In fact, one who wants to overpower another person is essentially a weak and fear-stricken person. Only a fearful person wants to frighten and dominate others just to assuage his own fear. A really fearless person never tries to dominate others. He loves everybody’s freedom as much as he loves his own. A fearful man is always afraid that if he does not dominate others, others will dominate him. This is the psychology of all wars. That’s why Machiavelli says in his book The Prince, that to be on the offensive is the best defense.
So the traders are afraid of Diogenes, but their greed is equally strong. A slave like Diogenes would fetch a fabulous price in the slaves’ market. After much discussion among themselves, they decide to make an attempt. Prepared for a good fight, they surround him from all sides, but Diogenes confounds them in a strange way. They would not have been surprised if he had resisted them. They were well prepared for it. But instead they find Diogenes standing quietly and serenely in his place with not a trace of fear or agitation on his face. He folds hands and giggles, saying, “What do you want? What is your intention?”
The merchants are embarrassed and hesitatingly tell him that they wanted to capture and enslave him. Diogenes laughs and says, “Why make such a fuss about it? You are fools; you should have just asked me and I would have agreed. I have been watching you anxiously discussing and preparing an elaborate plan which is all useless. Where are the handcuffs? Take them out of your bags. And here are my hands.” Saying this he stretches his two hands to them. His captors are amazed, and their confusion is worse. They have never seen such a man, shouting at them, “Where are the handcuffs? Take them out of your bags!” And he speaks as if he is the master and they are his slaves.
With great hesitation and fear they take out a pair of handcuffs and put them on Diogenes’ hands, saying, “It is something incredible. The way you have put yourself in our hands is unbelievable. You baffle us.”
What Diogenes says to them is significant. He says, “I have learned the secret of freedom, which is to become a slave on my own. Now no one can rob me of my freedom. You have no way to enslave me.”
Then they chain him and with one end of the chain in their hands, they march him to the slave market. Diogenes then says, “Why carry a heavy chain in your hands unnecessarily? Don’t you see I am going with you on my own accord? Take off the chains so we walk with ease, and take care that you don’t run away before we reach the marketplace. And rest assured, I am not going to escape.” The merchants soon remove the chains, because they know in their heart of hearts what kind of man he is. He has voluntarily surrendered himself to them. There is no use putting fetters on one who has given his hands for handcuffing without their asking.
Diogenes walks at their head as if a king is marching with his retinue. There is not a trace of fear on his face, while his captors look like his captives. He looks so charismatic that wherever he goes all eyes are turned on him. Pointing to his captors, Diogenes tells the spectators, “What are you looking for? They are all my slaves. And although they are not in chains yet, they cannot run away from me. They are so found to me.” The merchants are really crestfallen.