excessive or servile flattery

Sycophancy is flattery that is very obedient, or an indication of deference to another, to an excessive or servile degree.

I would rather a thousand times be a free soul in jail than to be a sycophant and coward in the streets. ~ Eugene V. Debs

Quotes edit

  • Sycophancy toward those who hold power is a fact in every regime, and especially in a democracy, where, unlike, where unlike tyranny, there is an accepted principle of legitimacy that breaks the inner will to resist, and where, as I have said, there is no legitimate power other than the people to which a man can turn.
  • You moralistic dog—admitting a hierarchy in which you are subordinate, purely that you may have subordinates; licking the boots of a superior, that you may have yours in turn licked by an underling.
  • Nothing is more customary in man than to recognize superior wisdom in the person of his oppressor.
  • The powerful, if they carry oppression beyond a certain point, necessarily end by making themselves adored by their slaves. For the thought of being under absolute compulsion, the plaything of another, is unendurable for a human being. Hence, if every way of escape from the constraint is taken from him, there is nothing left for him to do but to persuade himself that he does the things he is forced to do willingly, that is to say, to substitute devotion for obedience. ... It is by this twist that slavery debases the soul: this devotion is in fact based on a lie, since the reasons for it cannot bear investigation. ... Moreover, the master is deceived too by the fallacy of devotion.
  • An orator was most in need of rhetorical means of reinscribing himself within the realm of the pitiable when faced with charges of "sycophancy," that mysterious and vilified form of prosecution, whose name literally means "pointing out" or displaying figs. In classical Athens the term "sycophancy" did not refer to flattery but to some method of prosecuting that was not socially acceptable. The sychophant was somehow the opposite of the upright legitimate democratic prosecutor. Accusing one’s opponent of being a sychophant was one of the most powerful weapons in the rhetorical arsenal because the word sychophant specially directed the audience to consider the degree to which a prosecutor had veered from the city’s system of value.
  • The orators ... frequently take the fact that the prosecutor was not himself wronged as a sign that the prosecution is sychophantic...The sychophant characteristically acts after the event and rakes up old charges...If men do not contest charges immediately but later, they are regarded as sychophants and poneroi (vulgar people).
    • R. Osborne, The World of Prometheus: The Politics of Punishing in Democratic Athens, p. 156

See also edit

External links edit

Wikipedia has an article about: