18 Facts About Antisthenes


Antisthenes first learned rhetoric under Gorgias before becoming an ardent disciple of Socrates.


Antisthenes adopted and developed the ethical side of Socrates's teachings, advocating an ascetic life lived in accordance with virtue.


Antisthenes was born c 445 BCE, the son of Antisthenes, an Athenian.


Antisthenes's mother was thought to have been a Thracian, though some say a Phrygian, an opinion probably derived from his sarcastic reply to a man who reviled him as not being a genuine Athenian citizen, that the mother of the gods was a Phrygian.


Antisthenes never forgave his master's persecutors, and is said to have been instrumental in procuring their punishment.


Antisthenes survived the Battle of Leuctra, as he is reported to have compared the victory of the Thebans to a set of schoolboys beating their master.


Antisthenes is said to have lectured at the Cynosarges, a gymnasium for the use of Athenians born of foreign mothers, near the temple of Heracles.


Antisthenes wore a cloak and carried a staff and a wallet, and this costume became the uniform of his followers.


Antisthenes's style was pure and elegant, and Theopompus even said that Plato stole from him many of his thoughts.


Cicero, after reading some works by Antisthenes, found his works pleasing and called him "a man more intelligent than learned".


Antisthenes possessed considerable powers of wit and sarcasm, and was fond of playing upon words; saying, for instance, that he would rather fall among crows than flatterers, for the one devour the dead, but the other the living.


Antisthenes was a pupil of Socrates, from whom he imbibed the fundamental ethical precept that virtue, not pleasure, is the end of existence.


Everything that the wise person does, Antisthenes said, conforms to perfect virtue, and pleasure is not only unnecessary, but a positive evil.


Antisthenes is reported to have held pain and even ill-repute to be blessings, and he said, "I'd rather be mad than feel pleasure".


Antisthenes said that God resembles nothing on earth, and therefore could not be understood from any representation.


In logic, Antisthenes was troubled by the problem of universals.


In later times Antisthenes came to be seen as the founder of the Cynics, but it is by no means certain that he would have recognized the term.


Antisthenes certainly adopted a rigorous ascetic lifestyle, and he developed many of the principles of Cynic philosophy which became an inspiration for Diogenes and later Cynics.