AristotleAristotle, (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher

Aristotle Quote

“A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god-fearing and pious.”

~ Aristotle

Politics, 343 B.C.

Ratings and Comments

David L. Rosenthal

He might be surpised to see his assertion so completely disproved during the last few centuries, when the worst tyrants, genocides, and slavemasters have assumed no such appearance.

Anonymous, Reston, VA US

King George is a perfect example! Counter examples in this case do nothing to disprove the validity of the statement.

Mike, Norwalk

Religion is an ideologue's set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the tenants of authority (perceived or in fact), morality, and/or power, held or practiced individually or in concert; an exponent's cause, rationale, or activity pursued with zeal, conscientious devotion, and/or reverence; all belief forms in a superior entity(s) and its/their ability to exercise power over human experience by volition, imposing rules of conduct; or, a personal or institutional system grounded in any set of beliefs. The collectivist's pursuit of atheism through socialist means, making the state greater than the individual, is a perfect example of uncommon devotion to religion.

Joe, Rochester, MI

The next line of the quote, "On the other hand, they do less easily move against him, believing that he has the gods on his side." Muslim extremists are the god-fearing and pious tyrants of Iran. Bush is a god-fearing tyrant and slave master, waging war on the Middle East. Take off your blinders...your self-righteousness is showing.

Mike, Norwalk

Thank you Joe. I couldn't agree more than with Joe and Anonymous (is that an oxymoron) and the list of individuals and groups that fall within a broad understanding of this quote would fill volumes.

Ken, Allyn, WA

Since it seems some here don't seem to know what tyranny means, I thought this might help: tyranny........ tyr·an·ny [tírr?nee] (plural tyr·an·nies) noun 1.cruel use of power: cruelty and injustice in the exercising of power or authority over others 2.POLITICS oppressive government: oppressive government by one or more people who exercise absolute power cruelly and unjustly 3.POLITICS state ruled by tyrant: a country or state under the power of an oppressive ruler 4.cruel act: an act of cruelty committed by somebody with great power [14th century. Via French, from, ultimately, Greek turannos, (see TYRANT).]

Ken, Allyn, WA

This one might help too...............hyperbole.............. hy·per·bo·le [hi p■rb?lee] noun. exaggeration: deliberate and obvious exaggeration used for effect, for example, 'I could eat a million of these' [15th century. Via Latin, from Greek huperbole, 'excess,' literally 'overthrow,' from ballein, 'to throw.']

E Archer, NYC

Tyrants must put on a good face -- even though the means they use to accomplish their goals are contrary to their supposed doctrine. In short, they are nothing but lying. deceiving, servants of evil.

Me Again
  • Reply
Me Again    11/20/06

Interesting quote but I think,as time goes by,there are less and less "subjects" as referred to in the quote."Real Eyes Realize Real Lies.The eyes of Truth cannot be fooled".(KS)

David L. Rosenthal

Stalin and Mao were the worst of the worst, destroying and enslaving nations, exiling entire peoples. When did they "put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion"?

Mike, Norwalk

They were commiting an uncommon devotion to religion when they werre destroying and enslaving nations, exiling entire peoples, murdering those who did not have their same faith, and more.

Jack, Green, OH

This shows it isn't only today that tyrants have used the mysticism of religion to suppress their subjects. Otherwise it takes brute force. Of course, some have employed both.

empyrius, Spokane

Indeed! The inimatable Aristotle 's brilliance shines through the millenia; and accurately forecasts events as transpiring in the 21st century. Time for freedom loving Americans to exercise our moral right to rid the world of the evil corpotocracy, the American government and their corporate sponsors, who seek to enslave the entire world unto their avaricious unholy will. Global 'free'-trade is simply a euphemism for a world of corporte slaves. Rise up people!

warren, olathe

Good quote in its day. Now it is just the opposite. Play like you have religion and its ok but if you really do, like GWB, then you are distrusted and hated just because you are religious. Nothing is as hated as an honest man. That is the quote that is most applicable to today’s politics.

warren, olathe

Right on Mr. Rosenthal. I can't think of one person in history that was a tyrant and also religious in the modern sense. In Aristotle's time the world was full of religions that involved very despicable acts as part of religious rituals. Many ancient religions were devoid of any concept of human rights. In the last 200 years I do not believe there was one tyrant that was not an atheist / communist / socialist / Darwinist / fascist.

warren, olathe

Liberalism / socialism is the only religion I know of that breeds tyrants.

timp, san jose

@ Warren, Olathe. Saying socialism is the only religion ( not a religion by the way ) that breeds tyrants is like saying chocolate is the only food that makes people get fat. Just dumb.

  • Reply
    Anonymous    5/17/09

    True. Plenty of historical examples. Read Frederick Douglass's narrative.

    Sundance, Portland

    The Bush administration proved this quote to be valid even today.

    jim k, Austin, Tx

    While you can hardly call him a tyrant, good old born again Jimmy Carter was our 2nd worse president since Obama knocked him out of 1st place. He has , however, since leaving that office, cozied up to every left wing tyrant on the planet.

    jim k, Austin, Tx

    From C.S. Lewis: "Of all tyranies, a tyrany sincerely exercised for the good of it's victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber baron's than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with approval of their own conscience".

    Mike, Norwalk

    timp, from sanjose; Religion is: real piety in practice, consisting in the performance of all known duties to God and our fellow men. (Bouviers Law Dictionary) - This definition specifically uses Christianity as a template to measure differing religious persuasions. It is loosely incidental to a lawfully measurable application of an otherwise equitably principled (ancient Hebrew jurisprudence, not Greek or Roman) Luke 10:27 ⋯, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. This definitions usefulness for lawfully administrative purposes is limited to a purely Christian in scope society as, not all religious beliefs (religion) assume, attach, or include an extra-human experience or, lives with a gospel premise, canons, or body of belief(s) - individually or in concert - that extols the individual mans extra human endowed nobility (humanity with Divine attributes and/or relationships - man is a noble being). It is however a useful starting place to understand religions more inclusive and lawfully exhaustive application(s). Bouviers here, God - being derived from the Saxon word: good, pronounced god; that which is whole, full, honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, esteemed, just, upright, intangibly / tangibly, spiritually / corporeally, etc. - would be more closely associated to an extra human existence or experience (of extreme religious significance) than to a mere subject of awe, veneration, or a title to an inferior position. The concept of a God is but one element, category, or tenant that may or may not be useful in revealing or identifying a religion. Non-Christian religions recognize the existence and teachings of Jesus but, not from the perspective that Jesus is a god with Divine directives. Others, such as in James 2:19 ⋯ believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. Here, those that believe (devils and corporeal individuals) in the one God do not have any conscientious regard or pursuit of any duties to said God, do not believe or practice His teachings, code of ethics, philosophies, and do not perform any foundationally or otherwise significant acts or related ordinances, etc., etc. The religious experiences and expressions of such a James 2:19 person evinces an individual (personally or in concert), effectively and in toto, foreign to the extra human existence. Believing there to be a god, or even the possibility of a god, (agnostic for example) may, or may not be useful as a determining factor in defining ones religion. Religion is an individualistic exercise, recognizable by the adopting a code(s), or certain segments thereof, defined with ethics in varying degrees from an avowed god then additionally, mingling that belief with philosophies of men. The total belief system, deriving from multiple sources, is then a more accurate description and fit to the individuals desired scope of piety in practice and the pursuit of performing duties (religion). Webster's New World Dictionary -Fourth College Edition uses a slightly different vantage on Bouviers fellow men by stating: a) any specific system of belief and worship, often involving a code of ethics and a philosophy [the Christian religion, the Buddhist religion, etc.] b) any system of beliefs, practices, ethical values, etc. resembling, suggestive of, or likened to such a system [humanism as a religion] ⋯ any object of conscientious regard and pursuit Though, Websters here definition covers religions that do not have formal services per se, it still limits and/or only alludes to religious expressions that may flourish under differing belief specific systems systematic expressions of self, or be the system(s) itself(s) and/or government (theocracy). By way of illustration: Religion is a self evident system of beliefs (what should be, a must do, needs to act like, a perceived possibility, a moral imperative, a belief that man can make law, a perceived ethical systems canonized codes, philosophy of honor, moral imperatives expressed through ordinances, regulations, rules, statutes, etc. - that are outside the immediate spectrum of natural law, i.e. science, gravity, physics, fiscal law, ete., etc.), that is put into practice [again, humanism as a religion], would then as an ethical value and moral piety in practice implement Bouviers duty to fellow man (by example: It is immoral for a rich nation NOT to take care of its poor. The religious ethical value, justified by religious moral imperative, then converts government into a dictatorial church, spreading the wealth, implementing a dole, etc. enforcing a should be belief systems canonized dogma). Many definitions of religion use A religion instead of the broader all religions or just simply, religion. Religion is an ideologues beliefs, ethics, tenants, philosophies, values, or practices (individually or in concert), unthinkingly accepted as conventional - that which is other than empirical law or that which absolutely is(science, - gravity, physics, fiscal law, etc.), is religion; Religion is a community of sacrosanct beliefs, impressions, notions or, emotions recognized as a decisional product. Inviolate moral relativism defines the domain that is religion; Now understanding what religion is; socialism, in and of itself, is not a religion. It is a mere unlawful economics of repression. It is when socialism (communism to fascism) becomes the philosophical object of conscientious regard and pursuit, existing on such moral imperatives and ethical values (as set forth by Adolf Hitler: It is thus necessary that the individual should finally come to realize that his own ego is of no importance in comparison with the existence of the nation, that the position of the individual is conditioned solely by the interests of the nation as a whole. - or - man as god with his priesthood i.e., government, can make law superior to natural law) that socialism converts from a mere unlawful economics of repression to a religiously based theocracy.


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