Appendices to book 2
II 359 D. τῷ Γύγου τοῦ Λυδοῦ
Most of the emendations (e.g. Γύγῃ τῷ τοῦ Λυδοῦ
) which have been suggested in order to bring the present passage
into harmony with the allusion in Book X 612 B, assume that the Gyges of
‘Gyges' ring’ is identical with the famous Gyges (who reigned about
687—654 B.C.), founder of the third or Mermnad dynasty of Lydian kings (Hdt. I
8—13). On this assumption τοῦ Λυδοῦ
mean ‘Lydus’ (the eponymous ruler of Lydia: see Hdt. I 7), but must
mean ‘the Lydian’ i.e. (according to the usual interpretation)
Croesus, who was the πέμπτος ἀπόγονος Γύγεω
13). There is however no proof to shew that ὁ Γυδός
could without further specification denote Croesus; and on this ground alone Wiegand's
proposal (adopted by Hermann, Baiter, and Hartman) τῷ
] τοῦ Λυδοῦ
breaks down: while Jowett and Campbell's alternative suggestions
τῷ Κροίσου τοῦ Λυδοῦ προγόνῳ
, and Γύγῃ τῷ Κροίσου τοῦ Λυδοῦ προγόνῳ
satisfactory in point of sense, fail to account for the disappearance of Κροίσου
. The proposals of Ast— τῷ Γύγῃ τοῦ Λυδοῦ
, and [τῷ
] Γύγου τοῦ Λυδοῦ
]—will hardly win favour, while
Stallbaum's τῷ Γύγῃ
] merely cuts the knot.
There is however no solid reason for connecting the Gyges of the proverb with the
historical Gyges. In narrating the adventures of the latter, Herodotus makes no mention
of a magic ring; but if such a legend had been told of the founder of the Mermnadae,
Herodotus is hardly likely to have ignored it. In Plato's narrative, on the other hand,
everything hangs on the ring. Nor is the magic ring known to Nicolaus Damascenus, whose
account of Gyges seems to follow a different tradition from that of Herodotus: see
Müller's Frag. Hist. Graec.
III pp. 382—386. It is
therefore possible that Plato's story refers not to Herodotus' Gyges, but to some
homonymous ancestor of his, perhaps (as Stein suggests on Hdt. I 13) the mythical
founder of the family, whose name may have survived in the λίμνη
(Hdt. I 93). The Gyges of history was not the first member of his
family to bear that name: his great-grandfather at least was also called Gyges (Nic.
Dam. l.c.). The resemblance between the two stories—that of Herodotus and that
of Plato—is confined to two incidents, viz. the joint murder of the reigning
sovereign by the queen and her paramour, and their succession to the
throne. In these two features the history of the later Gyges may well have been
embellished from the legends about his mythical namesake, or he may actually have copied
his ancestor's example. It is noticeable that Cicero says nothing to shew that he
identified the Gyges of Plato's story with the Gyges of history; and in a poem by
Nizámí (as Mr J. G. Frazer has pointed out to me), where Plato
tells the story of the ring, the name of Gyges is not even mentioned. (See Prof.
Cowell's article in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal
, Vol. 30
pp. 151—157. Prof. Cowell thinks Nizámí became
acquainted with the legend through Arabic translations of the Republic.
Thinking it probable, therefore, that the proverbial ring of Gyges belonged not to
Herodotus' Gyges, but to one of his ancestors bearing the same name, I have retained the
MS reading. I do not think that the suppression of the name is a difficulty, though it
would be easy to write (as I formerly did) <τῷ
Γύγῃ>, τῷ Γύγου τοῦ Λυδοῦ προγόνῳ
§ 5. Such a solution would bring the text into strict
verbal harmony with X 612 B, with Cicero De off.
III 38 (where the story
is related, not of an ancestor of Gyges, but of Gyges himself—hinc ille Gyges inducitur a Platone
), with Lucian
41 and Bis Acc.
21, and with Philostratus Vit.
101. In each of these places we hear of ‘Gyges'
ring,’ not of ‘Gyges' ancestor's ring.’ But it is better
to adhere to the almost unanimous testimony of the MSS, especially as in this particular
passage they are reinforced by Proclus. Schneider can hardly be right in supposing that
the older Gyges is an invention of Plato's, although in other respects his note is
deserving of attention: “Platoni vero licebat alterum Gygen fingere, ingenio
et fortuna similem interfectori Candaulae, quem ideo genus ab illo ducentem facit,
prioris nomen, quippe quod commune ei cum posteriori esset, reticens.”