In The Anatomy of Melancholy, Robert Burton states that

"When the son swore, Diogenes struck the father."

Where did Burton get this from? I can find no earlier (i.e. Classical) reference to it, nor any suggestion that Diogenes in fact did it. I am wondering if Burton made it up and, as it were," hung" it on Diogenes.

Edit: The nearest I can find to Burton's claim is this (unreferenced) quote:

"Why not whip the teacher when the pupil misbehaves?"


  • 1
    What are you looking for evidence of, that the quote existed before Burton used it or that Diogenes actually struck a father when his son swore?
    – Steve Bird
    Aug 21, 2016 at 7:44
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    @SteveBird Either, really. Both Wikipedia and Encyclopaedia Britannica mention the other stories of Diogenes - looking for an honest man with a lantern, telling Alexander the Great not to block the sun - but the earliest reference I can find to this alleged quote is Burton, and I'm wondering where he got it from, or whether he just "hung" it on Diogenes?
    – TheHonRose
    Aug 21, 2016 at 11:56
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    Diogenes Laertius' entry on Diogenes of Sinope in "Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers" (book 6) doesn't mention it.
    – Brasidas
    Aug 21, 2016 at 17:26
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    This list of quotes by and about Diogenes does not include it: en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Diogenes_of_Sinope Aug 21, 2016 at 17:30
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    @LuísHenrique I know! :) Diogenes Laertius wrote about Diogenes of Sinope in his "Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers". You can read it here: perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/…
    – Brasidas
    Aug 22, 2016 at 1:35

1 Answer 1


I think you found the source, which was creatively rephrased. A-Z Quotes has the citation to Davenport's translation of Diogenes for the quote:

Herakleitos, Diogenes (2011). “Herakleitos and Diogenes: Translated from the Greek by Guy Davenport”, p.55, Wipf and Stock Publishers

  • 2
    I may have found the source, but couldn't find the source of the source! ;-)
    – TheHonRose
    Jun 17, 2019 at 17:32

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