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Ancient Tyranny$
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Sian Lewis

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780748621255

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748621255.001.0001

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Alexander of Pherae: infelix tyrant

Alexander of Pherae: infelix tyrant

Chapter:
(p.135) Chapter 9 Alexander of Pherae: infelix tyrant
Source:
Ancient Tyranny
Author(s):

Sławomir Sprawski

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748621255.003.0036

A book on Greek tyranny should not lack a chapter on Alexander of Pherae, a man who was remembered throughout antiquity as one of the most ferocious and wicked tyrants. The longest description of Alexander can be found in Plutarch's Life of Pelopidas, in which he was depicted as an incurably brutish man, full of savagery, strong sexual desire, and cruelty. Plutarch reports that the death Alexander suffered at the hands of his wife was the only or the first such case among the tyrants. This chapter re-examines the reputation of Alexander of Pherae among Greek authors as an archetypally wicked tyrant, showing that his military successes and the good opinion of Isocrates indicate that his support must have been wider than the histories suggest. Although opposition from within and outside Thessaly reduced his chances of building a popular tageia of the kind that Jason had, Alexander should still be credited with political vision and aims beyond personal power.

Keywords:   Alexander of Pherae, tyranny, tyrants, Plutarch, Pelopidas, Isocrates, Thessaly, Jason

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