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现代大学英语精读第三册 10b

Diogenes and Alexander

Lying on the bare earth, shoeless, bearded, half-naked, he looked like a beggar or a lunatic.He was one, but not the other. He had opened his eyes with the sun at dawn, scratched,done his business like a dog at the roadside, washed at the public fountain, begged a piece of breakfast bread and a few olives, eaten them squatting on the ground, and washed them down with a few handfuls of water scooped from the spring. (Long ago he had owned a rough wooden cup, but he threw it away when he saw a boy drinking out of his hollowed hands.)

Having no work to go to and no family to provide for, he was free. As the market place filled up with shoppers and merchants and slaves and foreigners, he had strolled through it for an hour or two.

Everybody knew him, or knew of him. They would throw sharp questions at him and get sharper answers. Sometimes they threw bits of food, and got scant thanks; sometimes a mischievous pebble, and got a shower of stones and abuse. They were not quite sure whether he was mad or not. He knew they were mad, each in a different way; they amused him. Now he was back at his home.

It was not a house, not even a squatter's hut. He thought everybody lived far too elaborately, expensively, anxiously. What good is a house? No one needs privacy; natural acts are not shameful; we all do the same things, and we need not hide them. No one needs beds and chairs and such furniture: the animals live healthy lives and sleep on the ground. All we require, since nature did not dress us properly, is one garment to keep us warm, and some shelter from rain and wind. So he had one blanket—to dress him in the daytime and cover him at night—and he slept in a cask. His name was Diogenes. He was the founder of the creed called Cynicism “doggishness”; he spent much of his life in the rich, lazy, corrupt Greek city of Corinth, mocking and satirizing its people, and occasionally converting one of them.

His home was not a barrel made of wood: too expensive. It was a storage jar made of

earthenware, no doubt discarded because a break had made it useless. He was not the first to inhabit such a thing. But he was the first who ever did so by choice, out of

principle. Diogenes was not a lunatic. He was a philosopher who wrote plays and

poems and essays expounding his doctrine; he talked to those who cared to listen; he had pupils who admired him. But he taught chiefly by example. All should live naturally, he said, for what is natural is normal and cannot possibly be evil or shameful. Live without conventions, which are artificial and false; escape complexities and extravagances: only so can you live a free life. The rich man believes he possesses his big house with its many rooms and its elaborate furniture, his expensive clothes, his horses and his servants and his bank accounts. He does not. He depends on them, he worries about them, he spends most of his life's energy looking after them; the thought of losing them makes him sick with anxiety. They possess him. He is their slave. In order to procure a quantity of false, perishable goods he has sold the only true, lasting good, his own independence.

There have been many men who grew tired of human society with its complications, and went away to live simply—on a small farm, in a quiet village, or in a hermit’s cave. Not so Diogenes. He was a missionary. His life's aim was clear to him: it was “to restamp the currency.” to take the clean metal of human life, to erase the old false conventional markings, and to imprint it with its true values.

The other great philosophers of the fourth century before Christ such as Plato and Aristotle taught mainly their own private pupils. But for Diogenes, laboratory and specimens and lecture halls and pupils were all to be found in a crowd of ordinary people. Therefore he chose to live in Athens or in the rich city of Corinth, where travelers from all over the Mediterranean world constantly came and went. And, by design, he publicly behaved in such ways as to show people what real life was. He thought most people were only half-alive, most men only half-men. At bright noonday he walked through the market place carrying a lighted lamp and inspecting the face of everyone he met.

They asked him why. Diogenes answered, “I am trying to find a man.”

To a gentleman whose servant was putting on his shoes for him, Diogenes said, “You won’t be really happy until he wipes your nose for you: that will come after you lose the use of your hands.”

Once there was a war scare so serious that it stirred even the lazy, profit-happy Corinthians. They began to drill, clean their weapons, and rebuild their neglected fortifications. Diogenes took his old cask and began to roll it up and down. “When you are all so busy,” he said, “I felt I ought to do something!”

And so he lived—like a dog, some said, because he cared nothing for the conventions of society, and because he showed his teeth and barked at those whom he disliked. Now he was lying in the sunlight, contented and happy, happier (he himself used to boast) than the Shah of Persia. Although he knew he was going to have an important visitor, he would not move.

The little square began to fill with people. Page boys , soldiers, secretaries, officers, diplomats, they all gradually formed a circle around Diogenes. He looked them over, as a sober man looks at a crowd of tottering drunks, and shook his head. He knew who they were. They were the servants of Alexander, the conqueror of Greece,the Macedonian king, who was visiting his newly subdued realm.

Only twenty, Alexander was far older and wiser than his years. Like all Macedonians he loved drinking, but he could usually handle it; and toward women he was nobly restrained and chivalrous.

Like all Macedonians he loved fighting; he was a magnificent commander, but he was not merely a military automaton. He could think. At thirteen he had become a pupil of the greatest mind in Greece, Aristotle who gave him the best of Greek culture. He taught Alexander poetry: the young prince slept with the Iliad under his pillow and longed to emulate Achilles, who brought the mighty power of Asia to ruin. He taught him philosophy, in particular the shapes and uses of political powerand he taught him the principles of scientific research: during his invasion of the Persian domains Alexander took with him a large corps of scientists, and shipped hundreds of zoological specimens back to Greece for study. Indeed, it was from Aristotle that Alexander learned to seek out everything strange which might be instructive.

Now, Alexander was in Corinth to take command of the League of Greek States which, his father Philip had created as a disguise for the New Macedonian Order. He was

welcomed and honored and flattered. He was the man of the hour, of the century: he was unanimously appointed commander-in-chief of a new expedition against old, rich, corrupt Asia. Nearly everyone crowded to Corinth in order to congratulate him, to seek employment with him, even simply to see him. Only Diogenes, although he lived in Corinth, did not visit the new monarch. With that generosity which Aristotle had taught him , Alexander determined to call upon Diogenes. With his handsome face, his fiery glance, his strong supple body, his purple and gold cloak, and his air of destiny, he moved through the parting crowd, toward the Dog’s kennel. When a king

approaches, all rise in respect. Diogenes merely sat up on one elbow. When a monarch

enters a precinct, all greet him with a bow or an acclamation. Diogenes said nothing.

There was a silence. Alexander spoke first, with a kindly greeting. Looking at the poor broken cask, the single ragged garment, and the rough figure lying on the ground, he said: “Is there anything I can do for you, Diogenes?”

“Yes,” said the Dog, “Stand to one side. You’re blocking the sunlight.”

There was amazed silence, slowly, Alexander turned away. A titter broke out from the elegant Greeks, the Macedonian officers, after deciding that Diogenes was not worth the trouble of kicking, were starting to guffaw and nudge one another. Alexander was still silent. To those nearest him he said quietly, “If I were not Alexander, I should be Diogenes.” They took it as a paradox, but Alexander meant it. He understood Cynicism as the others could not. He was what Diogenes called himself, a cosmopolites, “citizen of the world.”

Like Diogenes, he admired the heroic figure of Hercules, who labors to help

mankind while all others toiled and sweated only for themselves. He knew that of all man that lived the world, only Alexander the conqueror and Diogenes the beggar, were free.
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