Tyrants and tyranny are more than the antithesis of democracy and the mark of political failure: they are a dynamic response to social and political pressures. This book examines the autocratic rulers and dynasties of classical Greece and Rome and the changing concepts of tyranny in political thought and culture. It brings together historians, political theorists and philosophers, all offering new perspectives on the autocratic governments of the ancient world. The volume is divided into four parts. Part I looks at the ways in which the term 'tyranny' was used and understood, and the kinds of individual who were called tyrants. Part II focuses on the genesis of tyranny and the social and political circumstances in which tyrants arose. The chapters in Part III examine the presentation of tyrants by themselves and in literature and history. Part IV discusses the achievements of episodic tyranny within the non-autocratic regimes of Sparta and Rome and of autocratic regimes in Persia and the western Mediterranean world. Written by a wide range of leading experts in their field, Ancient Tyranny offers a new and comparative study of tyranny within Greek, Roman and Persian society.