World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Demetrius the Cynic


Demetrius the Cynic

Demetrius (Greek: Δημήτριος; fl. 1st century), a Cynic philosopher from Corinth, who lived in Rome during the reigns of Caligula, Nero and Vespasian (37-71 AD).

He was the intimate friend of Seneca, who wrote about him often,[1] and who describes him as the perfect man:

Demetrius, who seems to have been placed by nature in our times that he might prove that we could neither corrupt him nor be corrected by him; a man of consummate wisdom, though he himself disclaimed it, constant to the principles which he professed, of an eloquence worthy to deal with the mightiest subjects, scorning mere prettinesses and verbal niceties, but expressing with infinite spirit, the ideas which inspired it. I doubt not that he was endowed by divine providence with so pure a life and such power of speech in order that our age might neither be without a model nor a reproach.[2]

His contempt for worldly riches is shown by his reply to Caligula who, wishing to corrupt him, offered him two hundred thousand sesterces. Demetrius replied, "If he meant to tempt me, he ought to have tried to do so by offering his entire kingdom."[3]

He was also a friend of Thrasea Paetus and was with him when Thrasea was condemned to death (66 AD).[4] We hear of him again in the reign of Vespasian (c. 70 AD), when, curiously, he defended Publius Egnatius Celer against the charges brought against him by Musonius Rufus.[5] He was exiled from Rome in 71 AD, by Vespasian, along with all other philosophers.[6]

Demetrius is sometimes identified with the Demetrius of Sunium mentioned by Lucian.[7] However, Demetrius was a very common name in the Roman world, and Demetrius of Sunium was probably, (but not certainly), a different, later Cynic.

Quotations of Demetrius

  • "An easy existence, untroubled by the attacks of Fortune is a Dead Sea"[8]
  • "The talk of the ignorant is like the rumblings which issue from the belly."[9]


  1. ^ Seneca, Epistles, 20.9., 62.3., 67.14., 91.19.; De Beneficiis, vii. 1-2, 8-11; De Providentia; De Vita Beata
  2. ^ Seneca, De Beneficiis (On Benefits), vii. 8
  3. ^ Seneca, De Beneficiis (On Benefits), vii. 11
  4. ^ Tacitus, , 16Annals. 34
  5. ^ Tacitus, History, 4.40
  6. ^ Cassius Dio, Roman History, Epitome of Book 65
  7. ^ Lucian, Toxaris.
  8. ^ Seneca, Epistles, 67.14.
  9. ^ Seneca, Epistles, 91.19.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.