The prominence of the island city of Corcyra in Thucydides’ history of the Peloponnesian War presents a puzzle. It appears in the opening of the work in a conflict with its mother city Corinth (1.24–31), after which representatives of both Corinth and Corcyra deliver speeches at Athens (1.32–44). Further conflict between the two cities follows, with Athens supporting Corcyra (1.45–55). Later on, Thucydides depicts two unusually graphic episodes of stasis at Corcyra (3.70–85, 4.46–8). This prominence is surprising, given that the historian himself explicitly states that the initial set of events involving the island does not in fact represent the beginning of the war (1.66.1), and that the Corcyrean stasis is not the first in the war, and that, as has been often observed, it is not even particularly remarkable or influential in it. In what follows, I seek to clarify Thucydides’ use of the island first by exploring ancient views of Corcyra's ‘predecessor’, Homer's Phaeacia, and by arguing that perceptions of the mythical place mirror and reinforce beliefs about its successor Corcyra. An interpretation of Phaeacia as a representative of excess luxury, weakness and friendlessness requires an aggressive reading of Homer. As Rose and others have made clear, however, this position is defensible even if not all readers may choose to accede to it. A significant strand of ancient opinion seems to have adopted a similar attitude as well, perhaps projecting a fifth-century prejudice identified by Rusten back onto Corcyra's Homeric forerunner. In the second part of this paper, I argue that this background influences Thucydides’ presentation of Corcyra, and that the historian emphasizes the story of the island in order to illustrate a pattern of extravagant wealth followed by civic collapse that would have been readily recognizable to an ancient audience. The fact that Thucydides’ Corcyra-story traces all the stages of this process, from a nod to Homeric opulence through pre-war selfishness to wartime collapse, effectively explains his conspicuous use of the city.