#10 Gyges, Lord of the Ring

Candaules, was king of Lydia, the kingdom that lived in Asia Minor, modern Turkey.

There are many stories to how Candaules was killed, but we will talk about Platon’s version in The Republic, while he is talking about the nature of human.

According to Glaucon (Platon’s brother), Gyges, sees a cave that was revealed after an earthquake while he was feeding his flock. He was a shepherd under rule of a Lydian king back then.

When he entered the cave, he sees a tomb with a bronze horse, and a corpse carrying a golden ring. He takes the ring and tries, and is astonished when he realizes the ring makes him invisible as he wears it.

He arranges to be one of the messengers to the king, and when he arrives the palace, he uses the ring to seduce the queen, murders the king and takes his place.

There are many references made to this story. Mostly the references are made to use as a part of a thought experiment, having a power nobody possesses, the invisibility ring, and its effects on the morality of the holder.

Cicero makes such a reference De Officiis for example, to investigate the relation between good manners and chance of being caught.

The plot is kind of similar to the ring of Tolkien. Whoever wears the ring, gets corrupted by time and becomes a bad person, makes mistakes. It gives power to its owner, but haunts him forever.

Gyges convinces the oracle of Delphi, giving some bribes, to approve his kingship to prevent a civil war. Oracle of Delphi approves, and supports him against the Ionians also. But they also make a prophecy telling his dynasty was damned to end in fifth generation because of what he did, which also happens at the end.

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