Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Stoa of Diogenes

Alan Hall states "The stoa of Diogenes must have stood on the southern side of the Esplanade - an area which was either the early Agora or the exercise area for the gymnasium - and perhaps extended down the approach road from the later Agora. Secondly, it is clear that the stoa was taken down when the new defensive circuit was constructed around 270 A.D., and that its material was then used in new buildings across the northern half of the site, including the new defensive wall itself. And thirdly, it is evident that a great many more fragments lie close to the surface in this relatively restricted area". 

In the book, Epicureanism The Complete Guide edited by Paul Muljadi there is an essay by Guido Reale that states that the stoa consisted of a rectangular piazza surrounded by a portico, and furnished with statues. On one of the smaller sides was placed a portal, with perhaps Diogenes' mausoleum on the opposite side. On the two larger sides Diogenes inscribed a lengthy account of Epicurean doctrines.

Some dispute that the stoa was erected by Diogenes and may have been a pre-existing structure. Martin Ferguson Smith comments in his essay Two New Fragments of Diogenes of Oenoanda, The Journal of Hellenic Studies, Vol. 92 (1972), pp. 147-155 that : "The fact that Diogenes, an Epicurean, decided to have his work inscribed in a stoa must have greatly amused his contemporaries. But, although Diogenes, whose work is not without touches of humour, no doubt shared their amusement, he may have had a serious propagandist motive in choosing the stoa; for, although he must have decided upon it primarily because it just happened to contain the wall (or walls) best suited for the carving of the inscription, being spacious and in a public place, it is possible that his choice was influenced partly by a desire to emphasise the anti-Stoic character of his work by having it inscribed in a building of the same kind as that in which Zeno and his successors taught and from which their school derived its name: his verbal attacks on his chief philosophical opponents might seem all the more stinging and effective for being made almost literally on the Stoics' own ground. Moreover, he must have foreseen that news of an Epicurean stoa would spread far and wide, and that many ζενοι would thus be attracted to Oenoanda to see and read his work". 

Below can be seen a reconstruction by Nikolaus Koch of DAI, Istanbul (and Karlsruher IT) showing the two-storey North Stoa and the so-called Diogenes Stoa to the right. 

The stoa of Diogenes was dismantled in the second half of the third century CE to make room for a defensive wall; previously the site had been undefended.

More work is required to definitively position the stoa in the ruins of the city. This would require some, though not extensive, excavation. The shame is that so little work has been done at the city and often it has been thwarted by fluctuating interest from the authorities in permitting work by foreign archaeologists. 

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