previous next
[1312b] [1] if some state with an opposite constitution is stronger (for the wish to destroy it will clearly be present in such a neighbor because of the opposition of principle, and all men do what they wish if they have the power)—and the constitutions opposed to tyranny are, on the one hand democracy, which is opposed to it as (in Hesiod's phrase1) ‘potter to potter,’ because the final form of democracy is tyranny, and on the other hand royalty and aristocracy are opposed to tyranny because of the opposite nature of their constitutional structure (owing to which the Spartans put down a very great many tyrannies, and so did the Syracusans at the period when they were governed well.) But one way is from within itself, when the partners in it fall into discord, as the tyranny of the family of Gelo2 was destroyed, and in modern times3 that of the family of Dionysius4—Gelo's, when Thrasybulus the brother of Hiero paid court to the son of Gelo and urged him into indulgences in order that he himself might rule, and the son's connections banded together a body of confederates in order that the tyranny might not be put down entirely but only Thrasybulus, but their confederates seizing the opportunity expelled them all; Dionysius was put down by Dion, his relative, who got the people on to his side and expelled him, but was afterwards killed. There are two causes that chiefly lead men to attack tyranny, hatred and contempt; the former, hatred, [20] attaches to tyrants always, but it is their being despised that causes their downfall in many cases. A proof of this is that most of those that have won tyrannies have also kept their offices to the end, but those that have inherited them almost all lose them at once; for they live a life of indulgence, and so become despicable and also give many opportunities to their attackers. And also anger must be counted as an element in the hatred felt for them, for in a way it occasions the same actions. And often it is even more active than hatred, since angry men attack more vigorously because passion does not employ calculation (and insolence most frequently causes men to be led by their angry tempers, which was the cause of the fall of the tyranny of the Pisistratidae and many others), but hatred calculates more; for anger brings with it an element of pain, making calculation difficult, but enmity is not accompanied by pain. And to speak summarily, all the things that we have mentioned as causing the down fall of unmixed and extreme oligarchy and of the last form of democracy must be counted as destructive of tyranny as well, since extreme oligarchy and democracy are in reality divided5 tyrannies. Royal government on the other hand is very seldom destroyed by external causes, so that it is long-lasting; but in most cases its destruction arises out of itself. And it is destroyed in two ways,

1 Hes. WD 25καὶ κεραμεὺς κεραμεῖ κοτέει καὶ τέκτονι τέκτων, ‘two of a trade never agree.’

2 Tyrant of Syracuse 485-478 B.C., succeeded by his brother Hiero who died 467. Gelo's son is unknown. Cf. 1315b 35 ff.

3 356 B.C., a good many years before this book was written.

4 See 1312a 4 n.

5 i.e. divided among several persons, ‘put into commission.’

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (1957)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Syracuse (Italy) (1)
Dion (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
356 BC (1)
hide References (4 total)
  • Cross-references to this page (3):
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (1):
    • Hesiod, Works and Days, 25
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: