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Headword: *tu/rannos
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:
*tu/rannos: oi( pro\ tw=n *trwi+kw=n poihtai\ tou\s basilei=s tura/nnous proshgo/reuon, o)ye/ pote tou=de tou= o)no/matos ei)s tou\s *(/ellhnas diadoqe/ntos kata\ tou\s *)arxilo/xou xro/nous, kaqa/per *(ippi/as o( sofisth/s fhsin. *(/omhros gou=n to\n pa/ntwn paranomw/taton *)/exeton basile/a fhsi/, kai\ ou) tu/rannon. proshgoreu/qh de\ tu/rannos a)po\ *turrhnw=n: xalepou\s ga\r peri\ lh|stei/as tou/tous gene/sqai. ou)dei\s de\ ou)de\ a)/llos tw=n poihtw=n e)n toi=s poih/masin au)tou= me/mnhtai to\ tou= tura/nnou o)/noma. o( de\ *)aristote/lhs e)n *kumai/wn politei/a| tou\s tura/nnous fhsi\ to\ pro/teron ai)sumnh/tas kalei=sqai. eu)fhmo/teron ga\r e)kei=no to\ o)/noma. o(/ti kai\ e(/teroi e)tura/nnhsan, a)ll' h( teleutai/a kai\ megi/sth ka/kwsis pa/sais tai=s po/lesin h( *dionusi/ou turanni\s e)ge/neto.
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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