And I, my friends, praise very much the entertainment which was given by Alexander the king of Syria. And this Alexander was a supposititious son of Antiochus Epiphanes, substituted on account of the hatred which all men bore to Demetrius, concerning whom our companion Athenæus has spoken in his treatise on the Kings who have reigned in Syria. Now that entertainment was conducted as nearly as may be in this fashion. Diogenes the Epicurean, having a very tolerable acquaintance with the doctrines of the sect which he professed, was by birth a native of Seleucia, in the district of Babylon. And he was kindly received by the king, although the monarch rather inclined to the doctrines of the Stoic school. [p. 336] Accordingly, Alexander treated him with great distinction, although a man of anything but a reputable course of life, and so given to calumny and envy, that if he could raise a laugh by it, he could not abstain from even the king himself. And when he preferred to the king a request that had no great connexion with philosophy—namely, that he might be allowed to wear a purple robe and a golden crown, having a face of Virtue in the centre of it, as he claimed to be addressed as the priest of Virtue, he agreed to it all, and besides that, made him a present of the crown. And these ornaments Diogenes, being in love with a woman who was one of the Bacchanalian singers, gave to her. But Alexander, hearing of this, collected a banqueting party of philosophers and eminent men, and among them he invited Diogenes. And when he arrived he begged him to take his seat with his crown and his purple robe on. And when he replied that that would be unseemly, the king nodded to his servants to introduce the musicians, among whom this singing woman appeared, crowned with the crown of Virtue, and clothed also in the purple robe. So when every one burst into laughter at this, the philosopher kept quiet, and never stopped praising the singing woman. But Antiochus, who succeeded Alexander in the kingdom, could not tolerate the abusive language of this Diogenes, and accordingly ordered him to be put to death. But Alexander was at all times, and in all circumstances, of a gentle disposition, and affable to every one in conversation, and not at all like Athenion the Peripatetic philosopher, who had a philosophical school at Athens, and at Messene, and also at Larissa in Thessaly, and who subsequently became tyrant of Athens; concerning whom Posidonius of Apamea gives a very particular account, which I, even though it is rather long, will quote, in order that we may come to a thorough understanding and appreciation of those men who profess to be philosophers, and that we may not be taken in by their ragged cloaks and unshaven chins. For, as Agatho says—
If I do tell the truth I shall not please you;But “let truth,” as the saying is, “be one's friend.” At all events, I will quote the account given of the man.
And if I please you, I shall speak no truth.