Dictator is ... Meaning

Dictator - who is he? As a rule, when he is mentioned in conversation, an association with an authoritarian ruler, with unlimited power, arises. But this concept also has other shades of meaning. Detailed information about who it is - the dictator, will be presented in the article.

Three shades in interpretation

The meaning of the word "dictator" is not limited to a single interpretation. There are three of them:

  • the first has a historical connotation;
  • the second is political science;
  • the third is used in a figurative sense.

Let us briefly consider each of them separately.

In ancient Rome

Dictator for fighting war

In the historical context, the dictator is one of the officials (magistrates) who existed in ancient Rome during the Republic period, which corresponds to the time period from the 5th century to the second half of the 1st century BC. er

By decision of the Senate, he was appointed by the consuls for a term not exceeding six months. This was done only in emergency cases, when it was recognized that it was necessary to transfer power to the hands of one person in cases of particular danger to the state (external or internal).

At the same time he was granted special, unlimited powers.Such special cases could be a serious military threat, the maturing of internal turmoil, a coup d'état. The Roman dictators obeyed all the officials in the state, including the consuls themselves.

Minimum of democracy

Sole ruler

In the political sense, the dictator is a person who enjoys unlimited power and stands above the law, leading such a regime as a dictatorship. The term "dictator" was revived in modern times, beginning with the era of the French Revolution. But you need to understand that unlimited power does not mean sole decision-making, since it is simply impossible in the physical plane.

Often with him there are advisory bodies that are vested with the highest authority in a formal way. Under the conditions of dictatorship, they issue orders, in full accordance with the dictator's will.

The implementation of a dictatorial regime, as a rule, is accompanied by global or repressive measures directed against political opponents. And also it is characterized by the harsh suppression or elimination of such rights and freedoms of citizens, which in any way go against the position of this regime.


This is a person holding a management position, or any other person who acts imperiously, intolerantly, using very great influence in a particular area.

An example of a dictator as an official may be a leader who forces his subordinates, as they say, to walk along the line. He in every possible way restricts them in making independent decisions and taking initiative. Such a chief does not allow him to enter into polemics, demanding the unquestioning implementation of instructions.

As for the dictator at home, it can be called a person who, for example, forbids his children, despite their reaching the legal age, to choose their profession, place of residence, hobbies, life partner.

Synonyms and origins

Killing dictator

Synonyms for the word "dictator" are such words as:

  • Despot.
  • The sovereign.
  • Monarch.
  • Ruler.
  • Petty tyrant.
  • Sovereign
  • King.
  • The Emperor.
  • Tyrant.
  • Autocrat.
  • Chapter.
  • Leader.
  • Tucked
  • Commander.
  • Lord.
  • Satrap.

Occurs from the Latin noun dictator, derived from the verb dicto, meaning “dictate, prescribe”.And this verb comes from the Proto-Indo-European deik - “to indicate.”

More about Roman dictators

The dictator knew life and death

At the end of the study of what “dictator” means, let us add some details. The ancient Romans for the appointment of a dictator by the Senate issued a decree called the Senate Board. In it the consuls were given instructions. They had to take measures to ensure that the state was not harmed.

After this, the consuls announced the name of the dictator and immediately dissolved their lictors who passed to him (12 lictors from each of the consuls). As a result, in the face of the elected sole ruler, the consuls became ordinary citizens, over whom he had the right of life and death. This applied to all Romans, with the exception of the tribunes of the people. Then the dictator chose an assistant, called the head of the cavalry.

The dictator was vested with full authority in the state. To his title was added the reason for which he was elected. For example, a dictator assigned to wage war. Until the IV century BC. er It was forbidden to appeal against his conviction to the people's assembly.

Initially, only patricians were appointed to the post of dictator, but from 365 BC. er they could be and plebeians.In some cases, the election was held only for the execution of a one-time commission. So, there was a “dictator with the aim of hammering a nail” - it was a ritual during one of the religious holidays.

During the late republics, when Sulla and Caesar ruled, appointed by dictators without specifying a specific term, this post assumed a monarchical character.

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