tyrant



In modern usage a tyrant is a single ruler holding vast, if not absolute power through a state or in an organization. The term carries connotations of a harsh and cruel ruler who places his/her own interests or the interests of a small oligarchy over the best interests of the general population which they govern or control. This mode of rule is referred to as tyranny. Many individual rulers or government officials are accused of tyranny, with the label almost always a matter of controversy.

The word derives from Latin tyrannus, and from Greek τύραννος tyrannos, meaning "illegitimate ruler". There may be a connection with the biblical Hebrew word seren, which means "captain of the Philistines": see Philistine language.

Historical forms

In ancient Greece, tyrants were influential opportunists that came to power by securing the support of different factions of a deme. The word "tyrant" then carried no ethical censure; it simply referred to anyone who illegally seized executive power in a polis to engage in autocratic, though perhaps benevolent, government, or leadership in a crisis. Support for the tyrants came from the growing class of business people 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 aristocrats. The Greek tyrants stayed in power by using mercenary soldiers from outside of their respective city state.[1]

Cypselus, the first tyrant of Corinth in the 7th century BC, managed to bequeath his position to his son, Periander. Tyrants seldom succeeded in establishing an untroubled line of succession. In Athens, the inhabitants first gave the title to Pisistratus of Athens in 560 BC, followed by his sons, and with the subsequent growth of Athenian democracy, the title "tyrant" took on its familiar negative connotations. The Thirty Tyrants whom the Spartans imposed on a defeated Attica in 404 BC would not class as tyrants in the usual sense. The murder of the tyrant Hipparchus by Aristogeiton and Harmodios in Athens in 514 BC marked the beginning of the so-called "cult of the tyrannicides" (i.e. of killers of tyrants). Contempt for tyranny characterised this cult movement. The attitude became especially prevalent in Athens after 508 BC, when Cleisthenes reformed the political system so that it resembled demokratia (ancient participant democracy as opposed to the modern representative democracy).

Aisymnetes

An aisymnetes (pl. aisymnetai) was a type of tyrant or dictator, such as Pittacus of Mytilene (c. 640 -568 BC), elected for life or a specified period by a city-state in a time of crisis. Magistrates in some city-states were also called aisymnetai.[2]

Hellenic Tyrants

The heyday of the classical Hellenic tyrants came in the early 6th century BC, when Cleisthenes ruled Sicyon in the Peloponnesus, and Polycrates ruled Samos. During this time, revolts overthrew many governments in the Aegean world. Simultaneously Persia first started making inroads into Greece, and many tyrants sought Persian help against forces seeking to remove them.

Popularism

Greek tyranny in the main grew out of the struggle of the popular classes against the aristocracy 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 for an episode (related by [pseudo-]Aristotle, but possibly fictional) in which he exempted a farmer from taxation because of the particular barrenness of his plot. Pisistratus' sons Hippias and Hipparchus, on the other hand, were not such able rulers and when the disaffected aristocrats Harmodios and Aristogeiton slew Hipparchus, Hippias' rule quickly became oppressive, resulting in the expulsion of the Peisistratids in 510.

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, Hiero I, Hiero II, Dionysius the Elder, and Dionysius the Younger maintained lavish courts and became patrons of culture.

Roman Tyrants

Roman historians like Suetonius, Tacitus, Plutarch and Josephus 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 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.[3]>>

In the Arts

Ancient Greeks, as well as the Roman Republicans, 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, in his play Julius Caesar.

References

1. ^ "Tyrant", ABC-CLIO, retrieved 16 February 2007
2. ^ "Ancient Greece: government (tyranny)", Facts On File, retrieved 16 February 2007
3. ^ Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Julius Caesar 80

See also

External links


Forms of Government and Methods of Rule: Autocratic and Authoritarian
Autocratic: Despotism | Dictatorship | Tyranny | Absolute monarchy | Caliphate | Despotate | Emirate | Empire | Khanate | Sultanate | Other monarchical titles) | Enlightened absolutism Other Authoritarian: Military dictatorship (often a Junta) | Oligarchy | Single-party state (Communist state | Fascist(oid) state) | de facto: Illiberal democracy
A tyranny is a despotically ruled state or society.

Tyranny may also refer to:
  • Tyrant, a despotic ruler or person
  • Personal Rule, Charles I's disregard of parliament
  • Tyranny of the majority, a theory of majority rule

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form of government is a term that refers to the set of political institutions by which a state is organized in order to exert its powers over a political community.[1] Synonyms include "regime type" and "system of government".
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Politics is the process by which groups of people make decisions. Although the term is generally applied to behavior within civil governments, politics is observed in all human group interactions, including corporate, academic, and religious
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This article lists forms of government and political systems, according to a series of different ways of categorising them. The systems listed are of course not mutually exclusive, and often have overlapping definitions (for example autocracy, authoritarianism, despotism,
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Anarchism (from Greek αναρχία , "without archons," "without rulers")[1] is a political philosophy encompassing theories and attitudes which reject compulsory government[2] and support its elimination,[3]
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aristocracy refers to a form of government where power is held by a small number of individuals from a social elite or from noble families. The transmission of power is often hereditary.
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Authoritarianism describes a form of social control characterized by strict obedience to the authority of a state or organization, often maintaining and enforcing control through the use of oppressive measures. Authoritarian regimes are strongly hierarchical.
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autocracy is a form of government in which the political power is held by a single self appointed ruler, usually a dictator. The term autocrat is derived from the Greek word autokratôr (lit. "self-ruler", or to: "rule by one's self").
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communism as a form of society, as an ideology advocating that form of society, or as a popular movement, see the communism article.


Communism
Basic concepts
Marxist philosophy
Class struggle
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Democracy describes small number of related forms of government. The fundamental feature is competitive elections. Competitive elections are usually seen to require freedom of speech (especially in political affairs), freedom of the press, and some degree of rule of law.
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Direct Democracy is a movement within the British Conservative Party dedicated to localism and constitutional reform. The group published a book on democracy, titled , authored by prominent Conservative politicians, to promote their ideas.
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Representative democracy is a form of government founded on the principles of popular sovereignty by the people's representatives. The representatives form an independent ruling body (for an election period) charged with the responsibility of acting in the people's
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Despotism is a form of government by a single authority, either an individual or tightly knit group, which rules with absolute political power. In its classical form, a despotism is a state where one single person, called a Despot
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dictatorship is an autocratic form of government in which the government is ruled by a dictator. It has three possible meanings:
  • Roman dictator was a political office of the Roman Republic. Roman dictators were allocated absolute power during times of emergency.

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Feudalism refers to a general set of reciprocal legal and military obligations among the warrior nobility of Europe during the Middle Ages, revolving around the three key concepts of lords, vassals, and fiefs.
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Kritarchy is a political system based on equal justice for all and the concept of natural rights. It differs from other political systems by its application of the rules of justice.
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Krytocracy is a government ruled by judges. The word itself may either be a false archaism (it should properly be spelled critocracy or kritocracy), or may be a deliberate reference to other word-initial roots like "crypto-", or "hypo-" (as in hypocrisy), whose "y"s come from Greek
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Libertarianism

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Agorism
Anarcho-capitalism
Geolibertarianism
Green libertarianism
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Left-libertarianism
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List of forms of government
  • Anarchism
  • Aristocracy
  • Authoritarianism
  • Autocracy

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Absolute monarchy is a monarchical form of government where the monarch has the power to rule his or her land or country and its citizens freely, with no laws or legally-organized direct opposition in force.
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constitutional monarchy is a form of government established under a constitutional system which acknowledges an elected or hereditary monarch as head of state, as opposed to an absolute monarchy, where the monarch is not bound by a constitution and is the sole source of political
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Ochlocracy (Greek: οχλοκρατία or ohlokratía; Latin: ochlocratia) is government by mob or a mass of people, or the intimidation of constitutional authorities.
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Oligarchy (Greek Ὀλιγαρχία, Oligarkhía) is a form of government where political power effectively rests with a small elite segment of society (whether distinguished by wealth, family or
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plutocracy, power and opportunity are centralized within the affluent social class. The degree of economic inequality is high while the level of social mobility is low. This can apply to a multitude of government systems, as the key elements of plutocracy transcend and often occur
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republic, for all other uses see: republic (disambiguation)

List of forms of government
  • Anarchism
  • Aristocracy
  • Authoritarianism
  • Autocracy
  • Communist state
  • Democracy
Direct democracy

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Mixed government, also known as a mixed constitution, is a form of government that integrated facets of democracy, oligarchy, and monarchy. Mixed government means that there are some issues (often defined in a constitution) where the state is governed by the majority of the
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constitutional republic is a state where the head of state and other officials are elected as representatives of the people, and must govern according to existing constitutional law that limits the government's power over citizens.
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The Parliamentary Republic can refer to:
  • A republican form of government with a Parliamentary system (see Parliamentary republic)
  • The History of Chile during the Parliamentary Era (1891-1925)
  • The French Fourth Republic (1947-1958)

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