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The Dangerous Life and Ideas of Diogenes the Cynic

Jean-Manuel Roubineau Malcolm DeBevoise Phillip Mitsis



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Oxford University Press
22 November 2023
"An engaging look at the founder of one of the most important philosophical schools of ancient Greece.

The ancient philosopher Diogenes--nicknamed ""The Dog"" and decried by Plato as a ""Socrates gone mad""--was widely praised and idealized as much as he was mocked and vilified. A favorite subject of sculptors and painters since the Renaissance, his notoriety is equally due to his infamously eccentric behavior, scorn of conventions, and biting aphorisms, and to the role he played in the creation of the Cynic school, which flourished from the 4th century B.C. to the Christian era. In this book, Jean-Manuel Roubineau paints a new portrait of an atypical philosopher whose life left an indelible mark on the Western collective imagination and whose philosophy courses through various schools of thought well beyond antiquity.

Roubineau sifts through the many legends and apocryphal stories that surround the life of Diogenes. Was he, the son of a banker, a counterfeiter in his hometown of Sinope? Did he really meet Alexander the Great? Was he truly an apologist for incest, patricide, and anthropophagy? And how did he actually die? To answer these questions, Roubineau retraces the known facts of Diogenes' existence.

Beyond the rehashed clichés, this book inspires us to rediscover Diogenes' philosophical legacy--whether it be the challenge to the established order, the detachment from materialism, the choice of a return to nature, or the formulation of a cosmopolitan ideal strongly rooted in the belief that virtue is better revealed in action than in theory."
Edited by:  
Translated by:  
Imprint:   Oxford University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 148mm,  Width: 211mm,  Spine: 18mm
Weight:   313g
ISBN:   9780197666357
ISBN 10:   0197666353
Pages:   208
Publication Date:  
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Jean-Manuel Roubineau is a specialist in ancient history. He previously published Milon de Crotone ou l'Invention du Sport and Les cités grecques, winner of the European History Book Prize in 2016. Phillip Mitsis is Alexander S. Onassis Professor of Hellenic Culture and Civilization, Professor of Classics and Hellenic Studies, and affiliated Professor of Philosophy and Medieval and Renaissance Studies at New York University.

Reviews for The Dangerous Life and Ideas of Diogenes the Cynic

As terse and clear as its unsentimental subject could have wished * Thomas W. Hodgkinson, The Oldie * Diogenes the Cynic was a radical and a disruptive public intellectual of the best kind, challenging the conventions of his day and forcing people to rethink their values and life choices. In a fast-paced and entertaining narrative, this wide-ranging introduction to the ancient traditions about Diogenes sheds fresh light on the idea of philosophy as a way of life. The vigorous translation from Jean-Manuel Roubineau's original French is complemented by a hard-hitting foreword by classical scholar Phillip Mitsis. * Brad Inwood, author of Stoicism: A Very Short Introduction * Diogenes the Cynic was an ancient philosopher like no other who, as a consequence, has been mythologized for centuries. In this excellent new book--compact yet comprehensive--Roubineau carefully sifts through all the ancient evidence to separate fact from myth, shedding new light on many familiar stories and anecdotes. At last we can appreciate Diogenes in his historical context, while also gaining a clearer picture of his 'philosophy with no holds barred.' This should be required reading for anyone interested in ancient philosophy. * John Sellars, author of The Pocket Epicurean * The book is well produced and an effective and thought-provoking contribution to a somewhat underconsidered area of classical philosophy. * Classics for All * A rich, carefully woven historical tapestry out of which Diogenes' philosophical profile emerges more forcefully than in other recent accounts of his life. Roubineau has a gift for rendering the abstract in concrete forms; in his book we see and hear and even smell Diogenes in his natural habitat. * Times Literary Supplement * The Dangerous Life and Ideas of Diogenes the Cynic is a rich, carefully woven historical tapestry out of which Diogenes' philosophical profile emerges more forcefully than in other recent accounts of his life. * Costica Bradatan, TLS * A good, quick read about somebody who embodied his philosophy. * Nigel Warburton, Five Books *

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