Antisthenes

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It is a royal privilege to do good and be ill spoken of.
Being asked what learning is the most necessary, he replied, "How to get rid of having anything to unlearn."

Antisthenes (Greek: Ἀντισθένης; c. 445 – c. 365 BCE) was a Greek philosopher, a pupil of Socrates, and founder of the Cynic school.

Quotes[edit]


From Lives and Opinions of the Eminent Philosophers by Diogenes Laërtius[edit]

  • ἔλεγέ τε συνεχές, “μανείην μᾶλλον ἢ ἡσθείην.”


  • ἀκούσας ποτὲ ὅτι Πλάτων αὐτὸν κακῶς λέγει, “βασιλικόν,” ἔφη, “καλῶς ποιοῦντα κακῶς ἀκούειν.”
    • It is a royal privilege to do good and be ill spoken of.


  • πρός τε τὸ Ποντικὸν μειράκιον μέλλον φοιτᾶν αὐτῷ καὶ πυθόμενον τίνων αὐτῷ δεῖ, φησί, “βιβλιαρίου καινοῦ καὶ γραφείου καινοῦ καὶ πινακιδίου καινοῦ,” τὸν νοῦν παρεμφαίνων.
    • Antisthenes ... said once to a youth from Pontus who was on the point of coming to him to be his pupil, and was asking him what things he wanted, "You want a new book, and a new pen, and a new tablet;" - meaning a new mind.
      • § 4


  • It is better to fall in with crows than with flatterers; for in the one case you are devoured when dead, in the other case while alive.
    • § 4


  • Antisthenes ... was asked on one occasion what learning was the most necessary, and he replied, "To unlearn one's bad habits."
    • § 4


  • ἐρωτηθεὶς τί αὐτῷ περιγέγονεν ἐκ φιλοσοφίας, ἔφη, “τὸ δύνασθαι ἑαυτῷ ὁμιλεῖν.”
    • When he was asked what advantage had accrued to him from philosophy, his answer was, “The ability to hold converse with myself.”
      • § 4


  • States are doomed when they are unable to distinguish good men from bad.
    • § 5


  • As iron is eaten away by rust, so the envious are consumed by their own passion.
    • § 5


  • Once, when he was applauded by rascals, he remarked, "I am horribly afraid I have done something wrong."
    • § 5


  • τήν τ᾿ ἀδοξίαν ἀγαθὸν καὶ ἴσον τῷ πόνῳ
    • Ill repute is a good thing and much the same as pain.
      • § 5


  • τὸν σοφὸν οὐ κατὰ τοὺς κειμένους νόμους πολιτεύσεσθαι, ἀλλὰ κατὰ τὸν τῆς ἀρετῆς.
    • Antisthenes ... used to say that the wise man would regulate his conduct as a citizen, not according to the established laws of the state, but according to the law of virtue.
      • § 5


  • κρεῖττόν ἐστι μετ᾿ ὀλίγων ἀγαθῶν πρὸς ἅπαντας τοὺς κακοὺς ἢ μετὰ πολλῶν κακῶν πρὸς ὀλίγους ἀγαθοὺς μάχεσθαι.
    • It is better to fight with a few good men against all the wicked, than with many wicked men against a few good men.
      • § 5


  • προσέχειν τοῖς ἐχθροῖς· πρῶτοι γὰρ τῶν ἁμαρτημάτων αἰσθάνονται.
    • One should attend to one's enemies, for they are the first persons to detect one's errors.
      • § 5


  • ἀνδρὸς καὶ γυναικὸς ἡ αὐτὴ ἀρετή.
    • Virtue is the same for a man and for a woman.
      • § 5


  • τὰ πονηρὰ νόμιζε πάντα ξενικά.
    • Count all wickedness foreign and alien.
      • § 5


  • ἐρωτηθεὶς τί τῶν μαθημάτων ἀναγκαιότατον, “τὸ περιαιρεῖν,” ἔφη, “τὸ ἀπομανθάνειν.”
    • Being asked what learning is the most necessary, he replied, "How to get rid of having anything to unlearn."
      • § 7


  • Pay attention to your enemies, for they are the first to discover your mistakes.
    • § 12

From Symposium by Xenophon[edit]

  • Wealth and poverty do not lie in a person's estate, but in their souls.
    • iv. 34


  • I have enough to eat till my hunger is stayed, to drink till my thirst is sated; to clothe myself withal; and out of doors not Callias there, with all his riches, is more safe than I from shivering; and when I find myself indoors, what warmer shirting do I need than my bare walls? what ampler greatcoat than the tiles above my head?
    • iv. 34


  • There is no work so mean, but it would amply serve me to furnish me with sustenance.
    • iv. 35


  • To all my friends without distinction I am ready to display my opulence: come one, come all; and whosoever likes to take a share is welcome to the wealth that lies within my soul.
    • iv. 35


Quotes about Antisthenes[edit]

  • It was not long before [Diogenes] despised [all the philosophers at Athens] save Antisthenes, whom he cultivated, not so much from approval of the man himself as of the words he spoke, which he felt to be alone true and best adapted to help mankind. For when he contrasted the man Antisthenes with his words, he sometimes made this criticism, that the man himself was much weaker; and so in reproach he would call him a trumpet because he could not hear his own self, no matter how much noise he made. Antisthenes tolerated this banter of his since he greatly admired the man’s character; and so, in requital for being called a trumpet, he used to say that Diogenes was like the wasps, the buzz of whose wings is slight but the sting very sharp.

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