Witticism and Raillery from Aristippus

Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers – Aristippus (2.69)

“When asked by Dionysius why philosophers paid court to the rich, while the rich never paid court to philosophers, Aristippus responded, ‘Because the philosophers know what they stand in need of, but the rich don’t.’

Once, when criticized by Plato for his lavish lifestyle, Aristippus responded, ‘Does Dionysius appear to you to be a good person?’ When Plato assented to this, Aristippus added, ‘Well indeed, he lives much more lavisly than I do. There is nothing stopping someone from living lavishly and nobly.’

One time, he was asked in what way the educated differed from the uneducated, and he responded, ‘In the same way that broken horses differ from those who are unbroken.

One day, when he was on his way to the brothel, one of the young men who was with him began to blush. Aristippus told him, ‘It’s not going in that’s difficult – it’s being unable to come back out!’”

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ἐρωτηθεὶς ὑπὸ Διονυσίου διὰ τί οἱ μὲν φιλόσοφοι ἐπὶ τὰς τῶν πλουσίων θύρας ἔρχονται, οἱ δὲ πλούσιοι ἐπὶ τὰς τῶν φιλοσόφων οὐκέτι, ἔφη, “ὅτι οἱ μὲν ἴσασιν ὧν δέονται, οἱ δ’ οὐκ ἴσασιν.” [ὀνειδιζόμενός ποτ’ ἐπὶ τῷ πολυτελῶς ζῆν ὑπὸ Πλάτωνος, ἔφη, “ἆρα φαίνεταί σοι Διονύσιος ἀγαθός;” τοῦ δ’ ὁμολογήσαντος, “καὶ μήν,” ἔφη, “ζῇ ἐμοῦ πολυτελέστερον· ὥστ’ οὐδὲν κωλύει καὶ πολυτελῶς καὶ καλῶς ζῆν.”] ἐρωτηθεὶς τίνι διαφέρουσιν οἱ πεπαιδευμένοι τῶν ἀπαιδεύτων, ἔφη, “ᾧπερ οἱ δεδαμασμένοι ἵπποι τῶν ἀδαμάστων.” εἰσιών ποτε εἰς ἑταίρας οἰκίαν καὶ τῶν σὺν αὐτῷ μειρακίων τινὸς ἐρυθριάσαντος, “οὐ τὸ εἰσελθεῖν,” ἔφη, “χαλεπόν, ἀλλὰ τὸ μὴ δύνασθαι ἐξελθεῖν.”


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