A Solid Gold Colossus: Why Tyrants Spend Other Peoples’ Money

Suda,  Κυψελιδῶν ἀνάθημα

At Olympia. Plato claims in the Phaedrus that a metal Colossos was set up next to the dedication of the Kypselids at Olympia. But they claim that this from Kypselos himself and not the Kypselids. Agaklutos speaks about this in his On Olympia. “An ancient temple of Hera, dedicated by the Skillians. Those people are Eleians. Inside the temple is a gold colossus, a dedication from Kypselos of Korinth. For people say that Kypselos promised that if he should become tyrant of the Korinthians, then he would make everyone’s property sacred for ten years. Once he collected the taxes from this sacred assessment, he had the metal colossus created.”

Didymos, however, reports that Periander, his son, had the colossus made to restrain the luxury and audacity of the Korinthians. Theophrastus also reports in the second book of his Magic Moments, “while others spend funds on more masculine affairs, like raising an army and conquering enemies, as Dionysius the tyrant did. For he believed that it was necessary not only to waste others’ money but also his own in order to make sure that there would be no funds for plots against him. The pyramids of Egypt and the colossus of the Kypselids and all those kinds of things have similar or identical designs.

It is also reported that there was an an epigram on the colossus: “If I am not a colossus made of gold / then may the race of the Kypselids be wiped away.”

Apellas of Pontos, however, claims that he inscription was, “If I am not a solid-cold Colossus, may the race of Kypselids be completely destroyed”

ἐν ᾽Ολυμπίαι. Πλάτων ἐν Φαίδρωι (236 B)· παρὰ τὸ Κυψελιδῶν ἀνάθημα σφυρήλατος ἐν ᾽Ολυμπίαι ἐστάθη κολοσσός. ἀλλ᾽ οὐ τῶν Κυψελιδῶν, Κυψέλου δέ φασι τὸ ἀνάθημα, ὡς ᾽Αγάκλυτος ἐν τῶι Περὶ ᾽Ολυμπίας φησὶν οὕτως· «ναὸς τῆς ῞Ηρας παλαιός, ἀνάθημα Σκιλλουντίων· οὗτοι δέ εἰσιν ᾽Ηλείων. ἔνεστι δὲ ἐν αὐτῶι χρυσοῦς κολοσσός, ἀνάθημα Κυψέλου τοῦ Κορινθίου· φασὶ γὰρ τὸν Κύψελον εὐξάμενον, εἰ Κορινθίων τυραννεύσειε, τὰς οὐσίας πάντων εἰς δέκατον ἔτος ἀνιερώσειν, τὰς δεκάτας τῶν τιμημάτων εἰσπραξάμενον, κατασκευάσαι τὸν σφυρήλατον κολοσσόν».

Δίδυμος δὲ κατασκευάσαι τὸν κολοσσόν φησι Περίανδρον ὑπὲρ τοῦ τῆς τρυφῆς καὶ τοῦ θράσους ἐπισχεῖν τοὺς Κορινθίους· καὶ γὰρ Θεόφραστος ἐν τῶι Περὶ καιρῶν β̄ λέγει οὕτω· «ἕτεροι δὲ εἰς ἀνδρωδέστερα καταδαπανῶντες, οἷον στρατείας ἐξάγοντες καὶ πολέμους ἐπαναιρούμενοι, καθάπερ καὶ Διονύσιος ὁ τύραννος· ἐκεῖνος γὰρ οὐ μόνον ὤιετο δεῖν τὰ τῶν ἄλλων καταναλίσκειν ἀλλὰ καὶ τὰ αὑτοῦ πρὸς τὸ μὴ ὑπάρχειν ἐφόδια τοῖς ἐπιβουλεύουσιν· ἐοίκασι δὲ καὶ αἱ πυραμίδες ἐν Αἰγύπτωι καὶ ὁ τῶν Κυψελιδῶν κολοσσὸς καὶ πάντα τὰ τοιαῦτα τὴν αὐτὴν καὶ παραπλησίαν ἔχειν διάνοιαν».

φέρεται δέ τι καὶ ἐπίγραμμα τοῦ κολοσσοῦ· «εἰ μὴ ἐγὼ χρυσοῦς σφυρήλατός εἰμι κολοσσός, / ἐξώλης εἴη Κυψελιδῶν γενεά», ὅπερ ᾽Απελλᾶς ὁ Ποντικὸς οὕτω προφέρεται· «εἰ μὴ ἐγὼ ναξὸς παγχρύσεός εἰμι κολοσσός, / ἐξώλης εἴη Κυψελιδῶν γενεά».


From Martial, 1.37

“Bassus, you unload your bowels into a golden bowl and feel no shame, but you drink from glass: so you’re paying more to shit.”

Ventris onus misero, nec te pudet, excipis auro,
Basse, bibis vitro: carius ergo cacas.

Rejoicing at the Death of a Tyrant

Suetonius, Divus Tiberius 75

“The people were so happy about his death that some people went around shouting after its announcement, “Tiberius into the Tiber!” while others prayed to the Earth and the divine Shades to give him no place in death except with the damned.

Others still were threatened his body with a hook and the Mourning Stairs, angered over the memory of recent cruelty: for the senate had decreed a stay of ten days for all condemned to execution. But that day came about for some when the news of Tiberius’ death surfaced. Although they were pleading for public help since no one could be approached and appealed to oppose their punishments now that Gaius was gone, the jailors strangled them and threw them out on the Mourning Stairs anyway, afraid of acting against the law. So hatred for the tyrant only increased since his brutality remained even after his death.”

LXXV. Morte eius ita laetatus est populus, ut ad primum nuntium discurrentes pars: “Tiberium in Tiberim!” clamitarent, pars Terram matrem deosque Manes orarent, ne mortuo sedem ullam nisi inter impios darent, alii uncum et Gemonias cadaveri minarentur, exacerbati super memoriam pristinae crudelitatis etiam recenti atrocitate. Nam cum senatus consulto cautum esset, ut poena damnatorum in decimum semper diem differretur, forte accidit ut quorundam supplicii dies is esset, quo nuntiatum de Tiberio erat. Hos implorantis hominum fidem, quia absente adhuc Gaio nemo exstabat qui adiri interpellarique posset, custodes, ne quid adversus constitutum facerent, strangulaverunt abieceruntque in Gemonias. Crevit igitur invidia, quasi etiam post mortem tyranni saevitia permanente

What Use is a Good Reputation?

Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus 141

“He is terrible to look at and terrible to hear”

δεινὸς μὲν ὁρᾶν, δεινὸς δὲ κλύειν


“What use is a good reputation? What good is
Fame flowing off to no end?”

τί δῆτα δόξης, ἢ τί κληδόνος καλῆς
μάτην ῥεούσης ὠφέλημα γίγνεται


“I know it and you will recognize it in time
That are are neither actly rightly now
Nor did you before, because in your love of your strength
You gave first place to your anger, the very thing that always ruins you.”

χρόνῳ γάρ, οἶδ᾿ ἐγώ, γνώσῃ τάδε,
ὁθούνεκ᾿ αὐτὸς αὐτὸν οὔτε νῦν καλὰ
δρᾷς οὔτε πρόσθεν εἰργάσω, βίᾳ φίλων
ὀργῇ χάριν δούς, ἥ σ᾿ ἀεὶ λυμαίνεται.


“Old age has nothing of rage except for dying
And no pain touches the dead.”

θυμοῦ γὰρ οὐδὲν γῆράς ἐστιν ἄλλο πλὴν
θανεῖν· θανόντων δ᾿ οὐδὲν ἄλγος ἅπτεται.


“We are beggars and strangers, but you are a stranger.
You and I both live thanks to the good will of others
Since we have met the same fate.
A tyrant is in our home—it is terrible—
And he laughs as he mocks us in common.”

πτωχοὶ μὲν ἡμεῖς καὶ ξένοι, ξένος δὲ σύ·
ἄλλους δὲ θωπεύοντες οἰκοῦμεν σύ τε
κἀγώ, τὸν αὐτὸν δαίμον᾿ ἐξειληχότες.
ὁ δ᾿ ἐν δόμοις τύραννος, ὢ τάλας ἐγώ,
κοινῇ καθ᾿ ἡμῶν ἐγγελῶν ἁβρύνεται·

By Fulchran-Jean Harriet, “Oedipus at Colonus” 1798. Now in the Cleveland Museum of Art


“May He Suffer What He Did To Others”

Historia Augusta, Commodus Antoninus 19

“Let the memory of murderer and gladiator be destroyed; have the statues of the murder and the gladiator be destroyed. Let the memory of the disgusting gladiator be destroyed. Send the gladiator to the butcher-block. Listen, Caesar: have that killer dragged with the hook. Have that senate-slayer dragged with a hook in the custom of our ancestors.

More of an animal than Domitian, more unclean than Nero: May he suffer what he did to others. Preserve the memories of the innocent. Restore the place of the innocent. We beg you: drag the body of the murderer with a hook. Drag the body of the gladiator with a hook. Put the gladiator’s body in the slaughterhouse. Call the vote, Call the vote: we all believe that he needs to be dragged with the hook.”

XIX. Parricidae gladiatoris memoria aboleatur, parricidae gladiatoris statuae detrahantur. impuri gladiatoris memoria aboleatur. gladiatorem in spoliario. exaudi Caesar: carnifex unco trahatur. carnifex senatus more maiorum unco trahatur. saevior Domitiano, impurior Nerone. sic fecit, sic patiatur. memoriae innocentium serventur. honores innocentium restituas, rogamus. parricidae cadaver unco trahatur. gladiatoris cadaver unco trahatur. gladiatoris cadaver in spoliario ponatur. perroga, perroga: omnes censemus unco trahendum. qui omnes occidit, unco trahatur.

Detail of The Emperor Commodus Leaving the Arena at the Head of the Gladiators by American muralist Edwin Howland Blashfield (1848-1936) in the permanent collection of The Hermitage Museum and Gardens in Norfolk, Virginia (USA)

Four Years of Presidential Memories: Sharing the Struggle For Freedom

Thucydides 6.56

“When Harmodios defeated his lawsuit, as he intended, [Hipparkhos] insulted him. After they invited his sister to come out to carry a basket in a certain procession, they rejected her, claiming they had not invited her at all because she was not good enough. Even as Harmodios took this badly, Aristogeitôn was a great deal angrier. Then all of the arrangements were made for the deed with those who were sympathetic to them but they were waiting for the great Panathenaia festival, because on that day there would be no suspicion at all if the citizens who were going to be part of the procession would be armed.

They had to begin the act, but the others were supposed to take care of the bodyguard immediately. The conspirators were few for safety’s sake, since they hoped that  even those who did not know beforehand would be willing to share the struggle for their own freedom necessarily if they had arms in their hands and saw so few acting boldly.”

LVI. Τὸν δ᾿ οὖν Ἁρμόδιον ἀπαρνηθέντα τὴν πείρασιν, ὥσπερ διενοεῖτο, προυπηλάκισεν· ἀδελφὴν γὰρ αὐτοῦ κόρην ἐπαγγείλαντες ἥκειν κανοῦν οἴσουσαν ἐν πομπῇ τινι, ἀπήλασαν λέγοντες οὐδὲ ἐπαγγεῖλαι τὴν ἀρχὴν διὰ τὸ μὴ ἀξίαν εἶναι. χαλεπῶς δὲ ἐνεγκόντος τοῦ Ἁρμοδίου πολλῷ δὴ μᾶλλον δι᾿ ἐκεῖνον καὶ ὁ Ἀριστογείτων παρωξύνετο. καὶ αὐτοῖς τὰ μὲν ἄλλα πρὸς τοὺς ξυνεπιθησομένους τῷ ἔργῳ ἐπέπρακτο, περιέμενον δὲ Παναθήναια τὰ μεγάλα, ἐν ᾗ μόνον ἡμέρᾳ οὐχ ὕποπτον ἐγίγνετο ἐν ὅπλοις τῶν πολιτῶν τοὺς τὴν πομπὴν πέμψοντας ἁθρόους γενέσθαι· καὶ ἔδει ἄρξαι μὲν αὐτούς, ξυνεπαμύνειν δὲ εὐθὺς τὰ πρὸς τοὺς δορυφόρους ἐκείνους. ἦσαν δὲ οὐ πολλοὶ οἱ ξυνομωμοκότες ἀσφαλείας ἕνεκα· ἤλπιζον γὰρ καὶ τοὺς μὴ προειδότας, εἰ καὶ ὁποσοιοῦν τολμήσειαν, ἐκ τοῦ παραχρῆμα, ἔχοντάς γε ὅπλα, ἐθελήσειν σφᾶς αὐτοὺς ξυνελευθεροῦν.

Plato, Hipparchus 229b

“But his death is said to have occurred by the more polished people not in the way most believe, because his sister was not allowed to be a basket-bearer in the procession. That’s pretty simplistic. Instead, they say Harmodius was Aristogeitôn’s brother and had been educated by him. For this reason, Aristogeitôn also took pride in educating people and considered Hipparkhos his rival. At the same time, it seems, Harmodios was in love with one of the fine and well-born young men of the day. People use his name but I don’t remember it. This young man was enamored with both Harmodios and Aristogeitôn for a while because they were wise. But when he started hanging out with Hipparkhos, he despised them and they were so pissed off by this slight that they killed Hipparkhos.”

λέγεται δὲ ὑπὸ τῶν χαριεστέρων ἀνθρώπων καὶ ὁ θάνατος αὐτοῦ γενέσθαι οὐ δι᾿ ἃ οἱ πολλοὶ ᾠήθησαν, διὰ τὴν τῆς ἀδελφῆς ἀτιμίαν τῆς κανηφορίας, ἐπεὶ τοῦτό γε εὔηθες, ἀλλὰ τὸν μὲν Ἁρμόδιον γεγονέναι παιδικὰ τοῦ Ἀριστογείτονος καὶ πεπαιδεῦσθαι ὑπ᾿ ἐκείνου. μέγα δ᾿ ἐφρόνει ἄρα καὶ ὁ Ἀριστογείτων ἐπὶ τῷ παιδεῦσαι ἄνθρωπον, καὶ ἀνταγωνιστὴν ἡγεῖτο εἶναι τὸν Ἵππαρχον. ἐν ἐκείνῳ δὲ τῷ χρόνῳ αὐτὸν τὸν Ἁρμόδιον τυγχάνειν ἐρῶντά τινος τῶν νέων τε καὶ καλῶν καὶ γενναίων τῶν τότε· καὶ λέγουσι τοὔνομα αὐτοῦ, ἐγὼ δὲ οὐ μέμνημαι· τὸν οὖν νεανίσκον τοῦτον τέως μὲν θαυμάζειν τόν τε Ἁρμόδιον καὶ τὸν Ἀριστογείτονα ὡς σοφούς, ἔπειτα συγγενόμενον τῷ Ἱππάρχῳ καταφρονῆσαι ἐκείνων, καὶ τοὺς περιαλγήσαντας ταύτῃ τῇ ἀτιμίᾳ οὕτως ἀποκτεῖναι τὸν Ἵππαρχον.


Drinking Songs for Harmodios and Aristogeton

PMG 893-897

“I will wrap my sword in a crown of myrtle
As Harmodius and Aristogeiton did
When they killed the tyrant
And made the Athenians equal under the law.”

ἐν μύρτου κλαδὶ τὸ ξίφος φορήσω
ὥσπερ ῾Αρμόδιος καὶ ᾿Αριστογείτων
ὅτε τὸν τύραννον κτανέτην
ἰσονόμους τ’ ᾿Αθήνας ἐποιησάτην.

“Dearest Harmodius, you have never died,
But they say you live in the isles of the blest
Where swift-footed Achilles
And Tydeus’ fine son Diomedes are”

φίλταθ’ ῾Αρμόδι’, οὔ τί πω τέθνηκας,
νήσοις δ’ ἐν μακάρων σέ φασιν εἶναι,
ἵνα περ ποδώκης ᾿Αχιλεὺς
Τυδεΐδην τέ †φασι τὸν ἐσθλὸν† Διομήδεα.

“I will wrap my sword with a branch of myrtle,
Just as Harmodius and Aristogeiton did
When at the Athenian sacrifices
They killed the tyrant, a man named Hipparchus”

ἐν μύρτου κλαδὶ τὸ ξίφος φορήσω
ὥσπερ ῾Αρμόδιος καὶ ᾿Αριστογείτων
ὅτ’ ᾿Αθηναίης ἐν θυσίαις
ἄνδρα τύραννον ῞Ιππαρχον ἐκαινέτην.

“Fame will always be yours in this land,
Dearest Harmodios and Aristogeiton,
Because you killed the tyrant
And made the Athenians equal under the law.”

αἰεὶ σφῶιν κλέος ἔσσεται κατ’ αἶαν,
φίλταθ’ ῾Αρμόδιε καὶ ᾿Αριστόγειτον,
ὅτι τὸν τύραννον κτανέτην
ἰσονόμους τ’ ᾿Αθήνας ἐποιησάτην.

An Epigram

Hephaestion, Handbook on Meter

 “Every line of verse ends with a complete word. For this reason, lines like Simonides’ Epigram should be criticized:

“A great light arose for the Athenians when Aristo-
geitôn and Harmodios killed Hipparkhos


They restored equality to their land.”

πᾶν μέτρον εἰς τελείαν περατοῦται λέξιν· ὅθεν ἐπίληπτά ἐστι τὰ τοιαῦτα Σιμωνίδου ἐκ τῶν ἐπιγραμμάτων·

ἦ μέγ᾿ Ἀθηναίοισι φόως γένεθ᾿, ἡνίκ᾿ Ἀριστο-
γείτων Ἵππαρχον κτεῖνε καὶ Ἁρμόδιος·
[ ]
[ ἰσόνομον πα]τρίδα γῆν ἐθέτην.

Naples National Archaeological Museum

Four Years of Presidential Memory: A Tyrant and A Plague

N.B This is a different Pythagoras from the one with the theorem.

Suda, s.v. Pythagoras of Ephesos

“Pythagoras of Ephesos. Once he overthrew the government called the reign of the Basilidai, Pythagoras became the harshest tyrant. He seemed and sometimes was very kind to the people and the masses, increasing their hopes, but under-delivering on their profits. Because he despoiled those in high esteem and power and liquidated their property, he was not at all tolerable.

He did not hesitate to impose the harshest punishments or to mercilessly kill those who had done no wrong—for he had gotten just this crazy. His lust for money was endless. He was also quickest to anger in response to any insults to those near to him. On their own, these things would have been enough reason for people to kill him in the worst way, but he also was contemptuous of the divine. Indeed, many of his previously mentioned victims he actually killed in temples.

When the daughters of one man took refuge in a temple, he did not dare to extract them forcefully, but he waited them out so long that the girls resolved their hunger with a rope. A plague then afflicted the people along with a famine and Pythagoras, who was worried for himself, sent representatives to Delphi, requesting relief from these sufferings. She said that he needed to build temples and take care of the dead. He lived before Cyrus of Persia, according to Batôn.”

Πυθαγόρας ᾽Εφέσιος· καταλύσας δι᾽ ἐπιβουλῆς τὴν τῶν Βασιλιδῶν καλουμένην ἀρχήν, ἀνεφάνη τε τύραννος πικρότατος. καὶ τῶι μὲν δήμωι καὶ τῆι πληθύι ἦν τε καὶ ἐδόκει κεχαρισμένος, ἅμα τὰ μὲν αὐτοὺς ἐπελπίζων ὑποσχέσεσιν, τὰ δὲ ὑποσπείρων αὐτοῖς ὀλίγα κέρδη· τούς γε μὴν ἐν ἀξιώσει τε καὶ δυνάμει περισυλῶν καὶ δημεύων φορητὸς οὐδαμὰ οὐδαμῆ ἦν. καὶ κολάσαι δὲ πικρότατα οὐκ ἂν ὤκνησε, καὶ ἀφειδέστατα ἀποκτεῖναι οὐδὲν ἀδικοῦντας (ἐξελύττησε γὰρ εἰς ταῦτα)· ἔρως τε χρημάτων ἄμετρος· καὶ διαβολαῖς ταῖς ἐς τοὺς πλησίους ἐκριπισθῆναι κουφότατος ἦν. ἀπέχρησε μὲν οὖν καὶ ταῦτα ἂν κάκιστα ἀνθρώπων ἀπολέσαι αὐτόν, ἤδη δὲ καὶ τοῦ θείου κατεφρόνει· τῶν γοῦν προειρημένων οἷς ἐπέθετο παμπόλλους ἐν τοῖς ναοῖς ἀπέκτεινεν, ἑνὸς δὲ τὰς θυγατέρας καταφυγούσας εἰς τὸ ἱερὸν ἀναστῆσαι μὲν βιαίως οὐκ ἐτόλμησε, συνεχῆ δὲ φυλακὴν ἐπιστήσας ἐξετρύχωσεν ἄρα ἐς τοσοῦτον, ὡς βρόχωι τὰς κόρας τὸν λιμὸν ἀποδρᾶναι. οὐκοῦν ἠκολούθησε δημοσίαι νόσος καὶ τροφῶν ἀπορία· καὶ σαλεύων ὑπὲρ ἑαυτοῦ ὁ Πυθαγόρας εἰς Δελφοὺς ἀπέστειλε καὶ ἤιτει λύσιν τῶν κακῶν. ἡ δὲ ἕφη νεὼν ἀναστῆσαι καὶ κηδεῦσαι τοὺς νεκρούς. ἦν δὲ πρὸ Κύρου τοῦ Πέρσου, ὥς φησι Βάτων.

Ancient Theater at Ephesus

Four Years of Presidential Memories: Plutocrats, Listen Up, Equal is Better Than More

Diodorus Siculus, History 9.12 (Full text on Lacus Curtius)

“There is also the story that when the people of Mitylene allowed Pittacus to have half the land over which he fought in single combat, he would not take it. Instead, he assigned an equal portion to each man, saying that an “equal amount is greater than more”. For, since he took the measure of what was greater by fairness not by profit, he judged wisely. He believed that fame and safety would follow equality while gossip and fear followed greed, and they would have quickly reclaimed his gift.”

12. Ὅτι τῶν Μιτυληναίων διδόντων τῷ Πιττακῷ τῆς χώρας ὑπὲρ ἧς ἐμονομάχησε τὴν ἡμίσειαν οὐκ ἐδέξατο, συνέταξε δὲ ἑκάστῳ κληρῶσαι τὸ ἴσον, ἐπιφθεγξάμενος ὡς τὸ ἴσον ἐστὶ τοῦ πλείονος πλεῖον. μετρῶν γὰρ ἐπιεικείᾳ τὸ πλεῖον, οὐ κέρδει, σοφῶς ἐγίνωσκεν· τῇ μὲν γὰρ ἰσότητι δόξαν καὶ ἀσφάλειαν ἀκολουθήσειν, τῇ δὲ πλεονεξίᾳ βλασφημίαν καὶ φόβον, δι᾿ ὧν ταχέως ἂν αὐτοῦ τὴν δωρεὰν ἀφείλαντο.

Cf. Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers 1.75

“Then, the Mityleneans honored Pittakos powerfully and gave the rule of the state to him alone. During the ten years he held power, he also corrected the constitution and then surrendered power even though he lived ten years more. The Mityleneans gave him some land, but he donated it as sacred. The plot is called after his name even today. Sôsicrates says that he cut off a little bit for himself, saying that “half is greater than the whole.”

[75] Τότε δ᾽ οὖν τὸν Πιττακὸν ἰσχυρῶς ἐτίμησαν οἱ Μυτιληναῖοι, καὶ τὴν ἀρχὴν ἐνεχείρισαν αὐτῷ. ὁ δὲ δέκα ἔτη κατασχὼν καὶ εἰς τάξιν ἀγαγὼν τὸ πολίτευμα, κατέθετο τὴν ἀρχήν, καὶ δέκα ἐπεβίω ἄλλα. καὶ χώραν αὐτῷ ἀπένειμαν οἱ Μυτιληναῖοι: ὁ δὲ ἱερὰν ἀνῆκεν, ἥτις νῦν Πιττάκειος καλεῖται. Σωσικράτης δέ φησιν ὅτι ὀλίγον ἀποτεμόμενος ἔφη τὸ ἥμισυ τοῦ παντὸς πλεῖον εἶναι.

The idea of “half being greater than the whole” is likely proverbial, showing up as well in Hesiod’s Works and Days where the narrator uses it when he complains about how the judges act unfairly in their evaluation of cases (by taking bribes): “the fools don’t know how much greater the half is than the whole” νήπιοι, οὐδὲ ἴσασιν ὅσῳ πλέον ἥμισυ παντὸς.

Diodorus Siculus’ statement that “an equal part is greater than more” is probably a clever departure from the Hesiodic statement. Hesiod’s statement seems to be about greed (wanting more than your due), as glossed by Michael Apostolius:


“They don’t know how much greater the half is than the whole”: [this is a proverb used] for those who desire more and lose what they have.

Οὐδ’ ἴσασιν ὅσῳ πλέον ἥμισυ παντός: ὅτι οἱ τῶν πλειόνων ἐπιθυμοῦντες καὶ ἃ ἔχουσιν ἀποβάλλουσιν.

A unifying theme between the two versions is that in early Greek culture that which is isos is not fair in terms of being equal but it possesses equity in terms of being proper to the recipient’s social status. So, Diodorus’ isos share can map out onto Hesiod’s “half” share.

Image result for pittacus

Another proverbial moment for Pittakos:

Diodorus Siculus, History 9.12.3 (Full text on Lacus Curtius)

“When Pittacus finally caught up with the poet Alcaeus, a man especially hateful to him who had mocked him savagely in his poems, he released him, remarking that forgiveness is a better choice than vengeance.”

ὅτι καὶ τὸν ποιητὴν Ἀλκαῖον, ἐχθρότατον αὐτοῦ γεγενημένον καὶ διὰ τῶν ποιημάτων πικρότατα λελοιδορηκότα, λαβὼν ὑποχείριον ἀφῆκεν, ἐπιφθεγξάμενος ὡς συγγνώμη τιμωρίας αἱρετωτέρα.

Four Years of Presidential Memories: Why Democracies Vote for Tyrants

Plutarch, Precepts of Statecraft 802 E

“Public leadership comes from persuading people through argument. But manipulating a mob in this way differs little from the capture and herding of stupid animals.”

δημαγωγία γὰρ ἡ διὰ λόγου πειθομένων ἐστίν, αἱ δὲ τοιαῦται τιθασεύσεις τῶν ὄχλων οὐδὲν ἀλόγων ζῴων ἄγρας καὶ βουκολήσεως διαφέρουσιν.

 The passage above made me think of Peisistratus and how he subverted a democratic state.

Aristophanes gets in on this game with his presentation of the advantages of the Unjust Argument over the just, see a friend’s post on this topic.

Herodotus, 1.59

Peisistratos becomes a tyrant through histrionic lies

“After that, [Hippokrates] had a son named Peisistratos. Then the Athenians on the coasts were in strife with those who lived inland and Megakles, the son of Almeôn, was the leader of the first group, and Lykourgos the son of Aristolaidos was the leader of the inlanders. Peisistratos, because he had designs on a tyranny, led a third faction; after he gathered his partisans and claimed to be a defender of the heartland-Greeks, he enacted the following plans. He wounded himself and his mules and then drove his wagon into the marketplace as if he had fled enemies who wished to kill him as he was traveling to the country. Because of this, he asked the people for a bodyguard under his power, since he had previously earned good repute as a general against the Megarians when he took Nisaia and displayed many other great accomplishments. The Athenian people, utterly deceived, permitted him to choose from the citizens men three hundred men who were not spear-bearers under Peisistratus but club-carriers: for they followed behind him, carrying clubs. Once these men rebelled with Peisistratos, they occupied the acropolis.”

γενέσθαι οἱ μετὰ ταῦτα τὸν Πεισίστρατον τοῦτον, ὃς στασιαζόντων τῶν παράλων καὶ τῶν ἐκ τοῦ πεδίου ᾿Αθηναίων, καὶ τῶν μὲν προεστεῶτος  Μεγακλέος τοῦ ᾿Αλκμέωνος, τῶν δὲ ἐκ τοῦ πεδίου Λυκούργου <τοῦ> ᾿Αριστολαΐδεω, καταφρονήσας τὴν τυραννίδα ἤγειρε τρίτην στάσιν, συλλέξας δὲ στασιώτας καὶ τῷ λόγῳ τῶν ὑπερακρίων προστὰς μηχανᾶται τοιάδε· τρωματίσας ἑωυτόν τε καὶ ἡμιόνους ἤλασε ἐς τὴν ἀγορὴν τὸ ζεῦγος ὡς ἐκπεφευγὼς τοὺς ἐχθρούς, οἵ μιν ἐλαύνοντα ἐς ἀγρὸν ἠθέλησαν ἀπολέσαι δῆθεν, ἐδέετό τε τοῦ δήμου φυλακῆς τινος πρὸς αὐτοῦ κυρῆσαι, πρότερον εὐδοκιμήσας ἐν τῇ πρὸς Μεγαρέας γενομένῃ στρατηγίῃ, Νίσαιάν τε ἑλὼν καὶ ἄλλα ἀποδεξάμενος μεγάλα ἔργα. ῾Ο δὲ δῆμος ὁ τῶν ᾿Αθηναίων ἐξαπατηθεὶς ἔδωκέ οἱ τῶν ἀστῶν καταλέξασθαι ἄνδρας τριηκοσίους οἳ δορυφόροι μὲν οὐκ ἐγένοντο Πεισιστράτου, κορυνηφόροι δέ· ξύλων γὰρ κορύνας ἔχοντες εἵποντό οἱ ὄπισθε. Συνεπαναστάντες δὲ οὗτοι ἅμα Πεισιστράτῳ ἔσχον τὴν ἀκρόπολιν. ῎Ενθα δὴ ὁ Πεισίστρατος

Peisistratos is exiled after ruling for a short time. But, with the help of a foreign tyrant, regains the tyranny through more deceit and stupidity

Image result for Pisistratus

Herodotus, 1.60

“Once Peisistratos accepted this argument and agreed to these proposals, they devised the dumbest plan for his return that I can find, by far, if, even then, those in Athens, said to be among the first of the Greeks in wisdom, devised these things. (From antiquity, the Greek people have been set apart from barbarians by being more clever and freer from silly stupidity). In the country there was a Paianiean woman—her name was Phuê—and she was three inches short of six feet and altogether fine looking. After they dressed her up in a panoply, they put her in a chariot, and adorned her with the kind of scene which would make her a completely conspicuous sight to be seen. Then they drove her into the city, sending heralds out in front of her, who were announcing after they entered the city the words they had been assigned, saying something like “O Athenians, receive Peisistratos with a good thought, a man Athena herself honored beyond all men as she leads him to her own acropolis.” They went everywhere saying these things. And as soon as the rumor circulated among the people, they believed that the woman was Athena herself: then they were praying to the woman and were welcoming Peisistratos!

After he regained the tyranny in the way I have narrated, Peisistratos married the daughter of Megakles in accordance with the agreement they made. But because he already had young sons and since the family of the Alkmeaonids were said to be cursed, he did not wish to have children with his newly wedded wife, and he was not having sex with her according to custom…”

᾿Ενδεξαμένου δὲ τὸν λόγον καὶ ὁμολογήσαντος ἐπὶ τούτοισι Πεισιστράτου, μηχανῶνται δὴ ἐπὶ τῇ κατόδῳ πρῆγμα εὐηθέστατον, ὡς ἐγὼ εὑρίσκω, μακρῷ  (ἐπεί γε ἀπεκρίθη ἐκ παλαιτέρου τοῦ βαρβάρου ἔθνεος τὸ ῾Ελληνικὸν ἐὸν καὶ δεξιώτερον καὶ εὐηθείης ἠλιθίου ἀπηλλαγμένον μᾶλλον), εἰ καὶ τότε γε οὗτοι ἐν ᾿Αθηναίοισι τοῖσι πρώτοισι λεγομένοισι εἶναι ῾Ελλήνων σοφίην μηχανῶνται τοιάδε. ᾿Εν τῷ δήμῳ τῷ Παιανιέϊ ἦν γυνή, τῇ οὔνομα ἦν Φύη, μέγαθος ἀπὸ τεσσέρων πήχεων ἀπολείπουσα τρεῖς δακτύλους καὶ ἄλλως εὐειδής. Ταύτην τὴν γυναῖκα σκευάσαντες πανοπλίῃ, ἐς ἅρμα ἐσβιβάσαντες καὶ προδέξαντες σχῆμα οἷόν τι ἔμελλε εὐπρεπέστατον φανέεσθαι ἔχουσα, ἤλαυνον ἐς τὸ ἄστυ, προδρόμους κήρυκας προπέμψαντες, οἳ τὰ ἐντεταλμένα ἠγόρευον ἀπικόμενοι ἐς τὸ ἄστυ, λέγοντες τοιάδε· «῏Ω ᾿Αθηναῖοι, δέκεσθε ἀγαθῷ νόῳ Πεισίστρατον, τὸν αὐτὴ ἡ ᾿Αθηναίη τιμήσασα ἀνθρώπων μάλιστα κατάγει ἐς τὴν ἑωυτῆς ἀκρόπολιν.» Οἱ μὲν δὴ ταῦτα διαφοιτῶντες ἔλεγον, αὐτίκα δὲ ἔς τε τοὺς δήμους φάτις ἀπίκετο ὡς ᾿Αθηναίη Πεισίστρατον κατάγει, καὶ <οἱ> ἐν τῷ ἄστεϊ πειθόμενοι τὴν γυναῖκα εἶναι αὐτὴν τὴν θεὸν προσεύχοντό τε τὴν ἄνθρωπον καὶ ἐδέκοντο Πεισίστρατον. ᾿Απολαβὼν δὲ τὴν τυραννίδα τρόπῳ τῷ εἰρημένῳ ὁ Πεισίστρατος κατὰ τὴν ὁμολογίην τὴν πρὸς Μεγακλέα γενομένην γαμέει τοῦ Μεγακλέος τὴν θυγατέρα. Οἷα δὲ παίδων τέ οἱ ὑπαρχόντων νεηνιέων καὶ λεγομένων ἐναγέων εἶναι τῶν᾿Αλκμεωνιδέων, οὐ βουλόμενός οἱ γενέσθαι ἐκ τῆς νεογάμου γυναικὸς τέκνα ἐμίσγετό οἱ οὐ κατὰ νόμον.

Post-fact is pre-fascism?  Seems like an understatement…

Polybius has an explanation for this:

Continue reading “Four Years of Presidential Memories: Why Democracies Vote for Tyrants”

Aristotle, Politics 1287b

“There’s no natural tyranny”

τυραννικὸν δ᾿ οὐκ ἔστι κατὰ φύσιν

Dio Chrysostom, 6.52-53 On Tyranny

“Therefore, whenever there is war, tyrants long for peace, but when there is peace, they immediately plan for war. When people have everything they need in life, tyrants fear the arrogance of the masses, but whenever there is too little, they fear their rage. They believe that it is is neither safe to go out nor to stay at home, nor to appear in public, nor to remain isolated. They do not even think they can go where it is clearly safe to go. They think that every corner is full of plots and deceit. Each tyrant brings to mind the deaths of other tyrants and all the plots that ever developed around them, imaging that every one of them is coming toward him…”

τοιγαροῦν πολέμου μὲν ὄντος εἰρήνης ἐρῶσιν, εἰρήνης δὲ γενομένης εὐθὺς μηχανῶνται πόλεμον. καὶ τοῦτο μὲν τῶν ἐπιτηδείων ἀφθόνων ὄντων δεδοίκασι τοῦ πλήθους τὴν ὕβριν, τοῦτο δὲ εἴ τις ἔνδεια καταλαμβάνοι, τὴν ὀργήν. ἡγοῦνται δὲ μήτε ἀποδημεῖν ἀσφαλὲς μήτε μένειν μήτε προϊέναι μήτ᾿ ἔνδον διαιτᾶσθαι παρ᾿ αὑτοῖς, ἀλλὰ μηδὲ ἐπιβαίνειν οὗ ἂν ἐπιβαίνωσιν ἀσφαλῶς, ἅπαντα δὲ εἶναι μεστὰ ἐνέδρας καὶ δόλων. ἀναλογίζεται δὲ ἕκαστος αὐτῶν καὶ τοὺς θανάτους τῶν τυράννων καὶ τὰς ἐπιβουλάς, ὅσαι πώποτε γεγόνασι, καὶ ξύμπαντα ταῦτα ἐφ᾿ αὑτὸν ἰέναι νομίζει

Dio Chrysostom, On Custom 76.2

“I guess that I can compare the written law to the power of tyranny: for each law is enacted by means of fear and prohibition. Custom, then, I could compare to the ease of kingship when all people follow it because they want to and without compulsion. So, we know many laws which have been taken back by the very people who made them because they were bad, but no one could easily demonstrate a custom that has been eliminated.”

Διό μοι δοκεῖ τις ἂν προσεικάσαι τὸν μὲν ἔγγραφον νόμον τῇ δυνάμει τῆς τυραννίδος, φόβῳ γὰρ ἕκαστον καὶ μετὰ προστάγματος διαπράττεται· τὸ δὲ ἔθος μᾶλλον τῇ φιλανθρωπίᾳ τῆς βασιλείας, βουλόμενοι γὰρ αὐτῷ πάντες καὶ δίχα ἀνάγκης ἕπονται καὶ νόμους μὲν ἴσμεν πολλοὺς ἀνῃρημένους ὑπὸ τῶν θέντων αὐτούς, ὡς πονηρούς· ἔθος δὲ οὐκ ἂν οὐδεὶς ῥᾳδίως δείξειε λελυμένον. 

Tyrannosaurus Rex is a tyrant and a king and this confuses me

Four Years of Precious Memories: The Way of Kings, To Love and Hate Without Reason

Homer, Odyssey 4.687–693

“Did they not hear from you, when they were children,
What kind of a man Odysseus was among your parents,
He did nothing unfair nor said anything [unfair]
Among the people? This is the right of divine kings—
They can hate some people and love another.”

ὑμετέρων τὸ πρόσθεν ἀκούετε, παῖδες ἐόντες,
οἷος ᾿Οδυσσεὺς ἔσκε μεθ’ ὑμετέροισι τοκεῦσιν,
οὔτε τινὰ ῥέξας ἐξαίσιον οὔτε τι εἰπὼν
ἐν δήμῳ; ἥ τ’ ἐστὶ δίκη θείων βασιλήων·
ἄλλον κ’ ἐχθαίρῃσι βροτῶν, ἄλλον κε φιλοίη.

Scholia PQ ad. Hom. Od. 4.691

“this is the way of kings, to hate one person but love another. Etc. This line is presented gnomically about kings, because they hate some people but love another. This is not strictly applicable to Odysseus. Therefore line must be taken for use in this particular situation.”

ἥτ’ ἐστὶ δίκη] ὥσπερ τρόπος ἐστὶ τῶν βασιλέων τὸ ἄλλον μὲν μισεῖν, ἄλλον δὲ φιλεῖν. Καὶ ἄλλως. γνωμικὸς ὁ στίχος περὶ τῶν βασιλέων λεγόμενος, ὅτι τοὺς μὲν μισοῦσι, τοὺς δὲ φιλοῦσιν· ὅπερ οὐ προσῆν ᾿Οδυσσεῖ. καὶ αὐτὸν οὖν κατ’ ἰδίαν προενεκτέον τὸν στίχον. P.Q.

Image result for medieval manuscript evil king
Royal_ms_20_a_ii_f005r_detail from British Library