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Botticelli's illustration of Dante's Inferno shows insincere flatterers grovelling in excrement in the second pit of the eighth circle.[1]

Sycophancy[2] is flattery that is very obedient, or an indication of deference to another, to an excessive or servile degree. A user of sycophancy is referred to as a sycophant or a “yes-man.”

Alternative phrases are often used such as:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Italian culture, 15, American Association of University Professors of Italian, 1997, p. 80
  2. ^ Alphons Silbermann, translator Ladislaus Loeb (2000), Grovelling and other vices: the sociology of sycophancy, Continuum International Publishing Group, ISBN 978-0-485-11544-4

Further reading[edit]

  • Clark, L. P. (1934). "A Psychological Study of Sycophancy". Psychoanalytic Review. 21: 15–39.
  • Lofberg, John Oscar (2008) [1917]. Sycophancy in Athens (Reprint ed.). Whitefish: Kessinger. ISBN 978-1-4304-9346-4.
  • Sussman, Lyle (1980). "Sex and sycophancy: Communication strategies for ascendance in same-sex and mixed-sex superior-subordinate dyads". Sex Roles. 6 (1): 113–127. doi:10.1007/bf00288366.

External links[edit]

  • The dictionary definition of sycophancy at Wiktionary