THE BLOODY RIVALRY THAT LED TO THE FALL OF DEMOCRACY IN ATHENS: The clash of two Athenian leaders with ties to Socrates (MATT GATTON, 2/07/24, CrimeReads)

There is no word on Socrates’s feelings about the chatter of Alcibiades being named tyrant, but Socrates’s perspective on tyrants in general is well recorded by Plato. To Socrates, the flaw of democracy is its vulnerability to tyrants. The populace—the mob, as he calls them—are gullible and can easily fall under the spell of a charismatic leader. Alcibiades certainly fits the bill. In Socrates’s estimation, the tyrant first appears as a protector. The people have something they fear, either inside or outside of the state, either real or imagined, from which the tyrant claims he can guard them. He will make them the “victors.” The people flock to him of their own accord, for he pays them in lies, lies they want to hear, lies they want to believe. They are “superior”; they are “true patriots.” His favorite tools are false accusations and unleashing his mob against the “threat.” In time, the tyrant erases any and all opposition, “with unholy tongue and lips tasting the blood of his fellow citizens.” He and his supporters are empowered by the purge, “and the more detestable his actions . . . the greater devotion he requires from his followers.” These words are as true in the modern world as they were in ancient Athens.