). A Lydian, to whom Candaules, king of the country,
showed his wife with her person exposed. The latter, having discovered this, was so incensed,
although she concealed her anger at the time, that, calling Gyges afterwards into her
presence, she gave him his choice either to submit to instant death, or to slay her husband.
Gyges chose the latter alternative, married the queen, and ascended the vacant throne, about
680 years before the Christian era. He was the first of the Mermnadae who ruled in Lydia. He
reigned thirty-eight years, and distinguished himself by the presents which he made to the
oracle of Delphi (Herod.i. 8
foll.). The wife of Candaules above
mentioned was called Nyssia, according to Hephaestion. The story of Rosamund, queen of the
Lombards, as related by Gibbon, bears an exact resemblance to this of Candaules (cf.
, vol. ii. pt. 1, p. 82). Plato relates a curious
legend respecting this Gyges, which differs essentially from the account given by Herodotus.
He makes him to have been originally one of the shepherds of Candaules, and to have descended
into a chasm, formed by heavy rains and an earthquake in the quarter where he was
pasturing his flocks. In this chasm he discovered many wonderful things, and particularly a
brazen horse having doors in it, through which he looked, and saw within a corpse of more than
mortal size, having a golden ring on its finger. This ring he took off and reascended with it
to the surface of the earth. Attending, after this, a meeting of his fellow-shepherds, who
used to assemble once a month for the purpose of transmitting an account of their flocks to
the king, he accidentally discovered that, when he turned the bezel of the ring inward towards
himself, he became invisible, and when he turned it outward, again visible. Upon this, having
caused himself to be chosen in the number of those who were sent on this occasion to the king,
he murdered the monarch, with the aid of the queen, whom he previously corrupted, and ascended
the throne of Lydia (De Rep.
ii.; cf. De Off.