The story of the sword of Damocles, told by the Roman orator Cicero, points out that perils and responsibilities often accompany royalty. It also symbolizes the uncertainty of human greatness and life in general. When we say "hanging by a thread" we mean being in imminent danger, a danger that may be described as damoclean.
   Damocles was a courtier of Dionysius the Elder (430-367), who in the fifth century was the ruler—or tyrant—of the Sicilian city-state Syracuse. Dionysius distrusted him because he knew Damocles was a sycophant. The king grew tired of hearing Damocles extolling the tyrant's wealth, power, virtue, and felicity. Deciding to teach the sycophant the real perils of power, King Dionysius suggested that Damocles try the delights of absolute power for himself, an offer Damocles eagerly accepted. Dionysius ordered that a huge banquet be prepared, that Damocles be laid on a bed of solid gold, that he be perfumed and massaged, and that his every whim be met by a bevy of the tyrant's servants. Damocles was having a wonderful time, enjoying the feast and all the attention he was getting, until he happened to look up and see that above him was a sharp sword suspended by a single hair. The courtier was so distraught that he immediately lost his appetite and abandoned the feast. The sumptuous repast set before him no longer had appeal.

Dictionary of eponyms. . 2013.

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  • Damocles — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Damocles es un personaje que aparece en una sola anécdota moral que fue una adición tardía a la cultura griega clásica. En La espada de Damocles, 1812 de Richard Westall, los jóvenes muchachos de la anécdota de… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Damocles — V. «espada de Damocles». * * * Damocles. □ V. espada de Damocles. * * * Damocles es un personaje que aparece en una sola anécdota moral que fue una adición tardía a la cultura griega clásica. Su historia parece más propia de la leyenda que de la… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Damoclès — (IVe s. av. J. C.), courtisan de Denys l Ancien. Pour lui montrer la précarité du bonheur, son maître l invita à un festin et Damoclès aperçut au dessus de sa tête une épée suspendue au plafond par un crin de cheval. L expression épée de Damoclès …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • DAMOCLES — unus ex assentatoribus Dionysri Siciliae tyranni, De quo historiam sequentem narrat Cic. Tuscul. 5. Cum quidam ex Dionysii assentatoribus Damocles commemoraret in sermone copias eius, opes, maiestatem dominatus, rerum abundantiam, magnificentiam… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • Damocles — courtier of Dionysius I, tyrant of Syracuse; his name in Greek means lit. fame of the people, from demos, damos people (see DEMOTIC (Cf. demotic)) + kles fame, a common ending in Gk. proper names (e.g. SOPHOCLES (Cf. Sophocles), PERICLES (Cf.… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Damocles — ☛ V. espada de Damocles …   Diccionario de la lengua española

  • Damocles — [dam′ə klēz΄] n. [L < Gr Damoklēs] Class. Legend a courtier of ancient Syracuse who was given a lesson in the perils to a ruler s life when the king seated him at a feast under a sword hanging by a single hair a courtier of ancient Syracuse… …   English World dictionary

  • Damocles — Damocles, Name eines Schmeichlers des Tyrannen Dyonis von Syrakus, von welchem Cicero erzählt, Dyonis habe ihn eines Tages in die Genüsse seiner Stellung eingesetzt, dem sorglos Schwelgenden aber auch die Gefahren derselben veranschaulicht, indem …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • Damocles — var en græker der havde et sværd hængende over hovedet …   Danske encyklopædi

  • Damocles — For other uses, see Damocles (disambiguation). In Richard Westall s Sword of Damocles, 1812, the boys of Cicero s anecdote have been changed to maidens for a neoclassical patron, Thomas Hope. Damocles ( …   Wikipedia

  • Damocles — Épée de Damoclès Pour les articles homonymes, voir Damoclès (homonymie). Tableau d inspiration néoclassique de Richard Westall, 1812 …   Wikipédia en Français

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