Peregrinus Competes for Attention in Greek Antiquity

face of a prisoner

Lucian describes in detail Peregrinus’ attention-seeking. Peregrinus’ attention-seeking included “shaving half his head bare, smearing his face with mud, masturbating in front of crowds of spectators to demonstrate ‘stoic indifference,’ flogging and getting flogged on the buttocks with canes…. ” When Peregrinus traveled to Italy:

the minute he got off the ship, {he} started reviling all and sundry. His special target was the emperor; knowing full well he was the mildest, gentlest ruler on earth. Peregrinus was able to show his nerve without any risk. The emperor, naturally, didn’t give a second thought to this foulmouth; he hardly felt it necessary to punish some pseudo-philosopher for mere words, particularly one who had raised name-calling to the status of a profession. ^

These actions follow well-recognized Cynic attention-seeking conventions linked to Diogenes.^ ^ ^ Empedocles, a citizen of a Greek colony in Sicily, reportedly threw himself into the flames of Mount Etna to achieve immortal renown.^ Lucian satirized this story in his Icaro-Menippus. Lucian also described Peregrinus as committing suicide similarly.

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