Chapter 5. CRATES (of Thebes, flor.
Crates, son of Ascondas, was a Theban. He too
was amongst the Cynic's famous pupils. Hippobotus, however, alleges
that he was a pupil not of Diogenes, but of Bryson1
the Achaean. The following playful lines are attributed
There is a city Pera in the midst of wine-dark vapour,
Fair, fruitful, passing squalid, owning nought,
sails nor fool nor parasite
Nor glutton, slave of sensual
But thyme it bears, garlic, and figs and
For which things' sake men fight not each with
Nor stand to arms for money or for fame.
is also his widely circulated day-book, which runs as follows :
Set down for the chef ten minas, for the doctor
drachma, for a flatterer talents five,
For counsel smoke, for
A talent, for a philosopher three obols.
He was known as the "Door-opener"--the caller to whom all doors
fly open--from his habit of entering every house and admonishing
those within. Here is another specimen of his composition3
much I have which I have learnt and thought,
lessons taught me by the Muses :
But wealth amassed is prey
And again he says that what he has
gained from philosophy is
A quart of lupins and to care for
This too is quoted as his4
love, or, if not hunger, Time,
Or, failing both these means
of help,--a halter.
He flourished in the 113th Olympiad.5
According to Antisthenes in his Successions
, the first impulse to the Cynic
philosophy was given to him when he saw Telephus in a certain
tragedy carrying a little basket and altogether in a wretched
plight. So he turned his property into money,--for he belonged to a
distinguished family,--and having thus collected about 200 talents,
distributed that sum among his fellow-citizens. And (it is added) so
sturdy a philosopher did he become that he is mentioned by the
comic poet Philemon. At all events the latter says :
summer-time a thick cloak he would wear
To be like Crates,
and in winter rags.
Diocles relates how Diogenes persuaded
Crates to give up his fields to sheep pasture, and throw into the
sea any money he had.
In the home of Crates Alexander is said
to have lodged, as Philip once lived in Hipparchia's. Often, too,
certain of his kinsmen would come to visit him and try to divert him
from his purpose. These he would drive from him with his stick, and
his resolution was unshaken. Demetrius of Magnesia tells a story
that he entrusted a banker with a sum of money on condition that, if
his sons proved ordinary men he was to pay it to them, but, if they
philosophers, then to distribute it among
the people : for his sons would need nothing, if they took to
philosophy. Eratosthenes tells us that by Hipparchia, of whom we
shall presently speak, he had a son born to him named Pasicles, and
after he had ceased to be a cadet on service, Crates took him to a
brothel and told him that was how his father had married.
marriage of intrigue and adultery, he said, belonged to tragedy,
having exile or assassination as its rewards ; while the weddings
of those who take up with courtesans are material for comedy, for as
a result of extravagance and drunkenness they bring about
This man had a brother named Pasicles, who was a
disciple of Euclides.
Favorinus, in the second book of his
, tells a pleasant story of Crates.
For he relates how, when making some request of the master of the
gymnasium, he laid hold on his hips ; and when he demurred, said,
"What, are not these hip-joints yours as much as your knees ?" It
was, he used to say, impossible to find anybody wholly free from
flaws ; but, just as in a pomegranate, one of the seeds is always
going bad. Having exasperated the musician Nicodromus, he was
struck by him on the face. So he stuck a plaster on his forehead
with these words on it, "Nicodromus's handiwork."
He carried on a
regular campaign of invective against the courtesans, habituating
himself to meet their abuse.
When Demetrius of Phalerum sent
him loaves of bread and some wine, he reproached him, saying, "Oh
that the springs yielded bread as well as water!" It is clear, then,
that he was a water-drinker. When
police-inspectors found fault with him for wearing muslin, his
answer was, "I'll show you that Theophrastus also wears muslin."
This they would not believe : so he led them to a barber's shop and
showed them Theophrastus being shaved. At Thebes he was flogged by
the master of the gymnasium--another version being that it was by
Euthycrates and at Corinth ; and being dragged by the heels, he
called out, as if it did not affect him6
Seized by the foot and
dragged o'er heaven's high threshold :
Diocles, however, says
that it was by Menedemus of Eretria that he was thus dragged. For he
being handsome and being thought to be intimate with Asclepiades the
Phliasian, Crates slapped him on the side with a brutal taunt;
whereupon Menedemus, full of indignation, dragged him along, and he
declaimed as above.
Zeno of Citium in his Anecdotes
relates that in a fit of heedlessness he
sewed a sheepskin to his cloak. He was ugly to look at, and when
performing his gymnastic exercises used to be laughed at. He was
accustomed to say, raising his hands, "Take heart, Crates, for it is
for the good of your eyes and of the rest of your body.
You will see
these men, who are laughing at you, tortured before long by disease,
counting you happy, and reproaching themselves for their
sluggishness." He used to say that we should study philosophy to the
point of seeing in generals nothing but donkey-drivers. Those who
live with flatterers he declared to be as defenceless as calves in
the midst of wolves ; for neither these nor those have any to
protect them, but only such as plot against them. Perceiving that he
dying, he would chant over himself this
charm, "You are going, dear hunchback, you are off to the house of
Hades,--bent crooked by old age." For his years had bowed him
When Alexander inquired whether he would like his
native city to be rebuilt, his answer was, "Why should it be ?
Perhaps another Alexander will destroy it again." Ignominy and
Poverty he declared to be his country, which Fortune could never
take captive. He was, he said, a fellow-citizen of Diogenes, who
defied all the plots of envy. Menander alludes to him in the Twin Sisters
in the following lines :
Wearing a cloak you'll go about with me,
As once with
Cynic Crates went his wife :
His daughter too, as he himself
He gave in marriage for a month on trial.
come now to his pupils.