Abstract | Scholarship and Leadership on the Black Sea: Clearchus of Heraclea as (Un)Enlightened Tyrant

Jason Harris

Clearchus of Heraclea Pontica, who ruled as tyrant from 364 to 352 BC, provides an interesting case-study in the intersection of politics and philosophy in the ancient Greek world. Although trained under Plato and Isocrates in Athens, upon his accession to power in Heraclea, he largely rejected their teachings by becoming cruel and by pandering to the demos. Although formerly a participant in their scholarly community, Clearchus was murdered in 352 by a group of Academy members. This paper thus will analyze several crucial roles (e.g. the tyrant as scholar and the scholar as soldier) to further understand the ways in which political and intellectual developments in the fourth century BC had a symbiotic relationship. In addition, it will evaluate various processes of mobility (e.g. the movement of exiles and the creation of scholarly communities) in the creation of power networks across the Mediterranean. It especially will examine the competitive nature of these mobility processes, as Clearchus and his opponents took advantage of shared networks of knowledge and movement for different sociopolitical strategies. The strategies of Clearchus and his scholarly foes, with their corresponding effects on the polis of Heraclea Pontica, often clashed and resulted in political and ideological rupture encapsulated in the violent murder of the tyrant.

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