Menippus (flourished third century bc) (SIMON CRITCHLEY)

Menippus (flourished third century bc) (SIMON CRITCHLEY)

He was a Phoenician and originally a slave who practised usury, apparently with great success, and became a citizen of Thebes, presumably a rich one. So the story goes, he was robbed of all his money and hanged himself in despair. Menippus was a follower of Diogenes and perhaps the most cynical, in the modern sense, of the Cynics. He was certainly the Cynic most prone to laughter, a delightfully cruel ribaldry. Although none of his writings survives, he is known through a literary genre that he inspired: Menippean satire, whose great exponents are Petronius and Lucian. In the latter’s Dialogues of the Dead, Menippus is the consummate anti-hero, summoned down to Hades to laugh at the complaints of the formerly rich and powerful, like Midas and Croesus, and the inanities of the philosophers like Socrates, who is depicted chasing boys in Hades (old habits die hard). Menippus refuses to pay Charon, ferryman to the underworld, and acquires the admiration of Cerberus, the three-headed hellhound. It is a case of one dog admiring another. Cerberus concludes their dialogue by saying,

You alone were a credit to your breed–you and Diogenes before you, because you came in without having to be forced or pushed, but of your own accord, laughing and cursing at everyone.

 

 

 

The Book of Dead Philosophers

Simon Critchley



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  • There are three classes of people : Those who see , those who see when they are shown , those who do not see .

    lecturesbureau: "There are three classes of people :

Those who see ,
those who see when they are shown ,
those who do not see ."
    136
    0
  • The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek .

    lecturesbureau: "The cave you fear to enter
holds the treasure you seek ."
    286
    3
  • The only tyrant I accept in this world is the still voice within .

    lecturesbureau: "The only tyrant I accept in this world
is the still voice within ."
    313
    2
  • There is only one way to avoid criticism : DO NOTHING , SAY NOTHING , AND BE NOTHING .

    lecturesbureau: "There is only one way to avoid criticism :
DO NOTHING ,
SAY NOTHING ,
AND BE NOTHING ."
    462
    1
  • All my life I've looked at words as though I were seeing them for the first time .

    lecturesbureau: "All my life I've looked at words
as though I were seeing them for the first time ."
    237
    0
  • The world is divided into two classes , those who believe the incredible and those who do the improbable .

    lecturesbureau: "The world is divided into two classes ,

those who believe the incredible and
those who do the improbable ."
    339
    1
  • Live to the point of tears .

    lecturesbureau: "Live to the point of tears ."
    270
    0
  • The only one you need in your life is that person who shows you he needs you in his .

    lecturesbureau: "The only one you need in your life
is that person who shows you
he needs you in his ."
    371
    1
  • I love those who can smile in trouble .

    lecturesbureau: "I love those who can smile in trouble ."
    407
    2
  • The way you start your day determines how well you live your day !

    lecturesbureau: "The way you start your day
determines how well you live your day !"
    855
    1