Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
85. DIOGENES AND THE FERRYMAN
Perry 247 (Chambry
On his travels, Diogenes the Cynic came to a stream that was flooded.
He stood on the bank, unable to go any farther. One of those ferrymen
who regularly carry people across rivers saw that Diogenes did not know
what to do so he approached the philosopher, picked him up, and kindly
carried him across the water. Diogenes then stood on the opposite shore,
bewailing the poverty that prevented him from rewarding the man for his
good deed. While Diogenes was still pondering this state of affairs, the
ferryman saw another traveller who could not get across, so he ran off
to offer his assistance. Diogenes accosted the ferryman and said, 'Well,
I do not feel in your debt any longer for the favour that you did me.
This is not an act of judgment on your part - it's an addiction!'
The story shows that someone who assists both the truly good and those
who are undeserving is not seen as a philanthropist, but is instead regarded
as a madman.
the Cynic was a Greek mendicant philosopher of the fourth-century
B.C.E. For another anecdote about Diogenes, see Fable
Aesop's Fables. A new translation by Laura
Oxford University Press (World's Classics): Oxford, 2002.
cover, with new ISBN, published in 2008; contents of book unchanged.