Aelius Aristides, Flavius Philostratus, and Dio Cassius either directly or via their characters call the power of Roman emperors «people’s rule». Modern scholars usually take such utterances as expressing the same concept. The author of the paper tries to prove that they are not so similar to one another as it may seem. Thus, Aelius Aristides in his oration to Rome compares Roman Empire with the «general democracy of old» (ὲν τοῖς ὲπέκεινα πᾶσα δημοκρατία – Or. XXVI. 38), which means for him the political order of Greek poleis before the Roman conquest. In another passage he calls the Empire «democracy» discussing equal rights of Roman citizens (Or. XXVI. 60). Dio Cassius, by the mouth of Maecenas, refers to monarchy as «true democracy» (δημοκρατία ἡ ἀληθής, founded not on universal equality of citizens, but on equality according to dignity (κατὰ τὴν ἀξίαν – LII.14. 3–5). Flavius Philostratus uses the term δῆμος (VA.V. 35). According to him, monarchy turns into democracy not by force of the institutional factor, but by force of the subjective one. The very idea of representing Roman monarchic system as people’s rule must have been rooted in the notion (characteristic of the Roman law) that the people delegates supreme power to the princeps. The idea could have become a rhetorical cliché, which constituted the basis for the speculations of all the three authors in question. At the same time, their views are somewhat different, the difference being especially big between Aelius Aristides and Dio Cassius. The former, being a representative of Greek provincial élite, concentrates his thought on the interests of provinces. For the latter, a high rank senator, monarchy as «true democracy» implies a substantial limitation of emperor’s power in favour of oligarchy. These different approaches, which may be discerned through the seeming similarity of the clichés the authors use, show their close connections with the political reality of their time.