Black Marvel: This doomsday machine has been hanging over our lives like the sword of Damocles.
Dionysius was a fourth century B.C. tyrant of Syracuse. To all appearances he was very rich and comfortable, with all the luxuries money could buy, tasteful clothing and jewelry, and delectable food. He even had court flatterers (adsentatores) to inflate his ego. One of these ingratiators was the court sycophant Damocles. Damocles used to make comments to the king about his wealth and luxurious life. One day when Damocles complimented the tyrant on his abundance and power, Dionysius turned to Damocles and said, "If you think I'm so lucky, how would you like to try out my life?" Damocles readily agreed, and so Dionysius ordered everything to be prepared for Damocles to experience what life as Dionysius was like. Damocles was enjoying himself immensely until he noticed a sharp sword hovering over his head, which was suspended from the ceiling by a horse hair. This, the tyrant explained to Damocles, was what life as ruler was really like. Damocles, alarmed and quickly revising his idea of what made up a good life, asked to be excused. He then eagerly returned to his poorer, but safer life.