A report that Philip II of Macedon was marching on the town had thrown all Corinth into a bustle; one was furbishing his arms, another wheeling stones, a third patching the wall, a fourth strengthening a battlement, every one making himself useful somehow or other. Diogenes having nothing to do – of course no one thought of giving him a job – was moved by the sight to gather up his philosopher's cloak and begin rolling his tub energetically up and down the Craneum; an acquaintance asked for the reason, and got the explanation: "I do not want to be thought the only idler in such a busy multitude; I am rolling my tub to be like the rest."
Diogenes is referred to in Anton Chekhov's story "Ward No. 6"; william Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell; François Rabelais' Gargantua and Pantagruel; Goethe's poem Genialisch Treiben; as well as in the first sentence of Søren Kierkegaard's novelistic treatise Repetition. The story of Diogenes and the lamp is referenced by the character Foma Fomitch in Fyodor Dostoevsky's "The Friend of the Family" as well as "The Idiot". In Cervantes' short story "The Man of Glass" ("El licenciado Vidriera"), part of the Novelas Ejemplares collection, the (anti-)hero unaccountably begins to channel Diogenes in a string of tart chreiai once he becomes convinced that he is made of glass. Diogenes gives his own life and opinions in Christoph Martin Wieland's novel Socrates Mainomenos (1770; English translation Socrates Out of His Senses, 1771). Diogenes is the primary model for the Philosopher Didactylos in Terry Pratchett's Small Gods. He is mimicked by a beggar-spy in Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Scion and paid tribute to with a costume in a party by the main character in its sequel, Kushiel's Justice. The character Lucy Snowe in Charlotte Brontë's novel Villette is given the nickname Diogenes. Diogenes also features in Part Four of Elizabeth Smart's By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept. He is a figure in Seamus Heaney's The Haw Lantern. In Christopher Moore's Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal, one of Jesus' apostles is a devotee of Diogenes, complete with his own pack of dogs which he refers to as his own disciples. His story opens the first chapter of Dolly Freed's 1978 book Possum Living. The dog that Paul Dombey befriends in Charles Dickens' Dombey and Son is called Diogenes. Alexander's meeting with Diogenes is portrayed in Valerio Manfredi's (Alexander Trilogy) "The Ends of the Earth". william S. Burroughs has been described as "Diogenes with a knife and gun"
The philosopher's name was adopted by the fictional Diogenes Club, an organization that Sherlock Holmes' brother Mycroft Holmes belongs to in the story "The Greek Interpreter" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It is called such as its members are educated, yet untalkative and have a dislike of socialising, much like the Philosopher himself. The group is the focus of a number of Holmes pastiches by Kim Newman. In the Rodgers and Hart musical The Boys From Syracuse (1938), the song Oh Diogenes!—which extols the philosopher's virtues—contains the lyrics "there was an old zany/ who lived in a tub;/ he had so many flea-bites / he didn't know where to rub."
In The Adventures of Nero album Het Zeespook (1948) Nero meets a character who claims to be Diogenes. Two scenes in the comic depict famous anecdotes of Diogenes' life, namely the moment when he was looking for a human and the moment when he asked Alexander to get out of his sun. He is also portrayed living in a barrel.
In Sloterdijk's Critique of Cynical Reason, Diogenes is used as an Example of Sloterdijk's idea of the "kynical" – in which personal degradation is used for purposes of community comment or censure. Calling the practice of this tactic "kynismos", Sloterdijk theorizes that the kynical actor actually embodies the message he is trying to convey and that the kynical actor's goal is typically a false regression that mocks authority – especially authority that the kynical actor considers corrupt, suspect or unworthy.