How Tyrants Arise – a fascinating, in-depth explanation by Plato. Plato was a Greek philosopher who lived in the city-state of Athens. In 380 BC, Plato wrote The Republic, where he described in Books 8 and 9:

“States are as the men are; they grow out of human characters.” “Like State, like man.”

The Republic is written as a collection of conversations of Plato‘s teacher Socrates. It gives insights into human behavior which is amazingly similar to today. Plato described government going through FIVE STAGES:

“The constitutions of States are five.”


“We count as one Royal and Aristocratical…” followed by “Timocratical, Oligarchical, Democratical, Tyrannical.”

Plato‘s FIRST stage was called ‘Royal’ or “Aristocracy…whom we rightly call just and good.”

This is government by hard-working, virtuous LOVERS OF ‘TRUTH’ and ‘WISDOM’.

These responsible individuals know how to run farms and businesses, and they know how to run city government.

“A ruler considers…always what is for the interest of his subject…and that alone he considers in everything which he says and does.”

The SECOND stage Plato called “Timocracy,”

This was a government run by LOVERS OF ‘HONOR’ and ‘FAME’.

Plato wrote:

“Now what man answers to this form of government… He is a…lover of honor; claiming to be a ruler… Busy-bodies are honored and applauded…”

These may include a popular actor from the Greek theater, or a famous Greek Olympic athlete, or a courageous military hero, or just a political busy-body craving attention.

Their desire for honor and fame leaves them susceptible to being swayed by flattery or ridicule.

They enter politics with the best of intentions, but having no experience running anything, they yield to ‘AVARICE’ or covetousness and begin to vote themselves favors out of the city treasury.

Plato added:

“Such an one will despise riches only when he is young; but as he gets older he will be more and more attracted to them, because he has a piece of the avaricious nature in him, and is not single-minded towards virtue… Not originally of a bad nature, but having kept bad company, is at last brought…to… contentiousness and passion, and becomes arrogant and ambitious…”

“Is not the passionate element wholly set on ruling…and getting fame? True. Suppose we call it the contentious or ambitious…”

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