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Diogenes of Sinope
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╔crit par Leonardo Torricini   


Between the historical personalities, one of the most curious and fascinating is Diogenes of Sinope, Diogenes of the dogs, the cynical (from the greek "kynos" that means dog), the one who made a dog's life and lived in a barrel.
We don't know any certain script of him, but the originality of this man made him very famous in history, as he rightly deserves.

He born at Sinope probably in the 412 b.C., on the southern shores of the Black Sea.
At Athens he follwed the teachings of Antistenes, the founder of the cynical philosophy, who proclaimed the severity, the austerity, and condemned the habits and comforts; despite Antistenes refused to have students, Diogenes got to become his apprendist. After many requests and consequent refusals, Antistenes lost the patience and with a stick pushed away Diogenes, at that point Diogenes told to Antistenes that "didn't exhist a wood hard enough to make him give up to the duty of learn from him, as it should be".

Landscape with Diogenes - Nicolas Poussin (detail)

Diogenes actuated so strictly his master's teachings to the point to became first cause of astonishment and target of jokes, then of respect and admiration from the athenians.
He eat and dressed with anything he found, and slept anywhere and when he felt sleepy, that means on the ground or at least under some colonnade if was raining; is very famous his "residence" in a berrel, that realy was a small dry tub of the Cybeles temple, or under the Zeus colonnade, he's also remembered as the inventor of the "long cloack" that worked also as blanket.

He lived searching the virtue and the practical wisdom, leading an extremely hard and modest life, he abandoned all the material richness and most of his things, he went around with a sack as a mendicant, he hated the hypocrit masters that predicated something and then acted in another way, he laughed of the men of letters and of their passion for the troubles of Ulisses or Hercules, while they ignored their own troubles, or the everyday ones.
He was opposed to Aristotiles who thought that children were only potential men not yet realised, Diogenes instead said that the children were a good example to follow because still incorrupted by the social consuetudes, he said even that the animals and vagabonds were good examples to follow.
When he saw a child drinking some water from the hands he throw away the only cup he had saying that he had just received a life lesson, it seem that he did the same with a plate when he saw eating some food over a piece of bread, and that sometimes as the dogs he picked scraps of food from the ground.

Diogenes had a deep respect for the nature and an opposite criticism for the laws, the authority and the sexual taboos; instead than the long lessons he preferred to state few words and the practical example, and sometimes the sarcasm as when he was in front to Diodoro Crono that denied the reality of the movement, he just walked away.
The extreme freedom of expression of the cynical philosophy, the refuse of the authorities and the strong coherence of Diogenes caused him many contrasts with many people. The direct and clear way to state the things criticaly made (and still now often make) him appair as exhibitionist, arrogant and irriverent; there have never been much tollerance for the criticism in any society, and sometimes who is not reverent and obsequious can be even judged as a terrorist.

Scuola di Atene - Raffaello (particolare)

As Giulius Caesar, Diogenes was kidnapped by the pirates and when they asked him what was the job he could do better he answered "to comand". He was sold at Crete as slave to Xeniades of Corinth, the legend says that spotting the most rich dressed man, Diogenes ordered the merchant to sold him to that man even if he didn't knew who was him, because this rich man needed a master, and happened so anyway.
Returned in Corinth with his new "owner", Diogenes became tutor for his sons and administrator of the family, then he was set free again. We don't know if a friendship was born with Xeniades that said: "a good daemon has came to live in my house"; or maybe he was close with Xeniade's sons or someone else, or even with the corinthian town itself, is possible even that the place where he was didn't mattered at all to the "cinical". Anyway he remained in Corinth till his dead in 323 b.C.

Alexander and Diogenes - Nicolas Andre Monsiau

Some Diogenes famous phrases:
"I'm citizen of the entire world."
"Everything is owned by the gods; wise men are friends of the gods; the friends share their things; therefore the wise men own everything."
"What is a philosophe who doesn't hurts someone's feelings?"
"wich is the right age to get married? when you're young is too early, when you're old is too late."
"wise leaders usualy have wise advisers, because who can recognise a wise man must be wise too."


I tried to reconstruct two famous episodes of Diogenes in these dioramas:

Diogenes walked along the Athens roads in the daylight with a lighted lamp in his hand, when people asked him what he was doing he answered that he was "looking for an honest man".

Diogenes looking for the man

The other famous episode is when he met Alexander the Great. Alexander went to visit the wise master to honorate him and to ask what he could do to serve him, but just to receive an disdaining answer from Diogenes, that laying just out of his barrel told Alexander to "move away because he was covering the sunlight".
The tradition tells that walking away upsetted, Alexander sayed: "if I wasn't Alexander I would be Diogenes", and to pay back the "cynical" he sended him a try full of bones, as he would be giving a present to a dog. Wihout to loose his arrogance Diogenes accepted the "gift" sending a message to Alexander sayng that it was a food worthy for a dog but a gift unworthy for a king.
Then a curious common destiny united again the two historical personalities, Diogenes nearly 90, and Alexander short before his 33 years, both died in the same day: the 13 june in 323 b.C.

Diogene e Alessandro

For diogenes in both cases I used the same Orion roman oarer, there's one with head and dress particulary adaptable. Many artists were inspired by Diogenes during history, immagines and statues represent him as an old man partly balded with a long beard.


I changed the sitting pose making two resins copies, I set the copies laying and standing, add the hair and make the beard longer, then I had only to make the lamp and the stick to the standing pose.
In one copy I placed a micro lamp in the place of the painted flame, the wire is incorporated inside the toysoldier and the battery is under the base.

Detail of the lamp

There couldn't be missed the dogs accompaining the "cinical" so I modified in various poses the dog that I already made for the etruscan Phersu.

The two astonished men in front to Diogenes with the lamp are from old Atlantic Life in ancient Greece set.
The dioramas are realised with a mix of techniques: putty, wood, resins, plastic, glue and cardboard..