The Master of the World and the Philosopher

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A short story about a meeting between the most powerful man of the ancient world and a philosopher who lives like a vagabond.

Submitted: June 01, 2017

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Submitted: June 01, 2017





The Master of the World and the Philosopher



by Matthew Bissonnette







In the ancient world was a backyard to a manor. In some large city of Greece, a city of stone and marble homes and shops amongst cobblestone streets which now men and women, in simple togas, walked who where on occasion passed by large steeds pulling wagons. It was a bright day when a meeting between two men where to occur in this city; a meeting that most this particular day in this particular city would never know occurred till many years later. The most powerful man in the world had come to this city but whose arrival had not been either celebrated or feared; it was unknown to most. But he had not come to this city in Greece to meet with a powerful man, no he had come to meet with the man Diogenes; who now lived in a acquittance backyard, like a dog which most said.

The old man, dressed in a filthy toga, sat on the ground with his back resting against the large willow tree whose branches now waved lazily in a breeze. At this part of the early noon, the sun's heat and intense light was directly in his face and bothering his eyes. He had wild, unkempt white hair and a thick mangy beard covered his chin; and like his clothes his face and arms where also covered with dirt and mud, both new and old.

His only possession, his bed, just a old blanket on the ground was what he now sat on. The ground of the yard was either brown dirt either or patches of mud. There was only a small patch of grass in the yard, under the tree and which Diogenes now sat on.

He continued to look off into the distance as the sun shone down on him, when suddenly a shadow fell over him. The old man looked up and saw an imposing man standing over him. A man, dressed in bronze armor, yet armor with gold around the edges, stood above Diogenes. He was not the tallest of men but had the build of someone who was no stranger to physical feats; darkly golden hair and eyes which seemed to look directly at the old man.

The man said, “I have come to speak with the philosopher Diogenes, and I seek to grant him one request no matter what it may be.”

Diogenes looked at the man for a moment and seemed to think. Then he said, “and who is he who seeks to grant one request to a tired old man, he who now stands in the way of the glorious magnificence and warmth of the noon's day sun; he who thinks himself powerful enough to grant something that only the Gods are powerful enough to grant; a wish?”

The man looked at the Diogenes for a moment, brooding deeply and was silent. He then abruptly said, “I am Alexander the Great.”

Diogenes seemed to be trying to look behind the man, who indeed was Alexander the Great; ruler of most of the known world. The old man said, “perhaps you are in a most unique position to grant a tired old man one request; and only he who now rules the world is in a position to grant this request; if you dare wish.”

Alexander nodded. “Ask and it shall be yours.”

“Get out of the way, it is cold and the sun is warming me; a cannot endure the numbing cold of Alexander the Great's shadow.”

Alexander looked quizzically at the old man for a moment then said, “are you joking?”

“But you said who came here to grant me one request.”

Alexander the Great stepped to his left and again the sun shown down on Diogenes. He still looked at the old man silently for a moment.

Diogenes looked towards the sun as its light bathed his elderly face and he grinned slightly. They both remained like that, not saying anything as the old man looked to the sun as Alexander stared at him.

Alexander waited a moment then said, “I am being genuine about granting you one request no matter what it may be. And I am a man who does not say something without meaning it.”

Diogenes did not look at him. “You have granted me my wish, a reprieve from your chilling shadow.”

“The most powerful man in the known world comes to meet with you, to give you anything you may ask of him, and you are satisfied with him simply standing aside?”

The old man looked at him for a moment. “I live like a dog, in a yard in rags and living the only kind of life which can allow one to fully appreciate what is important in this existence. Something tells me that being the most powerful man on Earth also makes it hard to value the warmth and splendor of the sun.”

“There is much talk of you Diogenes. The philosopher who lives like a vagabond. I have studied your philosophy, I do agree that power is a lesser pursuit then the pursuit you seek of self enlightenment.”

The philosopher looked up at him as the sun bathed him with its warmth.

“Not many men can claim to be master of the world and few have the luxury of being a king who rules over many; but self enlightenment is a gift that bestows its wisdom on any man who seeks it and all men can find such knowledge and apply the lessons they learn to their lives. Wisdom is free and available to all and any who try and find it. It is just as easily found by the simplest of vagabonds as well as the most powerful man on Earth.”

Alexander then asked, “are you sure you do not want anything you may ask of me old man?”

Diogenes looked to the sun. “Freeing me of your numbing shadow was all I wanted from the master of the world.”

Alexander with his deep, somber eyes looked down at the old man for a moment then turned and spoke as he walked away. “Well, I guess I have met you and have satisfied my curiosity.” He then stopped, looked over his shoulder at the old man, and said lastly, “though this may sound like either a disingenuous platitude or falsity but if I could live again and be given a choice to be master of the world or a live as you had, I am honest when I say I would live as Diogenes had.” They he walked away.

The philosopher seem to ignore Alexander's departure and returned to looking at the sun; appreciating its magnificence and its warmth.


The End


© Copyright 2018 Matthew Bissonnette. All rights reserved.

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