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Greek Tyranny$
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Sian Lewis

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9781904675532

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781904675532.001.0001

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Tyrants and Kings

Tyrants and Kings

Chapter:
(p.102) Chapter 5 Tyrants and Kings
Source:
Greek Tyranny
Author(s):

Sian Lewis

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.5949/liverpool/9781904675532.003.0006

This chapter considers the question of whether monarchy was the logical evolution of tyranny. It argues that while Hellenistic monarchy was indeed a new phenomenon, it is not the case that all tyrants metamorphosed into kings once presented with the opportunity: in fact many were distinctly uneasy about adopting royal titles or symbols. Tyrants were a creation of the polis and ruled in concert with the polis; they often reshaped a city according to their own will, but even when ruling a wider area, retained their connection with their home city. They needed to be attentive to the people in a way that the Hellenistic kings did not, facing an ever-present possibility of overthrow from within. The chapter looks at three examples to illustrate this relationship – Agathocles, who reveals the complexity of classical Greek ideas about kingship; the Sicyonian tyrants of the third century, where the pressure of political circumstances actually fostered tyranny; and finally Hieron, the ‘good king’ of Sicily – all of whom had to negotiate the distinction between tyranny and monarchy.

Keywords:   tyranny, Agathocles, polis, Hellenistic period, monarchy, political community, Sicyonian tyrants, Hieron

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