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live by the sword, die by the sword




Aeschylus's Agamemnon, part of the Oresteia, a trilogy of tragic dramas by the ancient Greek dramatist; it was first performed in 458 BCE.

  • By the sword you did your work, and by the sword you die.[1] [2] [3]

1611, King James Version of the Bible, Gospel of Matthew, 26:52

  • Then said Jesus unto him, "Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword."


live by the sword, die by the sword

  1. One who uses violence can expect a violent response; it is better to try to use peaceful means wherever possible.
  2. (figuratively) One can expect dire outcomes from any vice; used to convey a sense that poetic justice is inevitable.
  3. (figuratively) The means of one's success can become the means of one's downfall.
    • Boogie Nights (1997) review, Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times[4]:
      And in Dirk Diggler's most anguished scene, as he shouts at Jack Horner, "I'm ready to shoot my scene RIGHT NOW!" we learn that those who live by the sword can also die by it.
    • 2009, Larry Downes, The Laws of Disruption: Harnessing the New Forces That Govern Life and Business in the Digital Age, Basic Books →ISBN
      In the “live by the sword, die by the sword” category of ironic litigation, consider the fate of struggling hardware and software maker Sun Microsystems.



  1. ^ “Aeschylus – Agamamnon (Lines 1509-1558)”, in (Please provide the title of the work)[1], 2014-08-01, retrieved 2017-01-15
  2. ^ Fagles, Robert (1984) The Oresteia[2], Penguin Books, →ISBN
  3. ^ “The Agamamnon”, in (Please provide the title of the work)[3], 1920-01-01, retrieved 2017-07-26