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Title: The Early Cynic Tradition: Shaping Diogenes' Character
Authors: Sirois, Martin
Advisors: Wildberg, Christian
Contributors: Classics Department
Keywords: Character
Cynicism (Greek)
d. ca. 323 B.C.
Intellectual History (Athens)
Subjects: Classical studies
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: In recent decades Cynicism has enjoyed a rebirth of scholarly attention. This dissertation pursues ongoing research on early Cynicism with a conscious focus on its literary nature. This research helps identifying directions and establishing guidelines for future research on the creation of the early Cynic tradition. The dissertation examines characteristic features of the literary tradition mainly through the study of biographical elements taken from the life of Diogenes the Cynic, the pragmatic philosopher known as the founding figure of the Cynic movement in 4th-c. Greece. Armed with Diogenes Laertius' account of the Cynic's life this study aims at uncovering the historical factors for the emergence of the kunikos tropos and investigating the philosophical indebtedness of Diogenes' philosophy to the previous generations of the 5th-c. sophists, as well as the influence of earlier cultural and literary models in the understanding of the Cynic character. By underlining important parallels with the tradition of (Plato's) Socrates the dissertation generally attempts to rehabilitate the tradition of the early Cynics and show that the suspicions regarding the historicity of Diogenes' words and deeds need to be tempered. The first part of the dissertation investigates the actual tradition and begins with the ancient Succession (diadoche) that links Socrates, Antisthenes, and his supposed pupil Diogenes. The study then moves to an analysis of Diogenes Laertius, a most significant source on Cynicism, and his use of earlier (lost) accounts of Diogenes' philosophy: one particular aspect of early accounts is the crucial tradition of anecdotes (chreiai and apophthegmata). The next chapter finally surveys the historical truth behind the life and death of the man from Sinope and looks into how and when he became known as `the Dog' in Classical Athens. The second part of the dissertation focuses on Diogenes the Cynic's indebtedness to previous thinkers in creating his own philosophical "character" at play in the intended tradition. This part then carefully analyzes sophistic ideas that inhabit Diogenes' world and looks into cultural and literary models that help understand and shape the character of Diogenes in his own literary tradition.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Classics

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