The sword does not actually belong to Damocles; instead, it is an anecdote provoked by Damocles, a courtier who flattered King Dionysius II of Syracuse. Damocles told the king how fortunate he was to live a life of power and luxury. Dionysius explained that there was nothing to envy, and he then offered to trade places with Damocles. When Damocles took his seat upon the throne, Dionysius arranged to have a sword suspended over his thread, dangled on a single hair from a horse's tail. Damocles got the message: it might look like the king has an enviable position, but he lives a life of constant fear.