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Vou. XLI, 1. WHOLE No. 161 


Some years ago I contributed to this Journal (XXIII 261- 
282; 362-387)? an article in which I undertook to reconstruct 
the plot of a popular tale of Gyges and the King of Lydia which 
appears to have been still current in the period of Herodotus 
and Plato. In the process of my investigation, which I carried 
as far as the fall of the Eastern Empire, it became more and 
more evident that the most notable feature of the later tradition 
of Gyges and Candaules was the increasing preponderance in it 
of the two versions by Herodotus and Plato respectively. The 
matter had no bearing upon the subject which I was then 
discussing, and I therefore mentioned it only in passing. But 
the fact itself is so characteristic of ancient literary tradition 
as such, and in some ways is so striking a commentary upon it, 
that it seems worthy of special consideration. 

Let us begin with the later tradition of Plato’s story of Gyges 
and his Ring (Republic 359 D). It will be remembered that in 
this passage the spokesman, discussing the well-known doctrine 
that the only thing which prevents even the best of us from 
doing wrong in the end is the fear of detection, asserts that his 
point would be proved if both a good and a bad man could be 
given some power which would render detection impossible. “I 

1 This article was transmitted to the JOURNAL a few hours before the 
author’s death, and so did not have the benefit of his final revision.—Eb. 

2My investigation did not concern itself with the ultimate origin, 
meaning or credibility of the various accounts. For these points the 
best and most recent authority is Lehmann-Haupt, PRE s. v. Gyges. 



mean,” he says, “such a power ... as they say was once pos- 
sessed by the ancestor of the Lydian.” Then by way of at once 
enforcing his point and explaining his reference, he tells the 
story in question. When he returns to the story at 612 B Plato 
couples the ring of Gyges with another more ancient and more 
famous method of going invisible, the Homeric “Aides κυνέη or 
Hades’ “ Cap of Darkness.” 

A brief and interesting story told by a master and in his best 
style, a story with a moral, above all a story with a literary 
reference (Γύγου δακτύλιος) which could be used to great 
advantage by writers and speakers—so far as rhetoricians were 
concerned, here, as the old translator of Bayle says of books of 
extracts, was “meat already chawed.” Nevertheless, we hear 
nothing of the story until Cicero (Off. III 9, 38) translates it 
in connection with his discussion of the same question of con- 
duct. And strange to say I have been unable to find a single 
reference in any other Roman author.® 

Even on the Greek side I find no mention of this story until 
Ptolemaeus Chennus (Myth. Graeci, p. 192 W) at the end of 
the first century of our era. Chennus was a sort of purveyor in 
ordinary to the literary chit-chat so characteristic of that period. 
As such he can tell us, for example, why the Queen was able to 
see Gyges in spite of his ring. She had a double pupil, also a 
dragon-stone. This shows of course that the literary world was 
on the whole quite well aware of the relation between the story 
of Plato and the story of Herodotus. Such a book as the 
Suasoriae and Controversiae of the Elder Seneca, not to mention 
a number of others, is enough in itself to show that in practi- 
cally every instance the source and associations of these semi- 
popular literary discussions were scholastic. It is fair, therefore, 
to assume that our passage in Plato had already been familiar 
to the Rhetorical Schools for a long time. However that may be, 
we know that it had entered them at least as early as the First 
Sophistic Renaissance. This we learn from the Progymnasmata 
of Theon, one of the most notable figures in the educational life 
of that period. 

In the second chapter of this text-book (Rhet. Graeci, 1 159 

3In N. H. XXXIII 8, Midae quidem anulum, quo circumacto habentem 
nemo cerneret, quis non etiam fabulosiorem fateatur? Pliny was hardly 
thinking of Plato’s story; see A. J.P. XXIII 273. 


Walz) for the use of students and teachers, Theon recommends 
and in some cases discusses those passages from the great classical 
authors which every schoolboy was expected to learn by heart. 
These passages were selected and graded according to the age 
and training of the student, and for the most part fall into 
three classes: 1. anecdotes (χρεῖαι), 2. fables (μῦθοι), 3. stories 
(Smynoas)—these last being again subdivided into mythical 
stories and stories of actual fact. Under the first subdivision 
(διηγήσεις μυθικαί) four examples are recommended: 

Διηγήσεως δὲ παραδείγματα ἂν εἴη κάλλιστα, τῶν μὲν μυθικῶν ἡ 
Πλάτωνος ἐν τῷ δευτέρῳ τῆς πολιτείας περὶ τοῦ δακτυλίου τοῦ Γύγου " καὶ 
ἐν τῷ συμποσίῳ, περὶ τῆς γενέσεως τοῦ ἔρωτος - περὶ δὲ τῶν ἐν ἽΑιδου, 
ἐν τῷ Φαίδωνι, καὶ τῷ δεκάτῳ τῆς πολιτείας - καὶ παρὰ Θεοπόμπῳ ἐν τῇ 
ὀγδόῃ τῶν Φιλιππικῶν ἡ τοῦ σελίνου. 

It will be observed that the very first of these passages is 
Plato’s story. Is it at all surprising to discover that the Ring 
of Gyges suddenly becomes prominent in the writers of this 
particular period? We shall also find a practically unbroken 
tradition of its use as a literary reference until the fall of the 
Kastern Empire. 

In his Bis Accusatus 21, Lucian makes Epicurus say, in his 
plea for pleasure as against the claims of the Stoa, that these 
apostles of toil and efficiency 

“ Cannot bear to be detected in any relaxation, or any depar- 
ture from their principles: but, poor men, they lead a Tantalus’ 
life of it in consequence, and when they do get a chance of 
sinning without being found out, they drink down pleasure by 
the bucketful. Depend on it, if some one would make them a 
present of Gyges’s ring of invisibility, or Hades’s cap, they 

would cut the acquaintance of toil without further ceremony, 
and elbow their way into the presence of Pleasure.” 

Again in the Navigium 42, Timolaus is made to say 

“ My wish is that Hermes should appear and present me with 
certain rings, possessed of certain powers. One should ensure 
its wearer continual health and strength, invulnerability, insen- 
sibility to pain. Another, like that of Gyges, should make me 

Epist. Graec. p. 619, 43 Didot (Aischines to Xenophon) we 

κἂν πολλάκις περικρύπτηται περιθέμενος τὴν “Aidov κυνῆν ἢ τὸν Τύγου 
δακτύλιον καὶ δίκας γράφηται τοῖς ἐν τῇ πόλει - ζῇ γὰρ ἀπὸ βυρσοδεψικῆς. 


Libanius, Orat. LVI (Contra Lucianum), 10 says: 

ἀλλ᾽ ds ἤδειμεν χάριν μᾶλλον ὄψιν ἡδίστην θεώμενοι, Λουκιανὸν ἀσθενῆ 
καὶ ζητοῦντα τὴν ἀρχήν, οὐκ ἔχοντα, ἃ χρῆν οὐκ αὐτὸν ἐνθυμούμενον, 
κλέψαι τῇ νυκτὶ τὴν εἴσοδον, ἐπεὶ μὴ πρίασθαί γε ἐξῆν ποθεν τὸν Γύγου 
δακτύλιον ἢ μισθωσάμενον γοητείαν ὑπὸ τοῖς ἐκείνης μαγγανεύμασι δραμεῖν. 

Again, Orat. LXIV (Pro Saltat.) 35, he says: 

ἀλλ᾽ οὐκ ἂν ἔχοις, εἰ μή, νὴ Δία ye, τὴν ἴΑιδος κυνῆν, ἢ τὸν Γύγου 
δακτύλιον ἔχοντες ἀδικοῦσιν, ὑφ᾽ ὧν λανθάνουσιν. 

And finally in his Epistles 1031, we have (as quoted by L.-S. 
Paroem. Graec. II, Ὁ. 20): 

σὺ δ᾽ οἴου μετὰ τοῦ δακτυλίου τοῦ Γύγου πάντα δρῶν λανθάνειν. 

The use of the phrase by Gregory of Nazianzus is glib but 
evidently quite mechanical; cp. Orat. Contra Julianum (35, p. 
628 Migne) : 

ἀλλ᾽ οὐκ ἔστιν ὅπως ἑαυτὸν ἀποκρύψει, οὐδ᾽ ἂν πολλὰ στραφῇ καὶ 
παντοῖος γένηται ταῖς ἐπινοίαις, οὐδ᾽ εἰ τὴν Αἴδος κυνέην, ὃ δὴ λέγεται, 
περιθέμενος ἢ τῷ δακτυλίῳ Γύγου, καὶ τῇ στροφῇ τῆς σφενδόνης 
χρησάμενος, ἑαυτὸν ἀποκλέψειε, ete. : Orat. 48, 21 (L. andS., Paroem. 
Graeci, 1, Ρ. 21), ᾧ ᾧ πλέον ἐφρονοῦμεν ἢ τῇ στροφῇ τῆς σφενδόνης ὃ ὃ 

Τύγης, εἴπερ μὴ μῦθος ἢ ἦν, ἐξ fs Λυδῶν ἐτυράννησεν : Carmina, Lib. I, 
2, 30 (87, p. 685 Migne), 

κέρδος τοσοῦτον κἂν τρέχειν ὅρους δοκῇς, 

κἄν σοι τὰ Γύγου τοῦ πολυχρύσου παρῇ 

στρέφῃς τε πάντα τῇ στροφῇ τῆς σφενδόνης 

σιγῶν δυνάστης, οἷο. 
The emphasis which Gregory lays on σφενδόνη indicates in itself 
that this old word used by Plato for the bezel of a ring had long 
been obsolete or obsolescent. 

Doubtless the hereditary reference to Gyges’ Ring occurs here 
and there in the huge Corpus of Greek Fathers edited by 
Migne—one would expect it for instance to be used by such a 
firebrand of rhetoric as Joannes Chrysostomus—but I have made 
no effort to examine this field systematically. 

That the phrase continued to live, however, and to be used 
more or less frequently, is shown among other things by the 
frequency of its occurrence in the Paroemiographi Graeci, cp. 
Apostolius 5, 71 (P. G. 2, 353) ; Macarius, 3, 9 (P. G. 2, 154) ; 
Diogenianus, 3, 99 (P. G. 1, 232 and 2, 20); Greg. Cyp. 2, 5 
(P. G. 1, 358). 


So much for the later literary reference to Gyges’ Ring. 
Among the authors whose interest in the story evidently went 
beyond the mere phrase which we have been discussing, the most 
notable is Philostratus. In the Heroicus, 2, 137, 29 sqq., he 
gives a brief rhetorical version of the old story, as follows: 

΄ a 
Kat μήν, εἰ μυθολογικὸς ἦν, τόν τε τοῦ ᾿Ορέστου νεκρὸν διήειν ἄν, ὃν 
ε < 2 , 4 a ἡ ‘ 3 cad αλι a” cal 
ἑπτάπηχυν ἐν Νεμέᾳ Λακεδαιμόνιοι εὗρον, καὶ τὸν ἐν τῷ χαλκῷ ἵππῳ τῷ 
A vot a rf Ν >. A δέ ν Tv: Ε} nw δὲ fol aA 
iy ὃς κατωρώρυκτο μὲν ἐν Λυδίᾳ πρὸ Τύγου ἔτι, σεισμῷ δὲ τῆς γῆς 
a “- e gy 
διασχούσης θαῦμα τοῖς περὶ Λυδίαν ὥφθη ποιμέσιν, οἷς ἅμα 6 Τύγης 
2, , 3 x a“ νΝ 4 4 ΕΣ ε ΄ a 
ἐθήτευσεν. ἐς γὰρ κοῖλον τὸν ἵππον θυρίδας ἐν ἑκατέρᾳ πλευρᾷ ἔχοντα 
νεκρὸς ἀπέκειτο μείζων ἢ ἀνθρώπου δόξαι. 

In his life of Apollonius of Tyana, ITI 8, describing how the 
wonderful Indian dragons are hunted, he says: 

a ΄ a 2 i“ 4 4 Ν tod Led 
κοκκοβαφεῖ πέπλῳ χρυσᾶ ἐνείραντες γράμματα τίθενται πρὸ τῆς χειᾶς 
ὕπνον ἐγγοητεύσαντες τοῖς γράμμασιν, ὑφ᾽ οὗ νικᾶται τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς 6 
a 3 
δράκων ἀτρέπτους ὄντας, καὶ πολλὰ τῆς ἀπορρήτου σοφίας ἐπ᾽ αὐτὸν 
ἄδουσιν, οἷς ἄγεταί τε καὶ τὸν αὐχένα ὑπερβαλὼν τῆς χειᾶς ἐπικαθεύδει τοῖς 
γράμμασι : προσπεσόντες οὖν οἱ “Ivdol κειμένῳ πελέκεις ἐναράττουσι, καὶ 
A \ 3 ΄ , BS 3 2A i 2 ~ 6. δέ 
τὴν κεφαλὴν ἀποτεμόντες λήζονται τὰς ἐν αὐτῇ λίθους. ἀποκεῖσθαι δέ 
φασιν ἐν ταῖς τῶν ὀρείων δρακόντων κεφαλαῖς λίθους τὸ μὲν εἶδος ἀνθηρὰς 
καὶ πάντα ἀπαυγαζούσας χρώματα, τὴν δὲ ἰσχὺν ἀρρήτους κατὰ τὸν 

δακτύλιον, ὃν γενέσθαι φασὶ τῷ Γύγῃ." 

Of the passages remaining to be considered some are merely 
notes designed to explain the reference to Gyges’ Ring, others 
are rhetorical abstracts, all are directly due to the scholastic 

The story, for instance, is told by Nonnus in his note on 
Gregory of Nazianzus, Invect. 1, 55 (text in Westermann’s 
Mythographi, p. 366, XVI) as follows: 

Πλάτων ὃ φιλόσοφος ἐν πολιτείαις (ἔστι δὲ οὕτως αὐτοῦ λεγομένη 
πραγματεία) εἰσφέρει τὸν μῦθον τοῦτον, οὕτω λέγων, ὅτι Γύγης ἦν τις 
ποιμὴν περὶ τὴν Λυδίαν - οὗτος ποιμαίνων ἔν τινι ὄρει τὰ πρόβατα 

΄ ν΄ vr x 3 Ν ¥ > a = φ “ Ν 

περιέτυχε σπηλαίῳ τινί, καὶ εἰσελθὼν ἐν αὐτῷ εὗρεν ἵππον χαλκοῦν καὶ 
᾿ς οἵ 

ἔνδον τοῦ χαλκοῦ ἵππου ἄνθρωπον νεκρὸν καὶ δακτύλιον - οὗ δακτυλίου ἡ 

κεφαλὴ στρεπτὴ ἦν καὶ ἐστρέφετο. ἔλαβεν οὖν ὁ Τύγης τὸν δακτύλιον 

καὶ ἐξῆλθε - καὶ ἡνίκα μὲν ἦν ἐν τῇ τάξει ὃ δακτύλιος, ἑωρᾶτο ὑπὸ 

΄ Δ. ὧδ Ν Ἂν: ΄ a ed my 3 Ν a. ἢ 
πάντων, ἡνίκα δὲ τὴν σφενδόνην τοῦ δακτυλίου ἔστρεφεν, ἀφανὴς ἐγίνετο 

a 3 5 f 3 sf Ν a a “ ε ΄ 3 , 
πᾶσιν. ὁ οὖν Πλάτων εἰσφέρει τὸν μῦθον τοῦτον, ὅτι ὃ δίκαιος ἀνήρ, 
κἂν τοῦ Γύγου λάβῃ δακτύλιον, ἵνα μὴ δρᾶται ὑπό τινος, οὐδ᾽ οὕτως 

‘In my article on Gyges, A. J.P. XXIII 370, I somehow managed to 
translate κατὰ τὸν δακτύλιον, “even against the ring,” as though it were 
a genitive instead of an accusative, “ according to the ring.” 


ὥφειλεν ἀδικεῖν - δεῖ γὰρ τὸ καλὸν δι’ αὐτὸ τὸ ἀγαθὸν ἐπιτηδεύειν Kal μὴ 

δι’ ἄλλους τινάς. 

Nonnus practically repeats the same note in his commentary 
on Gregory, Orat. in Basil. 5. 

Poor old Ioannes Tzetzes, at the dawn of the Renaissance—a 
man who would have been a distinguished scholar if he had had 
half a chance—was especially interested in our two passages and 
saw more or less clearly the original relation between them. His 
Chiliades is now so rare a book that I quote here in full the 
passages in point: 

Chiliades I 137-166: 

Ῥύγης τὸ πρότερον ποιμὴν κατά τινας ὑπάρχων, 
Ποιμαίνων εἷρέ που χαλκοῦν ἵππον ἐγκεχωσμένον, 
Εἰς ὅνπερ ἵππον ἔνδοθι νεκρός τις κεκλιμένος 
Στρεπτὸν περὶ τὸν δάκτυλον δακτύλιον ἐφόρει. 
Τοῦτον γοῦν τὸν δακτύλιον οὗτος λαβὼν ὁ Γύγης 
Καὶ γνοὺς ὡς ἔχει δύναμιν, σφενδόνης στρεφομένης, 
Συγκρύπτειν τὸν κατέχοντα καὶ πάλιν ἐμφανίζειν, 
Κτείνας Κανδαύλην ἔλαβε Λυδῶν τὴν βασιλείαν. 
Ἡρόδοτος τὸν Γύγην δὲ ποιμένα μὲν οὐ λέγει, 
Υἱὸν Δασκύλου δέ φησιν, ὑπασπιστὴν Κανδαύλου - 
7 , ΄ 
Ὅστις Κανδαύλης γυναικὸς ἔρον οἰκείας τρέφων 
Ῥυμνὴν αὐτὴν ὑπέδειξε τῷ Γύγῃ λεληθότως. 
Ἡ δὲ καὶ γνοῦσα σιωπᾷ, εἶτα καλεῖ τὸν Γύγην, 
Αἵρεσιν λέγουσα λαβὲ Γύγη τῶν δύο piav, 
Ἢ σὺ Κανδαύλην ἀνελεῖν ἢ φονευθῆναι τούτῳ. 
Γυμνὴ δυσὶν ἀνδράσι γὰρ οὐ στέγω θεαθῆναι. 
Οὕτω Κανδαύλην ἀνελὼν εἷλε τὴν βασιλείαν. 
Ἔκ τῆς Κανδαύλου γυναικὸς ΓΑρδυς υἱὸς τῷ Γύγῃ, 
ἼΛρδυος Σαδυάττης δέ, καὶ τούτου ᾿Αλυάττης, 
Ἐξ ᾿Αλνυάττου Κροῖσος δέ, ὅστις ἡττᾶται Κύρῳ. 
"ANN ἤδη σε σφαδάζοντα καὶ κεχηνότα βλέπω, 
Τὴν Γύγου χρήζοντα μαθεῖν πᾶσαν ἀλληγορίαν. 
Ποιμὴν 6 Τύγης λέγεται τῷ στρατηγὸς τυγχάνειν " 
Ἵππος χαλκοῦς ἀγέρωχός ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία, 
Ναὶ μὴν καὶ τὰ ἀνάκτορα " νεκρός, γυνὴ Κανδαύλου, 
Τῶν ἀνακτόρων ἄπρακτος ἔνδοθεν καθημένη. 
*Hs τὸν δακτύλιον λαβὼν ὑπασπισταῖς δεικνύει, 
Καὶ σὺν αὐτοῖς ἀπέκτεινε λαθραίως τὸν Κανδαύλην. 
Στρέψας δὲ τὸν δακτύλιον πάλιν πρὸς τὴν γυναῖκα 
Γίνεται πᾶσιν ἐμφανής, λαβὼν τὴν βασιλείαν. 

Id. VI 481-484: 

Νυσσία οὖσα σύζυγος Μυρτίλου τοῦ Κανδαύλου - 
To δὲ Κανδαύλης Λυδικῶς τὸν σκυλοπνίκτην λέγει " 


Ἐπεὶ Κανδαύλης ἔδειξε γυμνὴν αὐτὴν τῷ Deyn, 
Κτανεῖν τὸν Γύγην ἔπεισεν αὑτῆς τὸν συνευνέτην. 

Id. VII 195-202: 

Τυμνὴν Κανδαύλης ἔδειξε τῷ Γύγῃ σφὴν γυναῖκα - 
Ἥτις καὶ ᾿συγκαλέσασα τὸν Ῥύγην κατιδίαν 

Δίδωσι τὸν δακτύλιον αὐτῆς, ὡς ἀποκτείνῃ 
Κανδαύλην ταύτης σύζυγον, δείξας κρυφῆ συμμάχοις. 
οὗ γεγονότος κτείνας τε λαθραίως τὸν Κανδαύλην 
Καὶ στρέψας τὸν δακτύλιον πάλιν εἰς τὴν γυναῖκα, 
Τίψεται πᾶσιν ἐμφανὴς λαβὼν τὴν βασιλείαν. 

“Eyes ἐν πρώτῳ πίνακι τρίτην τὴν ἱστορίαν. 

Last of all, we have the following account in the so-called 
Violarium of Eudocia (now considered the work of some scholar 
of the Renaissance), 247: 

Τύγην οἱ Ἕλληνες ἐμυθεύοντο τῇ στροφῇ τῆς σφενδόνης, ἣν ἐφόρει, 
ἀφανίζεσθαι καὶ μὴ ὁρᾶσθαι παρόντα καὶ εἰς ὄψιν ἔρχεσθαι - ὃν καὶ 
Πλάτων 6 φιλόσοφος ἐν ἸΠολιτείαις εἰσφέρει μυθικῶς οὕτω λέγων, ὅτι 
Γύγης τις ἦν ποιμὴν περὶ τὴν Λυδίαν. οὗτος ποιμαίνων ἔν τινι ὄρει τὰ 
πρόβατα περιέτυχε σπηλαίῳ τινί. καὶ εἰσελθὼν ἐν αὐτῷ εὗρεν ἵππον 
χαλκοῦν, καὶ ἔνδον τοῦ χαλκοῦ ἵππου νεκρὸν ἄνθρωπον φοροῦντα δακτύ- 
λιον, οὗ δακτυλίου ἡ κεφαλὴ στρεπτὴ ἦν καὶ ἐστρέφετο. yris σφενδόνη 
ἐκαλεῖτο. ἔλαβεν οὖν 6 Τύγης τὸν δακτύλιον, καὶ ἐξῆλθεν. καὶ ἡνίκα 
μὲν ἦν ἐν τῇ τάξει ὁ δακτύλιος, ἑωρᾶτο ὑπὸ πάντων, ἡνίκα δὲ τὴν 
σφενδόνην τοῦ δακτυλίου ἔστρεφεν, ἀφανὴς ἐγίνετο ἐν πᾶσιν. ὃ οὖν 
Πλάτων εἰσφέρει τὸν μῦθον τοῦτον, ὅτι, φησίν, ὃ δίκαιος ἀνήρ, κἂν τοῦ 
Γύγου λάβῃ τὸν δακτύλιον, ἵνα μὴ ὁρᾶται tad τινος, οὐδὲ οὕτως ὀφείλει 
ἀδικεῖν. δεῖ γὰρ τὰ καλὸν δι’ αὐτὸ τὸ ἀγαθὸν ἐπιτηδεύεσθαι, καὶ μὴ δι᾽ 
ἄλλο τι. ἔχων οὖν ὁ Τύγης τοῦτον τὸν δακτύλιον, ἐλθὼν ἐπὶ τὰ βασί- 
λεια τῶν Λυδῶν καὶ ἀντιστρέψας τὴν σφενδόνην ἐγένετο ἀφανής. καὶ 
εἰσελθὼν ἀπέκτεινε τὸν βασιλέα καὶ ἔλαβε τὴν βασιλείαν. διὸ καὶ Τύγου 
δακτύλιος ἐπὶ τῶν πολυμηχάνων καὶ πανούργων λέγεται. ὃ δὲ Ἡρόδοτος 
ἄλλως ἱστορεῖ τὰ κατὰ τὸν Γύγην, ὅτι ἐπιτροπῇ τῆς δεσποίνης ἀπέκτεινε 
τὸν Κανδαύλην 6 Τύγης καὶ ἐβασίλευσεν. 

It will be seen that this note was written entirely for practical 
purposes. The author explains the Platonic application and 
points out the origin and meaning of the familiar proverb. He 
is not affected by the allegorizing of Tzetzes, but on the other 
hand he also seems to have been sufficiently modern to have quite 
lost track of the good old tradition, as we saw it for instance 
in Chennus and Philostratus, according to which Plato and 
Herodotus really go back ultimately to a common source. 

As we look back over this sometimes thin but always persistent 
literary tradition of more than a millennium, the most notable 


feature of it is the fact that with the possible exception of 
Cicero’s translation, I have been unable to find a single reference 
which does not go back either directly or indirectly to the school- 
house. There is something portentous in the length, the strength 
and the persistence of such a pedagogical tradition. Fancy our 
“ eminent educators ” allowing anything, no matter what it was, 
to remain in the schools for more than thirty generations! It 
would be hasty, however, to assume that this extraordinary 
conservatism was entirely due to the fact that no one had the 
brains or the energy to think of anything new or better. It was 
a long, long time before the Imperial system of education ceased. 
to be distinctly superior in its own particular way to that of any 
other nation or period. 

Finally, it may be worth observing that apart from the trans- 
lation of Cicero already mentioned, I find no reference to Gyges’ 
Ring, no sign of familiarity with the story of it, in the entire 
range of Latin literature. One would have guessed that the 
paramount authority of a writer like Cicero would have given 
his version the entrée of the Roman schools. But this does not 
seem to have been the case. 

Let us now investigate and test in the same manner the later 
tradition of the story told by Herodotus. This, too, begins with 
Rhetoric. The first, and one of the most important references 
now surviving, belongs to the Age of Augustus. It is found in 
Dionysius of Halicarnassus, De Compositione Verborum, § 16. 

The author’s main object and the point which he especially 
desires to make is (8 9) that “it is upon arrangement, far more 
than upon selection, that persuasion, charm, and literary power 
depend.” ὃ “Every utterance,” he continues (88 11 sqq.), “by 
which we express our thoughts is either in metre or not in metre. 
Whichever it be, it can, when aided by beautiful arrangement, 
attain beauty whether of verse or prose. But speech, if flung 
out carelessly at random, at the same time spoils the value of 
the thought. Many poets and prose writers (philosophers and 
orators) have carefully chosen expressions that are distinctly 
beautiful and appropriate to the subject matter, but have reaped. 
no benefit from their trouble because they have given them a 
rude and haphazard sort of arrangement: whereas others have 
invested their discourse with great beauty by taking humble, 
unpretending words, and arranging them with charm and dis- 

5 The translation in this and the following sections is that of Roberts. 


tinction. It may well be thought that composition is to selection 
what words are to ideas. For just as a fine thought is of no 
avail unless it be clothed in beautiful language, so here, too, 
pure and elegant expression is useless unless it be attired in the 
right vesture of arrangement. 

“ But to guard myself against the appearance of making an 
unsupported assertion, I will try to show by an appeal to facts 
the reasons which have convinced me that composition is a more 
important and effective art than mere selection of words. I 
will first examine a few specimen passages in verse and prose. 
Among poets let Homer be taken, among prose-writers 
Herodotus: from these may be formed an adequate notion of 
the rest... . 

“There is in Herodotus a certain Lydian king whom he calls 
Candaules, adding that he was called Myrsilus by the Greeks. 
Candaules is represented as infatuated with admiration of his 
wife, and then as insisting on one of his friends seeing the poor 
woman naked. The friend struggled hard against the constraint 
put upon him; but failing to shake the king’s resolve, he 
submitted, and viewed her. The incident, as an incident, is not 
only lacking in dignity and, for the purpose of embellishment, 
intractable, but is also vulgar and hazardous and more akin to 
the repulsive than to the beautiful. But it has been related 
with great dexterity: it has been made something far better to 
hear told than it was to see done. And, that no one may imagine 
that it is to the dialect that the charm of the story is due, I will 
change its distinctive forms into Attic, and without any further 
meddling with the language will give the conversation as it 

Dionysius then rewrites Herodotus I 8-10 (Tvyn, οὐ ydpce . . . 
ὃ μὲν δὴ ὡς οὐκ ἐδύνατο διαφυγεῖν, ἕτοιμος ἦν) in Attic and continues: 

“ Here again no one can say that the grace of the style is due 
to the impressiveness and the dignity of the words. These have 
not been picked and chosen with studious care; they are simply 
the labels affixed to things by Nature. Indeed, it would perhaps 
have been out of place to use other and grander words. I take 
it, in fact, to be always necessary, whenever ideas are expressed 
in proper and appropriate language, that no word should be 
more dignified than the nature of the ideas. That there is no 
stately or grandiose word in the present passage, any one who 
likes may prove by simply changing the arrangement. There 
are many similar passages in this author, from which it can be 
seen that the fascination of his style does not after all lie in 
the beauty of the words but in their combination.” ὃ 

*“The truth seems to be,” says Roberts in an interesting passage 


For the purposes of our present inquiry this discussion of 
Dionysius is very instructive. We may almost begin with the 
assumption that this passage of Herodotus had already been 
associated with scholastic rhetoric for an indefinite period. 
Otherwise a man of the type and time of Dionysius would hardly 
have used it as an illustration in a technical treatise on rhetoric. 
By the time of Augustus, the examples and illustrations used 
by the rhetoricians were for the most part veterans in the 
service. That this was actually the case with this particular 
passage is suggested for one thing by the fact that it is such an 
extraordinarily good example of the λέξις εἰρομέν. And the 
well-known passage in Aristotle’s Rhetoric (3, 9) in which the 
author discusses and characterizes the two great types of compo- 
sition, indicates that even then Herodotus had become the classic 
of that type. If now we add that as Volkmann observes 
(Rhetorik?, p. 28), Dionysius as a technical rhetorician harks 
back to Isocrates, it is at least quite possible that the Herodotean 
tale of Gyges entered the scholastic tradition of rhetoric at some 
time between Isocrates and Dionysius. 

At any rate—and, after all, that is enough for our present 
purpose—it actually does appear in a rhetorical treatise of the 
Augustan Age. There it is used in connection with the claim 
that composition is more important than selection. This, too, 
must have been a traditional claim. At all events, it is one 
which this passage of Herodotus was peculiarly fitted to support, 
inasmuch as the biblical simplicity of the language used is such 
a marked contrast to the more or less rare and recherché 
vocabulary which was cultivated, for instance, by an author like 
Tacitus, and which was characteristic of rhetoric in general 
during and after the time of Dionysius himself. Indeed, 
although it is quite certain that Dionysius thoroughly believes 
in Herodotus, he, nevertheless, takes up the cudgels for him in 
a way that almost seems apologetic.” 

{Dionysius of Halicarnassus, The Three Literary Letters, p. 11, n. 1), 
“that, in this instance, the charm lies not so much in the dialect, or 
jndeed in the vaunted σύνθεσις itself, as in the attitude of the writer’s 
niind as revealed in the entire narrative, style being interesting (here 
if anywhere) as the revelation of personality.” Roberts has a similar 
note in his Ὁ. H. on Literary Composition, pp. 84 sq., where he also bids 
the reader compare and contrast the narrative of Livy 39, 9. 

τοῦ course the Ionic dialect of Herodotus, as Dionysius himself must 


This passage of Dionysius besides being of unusual impor- 
tance in itself is also the only one, so far as I know, in which 
the Herodotean tale of Candaules is used to illustrate a question 
of literary style. It will be observed that the portion of the 
story selected by Dionysius for discussion is the dialogue, not 
the narrative. This is entirely characteristic of rhetorical 
training in the schools. It is, therefore, no surprise to find that 
later references, in so far as they are scholastic in origin, are 
so largely confined to this particular portion of our story. But 
before considering these references, let us take up another 
important discussion of the story as a whole. 

This belongs to the fifth century and is found in the Progym- 
nasmata of the sophist Nikolaus. Long before the time of 

have felt, undoubtedly does have a charm of its own, especially in a 
story like this. If we distrusted our own judgment, we might appeal 
to such ancient critics as Quintilian, 9, 4, 18, and Hermogenes, De Ideis, 
362, 14 Spengel (cp. Norden, Antike Kunstprosa, p. 36). We may 
grant perhaps that σύνθεσις as Dionysius defines it is superior to selec- 
tion. We may even grant that his experiment on our passage of Hero- 
dotus has proved it. Nevertheless the fact still remains that he has 
failed to prove that the charm of the story is not due to the dialect. 
The reason—though he himself was apparently quite unaware of the 
fact—was because neither he nor anyone else could get rid of the Ionic 
dialect merely “by changing its distinctive forms into Attic, and with- 
out any further meddling with the language giving the conversation as 
it stands.” 

In its form, as well as in its associations, the Ionic dialect has the 
dignity, the harmony, the flexibility of the old Epic. Tonic prose is not 
primitive in the sense of being inartistic. But it is old. Artistically 
as well as chronologically it is anterior to Attic prose. The same is true 
of the λέξις εἰρομένη, the type of literary composition—or, as Dionysius 
would call it, σύνθεσις---οἵ which Herodotus has always been the great 
classical exemplar. ‘H μὲν οὖν εἰρομένη λέξις, says Aristotle, Rhet. 3, 9, 
ἡ ἀρχαία ἐστίν: ‘Hpoddérov Θουρίου ἥδ᾽ ἱστορίης ἀπόδεξις - ταύτῃ yap πρότερον 
μὲν ἅπαντες, νῦν δὲ οὐ πολλοὶ χρῶνται. “The λέξις εἰρομένη is the ancient 
type . . . formerly it was used by everyone, now by comparatively few.” 
In short, to state it in a slightly different fashion, Aristotle means that 
the λέξις εἰρομένη---ΟΥἩἉ, as Dionysius might have said, the type of σύνθεσις 
which suggested that term—is eminently characteristic of Ionic prose 
as opposed to later Attic prose. Anyone who is really acquainted with 
ἃ modern dialect at first hand, knows that it is characterized by its 
arrangement of thought quite as much as by its vocabulary. For the 
whole question of the λέξις εἰρομένη as developed by Herodotus for his 
special purpose, see Jacoby 5. v. “Herodotus” in PRE, Suppl. II. 


Nikolaus, προγυμνάσματα had assumed a very important place 
in the scheme of education (see above, pp. 2 sq.). Among the 
most interesting were the practice declamations, more particu- 
larly the so-called ἀνασκευαί or confutationes (Quintilian 2, 4, 
18 etc.). These were given the young students and were sup- 
posed to be learned by them. The third in the collection of 
Nikolaus (Rhet. Graeci, I 28% Walz) is entitled: 

Ὅτι οὐκ εἰκότα τὰ κατὰ Κανδαύλην 

“That the story of Candaules is not credible.” 

“There was a time when I had a wonderful opinion of 
historians as compared with poets; for the object of history is 
truth, the object of poetry is stories. But now it seems to me 
that Herodotus differs in no respect from the poets; for he 
obliterates the distinction between the two, and consequently 
preserves neither the charm of the metre nor the truth of history. 
One might criticize him for many things, but especially for 
the story he has told about Candaules. It runs as follows: 
Candaules, he says, who was a descendant of Hercules and in 
love with his own wife, exhibited her to Gyges. For he took 
Gyges with him into his own palace, stationed him behind the 
bedroom door, and gave him the opportunity of witnessing the 
Queen from there. She was aware that he saw her and was 
highly incensed; but she waited until morning, sent for Gyges 
and gave him the choice of two things—either to slay Candaules, 
or if he shrank from it, to be slain himself. Gyges chose to 
survive, Candaules fell, and marriage with his wife was the 
reward given for his murder.” 

“This is the story as Herodotus tells it. All the statements 
in it can be picked to pieces in regular order. ‘ Candaules is the 
descendant of Hercules.’ What indications of that pedigree are 
brought forward? The energy and ambition of Hercules were 
all in the direction of virtue and his deeds saved Greece; but 
Candaules had an eye only for pleasures. If he were a descendant 
of Hercules, how could he so belie his ancestry? How again 
could Candaules be in love with his own wife? For either he 
did not live with her or else he did live with her and therefore 
did not desire her; for intercourse destroys love, and the impulse 
of desire is killed by marriage. How too could he take Gyges 
into his palace? The palace was full of guards and crowded 
with people in every direction. Gyges would, therefore, be 
dragged off to execution before the King got him to the place 
proposed, and the trick would come to nought before Gyges saw 
the woman. And where in those rooms was he stationed for 
the view? Why, behind the door! If so, he would have escaped 
notice and therefore would not have seen her. For that which 


is hidden from people is itself the first to escape notice. How 
could he see the woman naked? It was not the custom among 
the Lydians to strip oneself. Not even the men went without 
some covering, least of all the women. And why should a woman 
who is merely going to bed take off all her clothes? Women 
who derive an income from their favours, even if they were to 
strip themselves before men, would do so for the purpose of 
inspiring them with passion. Women who are chaste in their 
intercourse do not bring themselves to strip for the benefit of 
their husbands. How then could Gyges be present and look at 
8 woman who, even to begin with, had not intended to take off 
all her clothes? Why did the woman send for Gyges and give 
him the choice of marriage, if she could not bear his seeing her, 
and why did she honor as a husband him whom she shrank from 
having as a spectator at such a time? How could she deliver 
the kingdom of the Lydians into his hands? Kings are chosen 
by peoples and by states. I really fail to see then how in the 
opinion of Herodotus a woman chooses a king and aspires to a 
fortune which a whole army does not confer. Herodotus ought 
not to have said these things and such things as these. And 
when he does say them, all we can do is to disbelieve him.” 

This confutatio is carefully worked out in accordance with 
the rules given for this type of composition by the sophist Theon 
(Rhet. Graeci I, p. 216 Walz). Some of the arguments touch 
on themes which had long been familiar to the schools. The 
reference to the virtue of Hercules, for instance, suggests a 
discussion which had seldom had an opportunity to rest since 
the time of Prodicus himself. It has no great value as an 
argument here, in fact none of the arguments presented here 
will impress the modern reader as of any great value. Nor 
indeed did they make any deep impression at that time. 
Herodotus had long since attained the position of a more or 
less impeccable classic and therefore no argument against him 
was taken very seriously. But this had not always been the 
case. Note, for example, that of all the themes used for confu- 
tationes by both Theon and Nikolaus, this is the only one taken 
from history. The rest are all taken from mythology. This in 
itself would suggest that there was a long tradition of adverse 
criticism of Herodotus with which the world was fairly familiar. 
We know that such was actually the case, although little is now 
left of it except Plutarch’s essay De Herodoti Malignitate. This 
essay was written by a great man and one who was evidently 
more nearly in touch than was Theon with a living tradition of 


the subject ; but when it comes to the arguments presented, there 
is little to choose between the two. 

Another version of our story as a whole is found in the section 
given to διηγήματα or rhetorical narrationes in the Progymnas- 
mata attributed to Libanius (vol. VIII, p. 48 F). The text is 
as follows: 

“Hpa τῆς ἑαυτοῦ γυναικὸς 6 Κανδαύλης καὶ παρεκάλει tov Γύγην ἐπὶ 
τὴν θέαν τῆς ὧρας. ὃ δὲ τὸ πρῶτον ἀρνούμενος ἐγκειμένου τοῦ Κανδαύλον 
συνεχώρησεν. ὕφ᾽ οὗ δὴ καὶ καταστὰς ὄπισθεν τῆς θύρας τὴν γυναῖκα 
καταγυμνουμένην ἰδὼν ἀπηλλάγη. ἣ δὲ μεταστραφεῖσα τὸ πραχθὲν οὐκ 
ἠγνόησεν, ἤνεγκε δὲ σιγῇ. μεταπέμπεται δὲ τὸν Τύγην, ἐπειδὴ ἡμέρα ἦν, 
καὶ ἐκέλευσεν ἀποθνήσκειν ἀντὶ τῆς θέας ἢ τοῦτο δρᾶν τὸν Κανδαύλην 
ὑπισχνουμένη συνοικήσειν αὐτῷ μετὰ τὸν φόνον. τὸν Γύγην ἤρεσκε μὲν 
οὐδέτερον, εἰς δὲ τὸ κτείνειν ἀπέκλινε. καὶ διαχρησάμενος καθεύδοντα τὸν 
δεσπότην γαμεῖ τε ἐκείνην καὶ βασιλεύει Λυδῶν. 

The version of the scholiast on Alius Aristides, XLV, 56 
(III, p. 411 Dindorf) was, so to speak, a mere matter of busi- 
ness, but it is a good example of the type of rhetorical narratio 
just quoted : 

Κανδαύλης Λυδῶν ἦν βασιλεύς, παγκάλην ἔχων γυναῖκα ' νόμου δὲ 
ὄντος, μή τινα τῶν ἔξωθεν ὁρᾶν τὰς βασιλίδας, 6 Κανδαύλης ἐνέκειτο 
βιάζων τὸν Τύγην εἰς θέαν τῆς γυναικός, ὑπηρέτην ὄντα αὐτῷ - ὁ δὲ τὴν 
μὲν πρώτην ἀπεπήδα, χρόνῳ δὲ ὑπείξας τῷ Κανδαύλῃ βιάζοντι, καὶ εἶδε 
τὴν αὐτοῦ δέσποιναν. αὕτη οὖν λάθρα τουτονὶ μεταστειλαμένη, ἢ θνήσκειν 
αὐτόν, ἢ κτείνειν τὸν δεσπότην ἔλεγε" καὶ ὃς αἱρεῖται τὸ δεύτερον, καὶ 
ταύτην γαμήσας βασιλεύει Λυδῶν. 

We have next to consider the political verses of JIoannes 
Tzetzes, Chiliades, I 137-166 and VII 195-202, the text of which 
has already been given above. 

Finally, and this is almost the last word in ancient literature, 
Georgios (born 1241), later known as Patriarch Gregorios, who, 
it seems, was deeply interested in elementary education, com- 
posed a school-book (preserved in Harleianus 5735 and other 
MSS). True to the pedagogical tradition which had prevailed 
for more than a millennium, it consists of a prose paraphrase of 
ZEsopic fables, and some mythological pieces, among the rest the 
story of Iphigenia, of Aineas, of Pandarus and Diomedes, and 
of Candaules and Gyges. (See Krumbacher, Gesch. der byzan- 
tinischen Litteratur, 2d. edit., Munich, 1897, p. 477.) The 
persistence of our story at this late date shows in itself that it 
had long been familiar to the schools. How familiar it was, 


and how persistent the scholastic tradition of it was, is shown 
by the fact that so far as rhetorical narrationes are concerned, 
it is one of the rare exceptions to the rule of a mythological 
rather than a historical or quasi-historical subject. In the forty- 
odd narrationes of Libanius, for example, this story and two 
others are the only exceptions. Even in the confutationes and 
refutationes of Theon and his successors, the same rule holds 

Such is the tradition of the entire story. It was characteristic, 
persistent and, so far as we can see, entirely scholastic. But 
this was only one aspect of the tradition. The passage, for 
example, in Ptolemeus Chennus (p. 192 W), already referred 
to above, shows that the Herodotean tale of Gyges was quite as 
much a subject of literary chit-chat in the First Century as was 
Plato’s story of the Ring. It follows, therefore, that it had long 
been familiar to the Rhetorical Schools. 

But the longest and perhaps the most important chapter in 
the tradition of this passage is concerned with two phrases. 
Both are found in the dialogue between Gyges and Candaules. 
The fact also that they are both sententious explains why they, 
and incidentally the dialogue in which they occur, were referred 
to so much oftener in the later tradition than anything else in 
the story. One of the notable features in the growth of rhetoric 
and rhetorical study under the Empire was the increasing fond- 
ness for sententia—using that word in the sense of sayings of 
general application—sometimes proverbial but not necessarily 
so.2 Tacitus, as everyone knows, is famous for them and, as 
we shall see later, Herodotus was greatly admired for his skill 
in making them spring naturally from the context. 

Turning now to the first of the two phrases which we have 
to consider, Herodotus makes Candaules say, “ Gyges, when I 
tell thee of my wife’s beauty, methinks thou dost not believe me 
(in fact men’s ears are naturally less trustworthy than their 
eyes). ὦτα yap τυγχάνει ἀνθρώποισι ἐόντα ἀπιστότερα ὀφθαλμῶν. 
“Seeing is believing,” to use the parallel phrase in English. The 
thought was of course not new. Indeed, the artistic value and 
fitness of it in this particular connection are due to the fact not 

* Ernesti, Lex. Techn. 8. v.; Seneca, Controv. I, Praef.; Quint. IV 2, 
121; Theon, I, p. 200 W. 


only that it was not new but that it was a commonplace familiar 
to everyone. 

So far as Greece is concerned, however, the only notable occur- 
rence of the thought, before Herodotus, seems to be in a frag- 
ment of Heraclitus quoted by Polybius 12, 27, 1.2 The passage 

δυεῖν yap ὄντων κατὰ φύσιν ὡσανεί τινων ὀργάνων ἡμῖν, ols πάντα 
πυθανόμεθα καὶ πολυπραγμονοῦμεν, ἀκοῆς καὶ ὁράσεως, ἀληθινωτέρας δ᾽ 
οὔσης οὐ μικρῷ τῆς ὁράσεως κατὰ τὸν Ἡράκλειτον - ὀφθαλμοὶ γὰρ τῶν 
ὥτων ἀκριβέστεροι μάρτυρες. Ἡράκλειτον here was changed to 
Ἡρόδοτον by Leutsch, etc., but Ἡράκλειτον is the reading of the 
MSS, and there is no good reason for doubting it. 

Sophocles, (Βα. Tyr. 1237, 
αὐτὴ πρὸς αὑτῆς. τῶν δὲ πραχθέντων τὰ μὲν 
ἄλγιστ᾽ ἄπεστιν * ἣ γὰρ ὄψις οὗ πάρα, 
though sometimes quoted in this connection, is hardly parallel. 
Latin cognates are fairly numerous,’® but the only passage 
which one might suspect of being an echo of the Herodotean 
phrase is Horace, Ars Poetica, 180: 

Segnius irritant animos demissa per aurem 
Quam quae sunt oculis subiecta fidelibus, et quae 
Ipse sibi tradit spectator. 

On the Greek side, it is again Dionysius of Halicarnassus—if 
indeed Dionysius is the author of the following passage—who 
furnishes the first reference, Rhetoric, 11, p. 401: 11 

Furthermore, figures of speech also indicate the distinctive 
quality of the barbarian mind, as was undoubtedly the case when 
Herodotus makes Candaules say to Gyges in the course of his 

* Frag. XV Bywater; frag. 1018 Diels. See Diels’ note and especially 
R. von Scala, Studien des Polybios, Stuttgart, 1890, I, pp. 88 ff. 

19 Plautus, Asin. 202: Semper oculatae manus sunt nostrae, credunt 
quod vident; Plautus, Truc. 490 (also quoted by Apuleius, Flor. 2 and 
Festus, 179M): Pluris est oculatus testis unus quam auriti decem; 
ference, Eun. 350: Vidi, novi; Seneca, N.Q., 4, 3, 1: Itaque ex his me 
testibus numero secundae notae, qui audivisse quidem se, vidisse negant, 
ete.; Seneca, Epist. 6, 5: Homines amplius oculis quam auribus credunt; 
Hieronymus, Epist. 64, 10: Multoque plus intellegitur quod oculis vide- 
tur quam quod aure percipitur. Cicero, De Orat. 3, 161, though quoted 
in this connection, is not in point. 

11] doubt whether Strabo 2, 5, p. 117 is in any sense an echo of Hero- 



conversation with him: “In fact, men’s ears are naturally less 
trustworthy than their eyes.” For he did not speak of ‘ hearing’ 
and ‘sight,’ but transferred the thought to the parts of the body 

It is quite true that a large use of figurative speech, especially 
in ordinary conversation, is more or less characteristic of the 
barbarian mind. But the long tradition of this particular use 
in Greek itself, beginning as we have seen as early at least as 
Heraclitus, suggests that Dionysius might have done better to 
select some other example. This, however, is a point with which 
we are not directly concerned. 

Chronologically the first to consider after Dionysius is Philo 
Judaeus. He displays an extraordinary fondness for this thought, 
but, after a careful examination of his entire works, I can give 
no example which seems to be suggested by our phrase. 

We now come to Lucian—in the discussion of a question like 
this always an author of unusual interest. Perhaps no late 
writer had a wider range of reading, certainly no one could 
make a more felicitous use, if he chose, of literary tradition. 
In this period of the first Sophistic Renaissance special attention, 
as we have already seen, was given to Herodotus. The passage 
from Nikolaus discussed above indicates that Herodotus in 
general and his stories of Croesus and of Candaules in particular 
were firmly rooted in the schools. We gather from Lucian how 
familiar they must have been to the reading public—all of whom 
had been educated in those schools. An excellent example of 
Lucian’s methods of dealing with Herodotean material is found 
in his De Domo, 19 ff. His description of the handsome building 
naturally brings up the question of the superiority of seeing to 
hearing. Lucian defends the former against an assumed oppo- 
nent whom he calls ὃ λόγος. In the passage with which we are 
concerned Lucian says: 

“ Compare the story of the Sirens with that of the Gorgons, 
if you would know how insignificant is the power of words in 
comparison with that of visible objects. The enchantments of 
the former were at the best a matter of time; they did but 
flatter the ear with pleasing songs; if the mariner landed, he 
remained long on their hands, and it has even happened to them 
to be disregarded altogether. But the beauty of the Gorgons, 

irresistible in might, won its way to the inmost soul, and 
wrought amazement and dumbness in the beholder; admiration 



(so the legend goes) turned him to stone. All that my opponent 
has just said about the peacock illustrates my point: that bird 
charms not the ear, but the eye. Take a swan, take a nightin- 
gale, and set her singing: now put a silent peacock at her side, 
and I will tell you which bird has the attention of the company. 
The songstress may go hang now; so invincible a thing is the 
pleasure of the eyes. Shall I call evidence? A sage, then, shall 
be my witness, how far mightier are the things of the eye than 
those of the ear. Usher, call me Herodotus, son of Lyxes, of 
Halicarnassus.—Ah, since he has been so obliging as to hear the 
summons, let him step into the box. You will excuse the Ionic 
dialect; it is his way. 

“ “Gentlemen of the Jury, the Theory hath spoken sooth. Give 
good heed to that he saith, how sight is a better thing than 
hearing; for a man shall sooner trust his eyes than his ears.’ 

“You hear him, Gentlemen? He gives the preference to 
sight, and rightly. For words have wings; they are no sooner 
out of the mouth than they take flight and are lost; but the 
delight of the eyes is ever present, ever draws the beholder to 
itself. Judge, then, the difficulty the orator must experience in 
contending with such a rival as this Hall, whose beauty attracts 
every eye.” [Fowler’s trans. | 

Again in his De Saltatione, 78, an essay in which it is several 
times suggested that pantomime appeals both to the ear and the 
eye, Lucian says: 

“The eyes, according to Herodotus, are more credible wit- 

nesses than the ears; though the pantomime, by the way, appeals 
to both kinds of evidence.” 

Finally, in his amusing essay on The Way to Write History, 
29, he says: 

“ Another entertaining person, who has never set foot outside 
of Corinth, nor travelled as far as its harbour—not to mention 
seeing Syria or Armenia—starts with words which impressed 
themselves on my memory: ‘Seeing is believing’: ‘Qra 
ὀφθαλμῶν ἀπιστότερα. I therefore write what I have seen, not 
what I have heard.” 

It will be noticed that no author is mentioned here, but we may 
be quite sure that both Lucian and the majority of his readers 
thought of Herodotus. 

The next example on my list belongs to the second Sophistic 
Renaissance. In a letter to Leontius (XXI, Epistolog. Graeci, 
p. 345, 45, Didot) the Emperor Julian begins an attack on his 
correspondent with 


“The historian from Thurii says that ‘men’s ears are less 
trustworthy than their eyes.’ So far as you are concerned, I 
hold the opposite opinion.” 

Again, in one of his speeches (4, 145 D) he says: 

“ Since the eyes are more trustworthy than the hearing though 
they are less trustworthy and weaker than the understanding, 
come let us endeavor,” etc. 

An unexpected and interesting application of our phrase is 
made by Libanius, Declam. 30, 53 (VI, p. 647 F). The envious 
man complains that his neighbor’s handsome house is more than 
he can bear to look upon: 

ἀμυδρὰν ἔ ἔχει τὰ ὦτα τὴν λύπην, διὰ δὲ τῶν ὀμμάτων ὀξεῖά τις ὀδύνη 
κάτεισιν εἰς τὴν καρδίαν. ὁρᾶν δὲ καὶ μὴ βουλόμενον ἀνάγκη.ἢ 

Two generations later the ecclesiastic Theodoretus (Graec. 
Aff. Cur. 10, 103), discussing prophecy and emphasizing the 
fact that as a basis of belief seeing surpasses hearing, closes 
with the remark: 

“ And Herodotus cleverly tells us that men’s ears are less 

trustworthy than their eyes. For the eyes of course see what 
the ears hear.” 

A scholiast on Aratus says in his Introduction [p. 89, Maass] : 

Καλὸν κατὰ τὸν Κυρηναῖον [Callimachus, Epig. 27] ἀμείψασθαι τῴ 
λόγῳ τὸν ᾿Αράτου πόνον, ὃν ἐπόνησεν 
ἥμενος (οὐδέ οἱ ὕπνος ἐπὶ βλεφάροισιν ἔπιπτεν - 
Πληιάδας εἰσορόωντι καὶ ὀψὲ δύοντα Βοώτην 
ἔΑρκτον θ᾽, ἣν καὶ “Apagay ἐπίκλησιν καλέουσιν) 
ὑπὲρ τὸν ᾿Ιθακήσιον κυβερνήτην (Odyss. δ, 271-3)- τῷ μὲν γὰρ 
᾿Αλικαρνασσεῖ (Herod. 1, 8) ὦτα ἀπιστότερα ὀφθαλμῶν. τυγχάνει, 
Αρατος δὲ τὴν μάθησιν ἅμα τοῖς ὠσὶν ἐπιδείκνυσι τοῖς ὄμμασιν. 

The Scholia Veneta (Homer, Il. T, 292) give the thought ; 
but no necessary suggestion of an echo of Herodotus is to be 
detected either here or in the following passage from Theophy- 
lactus Simocatta, Dial. 10, 1 [vol. I, p. 177 Ideler]: 

22We cannot say that there is an echo of Herodotus in the Pseudo- 
Clementine Recognitiones, III 44, where in a supposed argument between 
Peter and Simon Magus we have: Which of the two can better persuade 
an incredulous man, seeing or hearing? Then Simon said: “Seeing.” 


ταῖς φιλοπευθέσι ψυχαῖς κόρος οὐκ ἔστι γνώσεως. οὐκοῦν ἐπὶ τὴν 
νύσσαν ὁ λόγος, ᾿Αντίσθενες. ὦτα γάρ μοι ὀφθαλμῶν ἀπληστότερα. 

Finally, Apostolius XVIII, 71, Par. Graeci, II, p. 744, sets 
down ὠτίων πιστότεροι ὀφθαλμοί in his collection of proverbs 
and offers the following grammatical explanation in his note: 

ἐπὶ τῶν ἀλόγως τὰ μείω τοῖς κρείττοσι παραβαλλομένων. ἰστέον δ᾽ ἄν 
σοι εἴη, ὡς τὸ ἀκούω οὐ μόνον γενικῇ ἀλλὰ καὶ αἰτιατικῇ συντάσσεται, ὡς 
καὶ τὰ ἄλλα πάντα κατηγορήματα τῶν αἰσθήσεων πλὴν τῆς ὁράσεως - 
ἐκείνη γὰρ μόνη αἰτιατικῇ ἅτε βασιλικωτέρα τῶν ἄλλων οὖσα καὶ ἐφ᾽ ἑνὸς 
ἱδρύεσθαι μόνον προσήκουσα, ἀλλ᾽ οὐκ ἄνω καὶ κάτω φέρεσθαι. ὃ 

The phrases collected by the Paroemiographi are not always 
proverbs in the strict sense of the word. On the contrary, the 
collection is more often a cross between Bartlett’s ‘ Familiar 
Quotations’ and Fumagalli’s ‘Chi Pha detto?’? The phrase, 
however, not only sounds like a genuine proverb but differs 
from Herodotus in the arrangement of the thought. ὠτίων 
πιστότεροι ὀφθαλμοί would be the natural statement of the 
idea in Greek. Herodotus states it as ‘ears less trustworthy 
than eyes’ because the reversal, so to speak, is more in harmony 
with his context. 

The history of this phrase, as will be seen from the survey 
just given, has a certain interest and significance of its own. 
When Herodotus used it, it had long been a commonplace, 
almost a proverb. Indeed, it was for that very reason that he 
did use it. But as early at least as the second century of our 
era it was so thoroughly identified with the Herodotean account 
of Candaules that it had assumed the character of a definite 
literary allusion. The principal, if not the only, reason for it 
was the fact that this particular passage was carefully studied 
in the Rhetorical Schools. 

To the same cause may be traced the long vitality of another 
phrase in our story. This is the statement of Gyges in his reply 
to Candaules that “woman, in putting off her raiment, also 
putteth off her respect”: ἅμα δὲ κιθῶνι ἐκδυομένῳ συνεκδύεται καὶ 
τὴν αἰδῶ γυνῆ. Like its predecessor just discussed and for the 
same reason, this also should be a commonplace. That this actu- 

Ὁ Of. Ap. Dyse. περὶ συντάξεως 290, 10 sqq. (Bekker) and B. L. Gilder- 
sleeve, A Syntactician among the Psychologists, Journ. Philos. Psychol. 
and Scientific Methods, II 93.—C. W. E. M. 


ally was the case is shown by the famous saying which Diogenes 
Laertius attributes to Theano the wife of Pythagoras (8, 1, 

“ She advised the woman intending to go to her own husband 
to put off her modesty together with her garments, and when 
she arose to put it on again with them”: τῇ πρὸς τὸν ἴδιον ἄνδρα 
μελλούσῃ πορεύεσθαι παρήνει ἅμα τοῖς ἐνδύμασι καὶ τὴν αἰσχύνην ἀποτί- 
θεσθαι, ἀνισταμένην τε πάλιν ἅμα αὐτοῖσιν ἀναλαμβάνειν. 

This in itself presupposes the existence even in Theano’s time 
of the commonplace which long afterwards Herodotus put in 
the mouth of Gyges. 

The same commonplace seems to have suggested the same 
discussion and the same conclusion to Plutarch. In the Coniug. 
Praecepta, 10, 139 C, he observes that 

“Herodotus is not correct in saying that a woman lays off 

her modesty together with her raiment. On the contrary, the 
chaste woman puts on modesty instead,” etc. 

Here, as with the phrase previously discussed, the attribution to 
Herodotus of what, in substance at least, was an ancient com- 
monplace indicates how firmly his tale of Gyges was fixed in 
the literary tradition. Cp., also, Plutarch, De audiendo, 1. 

We have already seen that the story was studied in the 
Rhetorical Schools of the second century. In this connection 
it is interesting to observe that while discussing the use of 
sententiz, which he says should spring naturally from the con- 
text, Theon (I, p. 200 Walz) quotes two from Herodotus—one 
from the story of Creesus, the other, our phrase, from the story 
of Gyges. Such being the case, the phrase must have been 
doubly and trebly familiar in later times. And that this was 
the case is also suggested by the fact that it occurs no less than 
twice in the Florilegium of Stobaeus—32, 8, and again, more 
correctly, in 74, 36. 

In his Pedagogus II, 10, 100 (I, p. 299 Dindorf), Clemens 
Alexandrinus says: 

ἀεὶ δὲ καθαρῷ καθαροῦ θέμις θιγγάνειν: μὴ δὴ ἅμα χιτῶνι ἀποδυομένῳ 
ἀποδυσώμεθα καὶ τὴν αἰδῶ ποτε, ἐπεὶ οὐδέποτε τῷ δικαίῳ σωφροσύνην 
ἀποδύσασθαι θέμις. 

The Scholiast (p. 444) on this passage quotes the Herodotean 


Clement was one of the best educated as well as one of the 
most gifted of the Church Fathers. The same cannot be said 
of Theodoretus, whose reference to the phrase regarding eyes 
and ears has already been noted. In his Graec. Affect. Curatio 
9, 42, he quotes the following passage from Plato (Leg. XI 
925 A): 

τὴν δὲ τοῦ τῶν γάμων χρόνου συμμετρίαν τε Kai ἀμετρίαν ὁ δικαστὴς 
σκοπῶν κρινέτω, γυμνοὺς μὲν τοὺς ἄρρενας, γυμνὰς δὲ ὀμφαλοῦ μέχρι 
θεώμενος τὰς θηλείας. 

After which the worthy ecclesiastic allows himself to remark 
impressively that 

“The one who made these laws did not remember the words 
of the wife of Candaules. For when her husband bade her show 
her naked body to him, she said very chastely that a woman in 
putting off her raiment at the same time put off her modesty.” 

Theodoretus gets many of his quotations from the classics indi- 
rectly through Eusebius and others. This, however, is one 
which his latest editor counts among those secured at first hand. 
If so, Theodoretus must have had a very poor memory. I, 
myself, should be inclined to believe that he had a fair memory 
of the phrase, because he had learned it in school, but only a 
vague recollection of the story in which it was found. 

This completes the ancient history of our phrase, so far as I 
have been able to trace it. As regards the sentiment expressed, 
it is to be observed that Dionysius does not consider it as spe- 
cifically barbarian—in spite of the fact that Herodotus himself 
further down felt called upon to explain the resentment of the 
Queen by stating that “among the Lydians, and nearly all 
the other barbarians, even for a man to be seen naked is reckoned 
a deep disgrace.” 

As a matter of fact, the standard of modesty is much more a 
matter of convention than is generally supposed. It varies more 
or less according to race, period, ete. Nothing is better known 
to the modern world than the attitude of the Greeks on this 
subject, as set forth in the statement of Herodotus just quoted ; 
of. also Plato, Resp. 452 C, and Philostratus, Imagines I, 30. 
But the attitude of the nation, even if truthfully stated, is not 
necessarily the attitude of the individual. One Lysidice, as 
described by Dio the philosopher (Clem. Alex. Strom. 4, 19, 


120), would have been unusual even in the severest years of the 
Victorian Age: 

Nat μὴν Δίων ὁ φιλόσοφος Λυσιδίκην τινὰ γυναῖκα ἱστορεῖ δι’ ὑπερβο- 
λὴν αἰδοῦς αὐτῷ χιτῶνι λούεσθαι, Φιλωτέραν δέ, ὁπότε μέλλοι εἰσιέναι τὴν 
πύελον, ἡσυχῇ ἐπαναστέλλεσθαι τὸν χιτῶνα καθ᾽ ὅσον τὰ γυμνὰ τὸ ὕδωρ 
ἔσκεπεν, εἶτα κατ᾽ ὀλίγον αὖθις ἀνιοῦσαν ἐπενδύσασθαι. 

And we may be sure that there never was ἃ time in any country 
when a woman of character would not have resented bitterly the 
treatment which Candaules accorded his queen. 

One more phrase remains to be considered before proceeding 
to other matters. This is χρῆν yap Κανδαύλῃ γενέσθαι κακῶς. It 
is not a sententia. The remarkable vitality of it is rather due 
to the fact that it is so eminently characteristic of Greek in 
general and of Herodotus in particular. It is a homely expres- 
sion of that idea of Nemesis, or balance, which was so firmly 
fixed in the antique mind and so characteristic of antique 
thought. The Tragedy could hardly have existed without it, 
and, as for Herodotus, his entire book is one long lesson in it. 
The story of Candaules and the story of Croesus are conspicuous 
examples of it, but there are others; and in fact Herodotus 
makes the same comment no less than four times elsewhere 
(2, 161; 4, 79; 5, 92d; 9,109). Nevertheless, and here again 
scholastic rhetoric was undoubtedly the carrier, this phrase was 
not only felt to be distinctively Herodotean, but it was regularly 
associated with his story of Candaules. That this was the case 
is shown by Lucian in his Asinus 28. Relating the story of his 
adventures and mishaps in the form of an ass, the hero says at 
this point: 

“But when we went to the field, the herdsman mingled me 
with the horses and led us to the herd for pasture. And really 
after that it was written that I should fare as did Candaules; 

for the overseer of the horses left me behind in the hands of 
his wife Megapole, and she harnessed me to the mill,” etc. 

The sentence in question is: ἐχρῆν δὲ dpa κἀνταῦθα ὥσπερ ἹΚανδαύλῃ 
κἀμοὶ γενέσθα. What is the solution of the puzzle? The old 
scholar Wesselingius said, supply κακῶς. This of course is 
correct. That it should be so shows in itself how familiar the 
Herodotean version was to the contemporary reading public. 

Again, in his essay on The Way to Write History, Lucian 
says (18): 


“ Again, it would be a sinful neglect to omit the man who 
begins like this: ‘I devise to tell of Romans and Persians’; 
then a little later, ‘For ’twas Heaven’s decree that the Persians 
should suffer evils’; ἔδεε yap Πέρσῃσι γενέσθαι κακῶς ; and again, 
‘One Osroes there was, whom Hellenes name Oxyroes ’—and 
much more in that style. He corresponds, you see, to one of 
my previous examples; only he is a second Herodotus, and the 
other a second Thucydides.” 

An epigram of Agathias (A. P. VII 567): 
Κανδαύλου τόδε σῆμα: Δίκη δ᾽ ἐμὸν οἶτον ἰδοῦσα 
οὐδὲν ἀλιτραίνειν τὴν παράκοιτιν ἔφη. 
ἤθελε γὰρ δισσοῖσιν ὑπ᾽ ἀνδράσι μηδὲ φανῆναι, 
ἀλλ᾽ ἢ τὸν πρὶν ἔχειν, ἢ τὸν ἐπιστάμενον, 
χρῆν ἄρα Κανδαύλην παθέειν κακόν: οὐ γὰρ ἂν ἔτλη 
δεῖξαι τὴν ἰδίην ὄμμασιν ἀλλοτρίοις. 
shows that the phrase was equally familiar to the public three 
hundred years later. 
Finally, two examples are quoted from Procopius—one from 
the Bell. Pers. I 25, 26: 
Ἰωάννης δὲ (χρῆν yap αὐτῷ γενέσθαι κακῶς) τὴν βασιλέως ὑποθήκην 
ἐν ἀλογίᾳ πεποιημένος, 

the other from Bell. Goth. I 4, 4: 

᾿Αμαλασοῦνθα δὲ (χρῆν γάρ of γενέσθαι κακῶς) ἐν οὐδενὶ λόγῳ φύσιν 

τὴν Θευδάτου ποιησαμένη. 
It will be observed that in neither case does he appear to be 
conscious of making a quotation at all. But in view of what 
has been said above, we may be tolerably certain that he knew 
the phrase to be Herodotean. 

But the tradition of this story is by no means confined to 
phrases alone. On the contrary, its use for other purposes is 
quite as noticeable. A case in point is the very idea of Nemesis 
illustrated by the phrase just discussed. In the Tragedy it 
generally appears in the form of Ate, or divine vengeance. In 
everyday life it appears as the ups and downs of fickle fortune, 
a subject of which the world at large never grew weary. The 
guests, for example, at Trimalchio’s dinner table, most of whom 
are freedmen, discuss it as freely and eagerly as in the same 
situation we would wax enthusiastic over politics or our favorite 
dishes. Above all in the Rhetorical Schools, the presentation of 
this subject in various forms continued until the very end of 


antiquity itself. The Tenth Satire of Juvenal, the Sixty-fourth 
Oration (De Fortuna) in the corpus of Dio Chrysostomus—and 
many others might be mentioned—are devoted entirely to this 
subject. Socrates, Cicero, Demosthenes, Priam, Alexander, 
Xerxes, Seianus, Pompey, Marius, Hannibal, Sardanapallus, 
Caesar, Mithridates—history and mythology were ransacked for 
striking examples, and most of them became commonplaces in 
the Rhetorical Schools. Few were so familiar and so notable 
as Xerxes, Croesus, and Candaules—all three furnished by 
Herodotus. We have seen how Candaules was treated by 
Herodotus. With him the story of Gyges becomes a great 
tragedy of destiny. In Justinus, Candaules has already become 
a mere illustration of the theme so long familiar to the Rhet- 
orical Schools. “ Fuere Lydis,” says Justinus at the very 
beginning of his account, “multi ante Croesum reges variis 
casibus memorabiles, nullus tamen fortunae Candauli conpa- 
randus” (I 7, 14). 

Another characteristic method of dealing with this theme is 
furnished by [Dio Chrysostomus] De Fortuna, LXIV 27: 

θησαυροὶ μὲν εἰς ἀνθρώπους οὗτοι παρὰ θεοῖς + ταμιεύει δὲ αὐτῶν πρὸς 
τὸ ἐπιβάλλον ἡ τύχη καὶ ῥήτορι καὶ στρατηγῷ καὶ πένητι καὶ πλουσίῳ 
καὶ πρεσβύτῃ καὶ νέῳ. Κροίσῳ δίδωσι χρυσόν, Κανδαύλῃ γυναῖκα, 
Πηλεῖ ξίφος, Νέστορι ἀσπίδα, Πτερέλᾳ κόμην χρυσῆν, Νίσῳ πλόκαμον 
πορφυροῦν, ᾿Αλκιβιάδῃ κάλλος, Σωκράτει φρόνησιν, ᾿Αριστείδῃ δικαιο- 
σύνην, Λακεδαιμονίοις γῆν, ᾿Αθηναίοις θάλατταν. εἶτα ἐν μέρει τούτων 
μὲν ἀφείλετο, ἄλλοις δὲ ἔδωκεν. καὶ οὐδέν μοι δοκεῖ ὁ βίος τῶν ἀνθρώπων 
πομπῆς διαφέρειν ἐν ταῖς ἡμερησίαις μεταβολαῖς. 

In Justinus as well as in Herodotus, the visible instrument 
of Destiny is the woman. She is the evil genius of the doomed 
king. Viewed from this angle, Candaules was called upon to 
illustrate another theme, which not only in the Rhetorical 
Schools but in the world at large has been familiar ever since 
the temptation of Eve. This is the assertion that the greatest 
enemy of mankind is womankind. As the old English etymologer 
has it, “woman is woe-man.” The most striking example of 
this for our purpose is furnished by Achilles Tatius I 8. In 
this passage Clinias, hearing that his friend is about to be 
married, attempts to dissuade him from it by citing a number 
of dreadful examples, among the rest, 

“ Eriphyle’s necklace, Philomela’s dinner, Sthenoboea’s lie, 


Aérope’s theft, Procne’s murder. Agamemnon desired the 
beauty of Chryseis, Achilles that of Briseis—the one lover 
brought a plague upon the Greeks, the other mourning upon 
himself. Candaules married a beautiful wife; but by her he 
was slain.” 

The nature and peculiarities of love and lovers were much 
discussed in antiquity, especially by the philosophers and after- 
wards in the Rhetorical Schools. Most of us, for example, have 
met the man who insists on telling us all about his love-affair. 
The same man was quite as common in antiquity, and the stand- 
ard example of him appears to have been Candaules. 

Why does he insist on making Gyges his confidant? Because, 
says Herodotus, it was written that Candaules should come to 
tuin. Justinus says, 

“ Hic uxorem, quam propter formae pulchritudinem deperiebat, 
praedicare omnibus solebat, non contentus voluptatum suarum 
tacita conscientia, nisi etiam matrimonii reticenda publicaret, 
prorsus quasi silentium damnum pulchritudinis esset.” “ Exactly 
as though silence were a diminution of her beauty.” 

After all, the rhetorician has explained much in a single phrase. 
So, too, Plutarch in a discussion on love says (Quaest. Conviv. 
I 5, 6): 

“And though they take the greatest delight in looking at 
those they love they take no less delight in praising them than 
in looking at them. And love, garrulous as it is anyhow, is 
extremely so in the matter of praises. For lovers are themselves 
thoroughly persuaded, and they wish everybody else to be thor- 
oughly persuaded, that those whom they love are beautiful and 
good. This is what roused the Lydian Candaules to induce Gyges 
into his apartment as a spectator... . For they wish their 
statements supported by the testimony of others.” 

The attitude is familiar enough. Many illustrations of it 
might be quoted, cp. for example Tibullus IV 13, 7-8 with my 

nil opus invidia est, procul absit gloria vulgi: 
qui sapit, in tacito gaudeat 1116 sinu.’* 

“The act of Candaules in exhibiting his wife as described by Hero- 
dotus and Justinus is quite credible. There is no reason for disbelieving 
a similar story which Suetonius tells of Caligula (25): Caesoniam 
neque facie insigni neque aetate integra matremque iam ex alio viro 
trium filiarum, sed luxuriae ac lasciviae perditae, et ardentius et con- 


But, after all, the feelings of Candaules and, which is not gen- 
erally taken into account, the feelings of Gyges are perhaps best 
described in Suckling’s song in which we are told that: 

If, when Dan Cupid’s dart 
Doth wound a heart, 
We hide our grief 
And shun relief, 
The smart increaseth on that score; 
For wounds unsearcht but rankle more. 

Then if we whine, look pale, 
And tell our tale, 
Men are in pain 
For us again; 
So, neither speaking doth become 
The lover’s state, nor being dumb. 

When this I do descry 
Then thus think I: 
etc., etc. 

stantius amavit, ut saepe chlamyde peltaque et galea ornatam ac iuxta 
adequitantem militibus ostenderit, amicis vero etiam nudam. uxorio 
nomine dignatus est jquam enixam, uno atque eodem die professus et 
maritum se eius et patrem infantis ex ea natae. Nor for that matter 
is the type unknown to the mediaeval novelle of France and Italy. As 
Radet says: “Il n’y a rien d’anormal ἃ ce qu’un souverain d’Orient se 
soit enorgueilli de son harem. Tout au contraire. Tnsuite, dans cette 
frénésie d’enchantement qu’inspire ἃ Candaule une forme admirable, il 
se pourrait qu’a la vanité amoureuse se mélat quelque sentiment esthé- 
tique. Hérodote n’est pas seul a présenter le Sandonide comme un 
amateur du beau, passionnément épris du charme des lignes et des con- 
tours. C’est bien une physionomie d’artiste que Pline lui attribue 
[XXXV 34, 2; VII 39, 1; cf. VII 57, 14].... Candaule eut, ἃ n’en 
pas douter, le goat des arts, et ce fut trés probablement ce dilettantisme 
qui donna lieu ἃ la tradition populaire dont Hérodote s’est fait Vécho ” 
(La Lydie et le monde grec au temps des Mermnades, Paris, 1893, p. 131). 
It is this type of man which Gautier drew with great care in his well- 
known story ‘Le Roi Candaule,’ and which Hebbel attempted though 
with less success in his once famous play, Gyges und sein Ring. C. 
Fries, Oriental. Lit.-Ztg. 1910, 346 f. (cp. Lehmann-Haupt PRE VII, p. 
1966) shows clearly enough that in this particular at least the folly of 
Candaules is an echo not of his dilettantism but of the old story of 
Ishtar, the Babylonian Venus. So far as the ancients were concerned, 
everyone was quite well aware that the type represented by Candaules, 
Caligula and their kind is not, and never has been, surprisingly rare. 
In this type, mere overweening pride of ownership—the impulse that 


Three passages remain to be considered. The first is found 
in the speech of Aelius Aristides in Defence of Rhetoric (Orat. 
XLV 56—II, p. 74 Dindorf). 

“My opponents claim,” he says in substance, “that rhetoric 
incites to crime. The claim is ridiculous. On the contrary, it 
holds up to reprobation as nothing else can. Let us take the 
case of Gyges and Candaules. οὐ μὴν ἀλλ᾽ εἰ Πλάτων οἴεται τούτοις 
ἐλέγχειν αὐτήν, Gpa καὶ τὰ Γύγου τοῦ Λυδοῦ προσεγκαλεῖν αὐτῇ οἶμαι--- 
ταῦτα μέν ἐστι καὶ ἀτοπώτερα---ὅτι τὸν δεσπότην ἀποκτείνας ἔσχε τὴν 
ἀρχήν: ἡ δὲ συνήδει καὶ συνέπραττεν ἡ τοῦ μὲν γυνή, τοῦ δὲ δέσποινα.’ 

In his funeral oration for the Emperor Julian (18, 294—II, 
p. 865 F), Libanius, after describing the ruin, the suffering, the 
desolation, which accompanied and followed the cruel and un- 
timely death of his beloved friend and pupil, is moved, as well 
he may be, to inquire why such things are. 

“Tt were nothing strange,” he says in substance, “if in days 
like these any man might feel, as I feel, that never to die would 
be a penalty. And yet I did think that the gods ought to reward 
that marvelous man now gone, not with that penalty, but with 
children, with ripe old age, and length of dominion. They did 
not. On the other hand, there are the Lydian kings—all of 
them, my God, the seed of Gyges, him with the hands unclean. 
One of them reigned for thirty-nine years, another for fifty- 
seven; and he himself the impious guardsman for thirty-eight.” 

Again in Orat. 25, 69 (II 571 F), supporting his claim that 
slaves cannot be trusted, he says: 

“A great many things teach me that lesson; among the rest, 
the Lydian guardsman who slew his master and took all he 
had, both his wife and his kingdom.” 

Note that the sentence ends much as does the concluding sen- 
tence of both Herodotus and Justinus. 

These three passages are the only ones in which any emphasis 
whatever is laid upon the guilt of either Gyges or his accomplice. 
That this should be the case is a good illustration of the extra- 
ordinary conservatism of scholastic tradition. 

It will be seen that so far as their later tradition is concerned, 
the experience of these two stories was much the same. Both 
of them lived in and by the schools. Even their Roman experi- 

prompts the collector to exhibit some unique treasure, is quite sufficient 
in itself to explain the situation. 


ence was parallel. There is no indication now that the passage 
of Herodotus was ever translated by any Roman, much less that 
it was ever known or used in the Roman schools. In fact, so far 
as I know, the Latin tradition of it begins and ends with the 
possible echo of a single phrase in Horace already discussed 
above. The only version of the story of Gyges to be found in 
Latin at all is by Justinus. It would be this version if any that 
would appear in the Roman schools. The story as Herodotus 
tells it is not calculated to appeal to the Roman mind, above all 
to the Roman professorial mind. The psychology of it is too 

Now, of course, it would be ridiculous to assume from the tes- 
timony I have gathered that during all the long period from the 
death of Herodotus and Plato to the fall of the Eastern Empire 
there were not a great many people who read the two stories in 
question, quite apart from the fact that during all that time they 
appear to have been safely ensconced in the regular course of 
preliminary training which every educated man was supposed to 
have followed. Many people even in these days know more of 
Shakespeare and Milton than those selections which they were 
obliged to study when in college. The life of a great classic is 
by no means accurately gauged by the number of times it hap- 
pens to be quoted or echoed in the later tradition of literary art. 
Nevertheless, the time always seems to come in the intellectual 
life of every nation when the classics are more talked about than 
read, when the only portions of them known at first hand are 
likely to be those which are included in the scheme of regular 
education, and therefore cannot be avoided or neglected. This 
investigation indicates, so far as it goes, that the last thousand 
years of the Graeco-Roman Empire were such a period. During 
all those centuries literary allusion to the great authors of the 
past often seems to be rich and varied. But when, among other 
things, we observe the regularity and the frequency with which 
certain stock phrases continue to recur, we realize that the rich- 
ness and variety of such allusions are more apparent than real. 
Furthermore, if, following the method and scope of this investi- 
gation, we were to examine the pedigree of every such allusion 
and set aside all those that are clearly traceable to the schools, 
the residuum would hardly be visible, I suspect, to the naked eye. 

As we have seen, thanks to the extraordinary conservatism and 


vitality of scholastic training and apparently to them alone, the 
tradition of the two passages which we have been considering 
continued unbroken to the dawn of the Renaissance. With that 
great period of awakening and the return, after many ages, of 
the Greek Classics to the West, the life of our two passages like 
that of others loses scholastic support in the earlier sense, and 
thenceforth is to be traced for the most part in the literature 
of the modern languages. I subjoin here such references and 
echoes as I have happened to observe in the course of reading. 
Naturally a systematic and thorough search would reveal a great 
many more. Such as I have, however, are not without a certain 
interest and significance. 

Let us first consider the story told by Plato. The earliest 
reference I have noticed to the ring of Gyges is found in 
Rabelais V 8:5 

Auquel iour Pantagruel requeroit instamment veoir Papegaut: 
mais Aeditue respondit, qu’il ne se laissoit ainsi facilement veoir. 
Comment, dist Pantagruel, a-il Yarmet de Pluton en teste, 
Vanneau de Gygés és griffes, ou vn Chameleon en sein, pour se 
rendre inuisible au monde? 

The reference to the Cap of Hades in this connection suggests 
that Rabelais drew his information directly from Plato not from 
Cicero’s translation of the story. His statement with regard to 
the chameleon goes back to Pliny, XXVIII 115. 

Later references belong for the most part to the sixteenth and 
seventeenth centuries: 

Guillaume Bouchet, Les Serées, vol. V, p. 20, Paris, Lemerre, 
1881, in a discussion of the properties of various precious stones, 

Et possible, adioustoit-il, que la pierre Siderite, dont nous 
parlons, se mouve naturellement au feu, comme l’Astriote se 
mouve dans le vinaigre, et font ἃ croire ἃ ceux qui regardent 
remuer ces pierres, que quelque esprit parle 4 eux, car quand 
nous ne pouvons rendre raison de quelque chose, et que la 

16 Rings, jewels, and other charms conferring invisibility are fre- 
quently mentioned in mediaeval romances of chivalry and adventure. 
Most notable perhaps is the ring of Lunet (Chrestien de Troyes, Yvain, 
1057 ff.). Lunet might have inherited it from Gyges; at all events, 
Chrestien was probably well acquainted with Cicero. But no definite 
connection can be shown. 


Nature se peut cognoistre, tout incontinent nous iugeons y avoir 
en cela quelque divinité, ou quelque mistere occulte, dont on ne 
peut rendre raison, comme en lAnneau de Gyges Roy des 
Lidiens, auquel y avoit vne pierre, qui avoit telle vertu que 
tournee vers luy, il voyoit tout ce qu’il vouloit, sans etre veu. 

Du Bellay, Les Amours, XX: 
Je souhaitte plustost pour voir ce beau visage 
Ow le ciel a posé son plus parfaict ouvrage 
L’anneau qui feit en Roy transformer un Berger. 
Robert Greene (?), Selimus, line 2126: 

We thought you had old Gyges’ wondrous ring, 
That so you were invisible to us. 

Beaumont and Fletcher, Fair Maid of the Inn, I 1: 

Why, did you think that you had Gyges’ ring, 
Or the herb that gives invisibility ? 
Ben Jonson, New Inn, I 1: 
Fer. Because indeed I had 
No medicine, sir, to go invisible, 
No fernseed in my pocket nor an opal, 
Wrought in bay leaf, in my left fist, to charm 
Their eyes with. 
Host. He does give you reasons, sir, 
As round as Gyges’ ring, which, say the ancients, 
Was a hoop ring. 
John Marston, Satyres, I 5; Works, ed. Bullen, III 263: 
Tell me, brown Ruscus, hast thou Gyges’ ring, 
That thou presum’st as if thou wert unseen? 

Id., The Fawn, III 1; Works, II 170: 

What, did he think to walk invisibly before our eyes? And 
he had Gyges’ ring I would find him. 

George Chapman, Monsieur d’Olive, II 1 [London, Pearson, 
1, p. 212]: 

As private as I had King Gyges’ ring 
And could have gone invisible, yet saw all. 

Id., ibid., V 1 [p. 247]: 

Let him enjoy the benefit of the enchanted ring, and stand a 
while invisible: at our best opportunity we’ll discover him to 
the Duke. 

Robert Herrick, Hesperides, begins ‘this poem “Lovers how 
they come and part” with: 


A Gyges ring they beare about them still, 
To be, and not, seen when and where they will. 

M. Delrio, Disquisitiones Magicae, Moguntiae, 1624, p. 186: 

Sic fraude daemonum Domitiani oculis se subtraxit Avpol- 
lonius [apud] Philostratum, sic Gyges latebat fictitio illo tectus 
annulo apud Ciceronem, sic de Persei clypeo Graeculi fabulantur. 

In her Artaméne ou le Grand Cyrus (Paris, 1649-1653), 
Mlle de Scudéry makes one of her characters, the king of 
Pontus, possessor of the ring of Gyges. Mandane falls into his 
power but is finally rescued by the hero. See Dunlop-Wilson, 
II, p. 435 and note. 

References in modern writers seem to turn up in unlikely 
places. For example, Mary Johnston, Sir Mortimer, 1904, p. 33, 
presumably imitating Lyly’s euphuism, says: 

Ulysses took Moly in his hand when there came to meet him 
Circe’s gentlemen pensioners, and Gyges’ ring not only saved 
him from peril but brought him wealth and great honor. 

And we are told by Warwick Deeping, Uther and Igraine, 
1903, p. 244, that: 

Staunch sympathy like Gige’s (sic) ring has power over most 
hidden things of the heart, and Gorlois was very human. 

Finally, in Elinor Glyn’s Three Weeks, p. 65, Paul’s ‘ lady 
friend’ tells him that: 

_We will rob Mercure (sic) of his sandals and Gyges of his 

Sir Thomas Browne, Pseudodoxia Epidemica, VII, chap. 18: 

If anyone makes a doubt of Giges’ ring in Iustinus . . . for 
my part I shall not be angry with his incredulity. 

The Doctor means Cicero, of course. The mistake is not 

On the whole—and, after all, this is quite natural—the story 
told by Herodotus seems to have made a deeper impression on 
the modern world than has the story of Plato. Herodotus was 
translated into French by Saliat in 1575 and into English by 
“B. R.” (books I and II) in 1584; for his translation of this pas- 
sage see Roberts’ note on Dionysius of Halicarnassus on Literary 
Composition, London, 1910, pp. 82 ff. The story, however, had 
already been freely told after Herodotus by Painter in the sixth 


tale of his “ Pallace of Pleasure,” 1566. Not far from the same 
date, Nicolao Granucci in his Piacevol Notte, et Lieto Giorno, 
Venetia, Vidali, 1574, p. 48 verso, speaking of the misfortunes 
of Croesus and their causes, retells the story. of the king’s 
ancestor, Gyges, as related by Herodotus. 

Robert Greene, The Carde of Fancie, Works, ed. Grosart, vol. 
IV, p. 39, among many traditional examples cited of the woes 
that men suffer on account of women says: 

Candaules was slaine by his murthering wife whom so intirelie 
he loued. 

John Lyly, Euphues, vol. I, p. 210, Bond: 

Tush, the case is lyght where reason taketh place; to love and 
to lyve well, is not graunted to Iupiter.** Who so is blinded 
with the caule of beautie, decerneth no coulour of honestie. Did 
not Giges cut Candaules a coate by his owne measure? 

In his Anatomy of Melancholy, ITI, p. 353 (Shilleto), speak- 
ing of the vagaries of lovers, Burton says: 

In the other extreme some are too liberal, as the proverb is, 
turdus ipse malum sibi cacat, they made a rod for their own 
tails, as Candaules did to Gyges in Herodotus, commend his 
wife’s beauty himself, and besides would needs have him see her 

In the old play of Elvira (Dodsley-Hazlitt, XV, p. 9) Digby 
It were a wonder worthy of your wit, 
To make me trust my ears before my eyes. 

But neither this nor Lucretius V 100-103 is likely to have been 
an echo of the familiar Herodotean phrase.” 
Such a line as 

A happie starre made Giges ioie attaine 

(Paradise of Dayntie Devises, p. 114, Collier), might have been 
suggested by either Plato or Herodotus, it is impossible to say 

** Bond forgets to mention in his note that this phrase is an echo of 
Publilius Syrus’ 
Amare et sapere vix deo conceditur. 
Cp. Tennyson, Enoch Arden, 762, and see Mustard, Classical Echoes 
in Tennyson, p. 142. 



Among imitations of Herodotus, the most notable perhaps is 
Lafontaine’s conte, “ Le Roi Candaule et le Maitre en droit.” 
Bouret’s “ L’Imprudence de Candaule,” written at about the 
same time, is less known and not easily obtainable. I, therefore, 
subjoin the text here (Anthologie Satyrique, V, p. 51): 

Jambe, genou, cuisse, téton, épaule, 

Tout en la reine est ouvrage parfait, 

Ami Gygés, disait un jour Candaule; 

Rien de plus beau la nature n’a fait. 

Sur son gent corps qui n’a rien qui ne plaise, 
Je voudrais bien savoir ton sentiment, 

‘Caché seras en lieu d’ot bien ἃ 1᾿ 4188 
Apprécieras cet objet si charmant. 

Il tint parole. O le plus fou des hommes! 
Ton imprudence aveugle alla trop loin. 

Mais aux maris dans le siécle οὐ nous sommes, 
Femmes l’on voit épargner un tel soin. 

In both these versions, the attitude towards the characters is 
that of Justinus. It is the characteristic attitude of the Latin 

Baldassar Scaramelli (Novelle, Carmagnola, 1585) tells a 
story much like that of Herodotus or rather of Justinus. It is 
not likely, however, that it owes anything to either of them. 
The plot as stated by Scaramelli himself is as follows: 

Un cavalier Pisano avendo per moglie la pit bella donna di 
quel tempo, s’invoglia farla veder nuda a un suo lealissimo 
amico. Ella cid niega, ond’egli a suo malgrado di nascosto fa 
vederla: del che la donna accortasi, dall’istesso che la vide fa 
goderse, e cid per far dispetto al suo marito. 

Modern versions of the story begin in the first half of the 
nineteenth century. The best known are Théophile Gautier’s 
“ Le Roi Candaule,” a short story, and F. Hebbel’s “ Gyges und 
sein Ring,” a tragedy. Less known, but an excellent piece of 
work, is Robert Lytton’s narrative poem “ Gyges and Candaules ” 
(Chronicles and Characters, London, 1868, vol. I, p. 66). 
Equally good is “ Gyges’s Ring,” a dramatic monologue, New 
York, 1901, the first published work, I believe, of Rupert 

18 Brantéme, Dames Galantes, I, p. 64 (Jouaust), combines the two 
stories. The note ad loc. cites Cicero’s version, but the source was Jus- 
tinus and possibly Herodotus. 


Hughes. André Gide’s tragedy, “ Le Roi Candaule,” appeared 
in the same year. It is the last, and in some respects the best, 
of all the modern versions. Finally, I may mention, merely for 
the sake of completing the record, C. W. Lisle’s “ Ring of Gyges, 
Some Passages in the Life of Francis Neville,” London, Bentley, 
1886. The story seems to have been suggested more or less 
vaguely by a hasty reading, on the part of the author, of 
Gautier’s version. Otherwise it is perhaps sufficiently described 
by the statement that it ought to, and probably did, belong to 
Mudie’s Select Library of Fiction. At all events I, myself, never 
saw it but once. That was in the drawing-room of the vicarage 
in a village in the south of England. 

By way of concluding this long investigation, I should like to 
call attention to two points which it illustrates and which, it 
seems to me, are so characteristic that they deserve to be men- 
tioned here. The first is the extraordinary fidelity of Antiquity 
to type; the second is the difference between the ancient and 
modern way of considering and developing a story like this. 

When Herodotus took this tale out of the irresponsible 
atmosphere of Fairy Land, he developed it on the lines of Greek 
tragedy. In fact, it is actually a parallel in prose to such dramas 
as the Agamemnon or the (Adipus Tyrannus. As such, the 
protagonist, the hero, is not Gyges; much less, is it the Queen; 
it is Candaules. The story, therefore, as Herodotus tells it, is 
not the Rise of Gyges, as it was in the old Fairy Tale, but the 
Fall of Candaules. Observe that in this respect the situation 
as it was in the old Fairy Tale is exactly reversed. On the other 
hand, the two are as nearly alike as possible in one important 
respect, viz., no particular blame, comparatively speaking, 
attaches to any of the characters. In the old folk tale this is 
due to the atmospheric effect of Fairy Land. Fairy Land is an 
utterly unmoral country. The adventurer, Gyges, and his 
accomplice, the Queen, outwit and destroy the brutal and foolish 
giant, Candaules; and the precious pair live happily ever after 
on the fruit of their combined labors. So, in Herodotus, the 
characters are all worthy of the situation. No one blames 
Candaules for a madness which the gods have sent upon him 
and which drives him to his doom as inexorably as it raises 
Gyges to his high estate. Even the Queen herself is only an 
instrument of Destiny. In other words, if Herodotus chose to 


remould and rationalize the story on the lines of the Tragedy, it 
was because he believed that the old tradition depicting the 
characters as blameless actually reflected the truth. In this 
respect the tradition established by Herodotus lasted until the 
very end of antiquity. The three exceptions quoted on page 28 
are more apparent than real. The first two were used by the 
speaker merely for the purpose of scoring a rhetorical point, and 
the third only as an illustration of what Barbey d’Aurevilly 
might have termed ‘Le bonheur dans le crime.’ Even Justinus 
does not depart altogether from the Herodotean conception. His 
story of Candaules, Gyges, and the Queen is the story of a fool 
and two knaves. But the fool is such an utter fool, that one 
can hardly blame either him for his folly or the knaves who 
profit by it. 

Modern versions all differ from Herodotus in one respect. 
The protagonist is always Gyges, never Candaules. The queen, 
too, is much more prominent than she was in antiquity. 

The effects of this difference are more subtle and far-reaching 
than at first sight they appear to be. As Herodotus tells the 
story, the theme is the folly of Candaules and its punishment. 
Candaules is an illustration of that mysterious and relentless 
power of Ate, which is so characteristic of the Tragedy and of 
the Hellenic conception of sin and its consequences. Did 
Candaules suffer for his own sin? Or for that of some ancestor? 
Who can tell? Χρῆν yap Κανδαύλῃ γενέσθαι κακῶς is all that 
Herodotus ventures to say. It is quite certain that every Greek 
who read the story of Herodotus, took it for granted that the 
curse did not and could not die with Candaules. Though caught 
in the net of relentless circumstances and driven as it were to 
execute perforce the decree of Destiny, Gyges and the Queen 
cannot go scot free. The curse lives on, and the day will surely 
come when they or their descendants must pay the bill in full. 

For Herodotus, however, all this was subsidiary, and so much 
of it could be taken for granted that a passing reference was all 
that was necessary. Nevertheless, it is just this subsidiary 
portion that appeals to the essentially modern reader, and to 
which the modern writer when telling the same story has always 
given the greatest prominence. As we tell the tale, the hero is 
always Gyges, never Candaules. 

On the whole, these modern versions have been remarkably 


successful ; but the psychology of the story, if Gyges is the hero, 
is more difficult and more complicated, and the artistic sim- 
plicity of Herodotus is altogether impossible. Nor is this the 
only difficulty. The fact is that some of the best stories in the 
world’s literature are also the shortest. In most cases a page or 
two apiece is quite enough. Yet short as they are, they are told 
with such skill, they so fire the imagination of the reader, that 
it is often long before we realize that they always suffer by being 
retold at greater length or in more detail. Silvio Pellico, George 
Boker, Stephen Phillips, Gabriele d’Annunzio, and how many 
others have told at length the story of Francesca and Paolo. 
Which one of them would have told it at all, if it had not been 
for the immortal version of Dante? And Dante tells it in 
scarcely a dozen lines. If we could have but one of all these 
versions, which would we choose, and why? ‘The tragedy of 
Candaules, as Herodotus wrote it, belongs to the same class. The 
story covers less than two pages. But this, too, is after all 
unique and unapproachable. 

Kirsy FLower Smita.