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2 Self-Definition among the Cynics

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Chapter Summary

The Cynics and the Cynicism of the first century ad are known to us for the most part through Stoic interpreters, and the temptation is great, on the basis of Seneca's account of Demetrius, Musonius Rufus, Epictetus, and Dio Chrysostom, to draw a picture of Cynicism that obscures the differences between Stoicism and Cynicism and among the Cynics themselves. In the second century, the diversity among the Cynics emerges more clearly as such personalities as Oenomaus of Gadara, Demonax, and Peregrinus Proteus appear on the scene. Unfortunately, only fragments of Oenomaus's writings have been preserved, and only a few comments, mostly negative, are made about him by Julian. In this chapter, the author is largely but not wholly dependent on Lucian's interpretations of Demonax and Peregrinus for information about them. The chapter explains two types of Cynicism: an austere, rigorous one, and a milder, so-called hedonistic strain.

Keywords: austere Cynics; Cynicism; Diogenes Laertius; Julian; Lucian; mild Cynic; religious mysticism



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