History, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Philologus 154.2 (2010): 187-208


Recent discussions of the fragments of the Περι Βίων have seen the concept of pernicious luxury as a key to understanding aspects of this work of Clearchus. In particular, it is thought that Clearchus reflects a moralizing historiographical schema according to which wealth leads to an effeminate luxury (τρυφή), eventually producing satiety (κόρος), which in turn provokes the afflicted to violence (υβρις), ultimately bringing the subject’s destruction. We maintain, in contrast, that it is anachronistic to attribute this pattern of thought to Clearchus, and further, that the state of the evidence does not permit us to establish that the idea of pernicious luxury was in any way important to the organization of the Περι Βίων.

All texts pertaining to the representation of τρυφή in the Περι Βίων come to us through Athenaeus. Anyone trying to investigate prose fragments in the Deipnosophistae must face the task of disentangling the material ascribable to the original author from Athenaeus’ own contributions. In the case of the Clearchus fragments, it is possible to identify certain parts of the relevant texts as Athenaean with a reasonable degree of probability.