From: John Croft
Message: 4430
Date: 2000-10-18

Piotr wrote:
> ... and note that Greek Gyge:s surely corresponds to an original
form like Guga:. But John, Gyges the Invisible Man was king of Lydia,
not of Phrygia, as Joao correctly says. If Guga- is genuinely a
word, I wonder if it isn't related to Hittite huha- 'grandfather' (in
Greek gugai is a synonym of pappoi 'grandfathers, ancestors -- a
nursery word or an Anatolian loan?). Opinion welcome.

Ooops. Of course. Let me, by way of recompense for the error quote
from Herodotuus.


In 687 as Herodotus recounts

The sovereignty of Lydia, which had belonged to the Heraclides,
into the family of Croesus, who were called the Mermnadae, in the
manner which I will now relate. There was a certain king of Sardis,
Candaules by name, whom the Greeks called Myrsilus. He was a
descendant of Alcaeus, son of Hercules. The first king of this
was Agron, son of Ninus, grandson of Belus, and great-grandson of
Alcaeus; Candaules, son of Myrsus, was the last. The kings who
before Agron sprang from Lydus, son of Atys, from whom the people of
the land, called previously Meonians, received the name of Lydians.
The Heraclides, descended from Hercules and the slave-girl of
Jardanus, having been entrusted by these princes with the management
of affairs, obtained the kingdom by an oracle. Their rule endured for
two and twenty generations of men, a space of five hundred and five
years; during the whole of which period, from Agron to Candaules, the
crown descended in the direct line from father to son.

Now it happened that this Candaules was in love with his own wife;
not only so, but thought her the fairest woman in the whole world.
This fancy had strange consequences. There was in his bodyguard a man
whom he specially favoured, Gyges, the son of Dascylus. All affairs
greatest moment were entrusted by Candaules to this person, and to
he was wont to extol the surpassing beauty of his wife. So matters
went on for a while. At length, one day, Candaules, who was fated to
end ill, thus addressed his follower: "I see thou dost not credit
I tell thee of my lady's loveliness; but come now, since men's ears
are less credulous than their eyes, contrive some means whereby thou
mayst behold her naked." At this the other loudly exclaimed, saying,
"What most unwise speech is this, master, which thou hast uttered?
Wouldst thou have me behold my mistress when she is naked? Bethink
thee that a woman, with her clothes, puts off her bashfulness. Our
fathers, in time past, distinguished right and wrong plainly enough,
and it is our wisdom to submit to be taught by them. There is an old
saying, 'Let each look on his own.' I hold thy wife for the fairest
all womankind. Only, I beseech thee, ask me not to do wickedly."

Gyges thus endeavoured to decline the king's proposal, trembling lest
some dreadful evil should befall him through it. But the king replied
to him, "Courage, friend; suspect me not of the design to prove thee
by this discourse; nor dread thy mistress, lest mischief be. thee at
her hands. Be sure I will so manage that she shall not even know that
thou hast looked upon her. I will place thee behind the open door of
the chamber in which we sleep. When I enter to go to rest she will
follow me. There stands a chair close to the entrance, on which she
will lay her clothes one by one as she takes them off. Thou wilt be
able thus at thy leisure to peruse her person. Then, when she is
moving from the chair toward the bed, and her back is turned on thee,
be it thy care that she see thee not as thou passest through the

Gyges, unable to escape, could but declare his readiness. Then
Candaules, when bedtime came, led Gyges into his sleeping-chamber,
a moment after the queen followed. She entered, and laid her garments
on the chair, and Gyges gazed on her. After a while she moved toward
the bed, and her back being then turned, he glided stealthily from
apartment. As he was passing out, however, she saw him, and instantly
divining what had happened, she neither screamed as her shame
her, nor even appeared to have noticed aught, purposing to take
vengeance upon the husband who had so affronted her. For among the
Lydians, and indeed among the barbarians generally, it is reckoned a
deep disgrace, even to a man, to be seen naked.

No sound or sign of intelligence escaped her at the time. But in the
morning, as soon as day broke, she hastened to choose from among her
retinue such as she knew to be most faithful to her, and preparing
them for what was to ensue, summoned Gyges into her presence. Now it
had often happened before that the queen had desired to confer with
him, and he was accustomed to come to her at her call. He therefore
obeyed the summons, not suspecting that she knew aught of what had
occurred. Then she addressed these words to him: "Take thy choice,
Gyges, of two courses which are open to thee. Slay Candaules, and
thereby become my lord, and obtain the Lydian throne, or die this
moment in his room. So wilt thou not again, obeying all behests of
master, behold what is not lawful for thee. It must needs be that
either he perish by whose counsel this thing was done, or thou, who
sawest me naked, and so didst break our usages." At these words Gyges
stood awhile in mute astonishment; recovering after a time, he
earnestly besought the queen that she would not compel him to so hard
a choice. But finding he implored in vain, and that necessity was
indeed laid on him to kill or to be killed, he made choice of life
himself, and replied by this inquiry: "If it must be so, and thou
compellest me against my will to put my lord to death, come, let me
hear how thou wilt have me set on him." "Let him be attacked," she
answered, "on the spot where I was by him shown naked to you, and let
the assault be made when he is asleep."

All was then prepared for the attack, and when night fell, Gyges,
seeing that he had no retreat or escape, but must absolutely either
slay Candaules, or himself be slain, followed his mistress into the
sleeping-room. She placed a dagger in his hand and hid him carefully
behind the self-same door. Then Gyges, when the king was fallen
asleep, entered privily into the chamber and struck him dead. Thus
the wife and kingdom of Candaules pass into the possession of Gyges,
of whom Archilochus the Parian, who lived about the same time, made
mention in a poem written in iambic trimeter verse.

Gyges was afterwards confirmed in the possession of the throne by an
answer of the Delphic oracle. Enraged at the murder of their king,
people flew to arms, but after a while the partisans of Gyges came to
terms with them, and it was agreed that if the Delphic oracle
him king of the Lydians, he should reign; if otherwise, he should
yield the throne to the Heraclides. As the oracle was given in his
favour he became king. The Pythoness, however, added that, in the
fifth generation from Gyges, vengeance should come for the
a prophecy of which neither the Lydians nor their princes took any
account till it was fulfilled. Such was the way in which the
deposed the Heraclides, and themselves obtained the sovereignty.

When Gyges was established on the throne, he sent no small presents
Delphi, as his many silver offerings at the Delphic shrine testify.
Besides this silver he gave a vast number of vessels of gold, among
which the most worthy of mention are the goblets, six in number, and
weighing altogether thirty talents, which stand in the Corinthian
treasury, dedicated by him. I call it the Corinthian treasury, though
in strictness of speech it is the treasury not of the whole
people, but of Cypselus, son of Eetion. Excepting Midas, son of
Gordias, king of Phrygia, Gyges was the first of the barbarians whom
we know to have sent offerings to Delphi. Midas dedicated the royal
throne whereon he was accustomed to sit and administer justice, an
object well worth looking at. It lies in the same place as the
presented by Gyges. The Delphians call the whole of the silver and
gold which Gyges dedicated, after the name of the donor, Gygian.

As soon as Gyges was king he made an in-road on Miletus and Smyrna,
and took the city of Colophon. Afterwards, however, though he reigned
eight and thirty years, he did not perform a single noble exploit. I
shall therefore make no further mention of him, but pass on to his
and successor in the kingdom, Ardys.

Ardys took Priene and made war upon Miletus. In his reign the
Cimmerians, driven from their homes by the nomads of Scythia, entered
Asia and captured Sardis, all but the citadel. He reigned forty-nine
years, and was succeeded by his son, Sadyattes, who reigned twelve
years. At his death his son Alyattes mounted the throne.

This prince waged war with the Medes under Cyaxares, the grandson of
Deioces, drove the Cimmerians out of Asia, conquered Smyrna, the
Colophonian colony, and invaded Clazomenae. From this last contest he
did not come off as he could have wished, but met with a sore defeat;
still, however, in the course of his reign, he performed other
very worthy of note, of which I will now proceed to give an account.