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Crates


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Of Thebes (c.368/365–288/285 bc), Cynic philosopher and poet. Having gone to Athens as a young man, he became a follower of Diogenes 2 and gave his wealth to the poor. How far he maintained Diogenes' philosophy is disputed. He claimed to be ‘a citizen of Diogenes’, espousing a similar cosmopolitanism; notoriously enacted Diogenes' prescriptions regarding free and public sex in his relations with Hipparchia, with whom he shared a Cynic way of life; and often expressed ethical sentiments as extreme and intolerant as Diogenes'. But he did not insist on the complete renunciation of wealth or that everybody should become a Cynic, and he conceded a certain legitimacy to existing occupations; and the deployment of his considerable charm and kindliness in proclaiming his message, comforting the afflicted, and reconciling enemies, won him a reputation for humanity which endured throughout antiquity. Granted their obvious differences in personality and missionary approach, Crates seems himself to have followed Diogenes rigorously, while (sometimes) allowing greater latitude to others. This partial moral relativism makes him the link between ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ Cynicism; he is also, through Zeno 2 (his most famous follower), the link between Cynicism and Stoicism.

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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