The word ‘sybarite’ comes from Sybaris, an immensely rich ancient Greek colony in southern Italy with a reputation for decadent luxury. Their most famous invention was the chamber pot, which Sybarites took to dinner parties so that they wouldn’t have to get up to go to the lavatory. The Sybarites enjoyed their food and scandalised the other Greeks by eating with their wives.
The richest Sybarite, Smindyrides, was said to have had a bed of rose petals and couldn’t get to sleep if even one of the petals was folded over.
The Sybarite cavalry trained their horses to dance to flute music. Because of this, the army of nearby Croton were able to defeat them by playing music until the Sybarite horses defected, taking their riders with them.
The Sybarites’ only rivals for luxury were the people of Akragas (now Agrigento in Sicily) where the soldiers who guarded the walls once went on strike over a demand for softer pillows.
It is impossible to overdo luxury.
The ancient Romans considered apples a luxury fruit, superior to figs.
In 1963, chicken meat was a luxury. Less than 8 billion broilers were sold worldwide. By 2003, sales had increased to 49 billion.
George Neville was the youngest brother of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, better known as 'Warwick the Kingmaker'. When he was only 14 years old, George Neville was granted a dispensation by Pope Nicholas V to become a Canon of the Church of England, holding two posts and deriving two incomes at once, one in Salisbury and one in York.
At the age of 23, he was promoted to Bishop of Exeter but, as he could not be legally consecrated until he was 27, a Papal Bull was issued so that he could receive the profits of his diocese in the meantime. In due course he was appointed Lord Chancellor of England and in 1465, Archbishop of York.
His archepiscopal enthronement feast, held in September 1465, is one of the great beanfeasts of recorded history, famous in the annals of gastronomy, not to say gluttony.
The menu was conjured up from: 300 quarters of wheat, 350 tons of ale, 104 tons of wine, 1 pipe of spiced wine, 80 fat oxen, 6 wild bulls, 300 pigs, 1004 weathers, 200 rees, 300 hogs, 4000 bucks, does, and roebucks, 300 calves, 200 kids, 4000 pigeons, 4000 woodcocks, 3000 capons, 3000 geese, 2000 chickens, 1000 egrets, 500 partridges, 200 cranes, 200 pheasants, 4000 rabbits, 400 plovers, 204 bitterns, 100 peacocks, 100 curlews, 100 quails, 4000 ducks, 400 hernsies, 390 pikes, 300 breams, 1506 hot venison patties, 4000 cold pasties, 2000 hot custards, 4000 cold custards, 1400 dishes of jellies, 400 tarts, 8 seals, and 4 porpoises.
Modern super yachts feature gyro-stabilised pool tables so that oligarchs can play pool in a storm.
Wagyu literally means Japanese cow. Wagyu cattle in Kobe, Japan live in grand chateau-like accommodation and are fed an expensive diet which includes Sapporo lager.
In the months up to slaughter Wagyu cattle in Kobe are visited every day by professional masseurs who rub Saké into their coats. A single carcass can sell for £15,000, steak retails at up to £200 a pound, and the finest cuts are as soft as foie gras.
In Britain, home-bred Kobe beef costs around £50 for a steak. In 2003, a wagyu burger cost £55 at the restaurant, Zuma, in Berkshire. The so-called Chateau Wagyu beef is reared from pure-bred Wagyu embryos, imported from the USA and hosted in virgin Welsh Black or Angus heifers. At the first Waygu beef farm in Britain, in North Wales, Radio 1 was played to encourage the cattle to rub their haunches on electric massagers and their diet included beer from a local brewery.
The world's most luxurious toilet paper is the Japanese-made ‘Hanebisho’, which costs ¥1,700 (£10) per roll.
It is made from high-quality wood fibre imported from Canada, and treated with water from the clearest stream in Japan, the Nyodo River. The production process is adjusted daily to allow for fluctuations in ambient temperature and humidity. Each roll is marked with the name of its maker and sent to the company president, who tests every roll on his own skin. It is then packaged in a handmade box lined with silver leaf.
Mitchell & King’s hand-blended car wax retails at £743.60.
Every luxury must be paid for, and everything is a luxury, starting with being in this world.
Luxury cannot exist without slavery of some kind or other.
In 2013, Hermes sold a black leather T-shirt made entirely out of crocodile skin. It retailed at $91,500.00.