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Definition of DAMOCLES
: a courtier of ancient Syracuse held to have been seated at a banquet beneath a sword hung by a single hair
Origin of DAMOCLES
Latin, from Greek Damoklēs
First Known Use: 1578
(flourished 4th century BC) Member of the court of Dionysius I at Syracuse in Sicily. Legend holds that when Damocles spoke in extravagant terms of Dionysius's happiness, the sovereign responded by inviting Damocles to a banquet and seating him beneath a sword suspended by a thread, thereby demonstrating the precarious fortunes of people who hold power.