A Sick Country and a Tyrannical Soul

Demosthenes, Or. 19.258

“Citizens, it is always right to hate and hinder traitors and corrupt people, but at this current moment, this would be necessary help to all humankind. For a terrible and harsh sickness has come over our country, one which needs great luck and your constant attention.”

Ἀεὶ μὲν γάρ, ὦ ἄνδρες Ἀθηναῖοι, προσήκει μισεῖν καὶ κολάζειν τοὺς προδότας καὶ δωροδόκους, μάλιστα δὲ νῦν ἐπὶ τοῦ καιροῦ τούτου γένοιτ᾿ ἂν καὶ πάντας ὠφελήσειεν ἀνθρώπους κοινῇ. νόσημα γάρ, ὦ ἄνδρες Ἀθηναῖοι, δεινὸν ἐμπέπτωκεν εἰς τὴν Ἑλλάδα καὶ χαλεπόν, ὃ πολλῆς τινος εὐτυχίας καὶ παρ᾿ ὑμῶν ἐπιμελείας δεόμενον

Plato, Republic 9, 575c

“I said, well, these minor crimes are small in comparison to serious ones but all of these are not one step in the direction—as the proverb goes—to the evil and suffering a tyrant introduces. For whenever there are many people like this and others who follow them and they sense how large their followers are, then these are the people who produce a tyrant with the ignorance of the people, a man who has the biggest and most tyrant-like nature in his soul.”

Τὰ γὰρ σμικρά, ἦν δ’ ἐγώ, πρὸς τὰ μεγάλα σμικρά ἐστιν, καὶ ταῦτα δὴ πάντα πρὸς τύραννον πονηρίᾳ τε καὶ ἀθλιότητι πόλεως, τὸ λεγόμενον, οὐδ’ ἵκταρ βάλλει. ὅταν γὰρ δὴ πολλοὶ ἐν πόλει γένωνται οἱ τοιοῦτοι καὶ ἄλλοι οἱ συνεπόμενοι | αὐτοῖς, καὶ αἴσθωνται ἑαυτῶν τὸ πλῆθος, τότε οὗτοί εἰσιν οἱ τὸν τύραννον γεννῶντες μετὰ δήμου ἀνοίας ἐκεῖνον, ὃς ἂν αὐτῶν μάλιστα αὐτὸς ἐν αὑτῷ μέγιστον καὶ πλεῖστον ἐν τῇ ψυχῇ τύραννον ἔχῃ.

A reminder: words for treason and a post:

ἀπιστία, “treachery”
προδοσία, “high treason”, “betrayal”
προδότης “traitor”
ἐπιβουλή, “plot”

Etymologies for the word “tyrant”:

Euripides, fr. 267

“The sick state is ingenious at discovering crimes.”

δεινὴ πόλις νοσοῦσ’ ἀνευρίσκειν κακά.

And the evergreen:

Sophocles, fr. 873 [= Mich. Apostol 13.8]

“Whoever does business with a tyrant is
That man’s slave, even if he starts out free.”

ὅστις γὰρ ὡς τύραννον ἐμπορεύεται
κείνου ‘στι δοῦλος, κἂν ἐλεύθερος μόλῃ.

Fragment: Harmodius and Aristogeiton

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