Summarize the myth of the Ring of Gyges and evaluate its meaning. Do you agree with the idea behind it? Why or why not? Provide your own example to help with your evaluation of the myth. What Awaits you: On-time delivery guarantee Masters and PhD-level writers Automatic plagiarism check 100% Privacy and Confidentiality High Quality custom-written papers
The only thing that may be seen on the dead body, naked as on the dayof his birth, is a golden ring () at his hand. This ring,unlike the chain the prisoners of the cave have to get rid of, which isa consequence of their very nature, is a man-made sign of external wealth,but a wealth that amounts to almost nothing in the face of death. It isthe ring of culture that binds together men of succeeding generations,one of the many ofa chain which, according to Socrates in the (see and ),brings the inspiration of the poets, those founding fathers of Greek civilization,like the magnetic force that stems from the Heracleian stone, down to thespectator of the reciter's show, in what was one of the staples of Greekeducation in Plato's time and that he fought so hard because, to him, thatchain of inspiration doesn't lead us all the way up to "" (), but stops at the Muses, who could only inspire the first partof Socrates' first speech in the , a speech which speaksto our feelings rather than to our reason. It is the ring that Hippiashad manufactured for himself, as everything he was wearing at Olympia (see), the first item in the long list of his works detailedby Socrates, the first proof of his supposedly universal knowledge, a scientificand technical knowledge that doesn't make him capable of telling good fromevil, or even of explaining what beauty is. It is the signet whose mark() in the wax of the soul might stand for the bearer,Theodorus or Theætetus (or Gyges or one of his ancestors), if onlyour soul were a wax tablet (see and ).It is the ring which, in Socrates' discussion with young Alcibiades, shouldnot be confused with the hand and even less with when deciding how we should go abouttaking care of ourselves ( and ).
Indeed, the names of Gyges and Lydia, a country once renowned for itsabundance of gold and life of luxury, might ring another bell : at the beginningof his , written sometime during the second half of theVth century BCE, Herodotus seeks the origin of the Medean wars in the storyof Croesus, the wealthy king of Lydia whose dynasty started with the usurpationof no other than Gyges. The story of Gyges as told by Herodotus () widely differs from that of Plato. In it, Gyges is nolonger a shepherd, but the favorite bodyguard of the king. It is the kinghimself, so proud of his beloved wife's beauty, who arranges for Gygesto see her naked in their bedroom so that he may judge by his own eyesthat she is the most beautiful woman in the world. Unfortunately, the queen,unnoticed to Gyges, catches sight of him when he tries to surreptitiouslyleave the room, but says nothing at the time. The following day, she summonshim and offers him the choice either to kill the king, marry her and takehis place, or to get killed for having seen her naked. In order to savehis own life, Gyges accepts to kill the kind, and, once again, this timewith the help of the queen, becomes invisible in the royal bedroom to takeadvantage of the king's sleep to dispose of him.
Indeed, the myth of Er may be viewed as another reversal of the storyof Gyges in more than one way, not only because it depicts many bodilesssouls facing their own responsibility with regard to their whole earthlyand heavenly life in opposition to one soulless body evading his own responsibilityto better his material earthly life. One starts with the many deaths inbattle of brave warriors that induce a flock of souls to walk toward a marvelous() meadow where preexist four everlasting chasms ()leading toward and coming from both the heaven above and the depth of theearth below to end with an earthquake () that sends soulsback to life like shooting stars, whereas the other starts with an earthquake() that opens a single new chasm () at the feetof a shepherd in the very meadow where he is pasturing his flock of sheepand induces him to go down into an underground tomb full of wonders ()to end with the single death of a king that sits the shepherd turned murdererin his throne. But, at first glance, the myth of Er might also seem toreverse the allegory of the cave : men living under the sun are supposedto learn from someone coming back from the .
In the story of Gyges, the three sections follow in that order, butthey are unbalanced. First comes the description of Gyges initial state,of the nature he lives in and of the trip he is led to make in the depthsof it. Then, we see him uncovering the power of his find brought back fromthe cave/tomb, the ring that makes him invisible at will. This sectionis the longest of the three and, in it, we find, at the exact center ofthe whole story, the keyword of Gyges' "" : ,the verb meaning "to happen by chance", used to describe howhe came about finding the power of the ring ! Everything that happens toGyges to improve his condition happens by chance until he becomes invisible !The third part of the story is quite short : having found the power to seeminglyevade responsibility, Gyges decides to become king and soon reaches hisgoal.
of Er (,contracted form of ) means "spring" (the season). Butthis name, whose only mention, at ,is the genitive form , evokes much more than that. Itlooks like the masculine form of Hera, the name of Zeus' wife, except forthe smooth breathing replacing the rough one. And if we look at what Platohas to say about the etymology of Hera in the (), we see that he associates it with love () throughthe adjective "lovable ()", but also withair (), which, applied to Er, opposes him to Gyges the earthling :hope is not in our material, earthly nature, but in our celestial, godlypower of thought and understanding, and in the power of love that sets iton the move. ()
help explainwhy, if the text of our manuscripts are not corrupt (see ), Plato talks about "",and not of Gyges himself. It is and is not the same story, and, by pushingit even further back in the past, that is, closer to the "origins",he gives it a broader bearing. But the link with Gyges' story must be keptthrough Gyges' name, to help us draw the parallel with the beginning ofHerodotus' . Plato is not writing the history of unjust war that was at the root of Athens' glory, he is writing the "history"of justice itself... ()
in themanuscripts reads : "",which translates "".Yet, at , Plato mentions "". I won'ttry to reconcile these two texts for the time being, but I feel authorizedby Plato's later reference to call the holder of the ring Gyges. ()
Also read the Ring of Gyges located in the Learning Resources for this week. (The ring of Gyges myth appears in Plato’s The Republic.) Consider how you would behave if you possessed Gyges’s ring.
And the ring that Gyges or his ancestor, turned into a tomb looter,steals from the dead body and deliberately puts on his finger, like a newlyfound truth about himself unearthed in physics and history, will turn him,when he returns where he came from, into a leader enslaving his fellowmen, not into a teacher freeing them from their natural chains. Yet, toreach this point, some more testing is needed to find the true "power"of the ring, the newly found truth about man, in social life. But hereagain, the test will come, not from a deliberate attempt to use reason,but as a result of mere chance. And what the holder of the ring will find,and what will lead him to a new level of wonderment, is that, by lookingat himself with this new tool, he becomes invisible, in other words, hecan escape responsibility ! If man is only what science shows of him, nothingbut a highly sophisticated bunch of cells whose behavior is the resultof chemical processes resulting from impressions of the senses, then heis not responsible for his acts. If the soul is no more than some sortof Freudian unconscious conditioned by his environment and past history,where is his free will ?... Back from the depth of the earth and in fulllight, wearing his new find, the shepherd is not even a shadow on the wallin the midst of the assembly of men. His fellow shepherds won't even ridiculehim, as do the prisoners in the cave with the returning freed man blindedby the light of the sun outside (), they simply don't see him as soon as he becomes thefocus of inquiry (by turning the collet of the ring toward himself) : heno longer "exists" as a man, a responsible man, that is. Andyet, he has no trouble convincing them to let him represent them to theking, whereas the man returning to the cave after having "seen"the truth outside is in high risk of getting killed by his fellow prisonersif he tries to compete with them. Most people prefer the illusions theythemselves build around them to the hard seen truth from a far away "place".
Post by Day 3, Write Â 1â€“2 paragraphs explaining whether your moral behavior would change if you had the ring of Gyges and it allowed you to spy on somebody without his or her knowledge or consent. Explain why this situation might change or tempt you to change your moral behavior. Include ethics-related terms in your post, and be sure to support your ideas by connecting them to the week’s Learning Resources. Practice APA style for your in-text citations.