Lobster feast at Pigeon Island Beach Resort. As close as I’ve gotten to Sybaris.
Sri Lanka In Style is offering a tour package called the Sybaratic [sic] South Coast. In contrast to the Syphilitic South Coast tour, this is a luxury trip. Sybaritic has become a synonym for luxury, but it used to be a people. The ancient Greeks of Sybaris.
Here’s some funny rumors/stories about them:
One story, mentioned in Samuel Johnson’s A Dictionary of the English Language (1755), has a Sybarite sleeping on a bed of rose petals, but unable to get to sleep because one of the petals was folded over. The best known humorous anecdote of the Sybarites concerns their defeat in battle. It is said that to amuse themselves the Sybarite cavalrymen trained their horses to dance to pipe music. Armed with pipes, an invading army from nearby Crotonia assailed the Sybarite cavalry with music. The attacking forces easily passed through the dancing horses and their helpless riders, and conquered the city. (Wikipedia)
The people of Sybaris were known as some of the wealthiest of the time. They also seemed to live well, developing the first street lighting and concept of intellectual property. The latter is notable is because it was for food – the idea was that cooks could ‘copyright’ their signature dishes for a year. So they must have eaten well.
There is a connection between luxury, opulence, and an almost celebration of the negative aspects. ‘Shop till you drop’, pouring out champagne for your homies, making it rain at the strip club. My main connection to luxury seems to be through rap videos, perhaps that colors things. Still, it remains that opulence and luxury are socially (and religiously) negative things that we nevertheless aspire to.
So nevermind that the Sybarites may have fallen cause their horses were dancing. The idea of loving luxury and sensuous pleasure is their legacy to the world, and apparently one way to experience the southern coast of Ceylon.