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"Eros tyrannidos" : a study of the representations in Greek lyric poetry of the powerful emotional response that tyranny provoked in its audience at the time of tyranny's earliest appearance in the ancient world

McGill University
Publication Date
  • Greek Poetry -- History And Criticism.
  • Despotism In Literature.
  • Dictators In Literature.
  • Literature


Since its earliest appearance, the word $ tau upsilon rho alpha nu nu acute iota varsigma$ referred to absolute rule obtained in defiance of any constitution that existed previously. In early Greek lyric poetry, tyranny is represented as a divine blessing, but one that meets with opposition against the tyrant and puzzlement at the behaviour of the gods. In Archilochus and elsewhere tyrannical ambition is termed eros. The common property that makes both tyranny and beauty objects of eros is luminosity: As the 'radiance' $ rm( lambda alpha mu pi rho acute o tau eta varsigma)$ of beauty is to the lover, so the 'splendour' $ rm( lambda alpha mu pi rho acute o tau eta varsigma)$ of tyranny is to the tyrannical "lover". The major symbol of tyrannical luminosity is gold. Conspicuous use of wealth and women contributed to the visibility of tyrannical splendour.

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