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Ancient Tyranny

Edited by Sian Lewis

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Tyrants and tyranny are more than the antithesis of democracy and the mark of political failure: they are a dynamic response to social and political pressures.

This book examines the autocratic rulers and dynasties of classical Greece and Rome and the changing concepts of tyranny in political thought and culture. It brings together historians, political theorists and philosophers, all offering new perspectives on the autocratic governments of the ancient world.

The volume is divided into four parts. Part I looks at the ways in which the term 'tyranny' was used and understood, and the kinds of individual who were called tyrants. Part II focuses on the genesis of tyranny and the social and political circumstances in which tyrants arose. The chapters in Part III examine the presentation of tyrants by themselves and in literature and history. Part IV discusses the achievements of episodic tyranny within the non-autocratic regimes of Sparta and Rome and of autocratic regimes in Persia and the western Mediterranean world.

Written by a wide range of leading experts in their field, Ancient Tyranny offers a new and comparative study of tyranny within Greek, Roman and Persian society.


1. Introduction, Sian Lewis
Part I The Making of Tyranny
2. Tyranny and Kingship in Archaic Rome, Fay Glinister
3. Ducetius and Fifth-Century Sicilian Tyranny, Trinity Jackman
4. Adfectatio regni in the Roman Republic, Christopher Smith
5. Money and the Great Man: military power, aristocratic connections and mercenary service in the fourth century BC, Matthew Trundle
6. From Agathocles to Hieron II: the birth and development of basileia in Hellenistic Sicily, Efrem Zambon
Part II Tyranny and Politics
7. Tyrants and the Polis: urban development in the western Mediterranean, Kathryn Lomas
8. Synchronicity: the local and the panhellenic within Sicilian tyranny, Sarah Harrell
9. Alexander of Pherae: a model tyrant?, Slawomir Sprawski
Part III The Ideology of Tyranny
10. Pindar and Kingship Theory, Simon Hornblower
11. The Comic Pericles, James McGlew
12. Tyrannical Oligarchs at Athens, Lynette Mitchell
13. Plutarque et les tyrans siciliens, Claude Mossé
14. Caesar tyrannos: Cicero's Platonic reckoning with the Roman dictator, Ingo Gildenhard
Part IV The Limits of Tyranny
15. The Violence of the Thirty Tyrants, Andrew Wolpert
16. The Limits of Autocracy in the Fourth-Century BC Persian Empire, Stephen Ruzicka
17. Sulla the Weak Tyrant, Alexander Thein

About the Author

Sian Lewis is Lecturer in Ancient History, School of Classics at the University of St Andrews. Her most recent book, The Athenian Woman, was published by Routledge in 2002 and shortlisted for the Runciman Prize.