The Story of Gyges

from Herodotus' Histories

Discussion Questions

1. Why does Candaules insist that Gyges see his wife naked? Why is he not simply content with his wife's beauty, but wants another to know about it?

2. Why is Gyges not tempted by Candaules' proposition? Is he a good man? Why does he not want "to act wickedly"? Why does he finally yield?

3. Candaules' wife accuses Gyges of violating their customs by looking at her naked. Is his act wicked simply to the Lydians, or is it wrong more universally?

4. How does the Queen react to the violation of custom? Does her proposal to Gyges satisfy the Lydian custom? Is it also more universally satisfying? Explain.

Paper Topics

1. Why does Herodotus include this story in his Histories? Does it have any bearing on his own examination of the customs of other peoples as a historian?

2. What is the meaning of Gyges' advice to Candaules, "let each look to his own"? How would you compare it with the old saying that Agathon quotes, "like approaches like"?

3. How would Hobbes and Socrates respond to this story? Would they interpret it differently? Would they have different evaluations of the characters in this story?

Gyges Reading

Guide to unit 6

back to unit 6