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.
The legend was told by Cicero in his Tusculanae disputationes ("Conversations at Tusculum"), Book V.
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- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Damocles, Britannica.com.