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Headword: Γύγου δακτύλιος
Adler number: gamma,473
Translated headword: Gyges' ring
Vetting Status: high
Translation:
[sc. A proverbial phrase] in reference to resourceful and villainous men. For Gyges was a cowherd who after an earthquake found a corpse which was wearing a ring, and stripped it off. The nature of the ring was such that, by twists of the bezel,[1] one would be [first] seen and [then] unseen. By means of this Gyges killed his predecessor and ruled as king.
Greek Original:
Γύγου δακτύλιος: ἐπὶ τῶν πολυμηχάνων καὶ πανούργων. Γύγης γὰρ βουκόλος ὢν, τῆς γῆς ὑπὸ σεισμοῦ ῥαγείσης, νεκρὸν εὑρὼν φοροῦντα δακτύλιον τοῦτον περιεῖλεν. ὁ δὲ εἶχε φύσιν ὥστε κατὰ τὰς στροφὰς τῆς σφενδόνης ὁρᾶσθαι καὶ μή. δι' αὐτοῦ κτείνας τὸν πρὸ αὐτοῦ ἐβασίλευσεν.
Notes:
The usual story of how Gyges (gamma 472) killed Kandaules and became king of Lydia in c.680 BCE is radically different (see Herodotus 1.8-14, at web address 1); the version here summarizes Plato, Republic 359C-360B (web address 2).
[1] For the noun σφενδόνη in this sense, the ring part itself, see LSJ s.v., II.3; and cf. sigma 1726.
Reference:
A. Laird, "Ringing the changes on Gyges: philosophy and the formation of fiction in Plato's Republic", Journal of Hellenic Studies 121 (2001) 12-29
Associated internet addresses:
Web address 1,
Web address 2
Keywords: aetiology; biography; daily life; ethics; geography; historiography; history; philosophy; proverbs
Translated by: David Whitehead on 3 August 2001@09:01:17.
Vetted by:
Catharine Roth (added links) on 4 August 2001@21:47:59.
David Whitehead (added bibliography) on 27 November 2001@06:08:02.
David Whitehead (cosmetics) on 19 October 2003@07:30:28.
Catharine Roth (added cross-reference) on 24 January 2005@14:38:31.
David Whitehead (another keyword) on 25 January 2005@02:54:07.
David Whitehead on 11 June 2012@09:57:06.
Catharine Roth (upgraded links) on 20 October 2012@01:11:30.
David Whitehead on 30 September 2015@03:19:50.

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