Chapter

Introduction

Sian Lewis

in Ancient Tyranny

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print February 2006 | ISBN: 9780748621255
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748651047 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748621255.003.0010
Introduction

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Euphron, who held a short-lived tyranny at Sicyon in the 360s BC, illustrates some of the complexities of our understanding of ancient tyranny. Xenophon depicts Euphron as a tyrant of a very recognisable kind: he plotted with outside powers to obtain sole rule at a time of political upheaval, and sought to maintain his power through oppressive and illegal means. Euphron's story illustrates several of the key themes addressed in this book: the concern for self-definition and struggle to control the vocabulary of sole rulership; the potential benefits to a polis of the concentration of power in individual hands; modern historians' tendency to embrace simplifying models of ancient political life. This book considers how autocracy functioned across a range of societies, focusing on the period from 500 (the Deinomenids) to 40 BC (Caesar), and a geographical range from Rome and Greece to Sicily and Persia. It looks at individual rulers and dynasties, the methods by which tyrants adapted themselves to political circumstances, and the ideology of tyranny.

Keywords: Euphron; tyranny; Sicyon; tyrants; autocracy; Rome; Greece; polis; Sicily; Persia

Chapter.  6067 words. 

Subjects: Classical History

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