The sycophant of Dionysius the Elder, the tyrant of Syracuse. When he expressed his envy of his master's felicity, Dionysius invited him to try it for himself. He was set down at a sumptuous banquet, but overhead was a sword suspended by a single horse-hair. Damocles was afraid to stir and the envied banquet proved to be tantalizing torment to him. Dionysius explained to him that the felicity of a ruler is always surrounded by dangers.



  • Cicero. Tusculan Disputations v, 21. The same story is also alluded to by Horace (Carmina iii, 1.17).
  • Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.