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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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(p.1) Chapter 1 Introduction
Ancient Tyranny

Sian Lewis

Edinburgh University Press

Euphron, who held a short-lived tyranny at Sicyon in the 360s BC, illustrates some of the complexities of our understanding of ancient tyranny. Xenophon depicts Euphron as a tyrant of a very recognisable kind: he plotted with outside powers to obtain sole rule at a time of political upheaval, and sought to maintain his power through oppressive and illegal means. Euphron's story illustrates several of the key themes addressed in this book: the concern for self-definition and struggle to control the vocabulary of sole rulership; the potential benefits to a polis of the concentration of power in individual hands; modern historians' tendency to embrace simplifying models of ancient political life. This book considers how autocracy functioned across a range of societies, focusing on the period from 500 (the Deinomenids) to 40 BC (Caesar), and a geographical range from Rome and Greece to Sicily and Persia. It looks at individual rulers and dynasties, the methods by which tyrants adapted themselves to political circumstances, and the ideology of tyranny.

Keywords:   Euphron, tyranny, Sicyon, tyrants, autocracy, Rome, Greece, polis, Sicily, Persia

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