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Ancient Greeks: Crates of Thebes on Utopia

Ancient Greeks: Crates of Thebes on Utopia

There is a city, Pera in the wine-dark sea of folly,
fair and fat, though filthy, with nothing much inside.
Never does there sail to it any foolish stranger,
or lewd fellow who takes delight in the rumps of whores,
but it merely carries thyme and garlic, figs and loaves,
things over which people do not fight or go to war,
nor stand they to arms for small change or glory.
Not one tower does my country have, not one roof,
but for home and city, the entire Earth lies,
at my disposition for a dwelling.

~ Crates of Thebes


Crates of Thebes, (born c. 360 bce—died c. 280 bce), was one of the most important Cynic philosophers of ancient Greece. He was born to a wealthy family in Thebes but gave away his inheritance after realizing the futility of material possessions. He then moved to Athens where he studied philosophy with Diogenes of Sinope (c. 404-323 BCE). Like Diogenes, Crates lived on the streets, owned nothing, and lived his philosophy very publicly.” ~ Ancient History Encyclopedia

READ MORE: Crates of Thebes; Greek Philosopher | Ancient History Encyclopedia


Here’s a little background for Crates’ poem on Utopia:

“The word ‘Pera‘ in Greek, means a rucksack, a trademark of all Cynics, since it served several purposes such as carrying their meager belongings and for use as a sleeping bag or blanket, among others uses.

Crates’ ode is the first known work of its kind to eulogize Cynicism and how Utopian the world would be if everyone lived as a Cynic.  Ancient Romano-Grecian historian, Plutarch, claims that Crates’ words tacitly imply avarice is the root social problems, tyranny and other evils that plague mankind. Further in the poem, Crates extols the virtues of lupine soup, the frugal meal popularized by Cynics, to connote that a simple, virtuous life is sufficient for happiness.”

~ Simply Knowledge

READ MORE: Biography of Crates | Simply Knowledge


Human nature has not changed over the millennia. The question is, do we learn from history?

Simplicity is a prerequisite for Utopia, as well as cleanliness. There would have to be a washing machine.

That’s one of my thoughts. Care to share what you are thinking?


Ancient Greek Wisdom  

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About The Author

JoAnn Chateau

JoAnn Chateau likes progressive politics and loves the canines. She writes fiction about an alpha Bichon named Chester, and his friends--with a dash of humor and a dab of poli-sci. JoAnn worked professionally in the Psychology and Information Science fields. Retired now, she enjoys the creative life.

2 Comments

  1. Robert A. Vella

    A simple, virtuous life is sufficient for happiness. But, I would also need cleanliness.

    “… lewd fellow who takes delight in the rumps of whores…” – Uh, oh! That’s a can-of-worms I’m certainly not going to open – lol!

    Reply
    • JoAnn Chateau

      I’m glad to know that, Robert. (Crates of Thebes must have been quite the character!) 🙂

      Reply

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