Hoyt & Roberts, comps. Hoyt’s New Cyclopedia of Practical Quotations. 1922.


A king ruleth as he ought, a tyrant as he lists, a king to the profit of all, a tyrant only to please a few.

The tyrant now
Trusts not to men: nightly within his chamber
The watch-dog guards his couch, the only friend
He now dare trust.
Joanna Baillie—Ethwald. Pt. II. Act V. Sc. 3.

Th’ oppressive, sturdy, man-destroying villains,
Who ravag’d kingdoms, and laid empires waste,
And in a cruel wantonness of power,
Thinn’d states of half their people, and gave up
To want the rest.
Blair—The Grave. L. 9.

Absolves all faith; and who invades our rights,
Howe’er his own commence, can never be
But an usurper.
Henry Brooke—Gustavus Vasa. Act IV. Sc. 1.

Think’st thou there is no tyranny but that
Of blood and chains? The despotism of vice—
The weakness and the wickedness of luxury—
The negligence—the apathy—the evils
Of sensual sloth—produce ten thousand tyrants,
Whose delegated cruelty surpasses
The worst acts of one energetic master,
However harsh and hard in his own bearing.
Byron—Sardanapalus. Act I. Sc. 2.

Is far the worst of treasons. Dost thou deem
None rebels except subjects? The prince who
Neglects or violates his trust is more
A brigand than the robber-chief.
Byron—The Two Foscari. Act II. Sc. 1.

N’est-on jamais tyran qu’avec un diadème?
Is there no tyrant but the crowned one?
Chénier—Caius Gracchus.

Tyran, descends du trône et fais place à ton maître.
Tyrant, step from the throne, and give place to thy master.
Corneille—Heraclius. I. 2.

Tremblez, tyrans, vous êtes immortels.
Tremble, ye tyrants, for ye can not die.
Delille—L’Immortalité de l’Âme.

There is nothing more hostile to a city than a tyrant, under whom in the first and chiefest place, there are not laws in common, but one man, keeping the law himself to himself, has the sway, and this is no longer equal.
Euripides—Suppliants. 429. Oxford trans. (Revised by Buckley.)

Il n’appartient, qu’aux tyrans d’être toujours en crainte.
None but tyrants have any business to be afraid.
Hardouin de Péréfixe. Attributed to Henry IV.

’Twixt kings and tyrants there’s this difference known:
Kings seek their subjects’ good, tyrants their owne.
Herrick—Kings and Tyrants.

Men are still men. The despot’s wickedness
Comes of ill teaching, and of power’s excess,—
Comes of the purple he from childhood wears,
Slaves would be tyrants if the chance were theirs.
Victor Hugo—The Vanished City.

Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.
Jefferson. Found among his papers after his death.

Quid violentius aure tyranni?
What is more cruel than a tyrant’s ear?
Juvenal—Satires. IV. 86.

For how can tyrants safely govern home,
Unless abroad they purchase great alliance?
Henry VI. Pt. III. Act III. Sc. 3. L. 69.

This tyrant, whose sole name blisters our tongues,
Was once thought honest.
Macbeth. Act IV. Sc. 3. L. 12.

Bleed, bleed, poor country!
Great Tyranny! lay thou thy basis sure,
For goodness dares not check thee!
Macbeth. Act IV. Sc. 3. L. 31.

O nation miserable,
With an untitled tyrant bloody-scepter’d
When shalt thou see thy wholesome days again?
Macbeth. Act IV. Sc. 3. L. 103.

’Tis time to fear when tyrants seem to kiss.
Pericles. Act I. Sc. 2. L. 79.

I knew him tyrannous, and tyrants’ fears
Decrease not, but grow faster than the years.
Pericles. Act I. Sc. 2. L. 84.

For what is he they follow? truly, gentlemen,
A bloody tyrant, and a homicide:
One rais’d in blood, and one in blood establish’d;
One that made means to come by what he hath,
And slaughter’d those that were the means to help him;
A base foul stone, made precious by the foil
Of England’s chair, where he is falsely set;
One that hath ever been God’s enemy.
Richard III. Act V. Sc. 3. L. 245.

Les habiles tyrans ne sont jamais punis.
Clever tyrants are never punished.
Voltaire—Mérope. V. 5.

A company of tyrants is inaccessible to all seductions.
Voltaire—A Philosophical Dictionary. Tyranny.

The sovereign is called a tyrant who knows no laws but his caprice.
Voltaire—A Philosophical Dictionary. Tyranny.