Wednesday, October 4
What is the most unfair thing you’ve seen?
The Ring of Gyges
Long ago, the philosopher Plato wrote a tale about a shepherd named Gyges (pronounced by some as “guy-guhs”). It’s a tale that has influenced many stories over the years, including The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein.
It goes like this:
One day the shepherd Gyges was out tending his flock when an earthquake struck and a cave opened up right in front of him. Curious, he descended into the cave’s opening where he discovered many strange things, including a golden ring. Entranced by the ring’s beauty, he took it and returned to the outside world.
That night Gyges attended his regular meeting with the other shepherds, where they each accounted for their sheep. As the other men talked amongst themselves, Gyges adjusted the ring in his hands. Then one of the shepherds made a comment about him as though he weren’t sitting right there, in the middle of them all. Another asked where he went off to. They looked all around, unable to see him.
Astonished, Gyges realized that the ring he’d found had a power — the power of invisibility. For the next several weeks, he tested the ring again and again, eventually learning that the ring enabled him to steal whatever he wanted without getting caught.
Gyges didn’t resist. He used his ring to get money and power, eventually stealing the entire kingdom, where he ruled not as a kind shepherd but as a tyrant.
- Plato believed that no one could resist the power of such a ring — that even a person who initially valued fairness would fall if they had such a ring. What do you think?
- If you had a ring that made you invisible, what would you do? Do you think you could stay fair?
THIS WEEK’S LESSON