The Gifts of Polycrates

Polycrates was tyrant of Samos, and probably the first Greek leader to have control of a large navy.  He used this navy against both friends and enemies as privateers, seizing the property of merchants.  From his foes, he kept the goods, but to his friends, he returned it.  He enjoyed being able to give gifts to his friends, which is why he seized the goods in the first place, for if he didn’t, he would have nothing to give to his friends.  And through this largesse, he bound the recipients more closely to his own cause.

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