No Hope of Escape for a Tyrant

Dio Chrysostom, Discourse 6: Diogenes, or, On a Tyrant

“All human terrors have as a solace that they might come to an end. A man in chains can imagine being freed someday; it is not impossible for an exile to get home; and the sick may hope for health right up to death. But it is not possible for a tyrant to escape his state; indeed, he cannot pray for it, unless he prays for something different.

People who have lost friends to death know that they will eventually stop grieving. But problems grow harder for tyrants in contrast. It is not easy for a tyrant to grow old, unlike that proverbial horse [who has less to do]. For those he has hurt and those who despise him grow in number, while he is incapable of helping himself because of his aged body.”

…ὅσα δεινὰ τοῖς ἀνθρώποις παραμυθίαν ἔχει, τὸ τυχὸν ἂν παύσασθαι αὐτῶν. καὶ γὰρ ὅστις ὑπὸ δεσμῶν ἔχεται, προσδοκᾷ ποτε λυθῆναι, καὶ τῷ τὴν πατρίδα φεύγοντι οὐκ ἀδύνατον κατελθεῖν, καὶ τῷ νοσοῦντι μέχρι τῆς τελευτῆς ἔστιν ἐλπίζειν τὴν ὑγίειαν· τῷ δὲ οὐκ ἔστιν ἀπαλλαγῆναι τοῦ πράγματος, ἀλλ᾿ οὐδ᾿ εὔξασθαι γοῦν, εἰ μή τι ἕτερον. ὅσοις δὲ ἀνιᾶσθαι συμβέβηκε τῶν φίλων τινὸς ἀποθανόντος, σαφῶς ἐπίστανται ὅτι παύσονταί ποτε λυπούμενοι τῷ χρόνῳ· τοῖς δὲ τοὐναντίον ἐπιτείνεταιμᾶλλον τὰ χαλεπά. οὐ ῥᾴδιον μὲν γὰρ ἄνδρα γηρᾶσαι τύραννον, χαλεπὸν δὲ τυράννου γῆρας, οὐχ οἷον ἵππου φασίν. οἵ τε γὰρ πεπονθότες κακῶς πλείους οἵ τε καταφρονοῦντες· αὐτὸς δὲ τῷ σώματι βοηθεῖν ἀδύνατος αὑτῷ.

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