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Headword: Turannos
Adler number: tau,1187
Translated headword: tyrant
Vetting Status: high
The poets before the Trojan war used to call the kings 'tyrants'. Somewhat later, in the days of Archilochus, as Hippias the sophist relates, the word was passed down to the Greeks.[1] Homer at any rate refers to Echetus, the most lawless of all men, as 'king' and not 'tyrant'.[2] 'Tyrant' is an appellation [deriving] from Tyrrhenians, because these people were very cruel in their practice of piracy.[3] Not even one of the other poets mentions the word 'tyrant' in his poetry. Aristotle in Constitution of the Cumaeans says that tyrants were formerly called aisymnetai. For that word [was] milder in tone.[4]
"Others, too, became despots, but the tyranny of Dionysius was responsible for the greatest and most extreme suffering inflicted on any state."[5]
Greek Original:
Turannos: hoi pro tôn Trôïkôn poiêtai tous basileis turannous prosêgoreuon, opse pote toude tou onomatos eis tous Hellênas diadothentos kata tous Archilochou chronous, kathaper Hippias ho sophistês phêsin. Homêros goun ton pantôn paranomôtaton Echeton basilea phêsi, kai ou turannon. prosêgoreuthê de turannos apo Turrênôn: chalepous gar peri lêisteias toutous genesthai. oudeis de oude allos tôn poiêtôn en tois poiêmasin autou memnêtai to tou turannou onoma. ho de Aristotelês en Kumaiôn politeiai tous turannous phêsi to proteron aisumnêtas kaleisthai. euphêmoteron gar ekeino to onoma. hoti kai heteroi eturannêsan, all' hê teleutaia kai megistê kakôsis pasais tais polesin hê Dionusiou turannis egeneto.
The first and principal part of this entry, as Adler notes, derives from one of the ancient hypotheseis (introductions/prefaces, cf. upsilon 497) to Sophocles' celebrated tragedy Oedipus Tyrannos.
[1] For Archilochus of Paros (C7 BCE.) see alpha 4112. For Hippias of Elis (C/4 BCE) see iota 543.
[2] Homer, Odyssey 18.85 & 116, 21.308.
[3] The Tyrrhenians, or Etruscans, possessed a reputation for piracy. For the purported etymological link -- or confusion -- between 'tyrant' and 'Tyrrhenian' cf. tau 348, phi 184.
[4] Aristotle fr. 524 Rose (without the gloss given here). In Politics 1285a31 Aristotle describes the aisymnetes as an elected tyrant and gives Pittacus of Mitylene as an example. See Andrewes [below] 96-97.
[5] This quotation has already appeared at delta 1178.
A. Andrewes, The Greek Tyrants, London: Hutchinson, 1956
V. Parker, 'Tyrannis. The semantics of a political concept from Archilochus to Aristotle', Hermes 126 (1998), 145-172
Keywords: biography; chronology; constitution; definition; dialects, grammar, and etymology; epic; ethics; history; philosophy; poetry; politics; tragedy
Translated by: Tony Natoli on 19 July 2000@05:53:10.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (augmented notes; cosmetics) on 21 May 2001@09:27:06.
David Whitehead (added x-refs; restorative and other cosmetics) on 20 December 2002@03:20:53.
David Whitehead (more keywords) on 20 November 2005@10:31:24.
David Whitehead (added primary note and another keyword; tweaking; raised status) on 16 January 2014@07:06:36.


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