Talk:Ring of Gyges

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Ancient philosophy

Re: Lord of the Rings[edit]

Tom Bombadil is also able to activate and deactivate the One Ring by turning it around his on his finger. Should this be mentioned? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:22, 23 November 2004

No. That's not what the text says at all. -- Elphion (talk) 04:41, 17 April 2013 (UTC)

Merge with Gyges of Lydia[edit]

This article should be merged with Gyges of Lydia, since it's the same topic. Platons version (as mentioned in this article here) is just one of three (the others being Herodotus and Xanthus). --Bender235 13:07, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

I don't know about that, one is a common myth with many derivations and the other is a historic person. I think they each benefit more from having a separate article and focus. KWH 23:49, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
No, it's a common myth based on a historic person. If we split this topic in two articles, we would also have to split the articles on German emperor Frederick I Barbarossa and English king Richard the Lionheart in one article on the historic person, and one on the myths surrounding the historic person. That makes no sense. --Bender235 16:06, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
No, I don't think they should be completely merged - the "logical" conclusion of such a policy would be merging every article with every other article to which it is linked. One key advantage of an online encyclopedia is the ease which which one can access linked topics. A compromise would be to expand slightly the reference to the "Ring of Gyges" in the "Gyges of Lydia" article. Geofbob 10:23, 8 October 2006 (UTC)
I think a compromise could be to separate between Gyges of Lydia, the historical person and the myths surrounding him, and Ring of Gyges, the Platonic myth and its receptions (Hebbel, Tolkien, etc.). That might work. But its difficult to separate the receptions of Herodot's Gyges story and Plato's Gyges myth. --Bender235 23:49, 9 October 2006 (UTC)
Btw: There's some similarity between this merge and the merge of Er (Plato) and Myth of Er. --Bender235 00:18, 10 October 2006 (UTC)

Socrates Response to Glaucon[edit]

It would really be nice to place a reference for Socrates response to Glaucon as described in this article. I've been reading for 2 days now in the Republic and have yet to find his clear response. Perhaps a quote or a mention of which book would be nice.

The reason I ask is because Glaucon seems to be indicting both of his characters, the good and the bad, used the ring and were thus guilty saying "no man can be imagined to be of such an iron nature that he would stand fast in justice." The statement in this entry portrays that Socrates holds that one did not use the ring. It is rather unclear and deserves better work.

Olen Watson 15:32, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

Moral of the story[edit]

First off, that's a really, really crappy header title. Second, the huge paragraph there starts out talking about the moral, and ends as a quote from the story itself, with no transition. I doubt Plato wrote that he wrote that Glaucon said anything. Somebody should either find out where that needs to become a quotation, or rework the whole thing. Since I don't have a copy of the Republic (wasn't required this semester, miraculously), it won't be me. Ta ta! (talk) 05:19, 5 May 2008 (UTC)

I agree -- the quotation seems to begin ambiguously. This is a very unencyclopedic manner and should be fixed. --Wykypydya (talk) 14:15, 5 June 2008 (UTC)
The story is about moral related to remain anonimous but, what if suddenly the legend extends to infinite rings appearing, making them available to the whole humanity?.... As usuall questions are more easy to think than answers...
Also have a paralell in ciberspace. It´s more actual as if internet allows all the people to remain anonimous....  Egus186.137.66.134 (talk) 16:24, 21 August 2010 (UTC)


Although there is a striking similarity between Tolkien's Lord of the Ring and Plato's Ring of Gyges, I was very surprised that I couldn't find any definitive connection (or rejection of a connection) in my google-fu searching of his biography and letters. Does anyone have an explanation? Is it really a coincidence that the stories are so similar? Could it be that a classical-trained Oxford professor was unaware of Plato's story? Woz2 (talk) 00:10, 17 April 2013 (UTC)

Even familiarity would not necessarily imply influence. I don't see "striking similarity": the key difference is that Tolkien's Ring conveyed immortality -- a permanent separation from God, as it were. There were other notions that might have suggested the idea to him: Wagner's Ring (though he despised Wagner, it's pretty clear he resolved to show how it should have been done), even the Catholic understanding of sin. -- Elphion (talk) 00:59, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
Interesting. I'm amazed that you don't see a striking similarity. Tolkien could have picked any one of a million small objects to make magical and endow invisibility but no he picked... a ring. Coincidence? You decide. And once invisible... what happens in Tolkien's story? The beneficiary/victim is presented with a potentially corrupting moral dilemma... "If I can't be caught, maybe I can get away with anything..." Anywho my guess is that Tolkien got the idea from Plato, but who am I to say... Woz2 (talk) 01:11, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
I can't say how many stories there might be with rings that convey invisibility, but when I first read The Hobbit it did not strike me as a novel notion (and I was certainly not familiar with Gyges then). As for "If I can't be caught, maybe I can get away with anything..." -- that describes none of the characters who possessed The One, not even Gollum, who used the Ring primarily to catch orcs to survive. While Bilbo used the Ring's invisibility to perform things he couldn't while visible, those were not morally reprehensible acts -- not even Gandalf disapproves. Even when Tolkien gets around in The Lord of the Rings to realize the dark side of the Ring, none of the bearers uses it in any manner reminiscent of Gyges. The key moral aspect of the Ring -- the desire to possess it -- is already present in Wagner, but completely absent in Gyges. I can't discount that Tolkien might have taken something from Plato, but as I said above, Wagner and the Church -- and random fairy stories -- look like more likely sources. -- Elphion (talk) 04:29, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
I can think of only two stories where a ring conveys invisibility, Plato's and Tolkien's. The article Invisibility in fiction#Historical Examples states Plato was the first to use invisibility as a fictional device at all, so Tolkien (and other later authors who used it) owes that idea to Plato, with or without a ring.Woz2 (talk) 12:05, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
Invisibility certainly did not begin with Plato. Even in Homer the gods can make themselves invisible. Plato may be the first surviving text with invisible humans, but other such figures appear in Greek mythology (Perseus, e.g.), and Plato himself cites Gyges as a familiar story. Even if the idea had started with Plato, that does not mean that Tolkien got it directly from him. The question here is influence, not origin. As Shippey points out, Tolkien was likely familiar with the story in the Mabinogion of Owein, who saves himself by means of Luned's ring, which makes him invisible. Invisibility, whether from a ring or otherwise, is a common motif in folk stories, and unlike Plato's story, typically serves as a boon, not a menace, just as in The Hobbit. The idea is one floating around in the common story-telling repertoire. The transformation of Gyges from general to shepherd already shows the influence of märchen or folk-tale. What strikes me most about Tolkien's use of the theme is how different it is from Plato: the ring confers immortality and separation from good, its malign influence makes people covet it, and the ring itself (not one's own moral shortcomings) turns one to evil. -- Elphion (talk) 14:08, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
There is very little connection. There seems to be a campaign at the moment to link Gyges with LOTR in Wikipedia.--Jack Upland (talk) 09:56, 31 December 2013 (UTC)

I removed the material from the article mentioning LOTR. This has been reverted (partially). My reason was that the cited source only made a passing reference to Tolkien.--Jack Upland (talk) 09:59, 8 January 2014 (UTC)

I agree that the connection is tenuous. I suspect, though, that a passage saying that might be a good idea, because people come here expecting to see the connection explained. This is a meme that's been kicking around for a while, and saying nothing about it just invites people to add it back in. -- Elphion (talk) 17:28, 8 January 2014 (UTC)
But has a reputable source discussed the issue?--Jack Upland (talk) 02:00, 9 January 2014 (UTC)