Book #35

Anecdotes of the Cynics

What makes us happy? For over 800 years the Cynic philosophers of ancient Greece and Rome argued that the answer lay in a simple, self-sufficient life.

The Cynics were a group of philosophers who believed in simplicity, in the vice associated with luxury, in nature, and in maintaining the natural order. 

I felt Penguin have done well in putting this one together. The opening exchange allows us to understand the doctrines of the Cynics using a debate between two men arguing for each side. The one seeped in luxury simply cannot understand why anyone would shun such comforts, whilst the Cynic disagrees, and puts forth his simple case well. We only need what we need.

Following on, Penguin showcases passages and anecdotes describing the way of life of a few of the Cynics. It’s enlightening, profound, and a little barbaric. 

I did enjoy this for its style and its message. In the time of Covid-19, where it seems as though it’s every man for themselves when it comes to bread, eggs, and toilet roll, it’s a worthwhile reminder to keep it simple and take only what you need.