Tyrant
Overview
A tyrant was originally one who illegally seized and controlled a governmental power in a polis
Polis
Polis , plural poleis , literally means city in Greek. It could also mean citizenship and body of citizens. In modern historiography "polis" is normally used to indicate the ancient Greek city-states, like Classical Athens and its contemporaries, so polis is often translated as "city-state."The...

. Tyrants were a group of individuals who took over many Greek poleis during the uprising of the middle classes in the sixth and seventh centuries BC, ousting the aristocratic governments.

Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

 and Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 define a tyrant as, "one who rules without law, looks to his own advantage rather than that of his subjects, and uses extreme and cruel tactics—against his own people as well as others".

In common usage, the word "tyrant" carries connotations of a harsh and cruel ruler who places his or her own interests or the interests of an oligarchy
Oligarchy
Oligarchy is a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with an elite class distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, commercial, and/or military legitimacy...

 over the best interests of the general population, which the tyrant governs or controls.
Encyclopedia
A tyrant was originally one who illegally seized and controlled a governmental power in a polis
Polis
Polis , plural poleis , literally means city in Greek. It could also mean citizenship and body of citizens. In modern historiography "polis" is normally used to indicate the ancient Greek city-states, like Classical Athens and its contemporaries, so polis is often translated as "city-state."The...

. Tyrants were a group of individuals who took over many Greek poleis during the uprising of the middle classes in the sixth and seventh centuries BC, ousting the aristocratic governments.

Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

 and Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 define a tyrant as, "one who rules without law, looks to his own advantage rather than that of his subjects, and uses extreme and cruel tactics—against his own people as well as others".

In common usage, the word "tyrant" carries connotations of a harsh and cruel ruler who places his or her own interests or the interests of an oligarchy
Oligarchy
Oligarchy is a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with an elite class distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, commercial, and/or military legitimacy...

 over the best interests of the general population, which the tyrant governs or controls. The Greek term carried no pejorative
Pejorative
Pejoratives , including name slurs, are words or grammatical forms that connote negativity and express contempt or distaste. A term can be regarded as pejorative in some social groups but not in others, e.g., hacker is a term used for computer criminals as well as quick and clever computer experts...

 connotation during the Archaic and early Classical
Classical Greece
Classical Greece was a 200 year period in Greek culture lasting from the 5th through 4th centuries BC. This classical period had a powerful influence on the Roman Empire and greatly influenced the foundation of Western civilizations. Much of modern Western politics, artistic thought, such as...

 periods but was clearly a bad word to Plato, and on account of the decisive influence of political philosophy its negative connotations only increased down into the Hellenistic period
Hellenistic period
The Hellenistic period or Hellenistic era describes the time which followed the conquests of Alexander the Great. It was so named by the historian J. G. Droysen. During this time, Greek cultural influence and power was at its zenith in Europe and Asia...

. Becoming synonymous with Authenteo-another term which carried authoritarian connotations around the turn of the first century A.D.

During the sixth and seventh centuries BC, tyranny was often looked upon as an intermediate stage between narrow oligarchy and more democratic forms of polity
Polity
Polity is a form of government Aristotle developed in his search for a government that could be most easily incorporated and used by the largest amount of people groups, or states...

. However, in the late fifth and fourth centuries, a new kind of tyrant, the military dictator, arose, specifically in Sicily.

Etymology

The English noun tyrant appears in Middle English
Middle English
Middle English is the stage in the history of the English language during the High and Late Middle Ages, or roughly during the four centuries between the late 11th and the late 15th century....

 use, via Old French
Old French
Old French was the Romance dialect continuum spoken in territories that span roughly the northern half of modern France and parts of modern Belgium and Switzerland from the 9th century to the 14th century...

, from the 1290s.
The word derives from Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 tyrannus, meaning "illegitimate ruler", and this in turn from the Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

  "monarch, ruler of a polis
Polis
Polis , plural poleis , literally means city in Greek. It could also mean citizenship and body of citizens. In modern historiography "polis" is normally used to indicate the ancient Greek city-states, like Classical Athens and its contemporaries, so polis is often translated as "city-state."The...

".
The final -t arises in Old French by association with the present participles in -ant.

Greek is itself a loanword from a pre-Greek source, like βασιλεύς
Basileus
Basileus is a Greek term and title that has signified various types of monarchs in history. It is perhaps best known in English as a title used by the Byzantine Emperors, but also has a longer history of use for persons of authority and sovereigns in ancient Greece, as well as for the kings of...

, and perhaps also ἄναξ
Anax
' is an ancient Greek word for " king, lord, leader". It is one of the two Greek titles traditionally translated as "king", the other being basileus....

, a loan from a superstrate semantic sphere.
Speculations on Tyrrhenian origin connect the Etruscan theonym Turan
Turan (mythology)
Turan was the Etruscan goddess of love and vitality and patroness of the city of Velch. In art, she was usually depicted as a young winged girl. Turan appears in toilette scenes of Etruscan bronze mirrors. She is richly robed and jeweled in early and late depictions, but consistently appears nude...

for Venus
Venus (mythology)
Venus is a Roman goddess principally associated with love, beauty, sex,sexual seduction and fertility, who played a key role in many Roman religious festivals and myths...

 (perhaps from an epitheton "*Lady", paired with Atunis
Adonis
Adonis , in Greek mythology, the god of beauty and desire, is a figure with Northwest Semitic antecedents, where he is a central figure in various mystery religions. The Greek , Adōnis is a variation of the Semitic word Adonai, "lord", which is also one of the names used to refer to God in the Old...

 "*Lord") and the ethnonym of the Tyrrhenians
Tyrrhenians
The Tyrrhenians or Tyrsenians is an exonym used by Greek authors to refer to a non-Greek people.- Earliest references :...

 itself.

Historical forms

In ancient Greece
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

, tyrants were influential opportunists that came to power by securing the support of different factions of a deme
Deme
In Ancient Greece, a deme or demos was a subdivision of Attica, the region of Greece surrounding Athens. Demes as simple subdivisions of land in the countryside seem to have existed in the 6th century BC and earlier, but did not acquire particular significance until the reforms of Cleisthenes in...

. The word "tyrannos", possibly pre-Greek, Pelasgian or eastern in origin, then carried no ethical censure; it simply referred to anyone, good or bad, who obtained executive power in a polis
Polis
Polis , plural poleis , literally means city in Greek. It could also mean citizenship and body of citizens. In modern historiography "polis" is normally used to indicate the ancient Greek city-states, like Classical Athens and its contemporaries, so polis is often translated as "city-state."The...

 by unconventional means. Support for the tyrants came from the growing middle class and from the peasants who had no land or were in debt to the wealthy land owners. It is true that they had no legal right to rule, but the people preferred them over kings or the aristocracy
Aristocracy
Aristocracy , is a form of government in which a few elite citizens rule. The term derives from the Greek aristokratia, meaning "rule of the best". In origin in Ancient Greece, it was conceived of as rule by the best qualified citizens, and contrasted with monarchy...

. The Greek tyrants stayed in power by using mercenary soldiers from outside of their respective city-state. To mock tyranny, Thales
Thales
Thales of Miletus was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher from Miletus in Asia Minor, and one of the Seven Sages of Greece. Many, most notably Aristotle, regard him as the first philosopher in the Greek tradition...

 wrote that the strangest thing to see is "an aged tyrant" meaning that tyrants do not have the public support to survive for long.

Corinth

In Corinth
Corinth
Corinth is a city and former municipality in Corinthia, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Corinth, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit...

, growing wealth from colonial enterprises, and the wider horizons brought about by the export of wine and oil, together with the new experiences of the Eastern Mediterranean brought back by returning mercenary hoplites employed overseas allowed Cypselus
Cypselus
Cypselus was the first tyrant of Corinth in the 7th century BC.With increased wealth and more complicated trade relations and social structures, Greek city-states tended to overthrow their traditional hereditary priest-kings; Corinth, the richest archaic polis, led the way...

, the first tyrant of Corinth
Corinth
Corinth is a city and former municipality in Corinthia, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Corinth, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit...

 in the 7th century BC, to overthrow the aristocratic
Aristocracy
Aristocracy , is a form of government in which a few elite citizens rule. The term derives from the Greek aristokratia, meaning "rule of the best". In origin in Ancient Greece, it was conceived of as rule by the best qualified citizens, and contrasted with monarchy...

 power of the dominant but unpopular Bacchiadae
Bacchiadae
The Bacchiadae , a tightly-knit Doric clan, were the ruling family of archaic Corinth in the eighth and seventh centuries BCE, a period of Corinthian cultural power. Corinth had been a backwater in eighth-century Greece...

, who were killed, executed, driven out and exiled in 657 BC. Corinth prospered economically under his rule and Cypselus manages to rule without a bodyguard
Bodyguard
A bodyguard is a type of security operative or government agent who protects a person—usually a famous, wealthy, or politically important figure—from assault, kidnapping, assassination, stalking, loss of confidential information, terrorist attack or other threats.Most important public figures such...

 but when he managed to bequeath his position to his son, Periander
Periander
Periander was the second tyrant of Corinth, Greece in the 7th century BC. He was the son of the first tyrant, Cypselus. Periander succeeded his father in 627 BC. He died in 585 BC....

, whose position was less secure, his son required a bodyguard of mercenary soldiers personally loyal to himself.

Nevertheless, under Cypselus and Periander, Corinth extended and tightened her control over her colonial enterprises, and exports of Corinthian pottery flourished. However, tyrants seldom succeeded in establishing an untroubled line of succession. Periander's successor was less fortunate and was expelled. Afterward, Corinth was ruled by a lackluster oligarchy, and was eventually eclipsed by the rising powers of Athens and Sparta.

Athens

In Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

, the inhabitants first gave the title of tyrant to Peisistratus
Peisistratos (Athens)
Peisistratos was a tyrant of Athens from 546 to 527/8 BC. His legacy lies primarily in his institution of the Panathenaic Festival and the consequent first attempt at producing a definitive version for Homeric epics. Peisistratos' championing of the lower class of Athens, the Hyperakrioi, can be...

, a relative of Solon
Solon
Solon was an Athenian statesman, lawmaker, and poet. He is remembered particularly for his efforts to legislate against political, economic and moral decline in archaic Athens...

, the Athenian lawgiver, who succeeded in 546 BC, after 2 failed attempts, to install himself as tyrant. Supported by prosperity of the peasantry and landowning interests of the plain (prospering from the rise of olive exports), and his clients from Marathon
Marathon
The marathon is a long-distance running event with an official distance of 42.195 kilometres , that is usually run as a road race...

, he managed to achieve supreme power. Through an ambitious program of public works, by fostering the state cult of Athena
Athena
In Greek mythology, Athena, Athenê, or Athene , also referred to as Pallas Athena/Athene , is the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, warfare, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, justice, and skill. Minerva, Athena's Roman incarnation, embodies similar attributes. Athena is...

, by encouraging the creation of festivals and supporting the Panathenaean games, in which prizes were jars of olive oil, and in his support of the Dionosia (leading to the development of Athenian drama) Peisistratus managed to maintain his personal popularity.

He was followed by his sons, and with the subsequent growth of Athenian democracy
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

, the title "tyrant" took on its familiar negative connotations. The murder of his son, the tyrant Hipparchus by Aristogeiton and Harmodios
Harmodius and Aristogeiton
Harmodius and Aristogeiton were two men from ancient Athens...

 in Athens in 514 BC marked the beginning of the so-called "cult of the tyrannicide
Tyrannicide
Tyrannicide literally means the killing of a tyrant, or one who has committed the act. Typically, the term is taken to mean the killing or assassination of tyrants for the common good. The term "tyrannicide" does not apply to tyrants killed in battle or killed by an enemy in an armed conflict...

s" (i.e., of killers of tyrants). Contempt for tyranny characterised this cult movement. Despite financial help from Persia, in 510 the Peisistratids were expelled by a combination of intrigue, exile and Spartan arms. The anti-tyrannical attitude became especially prevalent in Athens after 508 BC, when Cleisthenes
Cleisthenes
Cleisthenes was a noble Athenian of the Alcmaeonid family. He is credited with reforming the constitution of ancient Athens and setting it on a democratic footing in 508/7 BC...

 reformed the political system so that it resembled demokratia
Demokratia
Demokratia is a direct democracy, as opposed to the modern representative democracy.It was used in ancient Greece, most notably Athens, and began its use around 500 BC....

(ancient participant democracy as opposed to the modern representative democracy).

The Thirty Tyrants
Thirty Tyrants
The Thirty Tyrants were a pro-Spartan oligarchy installed in Athens after its defeat in the Peloponnesian War in 404 BC. Contemporary Athenians referred to them simply as "the oligarchy" or "the Thirty" ; the expression "Thirty Tyrants" is due to later historians...

 whom the Spartans imposed on a defeated Attica in 404 BC would not be classified as tyrants in the usual sense and were in effect an oligarchy
Oligarchy
Oligarchy is a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with an elite class distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, commercial, and/or military legitimacy...

.

Aesymnetes

An aesymnetes
Aesymnetes
Aesymnetes was the name of an ancient Greek elected office similar to, and sometimes indistinguishable from, tyrant...

 (pl. aesymnetai) had similar scope of power to the tyrant, such as Pittacus of Mytilene (c. 640-568 BC), and was elected for life or for a specified period by a city-state in a time of crisis—the only difference being that the aesymnetes was a constitutional office and was comparable to the Roman dictator
Roman dictator
In the Roman Republic, the dictator , was an extraordinary magistrate with the absolute authority to perform tasks beyond the authority of the ordinary magistrate . The office of dictator was a legal innovation originally named Magister Populi , i.e...

. Magistrates in some city-states were also called aesymnetai.

Archaic tyrants

The heyday of the Archaic period tyrants came in the early 6th century BC, when Cleisthenes
Cleisthenes of Sicyon
Cleisthenes was the tyrant of Sicyon from c. 600–570 BC, who aided in the First Sacred War against Kirrha that destroyed that city in 595 BC. He is also told to have organized with success a war against Argos because of his anti-Dorian feelings...

 ruled Sicyon
Sicyon
Sikyon was an ancient Greek city situated in the northern Peloponnesus between Corinth and Achaea on the territory of the present-day prefecture of Corinthia...

 in the Peloponnesus and Polycrates
Polycrates
Polycrates , son of Aeaces, was the tyrant of Samos from c. 538 BC to 522 BC.He took power during a festival of Hera with his brothers Pantagnotus and Syloson, but soon had Pantagnotus killed and exiled Syloson to take full control for himself. He then allied with Amasis II, pharaoh of Egypt, as...

 ruled Samos
Samos Island
Samos is a Greek island in the eastern Aegean Sea, south of Chios, north of Patmos and the Dodecanese, and off the coast of Asia Minor, from which it is separated by the -wide Mycale Strait. It is also a separate regional unit of the North Aegean region, and the only municipality of the regional...

. During this time, revolts overthrew many governments in the Aegean
Aegean Sea
The Aegean Sea[p] is an elongated embayment of the Mediterranean Sea located between the southern Balkan and Anatolian peninsulas, i.e., between the mainlands of Greece and Turkey. In the north, it is connected to the Marmara Sea and Black Sea by the Dardanelles and Bosporus...

 world. Chilon
Chilón
Chilón is a town and one of the 119 Municipalities of Chiapas, in southern Mexico.As of 2005, the municipality had a total population of 77,686. It covers an area of 2490 km²....

, the ambitious and capable ephor
Ephor
An ephor was the leader of ancient Sparta and shared power with the Spartan king...

 of Sparta
Sparta
Sparta or Lacedaemon, was a prominent city-state in ancient Greece, situated on the banks of the River Eurotas in Laconia, in south-eastern Peloponnese. It emerged as a political entity around the 10th century BC, when the invading Dorians subjugated the local, non-Dorian population. From c...

, built a strong alliance amongst neighbouring states by making common cause with these groups seeking to oppose unpopular tyrannical rule. By intervening against the tyrants of Sicyon, Corinth and Athens, Sparta thus came to assume Hellenic leadership prior to the Persian invasions. Simultaneously Persia first started making inroads into Greece, and many tyrants sought Persian help against forces seeking to remove them.

Populism

Greek tyranny in the main grew out of the struggle of the popular classes against the aristocracy
Aristocracy
Aristocracy , is a form of government in which a few elite citizens rule. The term derives from the Greek aristokratia, meaning "rule of the best". In origin in Ancient Greece, it was conceived of as rule by the best qualified citizens, and contrasted with monarchy...

 or against priest-kings where archaic traditions and mythology sanctioned hereditary and/or traditional rights to rule. Popular coups generally installed tyrants, who often became or remained popular rulers, at least in the early part of their reigns. For instance, the popular imagination remembered Peisistratus
Peisistratos (Athens)
Peisistratos was a tyrant of Athens from 546 to 527/8 BC. His legacy lies primarily in his institution of the Panathenaic Festival and the consequent first attempt at producing a definitive version for Homeric epics. Peisistratos' championing of the lower class of Athens, the Hyperakrioi, can be...

 for an episode - related by (pseudonymous) Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

, but possibly fictional - in which he exempted a farmer from taxation because of the particular barrenness of his plot.

Peisistratus' sons Hippias and Hipparchus
Hipparchus (son of Pisistratus)
Hipparchus or Hipparch was a member of the ruling class of Athens. He was one of the sons of Peisistratos.Although he was said among Greeks to have been the tyrant of Athens along with his brother Hippias when Peisistratos died, about 528 BC...

, on the other hand, were not such able rulers, and when the disaffected aristocrats Harmodios and Aristogeiton
Harmodius and Aristogeiton
Harmodius and Aristogeiton were two men from ancient Athens...

 slew Hipparchus, Hippias' rule quickly became oppressive, resulting in the expulsion of the Peisistratids in 510 BC, who resided henceforth in Persepolis as clients of the Persian Shahanshah (King of kings).

Sicilian tyrants

The tyrannies of Sicily came about due to similar causes, but here the threat of Carthaginian attack prolonged tyranny, facilitating the rise of military leaders with the people united behind them. Such Sicilian tyrants as Gelo
Gelo
Gelo , son of Deinomenes, was a 5th century BC ruler of Gela and Syracuse and first of the Deinomenid rulers.- Early life :...

, Hiero I, Hiero II, Dionysius the Elder, Dionysius the Younger, and Agathocles
Agathocles
Agathocles , , was tyrant of Syracuse and king of Sicily .-Biography:...

 maintained lavish courts and became patrons of culture.

Roman tyrants

Roman historians like Suetonius
Suetonius
Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, commonly known as Suetonius , was a Roman historian belonging to the equestrian order in the early Imperial era....

, Tacitus
Tacitus
Publius Cornelius Tacitus was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. The surviving portions of his two major works—the Annals and the Histories—examine the reigns of the Roman Emperors Tiberius, Claudius, Nero and those who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors...

, Plutarch
Plutarch
Plutarch then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus , c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia...

, and Josephus
Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

 often spoke of "tyranny" in opposition to "liberty". Tyranny was associated with imperial rule and those rulers who usurped too much authority from the Roman Senate. Those who were advocates of "liberty" tended to be pro-Republic and pro-Senate. For instance, regarding Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

 and his assassins, Suetonius wrote:
Therefore the plots which had previously been formed separately, often by groups of two or three, were united in a general conspiracy, since even the populace no longer were pleased with present conditions, but both secretly and openly rebelled at his tyranny and cried out for defenders of their liberty.

Niccolò Machiavelli
Niccolò Machiavelli
Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli was an Italian historian, philosopher, humanist, and writer based in Florence during the Renaissance. He is one of the main founders of modern political science. He was a diplomat, political philosopher, playwright, and a civil servant of the Florentine Republic...

, building on this opposition, conflates all rule by a single person (whom he generally refers to as a "prince") with "tyranny," regardless of the legitimacy of that rule, in his Discourses on Livy
Discourses on Livy
The Discourses on Livy is a work of political history and philosophy written in the early 16th century by the Italian writer and political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli, best known as the author of The Prince...

. He also identifies liberty with republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

an regimes; whether he would include so-called "crowned republic
Crowned republic
A crowned republic is a form of constitutional monarchy where the monarch's role is ceremonial and all the royal prerogatives are prescribed by custom and law in such a way that the monarch has little or no discretion over governmental and constitutional issues.The term has been used to describe...

s" (such as modern constitutional monarchies
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

) is somewhat unclear from the text.

Philistine "Seren"

The term "Seren
Seren
Seren may refer to:* Seren , an Israeli firm* Seren , a Welsh personal name* Seren Press, a Welsh publishing house* Seren, a lord of the Biblical Philistines* Seren, an Israel Defense Forces rank, equivalent to captain...

", frequently appearing in the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 as the title of the rulers of the five Philistine city-states, is considered by some historians to be derived from or related to the Greek "tyrannos" . In contemporary Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, this is used as a military rank, equivalent to captain.

In the arts

Ancient Greeks
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

, as well as the Roman Republic
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

ans, became generally quite wary of anyone seeking to implement a popular coup. Shakespeare portrays the struggle of one such anti-tyrannical Roman, Marcus Junius Brutus
Marcus Junius Brutus
Marcus Junius Brutus , often referred to as Brutus, was a politician of the late Roman Republic. After being adopted by his uncle he used the name Quintus Servilius Caepio Brutus, but eventually returned to using his original name...

, in his play Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar (play)
The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, also known simply as Julius Caesar, is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1599. It portrays the 44 BC conspiracy against...

.

Enlightenment

In the Enlightenment, thinkers applied the word tyranny to the system of governance that had developed around aristocracy and monarchy. Specifically John Locke as part of his argument against the "Divine Right of Kings" in his book Two Treatises of Government
Two Treatises of Government
The Two Treatises of Government is a work of political philosophy published anonymously in 1689 by John Locke...

 defines it this way: “tyranny is the exercise of power beyond right, which nobody can have a right to; and this is making use of the power any one has in his hands, not for the good of those who are under it, but for his own private, separate advantage.” John Locke's concept of tyranny influenced the writers of subsequent generations who developed the concept of tyranny as counterpoint to ideas of human rights and democracy. Jefferson referred to the tyranny of Britain in his Declaration of Independence, and the concept was refined in turn to refer to the Kings of France, the tyrants of the Terror, and to Napoleon in turn during the French Revolution and subsequent regimes.

External links

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