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Damocles(dăm`əklēz), in classical mythology, courtier at the court of Dionysius I. He so persistently praised the power and happiness of Dionysius that the tyrant, in order to show the precariousness of rank and power, gave a banquet and had a sword suspended above the head of Damocles by a single hair. Hence the expression "the sword of Damocles" to mean an ever-present peril.
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Damocles((5335) Damocles) An interplanetary object resembling an asteroid with an unusually elliptical orbit that carries it from 22 to 1.6 AU from the Sun. It was discovered in 1991 and is now believed to be the archetype of the Damocloids (see Damocloid).
Collins Dictionary of Astronomy © Market House Books Ltd, 2006
for his sycophancy to Dionysus, seated under sword at banquet. [Gk. Myth.: LLEI, I: 278]
sword of sword hung by a single hair over his head. [Rom. Lit.: Brewer Handbook, 257]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.