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Title: Ancient Greek tyranny : a new phenomenon or a new name for an old phenomenon?
Author: Taylor, James Robert Francis
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2017
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The standard view of Greek tyranny is that it was a unique phenomenon in the ancient Greek world, representing neither continuity nor a long-lived institution. The turannoi are generally described as illegitimate leaders who seized power with the support of the lower classes, usurping the rule of the aristocrats. This school of thought locates the origins of Greek tyranny in the supposed changes in the economic and social climate around the seventh and sixth centuries B.C. Although the image of the tyrant as a populist leader has come under attack in recent years, there has been no attempt to challenge the theory that tyranny was a new phenomenon in the seventh and sixth centuries. This thesis contends that the turannoi were not a new form of ruler born from the supposed turmoil of this period. In reality, the word turannos came to represent a new way of thinking about an old style of leadership. This thesis shows that the Greek tyrants represented a continuation of the form of leadership practised by the Homeric basileis. As new ideas about law and order were formed in the seventh century, such as limited terms of office and magistrates with divided powers, these basileis began to be seen as a negative force by those engaging with the new political concepts and institutions. This change in attitude caused the traditional basileis to become the polar opposite of what was thought to be good for the polis, and not at all compatible with eunomia. Their apparent irreverence towards dikaiosune was at odds with the political atmosphere of the Archaic and Classical Greek polis. These rulers were not seen as representing continuity or a traditional form of rule, but became abhorrent to those practising the new ways of law and politics, attracting the label turannos.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available