The Greek Praise of Poverty: The Origins Of Ancient Cynicism by William D. Desmond PDF

By William D. Desmond

ISBN-10: 0268025819

ISBN-13: 9780268025816

"Rich in new and stimulating principles, and in accordance with the breadth of examining and intensity of data which its wide-ranging subject material calls for, The Greek compliment of Poverty argues impressively and cogently for a relocation of Cynic philosophy into the mainstream of Greek rules on fabric prosperity, paintings, happiness, and power." —A. Thomas Cole, Professor Emeritus of Classics, Yale college "This transparent, well-written publication deals students and scholars an available account of the philosophy of Cynicism, relatively with reference to the Cynics' attachment to a lifetime of poverty and their disdain for wealth. i've got actually profited from examining William Desmond’s book." —Luis Navia, ny Institute of expertise William Desmond, taking factor with average checks of the traditional Cynics, contends that figures similar to Antisthenes and Diogenes weren't cultural outcasts or marginal voices within the classical tradition of the 5th and fourth centuries B.C. really, the Cynic circulation had deep and important roots in what Desmond calls "the Greek compliment of poverty." Desmond demonstrates that classical attitudes towards wealth have been complicated and ambivalent, and allowed for an implicit compliment of poverty and the virtues it could possibly motivate. From an fiscal and political standpoint, the negative majority at Athens and somewhere else have been average democrats who distrusted nice concentrations of wealth as possibly oligarchical or tyrannical. as a result, the terrible should be praised in modern literature for his or her undefined, honesty, frugality, and temperance. the wealthy, however, have been usually criticized as idle, unjust, conceited, and profligate. those views have been strengthened via commonplace Greek reviews of struggle, and the idea that poverty fostered the virtues of braveness and persistence. eventually, from an early date, Greek philosophers linked knowledge with the transcendence of feel adventure and of such worldly values as wealth and honor. The Cynics, Desmond asserts, assimilated all of those rules in developing their precise and radical model of asceticism. Theirs was once a startling and paradoxical outlook, however it had extensive allure and may persist to exert a manifold impact within the Hellenistic interval and past.

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9 But Cynic paradoxomania does not end here. " The Cynics adopted Heracles as their mythic prototype: just as Heracles' Labors led to his apotheosis, so the "labors" (ponoi) of the typical Cynic bring him happiness, virtue, and a god-like security. " This and similar sen­ timents have often been misinterpreted. "10 Or perhaps the Cynics were proto-Marxists proclaiming solidarity with the working class? " 1 1 In fact, a "gospel" of work would give the highest significance to manual labor. But the Cynics hardly preached the holiness of carpentry and tent-making.

Thus Cynicism has aspects of intellectual, military, and social asceti­ cisms; it even had a religious subtext, to be emphasized by some later inter­ preters, 63 even though the Cynics themselves denied any . divine inspiration for their poverty. Indeed, sometimes the Cynics would deny that they are motivated by any external or "higher" goods. Their explicit asceticism, then, can take on a paradoxical tone: the Cynic ascetic renounces immediate pleas­ ure in order to gain-immediate pleasure! It is not for religious revelation that the Cynic trains himself, nor for war, nor for some subtle intellectual dis­ covery, nor even for the common good.

To wear rags instead of a robe; to sleep not on a bed but on rushes and straw filled with bugs which bite you awake; to own a rotten mat instead of a carpet; to lay your head not on a pillow but on a large rock; to eat branches instead of mal­ low, and instead of bread, the tops of dry radishes. 55 Not surprisingly then, no less an authority than Moses Finley has con­ cluded, "The judgment of antiquity about wealth was fundamentally un­ equivocal and uncomplicated. "56 And yet attitudes towards wealth and poverty were not so univocal as Chremylus and Finley suggest.

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The Greek Praise of Poverty: The Origins Of Ancient Cynicism by William D. Desmond


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