SANE AS SAGE
Alexander of Macedonia, a zealous ancient proponent of "Peace
through Strength," imposed Grecian "law and order" throughout the
then-known world by the sword.
Aristotle, an exceptionally gifted apologist of the day, justified
the immorality of Alexander's conquests by writing treatises to
explain that the gods had created Greeks as a superior race, and
those butchered by Alexander's swords had been divinely intended as
slaves for the Greeks.
The effects of Aristotle's thinking are still apparent in what is
sometimes called western civilization, and most of us have been
taught to think of Aristotle as a sage. Not nearly as many of us
remember Diogenes, but in those days Diogenes was widely renowned
for his wisdom.
Both Diogenes and Aristotle had been greatly
influenced by the thinking of Socrates. Socrates embodied the
pivotal tenet of his philosophy -- it is better to suffer harm than
to inflict harm on others -- through a life of voluntary poverty in
search of truth.
Aristotle made a radical departure from Socrates' primary premise by taking up residence in the luxurious court of Alexander's daddy,
King Phillip. Diogenes exaggerated the tradition of Socrates by
living in a tub in the marketplace to exemplify his belief that
wealth resides in the soul rather than the pocketbook.
It is said that Alexander, hoping to find some wisdom for himself,
once sought out Diogenes. The story goes that when Alexander found
him Diogenes was reading. Grandly Alexander stood before him,
casting his shadow over Diogenes and offered to give the sage
anything he would ask, up to half of his kingdom. The thinker
merely asked the warrior to step out of his light.