosophiae. ... In two volumes. By Johann Jakob Brucker, William Enfield. Printed for J. Johnson, 1791

Section I

The wife of Crates, Hipparchia, must be mentioned in the list of Cynic philosophers. She was rich, of a good family, and had many suitors. She entertained, nevertheless, so violent a passion for this philosopher, that she was deaf to every other proposal, and threatened her parents that, if she were not permitted to marry Crates, she would put an end to her life. Crates, at the request of her parents, represented to Hipparchia every circumstance in his condition and manner of living, which might induce her to change her mind. Still she persisted in her resolution, and not only became the wife of Crates, but adopted all the peculiarities of the Cynic profession. Disgraceful tales have been industriously circulated concerning Crates and his wife; but since they do not appear in any writings of the period in which they lived, and are neither mentioned by Epictetus, who wrote an apology for the Cynic philosophy, nor by Lucian or Athæneus, who were so industrious in accumulating calumnies against philosophers, they must unquestionably be set down among the malicious fictions of later writers, who were desirous to bring the Cynic and Stoic sects into discredit. Had either Diogenes or Crates been the beasts which some have represented them, it is wholly incredible that Zeno and the Stoics would have treated their memory with so much respect

Section II

Crates, the Cynic philosopher, happening at that instant to be pasting by, the bookseller pointed to him, and said, “Follow that man”. Zeno soon found an opportunity of attending upon the instructions of Crates, and was so well pleased with his doctrine, that he became one of his disciples. But though he highly admired the general principles and spirit of the Cynic school, he could not easily reconcile himself to their peculiar manners. Besides, his inquisitive turn of mind would not allow him to adopt that indifference to every scientific enquiry, which was one of the characteristic distinctions of the sect [Stoicism]. He therefore attended upon other masters, who professed to instruct their disciples in the nature and causes of things. When Crates, displeased at his following other philosophers, attempted to drag him by force out of the school of Stilpo, Zeno said to him, “ You may seize my body, but Stilpo has laid hold of my mind.” After continuing to attend upon the lectures of Stilpo several years, he passed over to other schools, particularly those of Xenocrates and Diodorus Cronus.

The World's History and Its Makers. Edgar Sanderson, John Porter Lamberton, John McGovern. Universal History Publishing Company, 1900

At that very moment Crates, the Cynic, passed by the door. “See!” exclaimed the bookseller, pointing to Crates. “Follow that man.” Zeno hastened after the Cynic, and after a short conversation became his pupil. How easy was learning in those happy Athenian days!

When we regard the later life of the celebrated Cyprian it is no difficult matter to readily conceive that he could not identify himself with the Cynical school as a finality. Zeno was too decent, too refined, too earnest and too honest for that. Cynical shamelessness made him wince. Its brazen disregard for common propriety was repulsive to him. He could not inure himself to the snarls and the wanton brutality of these men, although he could not but admire their protest—too severe though that protest was—against the soft licentiousness of Athens. Notwithstanding his strain of Phoenician blood, Zeno was a Greek, and he saw in the things around him the sad decadence into which Greece had fallen. In Cynicism he believed the remedy to lie. He took the rugged, even blasphemous morality of “the Dogs” and casting aside its blasphemy, he retained its manhood.

The story of the object lesson given him by Crates is interesting. The Cynic, seeing that his new pupil exhibited a little squeamishness about taking up the fashions of the Cynics, gave Zeno a pot of lentils and ordered him to carry it through an aristocratic portion of the town. For this task Zeno had neither relish nor ambition. Taking the pot he concealed himself in a convenient corner. Crates suspecting that his pupil was craven, followed him and found him in his retreat. Lifting his staff he smote the pottery into fragments while the lentils poured over Zeno's person. “Now, my small Phoenician,” said the master, “tell me why it is that you have absconded when you have been guilty of no wrong doing?” Zeno was delighted with such philosophy as this, and blessed the contrary winds that had despoiled him of his treasure to lead him to the feet of Crates.

After ten years of struggle with his innate sense of decency and his desire to become a philosopher, Zeno left the Cynics. He could not assume their impudicities, and yet he was attracted by their disdain of the world and their genuine indifference to misfortune or sorrow.

For a time Zeno took refuge with Stilpo, the Megaric, and when he was leaving Crates that philosopher, unlike Antisthenes, begged of him to remain with the Cynics.

“Crates,” said Zeno, “you can hold a philosopher's body by force. But if you would have my mind remain with you, you must persuade me by the cogency of your logic. Prove to me that your philosophy is better than Stilpo's and I will remain. But if you fail in this, you may lock up my body in a cell but my thoughts will ever go out to Stilpo.”

The Ancient History of the Egyptians, Carthaginians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes and Persians, Grecians and Macedonians: including a history of the arts and sciences of the ancients, Volume 2. Charles Rollin, James Bell. Harper & Brothers, 1870

Crates the Cynic was one of the principal disciples of Diogenes. He was a Theban of a very considerable family, and of great fortune. He sold his whole patrimony for more than two hundred talents, which he put into the hands of a banker, and desired him to give them to his children in case, they proved fools; but if they had elevation of mind enough to be philosophers, he directed him to distribute the money among the citizens of Thebes, because philosophers wanted nothing: always excess and caprice even in actions laudable in themselves.

Hipparchia, the sister of the orator Metrocles, charmed with the freedom of Crates's manners, was absolutely determined to marry him, notwithstanding the opposition of all her relations. Crates, to whom they applied themselves, did all he could on his side to make her disgust this marriage. Having stript himself before her to show her his hunch-back and ill-made body in the worst light, and throwing his cloak, bag, and staff upon the ground; “There,” says he, “are all my riches, and my wife must expect no other jointures from me.” She persisted in her resolution, married hunch-back, dressed herself like a Cynic, and became still more “free” and impudent than her husband.

Impudence was the prevailing character of those philosophers. They reproached others with their faults without any reserve, and even added an air of insolence and contempt to their reproaches. This, according to some, occasioned their being called Cynics, because they were biting, and barked at all the world like dogs; and because they were ashamed of nothing, and held that every thing might be done openly without shame or reserve.

Crates flourished at Thebes about the 113th Olympiad, A.M. 3676, and excelled all the Cynics of his time. He was the master of Zeno. tho founder of the famous sect of the Stoics.

Crates of Thebes (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved May 4, 2013, from

Crates (Ancient Greek: Κράτης; c. 365 – c. 285 BC) of Thebes was a Cynic philosopher. Crates gave away his money to live a life of poverty on the streets of Athens. He married Hipparchia of Maroneia who lived in the same manner that he did. Respected by the people of Athens, he is remembered for being the teacher of Zeno of Citium, the founder of Stoicism. Various fragments of Crates' teachings survive, including his description of the ideal Cynic state.


Crates was born c. 365 BC in Thebes. He was the son of Ascondus, and was the heir to a large fortune, which he is said to have renounced to live a life of Cynic poverty in Athens. Diogenes Laërtius preserves several different accounts of this story; one of them has Crates giving his money away to the citizens of Thebes, apparently after seeing the beggar king Telephus in a tragedy; whereas another account has him placing his money in the hands of a banker, with the agreement that he should deliver it to his sons, unless they too became philosophers, in which case he should distribute it among the poor.

He moved to Athens where tradition says he became a pupil of Diogenes of Sinope; the precise relationship between Crates and Diogenes is uncertain, but there is one apparent reference to Crates referring to himself as “a fellow-citizen of Diogenes, who defied all the plots of envy.” Crates is also described as being the student of Bryson the Achaean, and of Stilpo. He lived a life of cheerful simplicity, and Plutarch, who wrote a detailed biography of Crates which unfortunately does not survive, records what sort of man Crates was:

But Crates with only his wallet and tattered cloak laughed out his life jocosely, as if he had been always at a festival.

He is said to have been deformed with a lame leg and hunched shoulders. He was nicknamed the Door-Opener (Greek: θυρεπανοίκτης) because he would enter any house and people would receive him gladly and with honour:

He used to enter the houses of his friends, without being invited or otherwise called, in order to reconcile members of a family, even if it was apparent that they were deeply at odds. He would not reprove them harshly, but in a soothing way, in a manner which was non-accusatory towards those whom he was correcting, because he wished to be of service to them as well as to those who were just listening.

Crates and Hipparchia Villa Farnesina Roman wall painting of Crates and Hipparchia from the Villa Farnesina, Rome. Crates is shown with a staff and satchel, being approached by Hipparchia bearing her possessions in the manner of a potential bride.

He attracted the attentions of Hipparchia of Maroneia, the sister of one of Crates' students, Metrocles. Hipparchia is said to have fallen in love with Crates and with his life and teachings, and thus rejecting her wealthy upbringing in a manner similar to Crates, she married him. The marriage was remarkable (for ancient Athens) for being based on mutual respect and equality between the couple. Stories about Hipparchia appearing in public everywhere with Crates are mentioned precisely because respectable women did not behave in that way. They had at least two children, a girl, and a boy named Pasicles. We learn that Crates is supposed to have initiated his son into sex by taking him to a brothel, and he allowed his daughter a month's trial marriage to potential suitors.

He was the teacher of Zeno of Citium in the last years of the century, and was undoubtably the biggest influence on Zeno in his development of Stoic philosophy. Zeno always regarded Crates with the greatest respect, and some of the accounts we have of Crates have probably come down to us via Zeno's writings. His other pupils included Metrocles, Monimus, Menippus, Cleomenes, Theombrotus, and Crates' brother Pasicles. He may also have taught Cleanthes, Zeno's successor as head of the Stoic school.

Crates was, apparently, in Thebes in 307 BC, when Demetrius Phalereus was exiled there He is said to have died at a great age (c. 285 BC), and was buried in Boeotia.


Crates wrote a book of letters on philosophical subjects, the style of which is compared by Diogenes Laërtius to that of Plato; but these no longer survive. There are 36 surviving Cynic epistles attributed to Crates, but these are later, 1st-century, compositions. Crates was also the author of some philosophical tragedies, and some smaller poems apparently called Games (Ancient Greek: Παίγνια, Paignia).

Several fragments of his thought survive. He taught a simple asceticism, which seems to have been milder than that of his predecessor Diogenes:

And therefore Crates replied to the man who asked, “What will be in it for me after I become a philosopher?” “You will be able,” he said, “to open your wallet easily and with your hand scoop out and dispense lavishly instead of, as you do now, squirming and hesitating and trembling like those with paralyzed hands. Rather, if the wallet is full, that is how you will view it; and if you see that it is empty, you will not be distressed. And once you have elected to use the money, you will easily be able to do so; and if you have none, you will not yearn for it, but you will live satisfied with what you have, not desiring what you do not have nor displeased with whatever comes your way.”

His philosophy was infused with a gentle, rich humor. He urged people not to prefer anything but lentils in their meals, because luxury and extravagance were the chief causes of seditions and insurrections in a city. This jest would later be the cause of much satire, as in book 4 of Athenaeus' Deipnosophistae where a group of Cynics sit down for a meal and are served course after course of lentil soup.

One of his poems parodied a famous hymn to the Muses written by Solon. But whereas Solon wished for prosperity, reputation, and “justly acquired possessions,” Crates had typically Cynic desires:

Glorious children of Memory and Olympian Zeus,

Muses of Pieria, listen to my prayer!

Give me without ceasing food for my belly

Which had always made my life frugal and free from slavery. . . .

Make me useful to my friends, rather than agreeable.

As for money, I do not wish to amass conspicuous wealth,

But only seek the wealth of the beetle or the maintenance of the ant;

Nay, I desire to possess justice and to collect riches

That are easily carried, easily acquired, and are of great avail to virtue.

If I may but win these, I will propitiate Hermes and the holy Muses,

Not with costly dainties, but with pious virtues.

There are also several fragments surviving of a poem Crates wrote describing the ideal Cynic state which begins by parodying Homer's description of Crete. Crates' city is called Pera, which in Greek refers to the beggar's wallet which every Cynic carried:

There is a city Pera in the midst of wine-dark Tuphos,

Fair and fruitful, filthy all about, possessing nothing,

Into which no foolish parasite ever sails,

Nor any playboy who delights in a whore's ass,

But it produces thyme, garlic, figs, and bread,

For which the citizens do not war with each other,

Nor do they possess arms, to get cash or fame.

The word tuphos (Greek: τῦφος) in the first line, is one of the first known Cynic uses of a word which literally means mist or smoke. It was used by the Cynics to describe the mental confusion which most people are wrapped-up in. The Cynics sought to clear away this fog and to see the world as it really is.

Hipparchia of Maroneia (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved May 4, 2013, from

Hipparchia of Maroneia (Greek: Ἱππαρχία; fl. c. 325 BC) was a Cynic philosopher, and wife of Crates of Thebes. She was born in Maroneia, but her family moved to Athens, where Hipparchia came into contact with Crates, the most famous Cynic philosopher in Greece at that time. She fell in love with him, and, despite the disapproval of her parents, she married him. She went on to live a life of Cynic poverty on the streets of Athens with her husband.

Little survives of her own philosophical views, but like most Cynics, her influence lies in the example of her life, choosing a way of life which was usually considered unacceptable for respectable women of the time. The story of her attraction to Crates, and her rejection of conventional values, became a popular theme for later writers.


Hipparchia was born c. 350 BC in Maroneia, Thrace. Her family came to Athens, where Hipparchia's brother - Metrocles - became a pupil of the Cynic philosopher Crates of Thebes. Hipparchia fell in love with Crates, and developed such a passion for him, that she told her parents that if they refused to allow her to marry him, she would kill herself. They begged Crates to dissuade her, and he stood before her, removed his clothes, and said, “Here is the bridegroom, and this is his property.” Hipparchia, however, was quite happy with this; she adopted the Cynic life assuming the same clothes that he wore, and appearing with him in public everywhere. Crates called their marriage “dog-coupling” (cynogamy). We are told that they lived in the stoas and porticoes of Athens, and Apuleius and later Christian writers wrote lurid accounts of them having sex, publicly, in broad daylight. Although this would have been consistent with Cynic shamelessness (anaideia), the mere fact that Hipparchia adopted male clothes and lived on equal terms with her husband would have been enough to shock Athenian society. Hipparchia had at least two children, a daughter, and a son named Pasicles. It is not known how or when she died. There is an epigram ascribed to Antipater of Sidon, as the sort of thing which may have been written on her tomb:

I, Hipparchia chose not the tasks of rich-robed woman, but the manly life of the Cynic.

Brooch-clasped tunics, well-clad shoes, and perfumed headscarves pleased me not;

But with wallet and fellow staff, together with coarse cloak and bed of hard ground,

My name shall be greater than Atalanta: for wisdom is better than mountain running.

A genus of butterflies, Hipparchia (genus), bears her name.


Crates and Hipparchia Villa Farnesina Roman wall painting of Hipparchia and Crates from the Villa Farnesina, Rome. Hipparchia approaches Crates carrying a box, implying that she has come to Crates as a potential bride bearing her possessions.

The Suda says she wrote some philosophical treatises, and some letters addressed to Theodorus the Atheist. None of these have survived. There are some accounts of her encounters with Theodorus:

When she went into a symposium with Crates, she tested Theodoros the atheist by proposing a sophism like this: “That which if Theodoros did, he would not be said to do wrong, neither should Hipparchia be said to do wrong if she does it. Theodoros hitting himself does not do wrong, nor does Hipparchia do wrong hitting Theodoros.” He did not reply to what she said, but pulled up her garment.

We are told she was neither offended nor ashamed by this “as most women would have been.” We are also told that when Theodorus (quoting a line from The Bacchae of Euripides) said to her: “Who is the woman who has left behind the shuttles of the loom?” she replied

I, Theodorus, am that person, but do I appear to you to have come to a wrong decision, if I devote that time to philosophy, which I otherwise should have spent at the loom?“

Many other anecdotes existed about Hipparchia, but they have been mostly lost. We know also that Crates taught Zeno of Citium; it is impossible to say what influence Hipparchia had on Zeno in his development of Stoicism, but Zeno's own radical views on love and sex (as evidenced in his Republic) may have been influenced by the relationship of Hipparchia and Crates.

Later Influence

Hipparchia's fame undoubtably rests on the fact that she was a woman practising philosophy and living a life on equal terms with her husband. Both facts were unusual for ancient Greece or Rome. Although there were other women who chose to live as Cynics, Hipparchia is the only one who is named to us. She is also the only woman to have her own entry among the 82 philosophers in Diogenes Laërtius' Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, and she continued to fascinate later writers. There are, for example, a set of Cynic epistles, written in the 1st century AD, some of which purport to give advice from Crates to Hipparchia:

Our philosophy is called Cynic not because we are indifferent to everything, but because we aggressively endure what others, due to being soft or general opinion find unbearable. So it is for this reason and not the former that they have called us Cynics. Stay, therefore, and continue as a Cynic - for you are not by nature worse than we [men] are, for neither are female dogs worse than male - in order that you might be freed from Nature, as all [people] either because of law or due to vices, live as slaves.

Other letters mention events, which, like a lot of the Cynic epistles, may be based on actual anecdotes which existed at the time. In two of the letters, we are told that Hipparchia sent a cloak to Crates which she had made. Crates, though, fears that she may have undertaken the task “so that you might appear to the masses to be someone who loves her husband.” Crates urges her to renounce wool-spinning and take-up philosophy since that is the reason she married him. In another letter, Crates learns why she has taken up domestic tasks: Hipparchia, we are told, has given birth. After agreeing with her that she gave birth easily because of her Cynic training, Crates proceeds to give advice on how to rear the child:

Let his bath water be cold, his clothes be a cloak, his food be milk, yet not to excess. Rock him in a cradle made from a tortoise shell. … When he is able to speak and walk, dress him, not with a sword, as Aethra did with Theseus, but with a staff and cloak and wallet, which can guard men better than swords, and send him to Athens.

Perhaps most remarkable is a letter purporting to come from Diogenes of Sinope addressed to the people of Maroneia:

You did well when you changed the name of the city and, instead of Maroneia, called it Hipparchia, its present name, since it is better for you to be named after Hipparchia, a woman, it's true, but a philosopher, than after Maron, a man who sells wine.

There is, unfortunately, no evidence that the people of Maroneia ever renamed their city Hipparchia.

Hipparchia of Maroneia (n.d.). In Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved May 4, 2013, from Laura Grams. University of Nebraska at Omaha. Last updated: July 5, 2005.

Hipparchia (fl. 300 BCE)

Hipparchia is notable for being one of the few women philosophers of Ancient Greece. Drawn to the doctrines and the self-imposed hardships of the Cynic lifestyle, Hipparchia lived in poverty with her husband, Crates the Cynic. While no existing writings are directly attributed to Hipparchia, recorded anecdotal accounts emphasize both her direct, Cynic rhetoric and her nonconformity to traditional gendered roles. Entering into marriage is a traditional social role that Cynics would normally reject; yet with her marriage to Crates, Hipparchia raised Greek cultural expectations regarding the role of women in marriage, as well as the Cynic doctrine itself. With her husband, Hipparchia publicly embodied fundamental Cynic principles, specifically that the path toward virtue was the result of rational actors living in accordance with a natural law that eschewed conventional materialism and embraced both self-sufficiency and mental asperity. Written accounts of Hipparchia’s life reference in particular both her belief in human shamelessness or anaideia, and her rhetorical acuity at Greek symposiums traditionally attended only by men. Along with Crates, Hipparchia is considered a direct influence on the later school of Stoicism.

1. Life and Philosophy

Hipparchia was a Cynic philosopher from Maroneia in Thrace, who flourished around 300 BCE. She became famous for her marriage to Crates the Cynic, and infamous for supposedly consummating the marriage in public. Hipparchia was likely born between 340 and 330 BCE, and was probably in her mid-teens when she decided to adopt the Cynic mantle. She may have been introduced to philosophy by her brother, Metrocles, who was a pupil in Aristotle’s Lyceum and later began to follow Crates. Most of our knowledge about Hipparchia comes from anecdotes and sayings repeated by later authors. Diogenes Laertius reports that she wrote some letters, jokes and philosophical refutations, which are now lost (see Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, Vol. II, tr. R. D. Hicks, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1925, reprint 1995, VI.96-98). He adds that myriad stories were told about “the female philosopher”.

Diogenes Laertius claims that Hipparchia was so eager to marry Crates that she threatened to kill herself rather than live in any other way. (DL VI.96.7-8) Although Crates was by this time an old man, she rejected her other youthful suitors because she had fallen in love with “both the discourses and the life” of Crates, and was said to be “captured” by the logos of the Cynics. (VI.96.1 and 4-5) At the request of her parents, Crates tried to talk Hipparchia out of the marriage. (VI.96.9-10) When he failed in this task, he disrobed in front of her and said, “this is the groom, and these are his possessions; choose accordingly.” (VI.96.11-15) This tale should be taken with the proverbial grain of salt, given that Diogenes Laertius is writing centuries later, and that his account may include ‘apt’ stories that are technically false, but which arose and were transmitted because they were taken to be revealing illustrations. Given the interest and controversy generated by the female Cynic, it is easy to imagine stories of this kind being told about her. In any event, we know that Hipparchia chose to marry Crates and share his philosophical pursuits.

Hipparchia’s decision to become a Cynic was surprising, on account of both the Cynic disregard for conventional institutions and the extreme hardship of the lifestyle. Cynics attempted to live “according to nature” by rejecting artificial social conventions and refusing all luxuries, including any items not absolutely required for survival. They gave up their possessions, carrying what few they needed in a wallet. They wore only a simple mantle or cloak, and begged to obtain their basic needs. Crates’ willingness to marry was also unusual, considering that marriage is a social institution of the sort normally rejected by Cynics, and earlier Cynics like Diogenes and Antisthenes had maintained that the philosopher would never marry. A few centuries later, while arguing that marriage is generally unsuitable for the Cynic (or Stoic) philosopher, Epictetus allows for exceptions specifically because of the philosophical marriage of Hipparchia and Crates (Epictetus, Discourses, tr. C. H. Oldfather, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1928). By marrying a Cynic and becoming one herself, Hipparchia thus performed the characteristically Cynic feat of “changing the currency,” both of her culture and the Cynic tradition itself. The Cynic motto of “change the currency” (parakrattein to nomismata), first adopted by Diogenes of Sinope, implied rejection of the prevailing social and political order in favor of an unconventional, self-sufficient life as a “citizen of the universe” (kosmopolites). (It had been said, perhaps falsely, that Diogenes or his father had been driven from Sinope when found guilty of literally defacing the coins and changing their values, but it is also likely that the counterfeiting story arose after he adopted the metaphorical motto.)

Some later authors, such as Apuleius and Augustine, report that Hipparchia and Crates consummated their marriage by having sex on a public porch. Whether the tale is accurate or not, they were known to conduct themselves in all respects according to the Cynic value of anaideia, or shamelessness. The story of Hipparchia’s Cynic marriage quickly became the premiere example of that virtue, which is based on the Cynic belief that any actions virtuous enough to be done in private are no less virtuous when performed in public. As exemplars of anaideia, Hipparchia and Crates influenced their pupil Zeno of Citium, the founder of Stoicism. His Republic advocates the equality of the sexes, co-ed public exercise and training, and a version of “free love” wherein those wishing to have sex will simply satisfy their desires wherever they happen to be at the moment, even in public. Stoic ethics were generally influenced by Cynic values, such as self-sufficiency, the importance of practice in achieving virtue, and the rejection of the conventional values attached to pleasure and pain. The Stoics also advocated living according to nature in the sense of conforming one’s own reason to the dictates of the rational natural law.

Eratosthenes reports that Hipparchia and Crates had a son named Pasicles, and Diogenes Laertius’ account of the life of Crates also refers to their son. The Cynic Letters, a collection of pseudographic letters attributed to various Cynic figures and probably written by a several different authors a few centuries after Hipparchia lived, mention that she bore and raised children according to her Cynic values. Whatever the actual details of her practices might have been, her example influenced later Cynic attitudes towards pregnancy and child-rearing. For example, one of the letters attributed to Crates suggests that Hipparchia has given birth “without trouble” because she believes that her usual “labor is the cause of not laboring” during the birth itself (33.14-15). The birth was easier because she continued to work “like an athlete” during her pregnancy (33.17), which the author notes is unusual. The letters also mention Hipparchia’s use of a tortoise shell cradle, cold water for the baby’s bath, and continued adherence to an austere diet.

Hipparchia is also famous for an exchange with Theodorus the Atheist, a Cyrenaic philosopher, who had challenged the legitimacy of her presence at a symposium. She was reported to have regularly attended such functions with Crates. According to Diogenes Laertius, Theodorus quoted a verse from Euripides’ Bacchae, asking if this is she “abandoning the warp and woof and the shuttle” (like Agave returning home from the “hunt” with the head of her son Pentheus). (VI.98.2) Hipparchia affirms that yes, it is she, but asks Theodorus whether she has had the wrong understanding of herself, if she spent her time on education rather than wasting it on the loom. (VI.98.3-6) In the ancient Greek cultural context, women of her social class typically would have been occupied with weaving and organizing the household servants, and Hipparchia’s rejection of the conventional expectations for women was quite radical.

Diogenes Laertius also reports the syllogism that Hipparchia used to put down Theodorus during the same symposium mentioned above: Premise 1: “Any action which would not be called wrong if done by Theodorus, would not be called wrong if done by Hipparchia.” Premise 2: “Now Theodorus does no wrong when he strikes himself”. Conclusion: “therefore neither does Hipparchia do wrong when she strikes Theodorus.” (VI.97.6-9) This is a classic example of the Cynic rhetorical trope of spoudogeloion: a deliberately comic syllogism which nevertheless makes a serious point. Diogenes Laertius says that since Theodorus “had no reply wherefore to meet the argument,” he “tried to strip her of her cloak. But Hipparchia showed no sign of alarm or of the perturbation natural in a woman” (VI.97), as befitted her Cynic commitment to anaideia.

[i] Thomas Stanley, translator (1665) Claudius Aelianus His Various History

[ii] Alciphron, Literally and Completely Translated From the Greek, with Introduction and Notes, Athens: Privately Printed for the Athenian Society; 1896; pp. 95-207, 219-227.

[iii] Source: The Apologia and Florida of Apuleius of Madaura, H. E. Butler, translator, Oxford Press (1909)

[iv] Source: The Apologia and Florida of Apuleius of Madaura, H. E. Butler, translator, Oxford Press (1909)

[v] Source: The Apologia and Florida of Apuleius of Madaura, H. E. Butler, translator, Oxford Press (1909)

[vi] The Deipnosophistae of Athenaeus published in Vol. II of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1928

[vii] Translated by William Wilson. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 2. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885.)

[viii] Demetrius. On Style. The Greek Text of Demetrius, De Elocutione, edited after the Paris Manuscript with Introduction, Translation, Facsimiles, Etc. by Rhys Roberts, Litt.D., Cambridge: At the University Press, 1902.

[ix] Lives of the Eminent Philosophers (1925) by Diogenes Laërtius, translated by Robert Drew Hicks

[x] Lives of the Eminent Philosophers (1925) by Diogenes Laërtius, translated by Robert Drew Hicks

[xi] Lives of the Eminent Philosophers (1925) by Diogenes Laërtius, translated by Robert Drew Hicks

[xii] Lives of the Eminent Philosophers (1925) by Diogenes Laërtius, translated by Robert Drew Hicks

[xiii] Lives of the Eminent Philosophers (1925) by Diogenes Laërtius, translated by Robert Drew Hicks

[xiv] Lives of the Eminent Philosophers (1925) by Diogenes Laërtius, translated by Robert Drew Hicks

[xv] Lives of the Eminent Philosophers (1925) by Diogenes Laërtius, translated by Robert Drew Hicks

[xvi] Lives of the Eminent Philosophers (1925) by Diogenes Laërtius, translated by Robert Drew Hicks

[xvii] Lives of the Eminent Philosophers (1925) by Diogenes Laërtius, translated by Robert Drew Hicks

[xviii] Lives of the Eminent Philosophers (1925) by Diogenes Laërtius, translated by Robert Drew Hicks

[xix] The Discourses of Epictetus, tr. by P.E Matheson, [1916]

[xx] The Greek Anthology with an English Translation by W.K. Iwton in Five Volumes: London, William Heinlmann. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, MCMXVII

[xxi] Translated by Charles Gordon Browne and James Edward Swallow. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 7. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1894.)

[xxii] Translated by W.H. Fremantle, G. Lewis and W.G. Martley. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 6. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1893.)

[xxiii] Translated by W.H. Fremantle, G. Lewis and W.G. Martley. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 6. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1893.)

[xxiv] To the uneducated Cynics (362) by Julian, translated by Emily Wilmer Cave Wright

[xxv] To the Cynic Heracleios (362) by Julian, translated by Emily Wilmer Cave Wright

[xxvi] The Works of Lucian of Samosata. Translated by Fowler, H W and F G. Oxford: The Clarendon Press. 1905.

[xxvii] The Works of Lucian of Samosata. Translated by Fowler, H W and F G. Oxford: The Clarendon Press. 1905.

[xxviii] The Works of Lucian of Samosata. Translated by Fowler, H W and F G. Oxford: The Clarendon Press. 1905.

[xxix] The Works of Lucian of Samosata. Translated by Fowler, H W and F G. Oxford: The Clarendon Press. 1905.

[xxx] Translated by Frederick Crombie. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 4. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885.)

[xxxi] Translated by Frederick Crombie. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 4. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885.)

[xxxii] Flavius Philostratus: The Life of Apollonius Translated by F.C. Conybeare. Loeb Library.

[xxxiii] Flavius Philostratus: The Life of Apollonius Translated by F.C. Conybeare. Loeb Library.

[xxxiv] Plutarch’s Morals. Translated from the Greek by Several Hands. Corrected and Revised by William W. Goodwin, with an Introduction by Ralph Waldo Emerson. 5 Volumes. (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1878). Vol. 2.

[xxxv] The Parallel Lives by Plutarch published in Vol. IX of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1920

[xxxvi] Plutarch’s Morals. Translated from the Greek by Several Hands. Corrected and Revised by William W. Goodwin, with an Introduction by Ralph Waldo Emerson. 5 Volumes. (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1878). Vol. 1.

[xxxvii] Simplicius, Commentary on the Enchiridion of Epictetus, translated by George Stanhope, 1722

[xxxviii] Source: Online Suda Consortium

[xxxix] Lives of the Eminent Philosophers by Diogenes Laërtius, translated by Robert Drew Hicks Book VI

[xl] Source: Suda On Line and the Stoa Consortium

[xli] The Greek Anthology. English translation by W. R. Paton. London: William Heinemann. MCMXIX.

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