The Tragic Phylarchus

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Classical Studies



Publication Title

The Art of History: Literary Perspectives on Greek and Roman Historiography


I argue that when Polybius attacks Phylarchus for confusing the ends of history and tragedy, he does so with a traditional conception of tragedy, its narrative elements, and its effects in mind. Most importantly, Phylarchus aims to arouse Ɛ󠇯κπλƞξις in his readers, and he employs many elements of tragic style to do so. The extant fragments of Phylarchus help interpret precisely what Polybius conceives as the fundamental differences between tragedy and historiography. Like Baumann's contribution to this volume, my arguments concern how emotion might be aroused appropriately in historiography. For a discussion of tragedy and other elements of "historical fiction" in Herodotus, see the contribution by Konstantakos. For a discussion of emotion, particularly fear, in Thucydides, see Liotsakis in this volume.


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