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First DemocracyThe Challenge of an Ancient Idea$
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Paul Woodruff

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195304541

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195304541.001.0001

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Freedom from Tyranny

Freedom from Tyranny

(And from Being a Tyrant)

(p.61) Chapter Three Freedom from Tyranny
First Democracy

Paul Woodruff

Oxford University Press

A tyrant is a monarch who rules in a dictatorship, who feels he or she is above the law but fears his or her own people. To democratic poets of Athens such as Plato, tyranny is a mental illness that governs the leader with fear. Most scathing is how democratic government can become the tyranny of the holi poli or of the majority. The essence of freedom in democratic Athens was the right of any citizen to speak in the Assembly (parrhesia), but the Assembly offered no protection for people who spoke of unfavored doctrines. Freedom from tyranny makes a powerful state, because it is liberty from certain fear. This chapter explores aspects of the tyrant—the development and rise, symptoms, effects, and a debate on the pros and cons.

Keywords:   tyrant, above the law, mental illness, fear, holi poli, parrhesia, Hipparchus, freedom, democracy

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