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Phylarchus


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From Athens or Naucratis in Egypt, Greek historian who lived in the 3rd cent. bc. The fragments are collected in FGrH 81. He wrote Historiai covering the period from Pyrrhus' death, 272, to the death of the Spartan king Cleomenes III in 220/19, thereby continuing Hieronymus of Cardia and Duris of Samos; he adopted Duris' tragic and sensational mode of presentation: cf. Polyb. 2. 56–63 = F 53–6. Phylarchus' partisanship of Cleomenes and his anti-Achaean bias were harshly criticized by Polybius (see above), himself not an admirer of the king, who denounces Phylarchus' arbitrary and erroneous reporting. His work included numerous digressions of all kinds: miraculous events (F 10, 17, 35), strange animal tales (F 4. 26–28. 38. 61), multifarious anecdotes (F 12, 31, 40, 41, 75), love affairs (F 21, 24, 30, 32, 70, 71, 81). Phylarchus' reliability cannot be rated very highly: despite Strasburger, Polybius' reproach of terateia (‘sensationalism’) is justified. Plutarch used Phylarchus as his chief authority for the Agis and Cleomenes and as one of his sources for the Pyrrhus and Aratus. Pompeius Trogus also drew on him. The Atticists' low opinion of his style may account for the loss of his work. Only 60 fragments are extant.

Shorter works: The History of Antiochus and Eumenes of Pergamum (probably a supplement to the Historiai dealing with Antiochus III the Great, 223–187, and Eumenes II, 198–160/59); Mythical Epitomes, apparently a brief mythical story; Agrapha (‘Unwritten’), maybe a compilation of mythical traditions which had received no previous literary treatment, cf. fr. 47; On Inventions.

Klaus Meister

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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