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Damocles sat on Dionysus' throne at the banquet with the sword hanging above him

In Greek mythology, Damocles (da-mo-KLEES) was a friend of Dionysus (die-oh-NIS-ee-us), the king of Syracuse from 405 to 367 BC.

According to legend, when he spoke of the good life of King Dionysus, the king invited him to a banquet (large public meal). A sword was placed above Damocles, held up by a single thread. Damocles was scared of the sword, and felt that he could not enjoy his meal with it hanging above him. Dionysus said that this sword was a metaphor for the pressures put on those in public life, and that they must conduct themselves accordingly.[1]

The legend was told by Cicero in his Tusculanae disputationes ("Conversations at Tusculum"), Book V.[1]

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