Once a place of search for the true human

The Diogenes Grotto

The Diogenes Grotto is first mentioned in 1789, four years after the opening of the Ermitage. The inscriptions which were once there recalled the Greek philosopher Diogenes. They are now lost.

Diogenes of Sinope (407BCE to 323BCE), according to an anecdote, once walked through the marketplace in broad daylight with a burning lantern. When asked what he was doing, he replied "I am looking for a man". Diogenes belonged to the philosophical school of the Cynics, who strived for needlessness and humility, and who approached the  morality of that time with skepticism. The anecdote can be seen as a symbol: his fellow humans live in the darkness of their ignorance, into which philosophers with their wisdom must bring light, in order to discover the true human. The Diogenes Grotto contained three inscriptions which led from the darkness at the bottom of the crevice up into the light: firstly "Je cherche un homme" (I am looking for a man), followed by "Et moi, je l'attends" (And I am waiting for him), and finally "Est-ce que c'est toi?" (Is it you?).