There is a school of thought in the realm of Greek Philosophy known as stoicism according to which virtue alone is good, vice alone evil, and that all else is absolutely indifferent. Poverty, sickness, pain and death are not evils. Riches, health, pleasure and life are not goods. A man may commit suicide, for in destroying his life, he destroys noting of value. Above all pleasure is not a good. Once ought not to seek pleasure virtue is the only happiness. And man must be virtuous, not for the sake of pleasure, but for the sake of duty. And since virtue alone is good, vice alone evil, there followed the further paradox that all virtues are equally good and all vices equally evil. There are no degrees. Virtue is founded upon reason and so upon knowledge. The wise man is perfect, has all happiness, freedom, riches, beauty. The fool has all vice, all misery, all ugliness, all poverty. The stoicism stands for an indifference towards pleasure and pain.
Diagenes was regarded as a wise man judged by the yardstick of stoicism. He was a ginger bread cynic who took a pessimistic view of human motives. He had a hatred for ostentatious behaviour and was indifferent to riches, arts and amusements. One of his known close acquaintances built a nice palace and invited diagenes to have a round of it. He took him round the building. Meanwhile, Diagenes cought and felt like spitting. He threw the spootum on his friend's face. Diagenes spoke out, Everything is spick and span in the building. I don't see any ugly spot here. I tried to find out a dirty spot here. I found the only dirty spot on your face. I had no option but to use your face as a dustbin. This shows that Diagenes was indifferent to pleasure and pain. Another incident of Diagenes is discussed here rather briefly. Alexander the Great, was keen to meet Diagenes. Diagenes was in the habit of sleeping in the day time, as he did not sleep at night. Alexander came riding on a horse, and stood near Diagenes. He was disturbed. Alexander deposed, What can I do for you?
The Epicureans believed in pleasure alone as an end in itself as according to them, Pleasure is the only good. pain is the only evil. Morality, therefore, is an activity which yields pleasure. Virtue has no value on its own account, but derives its value from the pleasure which accompanies it. In other words, we should forego a pleasure if it leads to greater pain in the end or we must be ready to undergo pain for the sake of a greater pleasure to come. Whatever the merits or demerits of the doctrine, life stood for avoiding pain to seek happiness through pleasure. Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die became a popular creed and life is thought to be a series of pleasure without pain.