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Sycophant

Sycophant (Gr. συκοφανης), in ancient Greece was the counterpart of the Roman delator, a public informer.

According to ancient authorities, the word (derived by them from συκο, "fig," and φανης, "to show") meant one who informed against another for exporting figs (which was forbidden by law) or for stealing the fruit of the sacred fig-trees, whether in time of famine or on any other occasion. Another old explanation was that fines and taxes were at one time paid in figs, wine and oil, and those who collected such payments in kind were called sycophants because they "presented," publicly handed them in.



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