How did the Ancient Cynics like Diogenes eat during their time? I know they only believed in eating natural foods but don't know how they procured it. If they didn't believe in wealth, they could not have bought it.

Did they beg for it? Did they steal it? Did they keep small gardens or forage? Did they work for it?

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    @user1894167 I think they foraged, or at least should have. Perhaps they also ate discarded food?
    – R. Barzell
    Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 14:10
  • Perhaps. But after reading more texts on extreme Cynics like Diogenes, it seems to imply that he either stole or begged for it. I don't think that fits their philosophy of 'self-sufficiency' though. Texts also refer to him 'eating in the marketplace'. Not sure what that means....
    – Anoop Alex
    Commented Jan 1, 2015 at 1:06

1 Answer 1


The earliest Cynics like Diogenes were mendicants; though Diogenes Laertius also mentions foraging as a means of nourishment. I'm not sure it's possible to conflate the Cynics of Greece and Rome however as the practice and ethics changed considerably over the centuries; with Zeno of Citium's Stoicism developing out of the base ideas of Cynicism and becoming influential in Roman times.

  • wouldn't the donations recieved from people disprove the cynics ideas of people being animals without morals...?
    – Hao S
    Commented Feb 18, 2019 at 22:14
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    @HaoSun Ancient Greek cynics never advocated being "animals with no morals". They did promote "shamelessness" - defacement of common laws and traditions, but not because cynics had no morals, but because people took these for granted and did not think of their meaning. Modern definition of cynicism is significantly different from ancient philosophy of the same name. Commented Feb 25, 2019 at 4:31

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