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Phylarchus: fragments of the Histories


Phylarchus wrote a history of the Greek world from about 272 to 220 B.C. Although his Histories have not survived, they were frequently quoted by later Greek writers.

The fragments are shown here in the order in which they appear in volume 2A of Jacoby's "Fragmente der Griechischen Historiker" (FGrH_81). Because most of them are quotations by other authors, which have already been translated elsewhere on the web, this list consists mainly of links to the places on the web where the translations can be found.

See key to translations for an explanation of the format. The fragment numbers in Jacoby's edition are shown in red.


THE HISTORIES   (with book numbers)

[T1]   An entry in the Suda (10th century A.D.) says that "Phylarchus, of Athens or Naucratis ... historian, [wrote] The Expedition of Pyrrhus of Epirus against the Peloponnese in 28 books, and takes it as far as Ptolemy Euergetes, and the death of Berenice, and up to the death of Cleonymus the Lacedaemonian after Antigonus marched against him.".

Book 3

[1]   Athen_8.334'a-b    # Patroclus, the admiral of Ptolemy, sends a gift of fish and figs to Antigonus.

[2]   Athen_4.150'd-f   The public banquets of Ariamnes the Galatian.

[3]   Athen_10.412'f-413'a   Milon eats a bull in front of the altar of Zeus at Olympia.

Book 4

[4]   Athen_8.333'a   Reports of raining fish, raining wheat, and raining frogs.

[5]   Athen_9.401'd   Syagrus, a general of the Aetolians.

Book 6

[6]   Athen_10.438'c-d    # Antiochus II of Syria is fond of wine, and is often drunk.

[7]   Athen_10.442'c   The inhabitants of Byzantium are exceedingly fond of wine.

[8]   Athen_6.271'b-c   The inhabitants of Byzantium use the Bithynians as slaves.

[9]   Athen_4.150'd   Bread and meat is served at the banquets of the Galatians.

[10]   Athen_3.81'e   Apples can provide protection against deadly poisons.

[11]   Athen_6.251'c   Nicesias, a flatterer of Alexander.

[12]   Athen_14.614'e-615'a   Demetrius Poliorcetes and Lysimachus exchange insults.

Book 7

[13]   Athen_2.44'b   The Spaniards drink water, and eat only one meal each day.

[14]   Athen_15.673'f   Concerning the garland of withes, mentioned by Anacreon.

[15]   SCHOLIAST on APOLLONIUS of RHODES   Eurypylus, the king of Cyrene, was the son of Poseidon and Celaeno, the daughter of Atlas. Phylarchus, in his seventh book, calls him Eurytus and says that Lycaon was his brother. Acesander, in his first book about Cyrene, says that his successor as ruler of Libya was Cyrene, the daughter of Hypseus.

[16]   SCHOLIAST on APOLLONIUS of RHODES   Acestor [? or Acesander] . . . says that, when Eurypylus was king of Cyrene, [the woman] Cyrene was brought there by Apollo. Because a lion was ravaging the countryside, Eurypylus offered his kingdom as a prize to whoever should kill the lion. Cyrene slew the lion, and received the kingdom. She had two sons, Autuchus and Aristaeus. Phylarchus says that after she came to Libya with many companions, she went out to hunt with them, and there she killed the lion, and so received the kingdom. She had two sons by Apollo, called Autuchus and Aristaeus; Autuchus remained in Libya, but Aristaeus went off to Ceos.

Book 8

[17]   APOLLONIUS, Mirabilia   Phylarchus, in the eighth book of his Histories, says that there is also a stream of water in the Arabian Gulf, and that if any man washes his feet in it, his penis is immediately extended to an enormous length. Sometimes it is impossible ever to shorten it again, but sometimes it can be restored to its original length, with great suffering and intensive treatment.

Book 9

[18]   SEXTUS EMPIRICUS   Phylarchus, in his ninth book, says that [Asclepius was struck down by a thunderbolt] because he healed the sons of Phineus after they had been blinded, as a favour to their mother, Cleopatra the daughter of Erechtheus.

Book 10

[19]   Athen_6.261'b   Demetrius Poliorcetes is fond of jokes. [see also Fragment 12]

[20]   Athen_12.536'd   Isanthes, the king of the Crobyzi, a Thracian tribe.

[21]   Athen_13.609'b-c   A remark of Olympias, the mother of Alexander, about Pantica of Cyprus.

[22]   SUDA (T'547)   "tiara": An adornment worn on the head. Amongst the Persians, only the kings wore it upright, and their generals wore it at an angle. Demaratus the Lacedaemonian, who came to Athens with Xerxes, when on account of some success the king told him to ask for anything he wished, asked to be allowed to ride into Sardis wearing an upright tiara, as Phylarchus says in his tenth book.

Book 11

[23]   Athen_12.528'c   The origin of the name Curetes, according to Aeschylus.

Book 12

[24]   Athen_13.593'b-d    # Danae is put to death by Laodice, for disclosing a plot against Sophron.

[25]   Athen_15.693'e-f   The Greeks consider that it is improper to offer wine with sacrifices to the Sun.

[26]   Athen_13.606'd-e   Coeranus of Miletus is saved by a dolphin after a shipwreck.

[27]   AELIANUS (Aelian:NA_17.5)   Phylarchus relates the following stories about Egyptian asps in his twelfth book. He says that they are treated with great respect, and because of this respect they have become very tame and can be domesticated. They are kept together with children, without doing them any harm, and when they are called they crawl out of their holes and come into view. They are called by snapping the fingers. The Egyptians even give them food-offerings. When they have finished dinner, they soak some barley with wine and honey, and put it on the table where they have been eating. Then they summon the asps by snapping their fingers, as if they were guests at a banquet. The asps suddenly appear as if by arrangement, coming up from different directions, and place themselves around the table. Then they coil themselves at the back on the floor, and raise up their heads and lick around. In this way they gradually consume the barley, until there is none left. If an Egyptian needs to go anywhere at night-time, again he snaps his fingers; this sound warns the asps to move out of the way and depart. Because the asps understand the different sounds and what they mean, they immediately move away and disappear, crawling into their holes and lairs. So when the Egyptian walks about, he does not stand on or trip over any of them.

[28]   PLINIUS (Plin:HN_10'208) [translated by H. Rackham]   Let us credit Phylarchus with a marvellous tale about an asp: he relates that in Egypt, when it used to come regularly to be fed at someone's table, it was delivered of young ones, and that its host's son was killed by one of these. But when the mother came back for its usual meal, it realised the young one's guilt and killed it, and never came back to the house again afterwards.

Book 13

[29]   Athen_6.254'f-255'a   The Athenians in Lemnos erect temples to Seleucus and Antiochus.

Book 14

[30]   Athen_13.593'e    # Mysta, the mistress of Seleucus, is captured by the Galatians.

[31]   Athen_6.261'b    # Demetrius is accompanied by flatterers at his banquets.

Book 15

[32]   Parth:Amat_15   The story of Daphne.

Book 17

[33]   JOANNES LYDUS   According Phylarchus in book 17, and Menander in book 1, neither a woman nor [a dog] nor a fly may enter the temple dedicated to Cronus.

Book 19

[34]   Athen_13.609'a-b   Timosa, the concubine of Oxyartes, is famous for her beauty.

Book 20

[35]   APOLLONIUS, Mirabilia   Phylarchus, in book 20 of his Histories, says that a white root was brought from India, which they chopped up and mixed with water. When they plaster this mixture over their feet, the men who are plastered in this way forget all about intercourse, and become like eunuchs. Therefore they rub it on themselves while they are still young, and never remove it until they die.
    see also: Athen_1.18'd-e

[36]   Athen_13.606'f-607'a   An elephant called Nicaea shows great affection towards a boy.

Book 21

[37]   Athen_6.249'd   Arcadion goes into exile because he hates Philippus.

[38]   HARPOCRATION   Paralus . . . one of the triremes sent out by the Athenians on public business, taking its name from a hero called Paralus . . . Phylarchus mentions the hero called Paralus in book 21.

Book 22

[39]   Athen_11.462'b   The tomb of Cadmus and Harmonia, in Illyria.

[40]   Athen_12.536'd-e   Ptolemy II of Egypt imagines that he is immortal.

Book 23

[41]   Athen_12.539'b-540'a   The luxurious life of Alexander and his companions.

[42]   Athen_13.610'd   There are no courtesans or female flute-players in the cities of Ceos.

Book 25

[43]   Athen_6.271'e-f   The Mothaces are freemen (but not citizens) of Lacedaemon.

[44]   Athen_4.141'f-142-f   The spread of luxury amongst the Lacedaemonians.

[45]   Athen_12.521'b-e   Laws at Sybaris encourage luxury, while Syracuse discourages it.

Book 28

[46]   Athen_6.251'd   Apollophanes is a flatterer of Antigonus Doson.


AGRAPHA (? unwritten traditions)

[47]   SCHOLIAST on ARISTEIDES   The Palladium . . . from Troy . . . he could be talking about many other types of Palladium, such as the one of Alalcomenes the autochthon, or the ones called (?) bridges amongst the Athenians, which are mentioned by Pherecydes and Antiochus; or the ones which were brought down in the battle against the Giants, as Phylarchus says in his Agrapha.


THE HISTORIES   (without book numbers)

[48]   Plut:Pyrrh_27    # The Spartans dig a trench as a defence against the army of Pyrrhus.

[49]   PLINIUS (Plin:HN_8'158) [translated by H. Rackham]    # Phylarchus records that when Antiochus fell in battle, Centaretus, one of the Galatians, caught his horse and mounted it in triumph, but it was fired in indignation and taking the bit between its teeth so as to become unmanageable, galloped headlong to a precipice where it perished with its rider.

[50]   Athen_2.58'c    # Zelas the king of the Bithynians is killed by the Galatians.

[51]   Plut:Cleom_5    # Archidamus is assassinated, possibly by the friends of Cleomenes.

[52]   Plut:Arat_38    # Aratus starts to look for help from Antigonus, because of his mistrust of Cleomenes.

[53]   Polyb_2.56'6-7    # Antigonus captures Mantineia.

[54]   Polyb_2.59'1    # The death of Aristomachus of Argos.

[55]   Polyb_2.61'1-6    # The inhabitants of Megalopolis refuse to join Cleomenes, after the capture of their city.

[56]   Polyb_2.62'1-11    # The distribution of booty, after the capture of Megalopolis.

[57]   MAXIMUS CONFESSOR   The broad sword (ῥομφαία) is a barbarian weapon, according to Phylarchus.

[58]   Polyb_2.63'1-3    # Ptolemy withdraws his financial support of Cleomenes.

[59]   Plut:Cleom_28    # The treachery of Damoteles at the battle of Sellasia.

[60]   Plut:Cleom_30    # Antigonus dies after breaking a blood-vessel.


Miscellaneous fragments

[61]   AELIANUS (Aelian:NA_6.29)   Phylarchus mentions that a boy, who was very fond of birds, was given an eagle chick as a present. He reared it with all kinds of food, and gave it every attention. He did not rear the bird as a plaything for his amusement, but like a lover or a younger brother, such was the eagerness that he showed towards it. As time went on, they became very strongly attached to each other. Then it happened that the boy fell ill. The eagle stayed with him, and nursed its rearer. When he slept, it rested; it stood by him when he woke up; and when he went without food, it refused to eat. Eventually the boy died, and the eagle followed [the funeral procession] as far as the tomb. When he was cremated, the eagle threw itself onto the pyre.
    see also:   TZETZES   Phylarchus said that a young boy caught an eagle and reared it. The eagle used to stay by him, and when he fell ill, it nursed him directly with the greatest care. When the boy died and was carried to a pyre, the eagle followed his funeral procession, and when he was cremated it was burnt with him on the pyre. Another eagle, which was brought up together with a woman, died at the same time as she did; it refused to eat because of its longing for her, and so it died. There was a similar eagle which belonged to Pyrrhus, the king of Epirus; it used to take pleasure in listening, whenever Pyrrhus of Epirus spoke to it. When Pyrrhus died, this eagle died at the same time, by refusing food and starving, because it was pining for him. Another eagle rescued a harvester from death, because he had once saved it from a snake . . .

[62]   AMMONIUS   χλαμὺς and χλαῖνα have different meanings, as Didymus demonstrated at length in his commentary on book 2 of the Iliad. The χλαῖνα was a cloak worn by heroes, but the χλαμὺς was a Macedonian cloak, which was given its name six hundred years after the age of the heroes. The χλαμὺς is first mentioned by Sappho. [Didymus] says that the two cloaks differ in shape . . . and he quotes from Aristotle, Phylarchus, and Polemon to show that they are very different.

[63]   Athen_2.43'f   A spring at Cleitor, with water that causes a distaste for wine.

[64]   Athen_2.44'b   Theodorus of Larissa is a water-drinker.

[65]   Athen_3.73'b-d   Egyptian beans start to grow near the river Thyamis in Epirus.

[66]   Athen_12.526'a-c   The Colophonians give way to luxury.

[67]   DiogLaert_9'115 (chapter 7)   Praÿlus of the Troas is punished as a traitor.

[68]   ETYMOLOGICUM MAGNUM   Bosporus: . . . it was named after Io . . . but Phylarchus [says that it was given its name] because the people on the inside of the Euxine Sea knew nothing about farming, while those outside were expert farmers. Therefore that part of the sea was called Bosporus, because it was cultivated [from σπόρος, "seed, crop"]. But some [writers say] that Bosporus is the name used for narrow straits . . .

[69]   Hygin:Astr_2'40   Demophon and the Bowl.

[70]   Parth:Amat_25   The story of a necklace, seized from the temple at Delphi by Phayllus.

[71]   Parth:Amat_31   Dimoetes and Euopis.

[72]   PHOTIUS   οἰκουρὸν ὄφιν (the watchman snake): the guardian of Polias [Athene]. And Herodotus [ 8.41 ] . . . but Phylarchus [(?) says that there are] two of them.

[73]   PHRYNICHUS   καθώς ["just as"]: A certain grammarian, called Gaius of Arethusa, said that this was an acceptable word, because it was used by Phylarchus [fragment 50]. Oh what an unreliable witness! He had not heard that Thucydides said "καθὸ it is necessary to sail to Sicily", and not καθώς. καθὰ is another acceptable form of the word.

[74]   Plut:Camill_19   The capture of Troy, in the month of Thargelion.

[75]   Plut:Demosth_27   Demosthenes and Pytheas argue at an assembly in Arcadia.

[76]   Plut:Them_32   The Athenians remove and scatter the remains of Themistocles.

[77]   Plut:Mor_342'D   Alexander takes provisions for 30 days when he sets out to invade Asia.

[78]   Plut:Mor_362'B-C   Dionysus brings two bulls to Egypt, called Apis and Osiris.

[79]   Plut:Mor_680'E (Symposiacs, 5.7)   The Thibians could make other people ill, by breathing on or looking at them.

[80]   Porph:Abst_2'56   It was a Greek custom to perform human sacrifices before going to war.

[81]   SCHOLIAST on PINDARUS   Phylarchus says that Thetis went to Hephaestus on Olympus, to ask him to make some armour for Achilles, and he did so. But Hephaestus fell in love with Thetis, and said that he would not hand over the armour to her, unless she had intercourse with him. She agreed to do so, but said that she wanted to try on the armour, to check that what Hephaestus had made would fit Achilles; because she was the same size as him. Hephaestus allowed this, but when she had put on the armour, Thetis ran away. Hephaestus was unable to catch her, but he picked up a hammer and struck her on the ankle. Thetis was wounded by the blow, and went to this city in Thessaly, where she was healed; the city was called Thediteium after her.

[82]   SCHOLIAST on SOPHOCLES   Phylarchus says that there are two [Eumenides], and that there are statues of two of them at Athens. But Polemon says that there are three of them.

[83]   Suda_L'323   The Scythians use white and black pebbles to denote good and bad fortune.


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