Ancient Greeks and Advertising

crap signI don’t dislike all advertising – just most of it. So I don’t watch much tele or listen to the radio – it’s usually loud, crass and stupid.

Diogenes of Sinope (412–323 BC) was a fringe dwelling Greek philosopher. He put affirmations up on a wall in Athens to counteract advertising. Yes that’s right – advertising – even the ancient Greeks were being bombarded. And yes affirmations – so more than 2000 years ago some enlightened souls were producing nice words to remind people of the beauty of the world. Epicurus (341-270 BC), another Greek philosopher, blamed advertising for creating a blurring of ideas leading to confusion. He promoted self-sufficiency, friends and an analyzed life to create happiness (maybe Epicurus and Diogenes hung out at the pub to discuss notes).

Diogenes was a really interesting character. He used his simple lifestyle and behaviour to criticise the social values and institutions of what he saw as a corrupt society. He declared himself a cosmopolitan – a radical concept that tied a person to the world not a city-state.

From Wikileaks – “Diogenes maintained that all the artificial growths of society were incompatible with happiness and that morality implies a return to the simplicity of nature. In his words, “Humans have complicated every simple gift of the gods.” (And he didn’t even have a PC). He became notorious for his philosophical stunts such as carrying a lamp in the daytime, claiming to be looking for an honest man. Plato once described Diogenes as “a Socrates gone mad.”

I like him already, so cheers for Diogenes, a dweller on the fringe.

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