Saturday, March 30, 2013

Diogenes as a Masochist

Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1860
Diogenes of Sinope (404 - 323 bc) is important figure of cynic philosophy but stories about his life could also serve as an example of asceticism and moral masochism. He adored dogs for their honesty and simplicity and tried to live like one - in a ceramic jar in the marketplace he begged for his food, ate on public, performed bodily functions on public and did everything to upset people.

John William Waterhouse, 1882
Two painting from 19th century are rather interesting. Gérôme painted his Diogenes as desperately lonely fool sitting between dogs, his only companions, lighting the lamp in daylight to search for an 'honest' man, for love. Waterhouse 22 years later painted Diogenes with the lamp already extinguished. His broken Diogenes is turned into a dog, into a target of ridicule and contempt for the rich Ladies. He is just an attraction for them. It is really masochistic painting.

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