10 Characteristics of Tyranny

Top 10 Characteristics, Meaning And Features Of Tyranny

We explain what tyranny is, what are the main characteristics of this type of government, and some examples of famous tyrants.

What is Tyranny?

Tyranny is a despotic form of government, exercised by a single person (then called a tyrant or caudillo ) through force and violence, instead of respect for the laws.

The word tyranny comes from ancient Greece ( tyrannos ), where it was used to designate a king who governs through violence and who accesses the throne without having real rights to do so, thus exercising illegitimate authority. Hence, the term was linked to that of the usurper, since the tyrant wielded a power that was not his but had appropriated it by force.

Currently, the term tyrant is more or less synonymous with the despot, satrap, and dictator, associated with injustice, rapacity, cruelty, arbitrariness, and illegitimacy, so it is pejorative use.

Characteristics of tyranny :


The word tyranny was used for the first time in ancient Greece, to catalog the regime of Gyges de Lydia, who had ascended to the throne through mechanisms of force ( de facto ) and not of law ( de jure ).

From then on the term tyrant was used for different and fierce rulers, such as Orthagoras of Sición, Fidón de Argos, and Clípselo de Corinth, considered than the first official “tyrants” in history, although many others would have existed before the invention. of the word.


A tyrant can rise to power with the intervention of foreign forces.

In principle, as has been said, every tyrant rises to de facto power, that is, through force and violence: through a coup, intervention by foreign forces, or even through a popular insurrection. This can mean, nowadays, numerous political tricks or deceptions, but in any case, they coincide with the illicit origin and are outside the law of the tyrant’s government.


Whatever the origin of it, the power that the tyrant wields is always based on force and violent oppression, and not on compliance with the laws. A tyrant rules in a despotic, capricious way, imposing his own will as law on others, by threatening to exercise (military) force.

On the other hand, tyrants once installed in power refuse to return it to the people they govern to be relieved of the throne through institutional, peaceful, and consensual channels. Rather, they do everything to stay in charge: they violate the laws, eliminate or prohibit all forms of opposition, resort to deception or coercion, etc.


The common good is usually subjugated to the will of the tyrant.

Given that the tyrant controls a society ignoring the laws that, precisely, would forbid him to seize power by force and handle it as he pleases, it is an illegitimate and illegal form of government, in which the good The common man is usually subjugated to the will of the tyrant. Thus, injustice, arbitrariness, and cruelty accompany the tyrant and his henchmen, who exercise fear and pain as mechanisms of political and social control.


The repression of any form of political opposition or of any attempt to protest or claim is typical of tyrannies . In modern dictatorships , for example, political persecution, forced disappearance, the prohibition of fundamental freedoms such as expression, free association and protest are common and constant elements.


In a tyranny, the ruler has impunity for the crimes committed.

Since the tyrant and his allies hold absolute power, without tolerating questions from other people, institutions, or communities, the abuse of power is a common reality of tyrannies. This translates into impunity for crimes committed by rulers, illegal appropriations of material goods, illicit enrichment, and other forms of corruption.


The murder of a tyrant is known as tyrannicide.

The fall of tyrannies is usually as violent as their appearance, that is, through massive insurrections, military rebellions, general strikes, or similar forms of pressure that impede the functioning of society until freedom is recovered.

This usually leads or is triggered by the death of the caudillo, in whose absence the structures supported by his figure and authority begin to collapse. In exceptional cases, only tyrannies have found their end through democratic exercises or elections, since tyrants often manipulate the system in their favor.

Tyranny of the majority

This specific term is called the possibility that democratic governments entail, in which the majority legally direct the destiny of the country, of oppressing a minority that, precisely because it is so, is unable to express its voice or assert its points of view.

Scholars of the subject

Scholars of the subject
Aristoteles was one of the philosophers who reflected on tyranny.

There have been numerous philosophers, artists, and political thinkers in history whose reflections today allow us to define and understand tyranny. Among them are: Herodotus, Aristotle , Plutarch, William Shakespeare , Nicolás Machiavelli, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and John Locke.

Best known tyrants

Best known tyrants
Genghis Khan was a Mongol warrior who founded the First Mongol Empire.

The list of tyrants that human history has seen is probably too long to even try to reproduce it, but among them, there are some more remembered than others, such as:

  • Phalaris. Ruled Agrigento, Sicily, around 570 BC
  • Caligula. Also known as Gaius Caesar, he ruled the Roman Empire between AD 37 and 41
  • Nero. Emperor of the Roman Empire between AD 54 and 68
  • Genghis Khan. Mongol warrior who unified the Asian tribes and founded the First Mongol Empire from 1206 to 1227 AD
  • Adolf Hitler. He created the Third German Reich and ruled Germany beforehand during world War with his party.

Check Out Our Guides To Other Popular Topics

  • The metaphor is a literary figure that exposes a relationship of similarity between two terms so that their concepts can be interchanged. Know the basic examples of metaphor.
  • Did you know that you can use Google Authenticator on your Windows PC through other means? Let’s explore the ways you can use Google Authenticator on PC.
  • Be Familiar with top 10 characteristics of digital media and journalism, its history and its impact on society. Also learn about its history, features and examples.
  • The formal and factual sciences analyze real objects in ideal environments, and ideal objects in formal settings (such as emotions in the human mind). Learn about its definition, features and characteristics with examples.
  • Philosophy is a very old discipline, from which almost all knowledge comes directly or indirectly, from the humanistic to the most objective, from mathematics to literary criticism. Learn about Top 10 Characteristics of a Philosophy, History, Definition, Features and Examples.
  • The letters can be formal or informal according to their function and the relationship that exists between the sender and the receiver. Know about the top 10 characteristics of formal and informal letter, its differences, elements, and features.
  • There are different types of journalistic texts, among which notes, interviews, opinion columns, chronicles , reviews and reports stand out , and deal with various topics in areas such as politics, economy, society, culture, tourism, among others. Learn more about them.
  • Jesus (also known as Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus Christ) is one of the most influential figures in Western culture and a central axis of Christianity. Learn about Top 10 Characteristics of Jesus, his miracles, preaching, love and more.
  • Computer viruses are programs or software intended to execute actions on our computers without our authorization. Know about Top 10 Characteristics of Computer Virus, types, elements, and features.
  • We explain and summarize the history of television and how it evolved. Also, what are its characteristics and its golden age.
  • Be aware of what basic needs are and how they are classified. Also, what are its characteristics and Maslow’s Pyramid.
  • Know in detail what Buddhism is and how this religion originated. Also, what are its characteristics, philosophical principles and symbols.
  • Know everything about England, how is its climate and the flora and fauna of this country.
  • Know in detail what is Google Docs and what this service is for. Also, how to create a document in Google Docs and differences with Google Drive.
  • A detailed overview on the federal government, its advantages and disadvantages. Also, its general characteristics and features.
  • See in detail What is Hurricane Patricia, how long it lasted and the areas affected. Its general characteristics and types.
  • Be familiar with Jewish culture, know how it was originated and what its characteristics are. Also, their customs, prohibitions and more.

The above content published at Collaborative Research Group is for informational and educational purposes only and has been developed by referring to reliable sources and recommendations from technology experts. We do not have any contact with official entities nor do we intend to replace the information that they emit.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.