Evil Lords: Theories and Representations of Tyranny from Antiquity to the Renaissance

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Nikos Panou, Hester Schadee
Oxford University Press, Jul 16, 2018 - History - 320 pages
Evil Lords uses the prism of bad rule or tyranny to enhance our understanding of political discourse from the ancient world to the Renaissance, elucidating premodern notions of sovereignty as well as the relation between ethics and politics, the individual and society, power, and propaganda. Eleven chapters present case studies exploring Hebrew, Graeco-Roman, Byzantine, early, high and late medieval, and Renaissance conceptions and representations of bad or tyrannical government. Since bad rule is always a perversion of the norm, its shifting conceptualizations shed light on historically specific assessments of what constitutes acceptable and legitimate political behavior. Meanwhile, political debate also reflects specific power structures, authorial intent, and audience expectations. Each of the essays, therefore, examines bad rule and its agents within the ideological frameworks and societal patterns of the respective periods, thereby painting a picture of historical and intellectual change. Despite these often profound variations, however, the volume also shows that it is meaningful to think of a Western tradition of tyranny in the premodern world that derived from shared roots in Classical and biblical thought and was further defined by ongoing cross-fertilization spanning two millennia. Thus, Evil Lords offers scholars and students of Western political theory, history, and literature a critical framework through which to revisit the longue durée of premodern political reflection.

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Tyranny and Bad Rule in the Premodern West
1 The Discourse of Tyranny and the Greek Roots of the Bad King
The Foreignness of Tyranny in the Hebrew Bible
3 Discourse of Kingship in Late Republican Invective
4 Imperial Madness in Ancient Rome
Barbarian and Roman Rulers and the Shaping of Merovingian Kingship
Imperial Legitimacy and Usurpation in Early Byzantium
Tyrants and Tyranny in Carolingian Texts
Tyrannical Characters and Evil Counselors in Medieval Political Thought
Vernacular Reflections on Wenceslas IV the Idle
Debating Evil Lords in Quattrocento Humanism
11 Machiavellis Prince and the Concept of Tyranny

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About the author (2018)

Nikos Panou is Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature and Peter V. Tsantes Endowed Professor in Hellenic Studies, SUNY Stony Brook. Hester Schadee is Lecturer in European History at the University of Exeter.

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