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July 18, 2006

They kept an owl on a tether at the temple of Athena at Corinth. I used to go visit him every day after rounding up a dead rat or two. It was a mutually beneficial relationship: people who would never think of giving alms to a beggar would gladly hand over whatever their cats had caught, and the priestess at the temple always gave me something for the rats. “Your breakfast, sire!” I’d murmur with a bow. The owl would open a single eye, dim as a lantern in the blazing afternoon.

by Diogenes

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  1. July 19, 2006 at 4:26 pm

    We propitiate the wild things we bring into civilization. Beggar are our failures.

  2. July 20, 2006 at 7:46 pm

    What a great example of a short prose piece! A tense little plot, characters, enough description to paint a picture, even a slightly gut-turning emotion – and then the owl’s impassivity. Pretty masterful.

  3. Diogenes
    July 21, 2006 at 8:15 am

    “Beggars are our failures.”

    Begging is an ancient and honorable profession. My mere presence affords my fellow citizens abundant opportunities for self-congratulation and an invaluable assistance in the education and correction of children. By accepting alms, I help people attain a special, warm glow they can’t get anywhere else, and may even – depending on what you believe – help them into heaven. If I also happen to irritate the social reformers, who want to do away with me and force everyone into wage-servitude, so be it.

  4. August 1, 2006 at 9:08 pm

    “The owl would open a single eye, dim as a lantern in the blazing afternoon. ”

    love this line, diogenes.

    i also have a friend who begs, and he affirms to me often exactly what you have just said in your comment, by the way.

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