A tyrant (Greek τύραννος, tyrannos) was originally one who used the power of the populace in an unconventional way to seize and control governmental power in a polis. Tyrants were a group of individuals who took over many Greek poleis during the uprising of the middle classes in the sixth and seventh centuries BC, ousting the aristocratic governments. Plato and Aristotle define a tyrant as, "one who rules without law, looks to his own advantage rather than that of his subjects, and uses extreme and cruel tactics—against his own people as well as others".

In common usage, the word "tyrant" carries connotations of a harsh and cruel ruler who places his or her own interests or the interests of an oligarchy over the best interests of the general population, which the tyrant governs or controls. The Greek term carried no pejorative connotation during the Archaic and early Classical periods but was clearly a bad word to Plato, and on account of the decisive influence of political philosophy its negative connotations only increased down into the Hellenistic period, becoming synonymous with "Authenteo" - another term which carried authoritarian connotations around the turn of the first century A.D. During the seventh and sixth centuries BC, tyranny was often looked upon as an intermediate stage between narrow oligarchy and more democratic forms of polity. However, in the late fifth and fourth centuries, a new kind of tyrant, the military dictator, arose, specifically in Sicily.

Read more about Tyranny:  Etymology, Historical Forms, In The Arts, Enlightenment

Other articles related to "tyranny":

Tyranny - Enlightenment
... In the Enlightenment, thinkers applied the word tyranny to the system of governance that had developed around aristocracy and monarchy ... the "Divine Right of Kings" in his book Two Treatises of Government defines it this way “Tyranny is the exercise of power beyond right, which nobody can have a right ... Thomas Jefferson referred to the tyranny of King George III of Great Britain in the Declaration of Independence, and the concept was refined in turn to refer to the Kings of France, the tyrants ...
Prime Cuts (Shadow Gallery Album) - Track Listing
... "Mystery" Tyranny 542 2 ... "Ghost of a Chance" Tyranny 519 3 ... "Hope for Us?" Tyranny 600 5 ...
The Tyranny Of Structurelessness
... The Tyranny of Structurelessness" is an influential essay by American feminist Jo Freeman inspired by her experiences in a 1960s women's liberation group that concerns power relations within radical feminist ... Cathy Levine wrote a 1979 rejoinder "The Tyranny of Tyranny." In a review of the essay for Anarchy A Journal of Desire Armed, Jason McQuinn noted its popularity among leftist and platformist anarchists ...
Soft Tyranny - Inciting Rebellions
... Soft tyranny is often cited by historians as being the driving force behind many insurrections ... The most obvious area in which soft tyranny affects people occurs with their fiscal situations ... it relates directly to not only rebellion, but also soft tyranny ...
John Beck Hofmann - Current Work
... work can be seen in the international conspiracy thriller Tyranny, which plays on Koldcast, and Tyranny.tv ... Tyranny was accepted as part of the official selection of the Geneva International Film Festival, November 2010 ... Tyranny also received four nominations for sound design, soundtrack, best looking show and best thriller ...

Famous quotes containing the word tyranny:

    In Russia, whatever be the appearance of things, violence and arbitrary rule is at the bottom of them all. Tyranny rendered calm by the influence of terror is the only kind of happiness which this government is able to afford its people.
    Marquis De Custine (1790–1857)

    Myths and legends die hard in America. We love them for the extra dimension they provide, the illusion of near-infinite possibility to erase the narrow confines of most men’s reality. Weird heroes and mould-breaking champions exist as living proof to those who need it that the tyranny of “the rat race” is not yet final.
    Hunter S. Thompson (b. 1939)

    Impenetrable in their dissimulation, cruel in their vengeance, tenacious in their purposes, unscrupulous as to their methods, animated by profound and hidden hatred for the tyranny of man—it is as though there exists among them an ever-present conspiracy toward domination, a sort of alliance like that subsisting among the priests of every country.
    Denis Diderot (1713–1784)