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Evil LordsTheories and Representations of Tyranny from Antiquity to the Renaissance$
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Nikos Panou and Hester Schadee

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199394852

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199394852.001.0001

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The Discourse of Tyranny and the Greek Roots of the Bad King

The Discourse of Tyranny and the Greek Roots of the Bad King

(p.11) 1 The Discourse of Tyranny and the Greek Roots of the Bad King
Evil Lords

Nino Luraghi

Oxford University Press

This chapter provides a systematic discussion of the essential attributes of the tyrant in ancient Greece, whence both the term and the concept spread throughout the West. Seen against the background of Greek cultural and moral values, the tyrant emerges as a radically marginal character, a violator of the accepted norms of sociability, a monstrous aberration. Thus, tyranny was perceived and depicted not as a bad political alternative but as a primordial sort of evil: a taboo that cannot be rationalized. Yet, the discourse of tyranny, this chapter argues, underpinned the whole concept of monarchy in Greek culture, to the point that the typical virtues of the ideal ruler were nothing more than a reversal of the negative traits of the tyrant.

Keywords:   tyranny, tyrant, ancient Greece, monarchy, trickster, Aristotle

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