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In ancient Greece, a cruel and oppressive absolute ruler. The Greek tyrannos was a ruler who seized power unconstitutionally or inherited such power. Though tyrants often replaced aristocratic regimes that were themselves unpopular, the Greeks resented their illegal autocracy, and those who killed tyrants received high honours. Cypselus and Periander of Corinth and Dionysius I of Syracuse were among the most famous tyrants.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on tyrant, visit Britannica.com.