A Tyrant’s Life is Never Safe

Dio Chrysostom, On Tyranny 6.56-7

“It is not impossible for however so many people become tyrants of a city or small country to escape their regime and live somewhere else in hiding. Yet no one loves a tyrant, instead people hate them, are suspicious of them, and easily give them up to those they wronged.

But those who rule over many cities, peoples, and endless land, as the Persian king does, cannot ever escape, not even if they come to understand their troubles when some god frees them of their ignorance. A tyrant could never live safely, not even if he turned into bronze or iron, because even then he’d die, broken into pieces and melted down.”

Ὅσοι μὲν οὖν μιᾶς γεγόνασι τύραννοι πόλεως ἢ χώρας ὀλίγης, τούτοις οὐκ ἀδύνατον ἀποδράντας ἐκ τῆς ἀρχῆς ἀλλαχόσε ποι καταφυγόντας ζῆν· καίτοι οὐδεὶς ἄνδρα ἀγαπᾷ τύραννον, ἀλλὰ μισοῦσί τε καὶ ὑποπτεύουσι καὶ ῥᾳδίως ἐκδιδόασι τοῖς ἠδικημένοις· ὅσοι δὲ πολλῶν πόλεων ἄρχουσι καὶ ἐθνῶν καὶ ἀπείρου γῆς, ὥσπερ ὁ τῶν Περσῶν βασιλεύς, τούτοις, οὐδ᾿ ἄν ποτε παραστῇ συνεῖναι τῶν κακῶν κἂν θεῶν τις ἀφέλῃ τὴν ἄγνοιαν αὐτῶν, οὐ δυνατὸν ἐκφυγεῖν.   δοκεῖ δὲ οὐδέποτε ἂν ἀσφαλῶς ζῆν, οὐδ᾿ εἰ χαλκοῦς ἢ σιδηροῦς γένοιτο, ἀλλὰ καὶ οὕτως ἂν κατακοπεὶς ἢ καταχωνευθείς ἀπολέσθαι.

Periander, the Tyrant of Corinth by Paulus Moreelse

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