Diogenes’ Tavern

Jeremy Taylor tells a story of Diogenes, the famous street philosopher who is said to have slept in a tub in the streets of Athens. Late one night Diogenes saw a man stepping out of the dark doorway of a notorious tavern. The young man recognized the famous philosopher and as their eyes met he stepped nervously back into the shadow of the doorway hoping not to be recognized himself. Diogenes called out to him saying, ‘Quanta magis intraveris, tanto magis eris in caupona.’ The more you step back, the farther into the whorehouse you go.

Isn’t it better to do good by admitting our evil than to continue as we are by denying there’s a problem? Who would rather keep a good reputation than gain a good heart? The wisdom of Diogenes is that he who denies his sin still retains what he counts to be his shame.

  1. #1 by Michael on February 6, 2009 - 6:54 PM

    That is how Diogenes happened to be in Corinth when Alexander the Great was passing that way. To that great Macedonian king, who considered himself the “son of a god” and to whom all had knelt in homage almost worship, the visit to Diogenes was something of a shock. He found him in one of the poorer streets, seated in his tub, enjoying the sun and utterly indifferent as to who his visitor might be. Astonished, the king said, “I am Alexander.”

    The answer came as proudly, “And I am Diogenes.”

    Alexander then said, “Have you no favor to ask of me?”

    “Yes,” Diogenes replied, “to get out of my sunlight.”

    Far from being angry with him, Alexander seemed to respect and admire a man strong enough to be indifferent to his presence, and said, “Were I not Alexander, I would be Diogenes.”

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