The Image of His Values – Diogenes by Jean-Léon Gérôme

Diogenes by Jean-Léon Gérôme
Diogenes by Jean-Léon Gérôme

Surrounded by four dogs, a man adjusts his lantern. The scene takes place in the middle of the day, yet the fire crackles. Diogenes, one leg crossed over the other, dressed with a simple white piece of fabric knotted around his waist, is getting ready to stride the neighborhood.

He has been living this way for as long as he can remember, choosing simplicity and modesty, dear to his heart and philosophy, over comfort and materiality. He doesn’t suffer from his art; he survives by nourishing his principles of human experience. Yet, animals are his main companions. He is a traveler and doesn’t settle for anything that he doesn’t believe in. A citizen of the world, he inhabits a ceramic jar as the image of his values. Sleeping on straw and begging for food does not scare him. Corruption and hypocrisy on the other hand upsets him, sets off rage, and leaves him sleepless for days.  

Diogenes does not fear ridicule or embarrassment. Proud of his lifestyle, he defies the ill-intentioned, and to show his faith in the good on  Earth, he embarks regularly on journeys which he hopes will introduce him to an honest man. In the clarity of daylight and the reality of human beings, he lights up the lantern, and despite his disillusion in finding grace in this corrupted world, begins his search for another illumination in the bright landscapes of Athens.

 

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