A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology

Smith, William

A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology. William Smith, LLD, ed. 1890

(Ἀντισθένης), a CYNIC philosopher, the son of Antisthenes, an Athenian, was the founder of the sect of the Cynics, which of all the Greek schools of philosophy was perhaps the most devoid of any scientific purpose. He flourished B. C. 366 (Diod. 15.76), and his mother was a Thracian (Suidas, s.v. D. L. 6.1), though some say a Phrygian, an opinion probably derived from his replying to a man who reviled him as not being a genuine Athenian citizen, that the mother of the gods was a Phrygian. In his youth he fought at Tanagra (B. C. 426), and was a disciple first of Gorgias, and then of Socrates, whom he never quitted, and at whose death he was present. (Plat. Phaed. § 59.) He never forgave his master's persecutors, and is even said to have been instrumental in procuring their punishment. (D. L. 6.10.) He survived the battle of Leuctra (B. C. 371), as he is reported to have compared the victory of the Thebans to a set of schoolboys beating their master (Plut. Lyc. 30), and died at Athens, at the age of 70. (Eudocia, Violarium, p. 56.) He taught in the Cynosarges, a gymnasium for the use of Athenians born of foreign mothers, near the temple of Hercules. Hence probably his followers were called Cynics, though the Scholiast on Aristotle (p. 23, Brandis) deduces the name from the habits of the school, either their dog-like neglect of all forms and usages of society, sleeping in tubs and in the streets, and eating whatever they could find, or from their shameless insolence, or else their pertinacious adherence to their own opinions, or lastly from their habit of driving from them all whom they thought unfit for a philosophical life.