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Crates of Thebes

Crates of Thebes, a Hellenistic philosopher, was one of the Cynics and the teacher of Zeno of Citium. Crates was from Thebes was a student of Diogenes of Sinope.

It is said that he lost his ample fortune owing to the Macedonian invasion, but a more probable story is that he sacrificed it in accordance with his principles, directing the banker, to whom he entrusted it, to give it to his sons if they should prove fools, but to the poor if his sons should prove philosophers.

He gave up his life to the attainment of virtue and the propagation of ascetic self-control. His habit of entering houses for this purpose, uninvited, earned him the nickname "Door-opener". His marriage with Hipparchia, daughter of a wealthy Thracian family, was in curious contrast to the prosaic character of his life.

Attracted by the nobility of his character and undeterred by his poverty and ugliness, she insisted on becoming his wife in defiance of her father's commands. The date of his death is unknown, though he seems to have lived into the 3rd century.

His writings were few. According to Diogenes Laërtius, he was the author of a number of letters on philosophical subjects; but those extant under the name of Crates are spurious, the work of later rhetoricians. Diogenes Laërtius credits him with a short poem, and several philosophic tragedies. Plutarch's life of Crates is lost. The great importance of Crates' work is that he formed the link between Cynicism and the Stoics, Zeno of Citium being his pupil.

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.

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