You know: in a foolish, undiscriminating way, I've been happy these last few months. I don't know why. I just am. I love my friends; I love my pupils; I love what I read; I -- dammit -- love my thoughts. I love the taste of oranges.
Thornton Wilder in a letter to Gertrude Stein, Aug 14, 1936

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


anaideia, shamelessness.   The quality of a dog (the Greeks did not tend to praise dogs for loyalty of for being "man's best friend") and of a Cynic, who does everything publicly, without embarrassment and without care for the observers' opinions.

askesis, training, exercise   For the Cynics it entailed ascetic practices such as sleeping rough, walking barefoot everywhere, enduring heat and cold, and generally living "according to nature" without any artificial aids.

euteleia, frugality.   A Cynic virtue about which Crates wrote an encomium and to attain which Diogenes threw away his last cup.

paracharattein to nomisma, to deface the coinage.    What Diogenes' father Heccesias is reported to have done in Sinope, and what Diogenes and Cynics claimed to do metphorically: putting the coin (nomissa) of custom (nomos) out of circulation.

pera, traveler's bag or sack   Part of the Cynic's typical garb, and the name that Crates gave to his utopia, because it contains no coins but only simple, natural things.

philodoxia, love of fame or honor.   A standard charge against the Cynics...Alexander the Great was sometimes taken as the epitome of it.

pithos, storage jar   The sort of large, earthenware container (common to the ancient world) in which Diogenes as said to have lived for a time; often translated as "tub."

spoudogeloion, the serious-funny or serio-comic.   A jokey style that masks a serious intent.

typhos, literally, "smoke, vapour"   Used by the Cynics to denote the delirium of popular ideas and conventions. For the Cynics, these are insubstantial "smoke" in comparison with the self and its present experiences, which alone can be known and possessed. One Cynic goal is atyphia, complete freedom from typhos.

Excerpted from Glossary of Greek Terms 
in Cynics, by William Desmond
Univeristy of California Press, 2008

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