A Tyranny is Our Fault Too

Anonymous of Iamblichus 12-14

“Tyranny happens—even though it is so great an evil in scope and kind—from nothing else but lawlessness. All people who think incorrectly believe that tyranny develops from some other cause and that people lose their freedom without being responsible for it because they were forced by the tyrant who came to power. But they do not reason correctly.

Whoever believes that a king or tyrant arises for any other reason than a disregard for the laws and greed is a fool. Whenever everyone focuses on base motives, then this is how it turns out. It is impossible for people to live without laws and justice. When these two things are neglected by the majority of the people—the law and justice—then their oversight and safety is transferred to a single person. For how could a monarchy fall to a single person unless the law which was common and advantageous to all were removed?”

γίνεται δὲ καὶ ἡ τυραννίς, κακὸν τοσοῦτόν τε καὶ τοιοῦτον, οὐκ ἐξ ἄλλου τινὸς ἢ ἀνομίας. οἴονται δέ τινες τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ὅσοι μὴ ὀρθῶς συμβάλλονται, τύραννον ἐξ ἄλλου τινὸς καθίστασθαι καὶ τοὺς ἀνθρώπους στερίσκεσθαι τῆς ἐλευθερίας οὐκ αὐτοὺς αἰτίους ὄντας, ἀλλὰ βιασθέντας ὑπὸ τοῦ κατασταθέντος τυράννου, οὐκ ὀρθῶς ταῦτα λογιζόμενοι· ὅστις γὰρ ἡγεῖται βασιλέα ἢ τύραννον ἐξ ἄλλου τινὸς γίγνεσθαι ἢ ἐξ ἀνομίας τε καὶ πλεονεξίας, μωρός ἐστιν. ἐπειδὰν γὰρ ἅπαντες ἐπὶ κακίαν τράπωνται, τότε τοῦτο γίγνεται· οὐ γὰρ οἷόν τε ἀνθρώπους ἄνευ νόμων καὶ δίκης ζῆν. ὅταν οὖν ταῦτα τὰ δύο ἐκ τοῦ πλήθους ἐκλίπῃ, ὅ τε νόμος καὶ ἡ δίκη, τότε ἤδη εἰς ἕνα ἀποχωρεῖν τὴν ἐπιτροπίαν τούτων καὶ φυλακήν. πῶς γὰρ ἂν ἄλλως εἰς ἕνα μοναρχία περισταίη, εἰ μὴ τοῦ νόμου ἐξωσθέντος τοῦ τῷ πλήθει συμφέροντος;

Getty MS Ludwig III 1 Dyson Perrins Apocalypse
Getty MS Ludwig III 1 Dyson Perrins Apocalypse

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