Sword of Damocles

Album: Redeemer of Souls (2014)

Songfacts®:

  • Damocles was a flatterer in the court of Dionysius II of Syracuse, a 4th-century BC tyrant of Syracuse, Sicily. The courtier exclaimed to the king that, as a great man of power and authority surrounded by magnificence, he was truly extremely fortunate. Damocles was invited by the tyrant to switch places with him during a sumptuous banquet and was seated in Dionysius' throne. The fawning courtier was surrounded by every luxury, but a huge sword was suspended by a horse's hair above the throne. Damocles was afraid to stir and the banquet was a torment to him, as he came to the realization that the king's great fortune and power also came with great peril and anxiety.
  • Judas Priest vocalist Rob Halford explained the song's meaning to Classic Rock Revisited: "The story of Damocles goes back a long ways. It's a fable. It talks about a guy who is a king; he's a very powerful dude. He has all this food and all of this wine and women and everything. His buddy comes and visits him and says, 'You've got the best life.' He tells him, 'Look above me.' The guy looks up and sees the sword, which is held together by this little thread. He goes 'That thread could break at any moment, or at any point of my life, and then all of this will be gone.' That is the message that we're trying to relay. You need to live the life you have the best you can every day, as it is all you've got."

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