(Δαμοκλῆς; Damoklês). Courtier and sycophant of the tyrant Dionysius  I (according to Timaeus FGrH 566 F 32 of Dionysius II). The anecdote of the ‘sword of Damocles’ became famous through Cicero (Tusc. 5,61f.): as D. considered the powerful and rich tyrant to be the happiest person in the world, the latter had a sumptuous meal prepared for him but above his head had a sword suspended on a horse hair in order to demonstrate to him the true ‘happiness’ of a tyrant.
Cite this pageMeister, Klaus (Berlin), “Damocles”, in: Brill’s New Pauly, Antiquity volumes edited by: Hubert Cancik and , Helmuth Schneider, English Edition by: Christine F. Salazar, Classical Tradition volumes edited by: Manfred Landfester, English Edition by: Francis G. Gentry. Consulted online on 06 March 2021 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/1574-9347_bnp_e310480>
First published online: 2006
First print edition: 9789004122598, 20110510
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