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A rare depiction of the legend of Gyges finding the magic ring, "Ferrara, 16th century

Gyges ("/ˈz/; "Greek: Γύγης) was the founder of the third or "Mermnad dynasty of "Lydian kings and reigned from 716 BC to 678 BC. He was succeeded by his son "Ardys II.


Attestations and etymology[edit]

The name of the Lydian king Γύγης is attested many times in Greek transmission. In addition, the annals of the Assyrian king Assurbanipal, refer several times to Gu(g)gu, king of Luddi, to be identified with Gyges, king of the Lydians. [1] Many "Bible scholars[2] believe that Gyges of Lydia was the Biblical figure of "Gog, ruler of "Magog, who is mentioned in the "Book of Ezekiel and the "Book of Revelation. This name is probably of "Carian origin, being cognate with Hittite ḫuḫḫa-, Luwian /huha-/ and Lycian xuga- ‘grandfather’. The Carian name quq is attested as Γυγος in Greek transmission. [3] This etymology correlates with the intrusive, probably Carian origin of the "Mermnad dynasty in Lydia. [4]

Allegorical accounts of Gyges' rise to power[edit]

"Candaules, King of Lydia, Shews his Wife by Stealth to Gyges, One of his Ministers, as She Goes to Bed by "William Etty. This image illustrates "Herodotus's version of the tale of Gyges (as told by Herodotus, Gyges watched the naked queen secretly, but is seen by her as he is sneaking out of concealment). An earlier artistic treatment of the same subject, by "Dosso Dossi, is now in the "Galleria Borghese [1].

Authors throughout ancient history have told differing stories of Gyges's rise to power, which considerably vary in detail, but virtually all involve Gyges seizing the throne, killing King "Candaules and marrying Candaules' Queen.

Gyges was the son of "Dascylus. Dascylus was recalled from banishment in "Cappadocia by the Lydian king Candaules and sent his son back to Lydia instead of himself.

According to "Nicolaus of Damascus, Gyges soon became a favourite of Candaules and was dispatched by him to fetch Tudo, the daughter of Arnossus of "Mysia, whom the Lydian king wished to make his queen. On the way Gyges fell in love with Tudo, who complained to Sadyates of his conduct. Forewarned that the king intended to punish him with death, Gyges assassinated Candaules in the night and seized the throne.

In his turn, the "Lydian king took as his "paidika Magnes, a handsome youth from "Smyrna noted for his elegant clothes and fancy korymbos hairstyle which he bound with a golden band. One day he was singing poetry to the local women, which outraged their male relatives, who grabbed Magnes, stripped him of his clothes and cut off his hair.[5]

According to "Plutarch, Gyges seized power with the help of Arselis of "Mylasa, the captain of the Lydian bodyguard, whom he had won over to his cause.

In the account of "Herodotus, which may be traced to the poet "Archilochus of Paros, Gyges was a bodyguard of Candaules, who believed his wife to be the most beautiful woman on Earth. He insisted upon showing the reluctant Gyges his wife when disrobed as he wanted to show her beauty, which so enraged her that she gave Gyges the choice of murdering her husband and making himself king, or of being put to death himself.

Finally, in the more allegorical account of "Plato ("The Republic, II), a parallel account may be found. Here, Gyges was a "shepherd, who discovered a "magic ring of invisibility, by means of which he murdered the King and won the affection of the Queen. This account bears marked similarity to that of Herodotus.["clarification needed]

In all cases, "civil war ensued on the death of the King, which was only ended when Gyges sought to justify his ascendance to the throne by petitioning for the approval of the "Oracle at Delphi.

According to Herodotus, he plied the Oracle with numerous gifts, notably six mixing bowls minted of gold extracted from the "Pactolus river weighing thirty "talents. The Oracle confirmed Gyges as the rightful Lydian King, gave moral support to the Lydians over the Asian Greeks, and also claimed that the dynasty of Gyges would be powerful, but due to his usurpation of the throne would fall in the fifth generation. This claim was later proven true, though perhaps by the machination of the Oracle's successor: Gyges's fourth descendant, "Croesus, prompted by a prophecy of the later Oracle, attacked the "Persian armies of "Cyrus the Great and lost the kingdom as a result.

Reign and death[edit]

Once established on the throne, Gyges devoted himself to consolidating his kingdom and making it a military power, although exactly how far the Lydian kingdom extended under his reign is difficult to ascertain.

He captured "Colophon, already largely Lydianized in tastes and customs and "Magnesia on the Maeander, the only other "Aeolian colony in the largely "Ionian southern "Aegean coast of Anatolia, and probably also "Sipylus, whose successor was to become the city also named "Magnesia in later records. "Smyrna was besieged[6] and alliances were entered into with "Ephesus and "Miletus. To the north, the "Troad was brought under Lydian control.

The armies of Gyges pushed back the "Cimmerians, who had ravaged "Asia Minor and caused the fall of Phrygia. During his campaigns against the Cimmerians, an embassy was sent to "Assur-bani-pal at "Nineveh in the hope of obtaining his help against the Cimmerians. But the Assyrians were otherwise engaged, and Gyges turned to "Egypt, sending his faithful "Carians troops along with "Ionian mercenaries to assist "Psammetichus in shaking off the Assyrian yoke.

Gyges later fell in a battle against the Cimmerii under "Dugdamme (called Lygdamis by "Strabo i. 3. 21—"who probably mistook the Greek Delta Δ for a Lambda Λ"), who had previously advanced as far as the town of "Sardis. Gyges was succeeded by his son "Ardys II.

Mythical Gyges[edit]

Like many kings of early antiquity, including "Midas of Phrygia and even the more historically documented "Alexander III of Macedon ("the Great"), Gyges was subject to mythologizing. The motives for such stories are many; one possibility is that the myths embody religious beliefs or practices.[7]

In the second book of "Plato's philosophical work The Republic, "Glaucon recounts the story of the "Ring of Gyges to "Socrates, using it to illustrate a point about human nature. Some scholars have suggested that Plato's story was based on a now-lost older version of the myth, while others argue that Plato invented it himself using elements from Herodotus's story of Gyges.[8] It told of a man named Gyges who lived in Lydia, an area in modern Turkey. He was a shepherd for the king of that land. One day, there was an earthquake while Gyges was out in the fields, and he noticed that a new cave had opened up in a rock face. When he went in to see what was there, he noticed a gold ring on the finger of a former giant king who had been buried in the cave, in an iron horse with a window in its side. He took the ring away with him and soon discovered that it allowed the wearer to become invisible. The next time he went to the palace to give the king a report about his sheep, he put the ring on, seduced the queen, killed the king, and took control of the palace.

In The Republic, Glaucon argues that men are inherently unjust, and are only restrained from unjust behavior by the fetters of law and society. In Glaucon's view, unlimited power blurs the difference between just and unjust men. "Suppose there were two such magic rings," he tells Socrates, "and the just [man] put on one of them and the unjust the other; no man can be imagined to be of such an iron nature that he would stand fast in justice. No man would keep his hands off what was not his own when he could safely take what he liked out of the market or go into houses and lie with anyone at his pleasure, or kill or release from prison whom he would, and in all respects be like a god among men. Then the actions of the just would be as the actions of the unjust; they would both come at last to the same point." Socrates concludes, however, that a truly just man is not a slave to his appetites, so that the opportunities afforded by the ring would not tempt him to abandon his principles.

Gift of Gyges to Delphi[edit]

Several monarchs of Asia Minor in the "Archaic Period, at the height of the influence of the Oracle of "Delphi, bolstered their claims to rule through oracles from the "Pythia. "Herodotus relates that Gyges ascended the throne following a Delphic oracle, which convinced the Lydians to accept him. However, the Pythia had also predicted that the revenge of the "Heracleidae would fall upon his fifth descendant. For this oracle Gyges rewarded the oracle with precious "ex-votos: six golden "kraters were offered to the sanctuary of Apollo. They weighed thirty talents. At the time of Herodotus these kraters were displayed in the Treasury of "Corinth. He dedicated other more precious ex-votos, made of gold and silver, which are not, however, mentioned in detail.[9]

Influence on modern works[edit]


  1. ^ Ancient Literary Sources on Sardis, By John G. Pedley, Harvard University Press, 1972, № 292-293, 295
  2. ^ "F. Delitzsch probably was the first to suggest that Ezekiel took the name Gog from the Lydian king Gyges. This has later become the most recognized hypothesis among scholars, though considerable doubt and many objections have been raised against this identification..... Detailed references are found in Weicker's article on Gyges, Weiker 1912. CF. also Smith, K. F. 1902; and Reinhardt 1960: 139-43 about Gyges, and pp. 175-183 about 'Gyges un sein Ring'. For an updated account, cf. Rollig 1987." Gog and Magog: Ezekiel 38-39 as Pre-text for Revelation 19,17-21 and 20,7-10, Volume 135 of 2], [Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament, ISSN 0340-9570 Wissunt Zum Neun Testament Ser. Ii, 135, see https://books.google.com/books?id=vettpBoVOX4C.
  3. ^ The Carians, By Ignacio J. Adiego, Brill, 2007, p. 334-335
  4. ^ 'An Agreement between the Sardians and the Mermnads in the Lydian Language?', by Ilya Yakybovich, Indogermanische Forschungen 122 (2017): 165-193
  5. ^ Initiation in ancient Greek rituals and narratives, By David Brooks Dodd, Christopher A. Faraone, p. 121.
  6. ^ Later tradition associated the campaign on Smyrna with ill-treatment received by a poet of the city named Magnes who had composed verses celebrating Lydian victories and who was a favorite of Gyges.
  7. ^ Richard Seaford, Money and the Early Greek Mind (Cambridge University Press, 2004), p. 114 ff., limited preview.
  8. ^ Danzig, Gabriel (2008). "Rhetoric and the Ring: Herodotus and Plato on the Story of Gyges as a Politically Expedient Tale". Greece & Rome. 55 (2): 169–192. "doi:10.1017/S001738350800051X. It is usually thought that these two stories are based on older sources, either two different versions of the story of Gyges or, as K. F. Smith argued, one single longer version of the story, which served as the source for both authors. A third possibility has also been raised: Andrew Laird has recently argued that Plato largely invented his version of the story, inspired primarily by his reading of Herodotus’ version. 
  9. ^ Herodotus 1.13-14
  10. ^ https://books.google.com/books?id=BuVFAQAAMAAJ
  11. ^ The Hidden I, A Myth Revised, bookfever.com

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"King of Lydia
716?–678? BC
Succeeded by
"Ardys II
) ) WikipediaAudio is not affiliated with Wikipedia or the WikiMedia Foundation.