By Sian Lewis

Tyrants are greater than simply the antithesis of democracy or the mark of political failure: they come up in keeping with social and political pressures. accumulating jointly writings by means of major historians, political theorists, and philosophers, this ebook is a comparative learn of the autocratic rulers and dynasties of classical Greece and Rome and the altering ideas of tyranny of their political inspiration and culture.

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In Italy at the turn of the sixth/fifth century bc we see a number of rulers who can plausibly be interpreted as tyrants. 39 This is one of the earliest occurrences of the title zilath, which normally signifies a magistrate, and while melek can refer to a magistrate, it generally means ‘king’. If Velianas was a magistrate, he was not annually elected (the the text informs us that he has already been in power for three years), and he seems to lack colleagues. 40 Leaving aside this important independent evidence, the ancient literary sources provide further evidence of a phase of tyranny in archaic Central Italy.

Or was it merely a formality whereby the interest groups of the Roman state formally acknowledged the power of a new ruler? The literary sources portray the interregnum as the means by which the patres installed the man of their choice as the new king. Several factors, however, suggest that ancient writers fundamentally misunderstood the archaic reality. 21 All this probably indicates that kings often imposed themselves on Rome rather than being elected voluntarily by the Romans. Typically the kings of Rome are outsiders (perhaps conquerors) and never patricians.

G. Botsford 1909: 183. This has given rise to the idea that the king was a magistrate, but this need not be the case even if the kings were routinely elected. In early medieval Europe, for example, election and inheritance often went hand in hand. In any case, the ‘election’ of Rome’s kings may have represented the confirmation of a fait accompli rather than the outright creation of a new king. 23. This is related to ideas in many cultures concerning kingship, power, female divinity and cult practice, and should not be lightly dismissed as a late myth manufactured on the basis of Greek models.

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