Textkit Logo

Candaules got what he deserved?

Moderator: Scribo

Candaules got what he deserved?

Postby daivid » Fri Dec 27, 2013 8:04 pm

My reply to this bit of ὑπεκδύομαι -> ὑπεκδύς How?!http://www.textkit.com/greek-latin-forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=60907 is a bit off topic for learning Greek so I am posting it here.
Qimmik wrote:
The Herodotus passage is from the story of Gyges, isn't it? Candaules got what he deserved--he should never have done that to his wife. This is one of the stories that makes Herodotus so entertaining!


I don't imagine that you literally mean to say that what Herodotos describes in itself deserved death. However, of the three he is the one who clearly sets thing in motion and has no one to blame by himself.

The story reminds me of the case of Beatrice Cenci who was imprisoned by her father and repeatedly raped and beaten by him until in the end she murdered him. The options open to an upper class Roman woman of the late 16th century were so few that her choice was narrowed down to suffer on in silence or murder. In that sense she was in the same position as Queen for whom any action against Candules short of the palace coup she engineered. The very fact that Candules held all the cards meant that if his wife should resist at all she would have to strike back in the most extreme way possible.

Women of Athens had a similar lack of power and lack of redress and I rather suspect that Heroditos included that story because he knew it would produce a thrill of horror in his audience.
λονδον
User avatar
daivid
Administrator
Administrator
 
Posts: 2376
Joined: Sat Jul 16, 2011 1:51 pm
Location: ὁ τοῦ βασιλέως λίθος, London, Europe

Re: Candaules got what he deserved?

Postby Qimmik » Fri Dec 27, 2013 9:50 pm

This is one of the "oriental tales" that run throughout Herodotus. It's probably apocryphal, of course. The Lucretia story in Livy, Ovid and Shakespeare is similar--a man is so infatuated with his wife's beauty (and with himself as her husband) that he invites other men to surreptitiously view her nude, with dire consequences. I think there are similar folk-tales floating around in other cultures, too.
Qimmik
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 2090
Joined: Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:15 pm

Re: Candaules got what he deserved?

Postby daivid » Fri Dec 27, 2013 11:09 pm

Qimmik wrote:This is one of the "oriental tales" that run throughout Herodotus. It's probably apocryphal, of course. The Lucretia story in Livy, Ovid and Shakespeare is similar--a man is so infatuated with his wife's beauty (and with himself as her husband) that he invites other men to surreptitiously view her nude, with dire consequences. I think there are similar folk-tales floating around in other cultures, too.


While there are superficial similarities the key points, at least as Livy tells it are quiet different. Tarquin is the equivalent of Gyges but he is not invited to see Lucrecia naked. And Lucrecia calls for vengeance against Tarquin not her husband.

Beatrice Cenci on the other hand was no myth and did actually take revenge against a family member for the wrongs suffered. It is what one real woman actually did choose to do and for that reason I suspect there were women of Athens who when pushed to breaking point acted in the same way.

Heroditos had several versions of the Gyges story to choose from. He chose that one, I suspect, because he expected it to draw in his listeners with the same kind of horrified fascination that people watch horror movies today.
λονδον
User avatar
daivid
Administrator
Administrator
 
Posts: 2376
Joined: Sat Jul 16, 2011 1:51 pm
Location: ὁ τοῦ βασιλέως λίθος, London, Europe

Re: Candaules got what he deserved?

Postby Bart » Sun Dec 06, 2015 4:13 pm

This is an old thread I bumped into while looking for discussion on Kandaules and Gyges.

It may well be a well known theme, as Qimmick/ Hylander suggests, but Herodotus makes it into a great short-story, beginning with this memorable sentence:

οὗτος δὴ ὦν ὁ Κανδαύλης ἠράσθη τῆς ἑωυτοῦ γυναικός, ἐρασθεὶς δὲ ἐνόμιζέ οἱ εἶναι γυναῖκα πολλὸν πασέων καλλίστην.

The Oxford Commentary dryly notes that a man falling in love with his wife is 'apparently an unusual occurence in Herodotus' view', but I wonder if that was really the case. Isn't it rather just good story telling and a captivating opening sentence?

A hallmark of a good story teller is that he knows to suggests a lot with minimal means. In this episode for example, when Kandaules tells Gyges how he has to hide in the bedroom to see his (Kandaules') wife undress, he does so with the words: ἐπὶ τοῦτον τῶν ἱματίων κατὰ ἓν ἕκαστον ἐκδύνουσα θήσει, καὶ κατʼ ἡσυχίην πολλὴν παρέξει τοι θεήσασθαι -> she will set each of her garments on it (i.e the chair) one by one as she takes them off......
This detail of the garments being put on the chair (and thus coming off, one presumes) one by one suggests, I think, the erotic fascination of Kandaules with his wife. The first striptease in literature!
The actual description of the event (Gyges watching the queen undress) is much more straightforward and does not mention this detail: ἐσελθοῦσαν δὲ καὶ τιθεῖσαν τὰ εἵματα ἐθηεῖτο ὁ Γύγης.

And then, when things go wrong and the queen notices Gyges, Herodotus writes: καὶ ἡ γυνὴ ἐπορᾷ μιν ἐξιόντα. μαθοῦσα δὲ τὸ ποιηθὲν ἐκ τοῦ ἀνδρὸς οὔτε ἀνέβωσε αἰσχυνθεῖσα οὔτε ἔδοξε μαθεῖν, ἐν νόῳ ἔχουσα τίσεσθαι τὸν Κανδαύλεα -> but the woman saw him as he left and, realising this was her husband's doing, she did not cry out.....etc

Now, why did she immediately know it was her husband's idea? Surely Gyges could have been acting on his own. Maybe she was expecting this or something similar to happen, maybe her husband even hinted at it. Of course Herodotus doesn't tell us, so we'll never know. The way he writes here, not spelling out every detail -explaining for example how the queen found out about her husband- but rather dropping hints and suggestions, makes for pacy and interesting story telling.

So, 10 pages into Herodotus and loving it!
Bart
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 311
Joined: Sat Mar 16, 2013 3:57 pm
Location: Antwerpen

Re: Candaules got what he deserved?

Postby daivid » Sun Dec 06, 2015 10:27 pm

Bart wrote:Now, why did she immediately know it was her husband's idea? Surely Gyges could have been acting on his own. Maybe she was expecting this or something similar to happen, maybe her husband even hinted at it. Of course Herodotus doesn't tell us, so we'll never know. The way he writes here, not spelling out every detail -explaining for example how the queen found out about her husband- but rather dropping hints and suggestions, makes for pacy and interesting story telling.

So, 10 pages into Herodotus and loving it!


Herodotus establishes when she confronts Gyges that she thinks him spineless and easily manipulated. So I suspect Herodotus would answer that she thinks him to be quite incapable of trying something like that unless put up to it by his King.
λονδον
User avatar
daivid
Administrator
Administrator
 
Posts: 2376
Joined: Sat Jul 16, 2011 1:51 pm
Location: ὁ τοῦ βασιλέως λίθος, London, Europe

Re: Candaules got what he deserved?

Postby Bart » Mon Dec 07, 2015 6:39 am

daivid wrote:Herodotus establishes when she confronts Gyges that she thinks him spineless and easily manipulated. So I suspect Herodotus would answer that she thinks him to be quite incapable of trying something like that unless put up to it by his King.


That's another possibility, sure, but I don't see the text giving any clue in this direction. I mean, why do you think Kandaules' wife thinks Gyges is spineless?

1.11.2 ὡς δὲ ὁ Γύγης ἀπίκετο, ἔλεγε ἡ γυνὴ τάδε· “νῦν τοι δυῶν ὁδῶν παρεουσέων Γύγη δίδωμι αἵρεσιν, ὁκοτέρην βούλεαι τραπέσθαι. ἢ γὰρ Κανδαύλεα ἀποκτείνας ἐμέ τε καὶ τὴν βασιληίην ἔχε τὴν Λυδῶν, ἢ αὐτόν σε αὐτίκα οὕτω ἀποθνῄσκειν δεῖ, ὡς ἂν μὴ πάντα πειθόμενος Κανδαύλῃ τοῦ λοιποῦ ἴδῃς τὰ μή σε δεῖ.
1.11.3 ἀλλʼ ἤτοι κεῖνόν γε τὸν ταῦτα βουλεύσαντα δεῖ ἀπόλλυσθαι, ἢ σὲ τὸν ἐμὲ γυμνήν θεησάμενον καὶ ποιήσαντα οὐ νομιζόμενα.” ὁ δὲ Γύγης τέως μὲν ἀπεθώμαζε τὰ λεγόμενα, μετὰ δὲ ἱκέτευε μή μιν ἀναγκαίῃ ἐνδέειν διακρῖναι τοιαύτην αἵρεσιν.
1.11.4 οὔκων δὴ ἔπειθε, ἀλλʼ ὥρα ἀναγκαίην ἀληθέως προκειμένην ἢ τὸν δεσπότεα ἀπολλύναι ἢ αὐτὸν ὑπʼ ἄλλων ἀπόλλυσθαι· αἱρέεται αὐτὸς περιεῖναι. ἐπειρώτα δὴ λέγων τάδε· “ἐπεί με ἀναγκάζεις δεσπότεα τὸν ἐμὸν κτείνειν οὐκ ἐθέλοντα, φέρε ἀκούσω τέῳ καὶ τρόπῳ ἐπιχειρήσομεν αὐτῷ.”

Granted, confronted with the choice between his own death or that of his king Gyges choses to save his life: αἱρέεται αὐτὸς περιεῖναι. Is it this what you mean? I don't see Herodotus passing any moral judgement on this or giving clues Gyges is a walk-over.
Bart
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 311
Joined: Sat Mar 16, 2013 3:57 pm
Location: Antwerpen

Re: Candaules got what he deserved?

Postby daivid » Mon Dec 07, 2015 12:05 pm

Bart wrote:
That's another possibility, sure, but I don't see the text giving any clue in this direction. I mean, why do you think Kandaules' wife thinks Gyges is spineless?

1.11.2 ὡς δὲ ὁ Γύγης ἀπίκετο, ἔλεγε ἡ γυνὴ τάδε· “νῦν τοι δυῶν ὁδῶν παρεουσέων Γύγη δίδωμι αἵρεσιν, ὁκοτέρην βούλεαι τραπέσθαι. ἢ γὰρ Κανδαύλεα ἀποκτείνας ἐμέ τε καὶ τὴν βασιληίην ἔχε τὴν Λυδῶν, ἢ αὐτόν σε αὐτίκα οὕτω ἀποθνῄσκειν δεῖ, ὡς ἂν μὴ πάντα πειθόμενος Κανδαύλῃ τοῦ λοιποῦ ἴδῃς τὰ μή σε δεῖ.
<snip>

Granted, confronted with the choice between his own death or that of his king Gyges choses to save his life: αἱρέεται αὐτὸς περιεῖναι. Is it this what you mean? I don't see Herodotus passing any moral judgement on this or giving clues Gyges is a walk-over.


πάντα πειθόμενος Κανδαύλῃ - "in all things obeying Candaules". In other words Gyges is so helpless in the face of Candaules that if Gyges and Candaules both remain alive it is inevitable that Gyges will again be pressured into gazing on the nakedness of his wife.

That the wife sees only these two options to prevent humiliation, to kill one or the other, suggests
that the "love" of Candaules is entirely selfish. It in no way means that he takes into account the wishes of his wife. I don't think that Herodotus intends any moral judgment in depicting his love in this way. It quite possible that he is unaware of any other form of love. If so it is revealing about male attitudes to women in 5th century Athens.

Are there any of Herodotus' stories where a male is shown to be capable of love that doesn't reduce the woman to an object?
λονδον
User avatar
daivid
Administrator
Administrator
 
Posts: 2376
Joined: Sat Jul 16, 2011 1:51 pm
Location: ὁ τοῦ βασιλέως λίθος, London, Europe

Re: Candaules got what he deserved?

Postby Bart » Mon Dec 07, 2015 1:24 pm

daivid wrote:πάντα πειθόμενος Κανδαύλῃ - "in all things obeying Candaules". In other words Gyges is so helpless in the face of Candaules that if Gyges and Candaules both remain alive it is inevitable that Gyges will again be pressured into gazing on the nakedness of his wife.


That hints perhaps at the reason why the queen confronts Gyges with the choice between his death or the death of the king, but it doesn't, in my view at least, explain why she realises this whole affair is her husband's doing in the first place. Mind you, she realises this immediately when she sees Gyges sneaking out off the bedroom, so instantaneously in fact that she doesn't even make a sound. To me this suggests this spying on her at her husband's bidding did not come totally unexpected and that can only mean she already suspected him. Maybe she overheard him boasting about her, maybe she was aware of his voyeuristic tendencies, maybe he spoke with her about just such a prank. In short, it has nothing to do with Gyges.
Also, I think πάντα πειθόμενος Κανδαύλῃ is not enough to establish Gyges as spineless; he is supposed to obey his king in all things after all, isn't he?

daivid wrote:That the wife sees only these two options to prevent humiliation, to kill one or the other, suggests
that the "love" of Candaules is entirely selfish. It in no way means that he takes into account the wishes of his wife. I don't think that Herodotus intends any moral judgment in depicting his love in this way. It quite possible that he is unaware of any other form of love. If so it is revealing about male attitudes to women in 5th century Athens.


Interesting. Could you unpack your reasoning behind this assertion? To me it just seems to indicate that she thinks being seen naked by someone else than her husband is a horrible thing that her husband did to her and in which Gyges bears some responsibility too (though less than Kandaules). So she has two objects: First, punish Kandaules, and if that proves impossible, Gyges and secondly, make that no one but her husband (whoever that may be) has seen her naked. That's the reason she demands Gyges to marry her after killing Kandaules. At least, that's how I see it.
Bart
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 311
Joined: Sat Mar 16, 2013 3:57 pm
Location: Antwerpen

Re: Candaules got what he deserved?

Postby daivid » Mon Dec 07, 2015 2:12 pm

Bart wrote:That hints perhaps at the reason why the queen choses to confront Gyges with the choice between his death or the death of the king, but it doesn't, in my view at least, explain why she realises this whole affair is her husband's doing in the first place. Mind you, she realises this immediately when she sees Gyges sneaking out off the bedroom, so instantaneously in fact that she doesn't even make a sound. To me this suggests this spying on her at her husband's bidding did not come totally unexpected and that can only mean she already suspected him. Maybe she overheard him boasting about her, maybe she was aware of his voyeuristic tendencies, maybe he spoke with her about just such a prank. In short, it has nothing to do with Gyges.

There is no hint in the text of these other options. But if she already regards Gyges as without an independent will then of course she will instantly come to the conclusion that it is her husband who is to blame.
Bart wrote:
Also, I think πάντα πειθόμενος Κανδαύλῃ is not enough to establish Gyges as spineless; he is supposed to obey his king in all things after all, isn't he?

As far as the wife is concerned, only a husband can look upon the nakedness of his wife and that is a fundamental norm more fundamental than others such as the duty of a subject to obey his king. And indeed Kandaules himself seems to be aware that he is asking Gyges to do something that does not come under the umbrella of duties of a subject to his king. He does not order Gyges, he persuades and never uses threats.

Bart wrote:
daivid wrote:That the wife sees only these two options to prevent humiliation, to kill one or the other, suggests
that the "love" of Candaules is entirely selfish. It in no way means that he takes into account the wishes of his wife. I don't think that Herodotus intends any moral judgment in depicting his love in this way. It quite possible that he is unaware of any other form of love. If so it is revealing about male attitudes to women in 5th century Athens.


Interesting. Could you unpack your reasoning behind this assertion? To me it just seems to indicate that she thinks being seen naked is a horrible thing that her husband did to her and in which Gyges bears some responsibility too (though less than Kandaules). So she wants to punish her husband and, if that isn't possible, punish Gyges.


Herodotus is quite explicit that the wife's sole motive is to ensure that no one but her husband should see her naked. She isn't after revenge. It could hardly be regarded as punishment of Gyges for him to gain the Kingdom of Lydia. She isn't bothered which of the two men look upon her while naked so long as it is only the one who is her husband. Her sole concern is the future.

For us today, the expectation is that love values the independent will of the beloved. If that was the kind of love that Kandaules felt for his wife she would have the option of going to Kandaules and saying "If you love me you will not permit anyone to see me naked again." Kandaules, as depicted by Herodotus, would surely find such a logic absurd and indeed perhaps Herodotus himself.
λονδον
User avatar
daivid
Administrator
Administrator
 
Posts: 2376
Joined: Sat Jul 16, 2011 1:51 pm
Location: ὁ τοῦ βασιλέως λίθος, London, Europe

Re: Candaules got what he deserved?

Postby Bart » Mon Dec 07, 2015 3:04 pm

daivid wrote:Herodotus is quite explicit that the wife's sole motive is to ensure that no one but her husband should see her naked. She isn't after revenge. It could hardly be regarded as punishment of Gyges for him to gain the Kingdom of Lydia. She isn't bothered which of the two men look upon her while naked so long as it is only the one who is her husband. Her sole concern is the future.


Yes, you're right of course about the importance of not being seen naked by no one but her husband. I edited my text right after having posted it to reflect this but you obiously missed that while writing your reply. Sorry.

You're wrong though about the revenge part, since Herodotus explicitly states that she wants to punish her husband: μαθοῦσὰ δὲ τὸ ποιηθέν ἐκ τοῦ ἀνδρὸς οὔτε ἀνέβωσε αἰσχυνθεῖσα οὔτε ἔδοξε μαθεῖν, ἐν νοῶ ἔχουσα τίσεσθαι τὸν Κανδαύλεα

Furthermore, if the wife's sole motive is to ensure that no one sees her naked but her husband, woudn't it have been easier just to have Gyges killed (either by suicide or by force -she is the queen after all-). Instead of this she confronts him with a dilemma:

A) K dead, G husband
B) G dead

She states this dilemma twice, both times putting option A first, indicating this is what she prefers, as she wants to see her husband punished (as Herodotus told us a few lines before).

Btw, are you still reading Herodotus?
Bart
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 311
Joined: Sat Mar 16, 2013 3:57 pm
Location: Antwerpen

Re: Candaules got what he deserved?

Postby daivid » Mon Dec 07, 2015 4:06 pm

Bart wrote:Yes, you're right of course about the importance of not being seen naked by no one but her husband. I edited my text right after having posted it to reflect this but you obiously missed that while writing your reply. Sorry.
I am glad we agree and if anyone is at fault it is me for not checking to see if the post had been changed

Bart wrote:You're wrong though about the revenge part, since Herodotus explicitly states that she wants to punish her husband: μαθοῦσὰ δὲ τὸ ποιηθέν ἐκ τοῦ ἀνδρὸς οὔτε ἀνέβωσε αἰσχυνθεῖσα οὔτε ἔδοξε μαθεῖν, ἐν νοῶ ἔχουσα τίσεσθαι τὸν Κανδαύλεα

I missed that bit - yes that does make if clear which outcome she prefers but she is prepared to settle for simply a dead Gyges as not being seen naked by man not her husband in future is a major concern if not as you point out her sole one.

Bart wrote:Furthermore, if the wife's sole motive is to ensure that no one sees her naked but her husband, woudn't it have been easier just to have Gyges killed (either by suicide or by force -she is the queen after all-).

Not necessarily. Kandaules would be very angry to find his favorite servant killed and his love for his wife being the kind of love that it was would only provide limited protection. Gyges, however, could be trusted to do whatever she wanted should she become his wife - his spinelessness has advantages.
Bart wrote:Instead of this she confronts him with a dilemma:

A) K dead, G husband
B) G dead

She states this dilemma twice, both times putting option A first, indicating this is what she prefers, as she wants to see her husband punished (as Herodotus told us a few lines before).


Agreed. Indeed we now seem to agree on most points.

While the fact that revenge is part of the wifes motive weakens my argument about the selfishness of Kandaules love I do think it is an aspect that is worth keeping mind. When I first read the story my first reaction was that the wife was being a bit harsh as Kandaules only acted as he did because he loved her. This was because to us today love implies that the love has the best interests of the beloved at heart. Kandaules love, however, is the starting point that leads to him humiliating his wife.

In the story the wife has no reason to be grateful for her husbands love and clearly does not feel it. I suspect that this reflects the experience of the Athenian men that Herodotus knew.

Bart wrote:Btw, are you still reading Herodotus?

I am reading Xenophon at the moment. I will let you know if I go back Herodotus.
λονδον
User avatar
daivid
Administrator
Administrator
 
Posts: 2376
Joined: Sat Jul 16, 2011 1:51 pm
Location: ὁ τοῦ βασιλέως λίθος, London, Europe

Re: Candaules got what he deserved?

Postby Paul Derouda » Mon Dec 07, 2015 4:26 pm

The way I understood the story (I haven't re-read it now) is that Gyges is hardly spineless. Rather, he is represented as the archetypal good soldier and loyal servant of his king. In the inner logic of this oriental story, it's only to be expected that characters act in ways that are predictable for the archetypes they represent. If the queen discovers that the most loyal soldier of his husband peeping is on her, it's in the logic of the story that he, the loyal soldier, must be there because the king told him so. (Real life is always more fantastic than stories, but this isn't real life.) This may or may not imply something the king had done or said previously, like Bart suggested.

I think the wife's sole concern is her status. Since it's impossible for her to be king, the highest she can achieve is queen, and just being the king's trophy wife isn't enough for her. She thinks it's beneath her dignity that his husband (whoever he is) shows her around to his buddies (not because she's shy, but because she's self-conscious), so she makes a decisive move to show that she's nobody's toy to play around with. Replacing Candaules by Gyges is actually politically a very good more – she not only gives a dire warning to Gyges and everyone else that they shouldn't mess around with her, but also probably ends up with a better husband, having exchanged the unstable, flippant Candaules for the good, loyal soldier Gyges.

Bart wrote:So, 10 pages into Herodotus and loving it!

Wait until you get to book II! Ever wondered how Kheops was able to raise enough money to build the greatest pyramid? Herodotus will tell you!

EDIT: I wrote this before seeing Daivid's last.
Paul Derouda
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 1595
Joined: Fri Nov 05, 2010 9:39 pm

Re: Candaules got what he deserved?

Postby daivid » Mon Dec 07, 2015 6:12 pm

Paul Derouda wrote:The way I understood the story (I haven't re-read it now) is that Gyges is hardly spineless. Rather, he is represented as the archetypal good soldier and loyal servant of his king. In the inner logic of this oriental story, it's only to be expected that characters act in ways that are predictable for the archetypes they represent. If the queen discovers that the most loyal soldier of his husband peeping is on her, it's in the logic of the story that he, the loyal soldier, must be there because the king told him so. (Real life is always more fantastic than stories, but this isn't real life.) This may or may not imply something the king had done or said previously, like Bart suggested.


Gyges as the loyal soldier would indeed fit with "in all things obeying Candaules" but clearly there is a limit to his loyalty. If loyalty was the core of Gyges character he would have replied "I would rather die than betray my King". And never in the story acts out of his own will. When it is first proposed that he gaze on Kandaules naked wife his reaction is horror but he in the caves in to Kandaules pressure and does so anyway. When the wife proposes that he take power in a coup his reaction is again horror but he again he caves in. Throughout the story he is being pushed into doing what he really doesn't want to do so reckon spineless fits better than loyal.

Everything else in your post I reckon is spot on.
λονδον
User avatar
daivid
Administrator
Administrator
 
Posts: 2376
Joined: Sat Jul 16, 2011 1:51 pm
Location: ὁ τοῦ βασιλέως λίθος, London, Europe

Re: Candaules got what he deserved?

Postby Bart » Mon Dec 07, 2015 7:04 pm

Paul Derouda wrote:I think the wife's sole concern is her status. Since it's impossible for her to be king, the highest she can achieve is queen, and just being the king's trophy wife isn't enough for her. She thinks it's beneath her dignity that his husband (whoever he is) shows her around to his buddies (not because she's shy, but because she's self-conscious), so she makes a decisive move to show that she's nobody's toy to play around with.


I don't think it's status or the fact that it's beneath her dignity. Herodotus makes it quite clear that it's shame about having been seen naked (a great disgrace among the Lydians even for a man) that motivates her to take revenge on Kandaules:

μαθοῦσα δὲ τὸ ποιηθὲν ἐκ τοῦ ἀνδρὸς οὔτε ἀνέβωσε αἰσχυνθεῖσα οὔτε ἔδοξε μαθεῖν, ἐν νόῳ ἔχουσα τίσεσθαι τὸν Κανδαύλεα.
παρὰ γὰρ τοῖσι Λυδοῖσι, σχεδὸν δὲ καὶ παρὰ τοῖσι ἄλλοισι βαρβάροισι καὶ ἄνδρα ὀφθῆναι γυμνὸν ἐς αἰσχύνην μεγάλην φέρει.

I agree with your positive assessment of Gyges though.

For anyone interested in a literary approach to Herodotus I can heartily recommend Discourses on the First Book of Herodotus by James Arietti: difficult to find but an inspiring and thought provoking book.
Last edited by Bart on Mon Dec 07, 2015 7:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Bart
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 311
Joined: Sat Mar 16, 2013 3:57 pm
Location: Antwerpen

Re: Candaules got what he deserved?

Postby mwh » Mon Dec 07, 2015 7:07 pm

I like how in reviving this thread Bart focussed on Hdt’s story-telling technique. It’s a tribute to Hdt as a story-teller that we tend to forget that the motivations and actions and personalities of the characters in the story have no existence beyond what he tell us. This memorable little tale of kinky voyeurism well serves its purpose of highlighting the switch from one dynasty to another.

Candaules fell in love with his own wife—what an opening! as Bart remarks. But isn’t its effect premissed precisely on that being an unusual occurrence? Husbands are more likely to fall out of love with their wives than into love with them, at least In modern Western culture. In cultures known to Hdt, or imagined by him, falling in love with the woman you’ve been married to may perhaps have been a little less unusual (though it didn’t happen with Prince Charles), but still.

But “fell in love” is an anachronistic euphemism in any case, a product of modern romanticism. (daivid, not even your first reaction should have been that “Kandaules only acted as he did because he loved her”!!) The word is ηρασθη—he was smitten with sexual desire. And that, says Hdt, putting things a bit back to front, got him thinking that his nameless wife was the most beautiful of all women. It's her surpassing beauty that is of course the real starting-point of the tale, and what a less skilled story-teller than Hdt would have opened with.
mwh
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 1750
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 2:34 am

Re: Candaules got what he deserved?

Postby Bart » Mon Dec 07, 2015 7:27 pm

[quote="mw]Candaules fell in love with his own wife—what an opening! as Bart remarks. But isn’t its effect premissed precisely on that being an unusual occurrence? Husbands are more likely to fall out of love with their wives than into love with them, at least In modern Western culture. In cultures known to Hdt, or imagined by him, falling in love with the woman you’ve been married to may perhaps have been a little less unusual (though it didn’t happen with Prince Charles), but still.[/quote]

It is a great opening, isn't it? Its paradoxical quality reminds me of the short-stories by Saki (alias Hector Hugh Munro). And, yes, you're right, its effect is achieved by the unexpectedness of what it states. Husbands, in our culture, are supposed to have fallen (passionately) in love with their spouses long ago; in ancient Greek culture perhaps they weren't supposed to fall in love at all.
Bart
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 311
Joined: Sat Mar 16, 2013 3:57 pm
Location: Antwerpen

Re: Candaules got what he deserved?

Postby Paul Derouda » Mon Dec 07, 2015 7:55 pm

Bart wrote:I don't think it's status or the fact that it's beneath her dignity. Herodotus makes it quite clear that it's shame about having been seen naked (a great disgrace among the Lydians even for a man) that motivates her to take revenge on Kandaules:

μαθοῦσα δὲ τὸ ποιηθὲν ἐκ τοῦ ἀνδρὸς οὔτε ἀνέβωσε αἰσχυνθεῖσα οὔτε ἔδοξε μαθεῖν, ἐν νόῳ ἔχουσα τίσεσθαι τὸν Κανδαύλεα.
παρὰ γὰρ τοῖσι Λυδοῖσι, σχεδὸν δὲ καὶ παρὰ τοῖσι ἄλλοισι βαρβάροισι καὶ ἄνδρα ὀφθῆναι γυμνὸν ἐς αἰσχύνην μεγάλην φέρει.

I might be splitting hairs a bit but I think there's a difference. Although there is a lot of semantic overlap, αἰσχυνθεῖσα here is closer to "dishonored" than "ashamed". Of course she is ashamed too, but that's not the main point. She's not the young blushing girl, she's the Machiavellian and she's seething with anger. She's like Achilles or Agamemnon in the first book of the Iliad. She's the queen and her husband has treated her like she were a common slave-girl. That's an assault on her status, her τιμή (though Herodotos doesn't use the term).

daivid wrote:Gyges as the loyal soldier would indeed fit with "in all things obeying Candaules" but clearly there is a limit to his loyalty. If loyalty was the core of Gyges character he would have replied "I would rather die than betray my King". And never in the story acts out of his own will. When it is first proposed that he gaze on Kandaules naked wife his reaction is horror but he in the caves in to Kandaules pressure and does so anyway. When the wife proposes that he take power in a coup his reaction is again horror but he again he caves in. Throughout the story he is being pushed into doing what he really doesn't want to do so reckon spineless fits better than loyal.

Gyges is a good, balanced soldier in the first place and "in all things obeying Candaules" in the second place, but only in the second, because obeying to one's king is part of being a good soldier, even if the king is an irresponsible sort of a fellow. He was put in a situation where there were no good options available, and twice so. First he obeyed to his king's stupid orders, but only after protesting as vigorously as was possible for him. And when the wife caught him, he was again made an offer he couldn't refuse. Making any other decision in either case would have been self-destructive for him, and that would not have been in accordance with the Greek mindset (something like that might have happened in a medieval chivalric romance).
Paul Derouda
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 1595
Joined: Fri Nov 05, 2010 9:39 pm

Re: Candaules got what he deserved?

Postby Paul Derouda » Mon Dec 07, 2015 8:21 pm

Bart wrote:Husbands, in our culture, are supposed to have fallen (passionately) in love with their spouses long ago; in ancient Greek culture perhaps they weren't supposed to fall in love at all.

A random remark from Kenneth Dover's Greek Homosexuality, (a book I recently read), p. 151 footnote:
The assumption that shared sexual experience is the foundation upon which the mutual sexual passion of the partners is built rather than the goal towards which their pre-existing passion moves is widely adopted in societies which segregate boys and girls and put the responsibility of arranging marriages on parents.

This is about sex but I suppose it's a good reminder that the dynamics of arranged marriages and our "love-marriages" are different. (You might find the quotation marks cynical; but I'm only contemplating the possibility that also the other half of the world, with their arranged marriages, may, on occasion, experience a feeling called love :) )
Paul Derouda
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 1595
Joined: Fri Nov 05, 2010 9:39 pm

Re: Candaules got what he deserved?

Postby mwh » Mon Dec 07, 2015 9:41 pm

Saki, yes. There’s much in common with his tale of Sredni Vashtar, which I read as a child with unspeakable delight. When she learnt what had been done Candaules’ wife said nothing but resolved on vengeance (which of course she achieved). Just so the hero of Saki’s tale. And in both cases the vengeance takes the form (after prospective failure) of a mediated killing.
mwh
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 1750
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 2:34 am

Re: Candaules got what he deserved?

Postby Bart » Tue Dec 08, 2015 3:56 pm

I wasn't thinking of a particular story, but yes, Sredni Vashtar is quite similar in the way the revenge motif is handled. And of course, we see Saki using the same technique as Herodotus or Homer in his obituaries of giving just enough information to spark the imagination. We'll never know for sure how Conradin's guardian actually died (gruesomely one hopes in secret) and the story is the better for it.
Bart
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 311
Joined: Sat Mar 16, 2013 3:57 pm
Location: Antwerpen

Re: Candaules got what he deserved?

Postby daivid » Tue Dec 08, 2015 6:12 pm

mwh wrote:I like how in reviving this thread Bart focussed on Hdt’s story-telling technique. It’s a tribute to Hdt as a story-teller that we tend to forget that the motivations and actions and personalities of the characters in the story have no existence beyond what he tell us. This memorable little tale of kinky voyeurism well serves its purpose of highlighting the switch from one dynasty to another.

We don't know what Herodotus' raw material was but it is quite possible to have been no more than the names of the two kings and the fact of a change of dynasty. It is because he so skilfully constructed such a memorable story from the dry facts that the names of Gyges and Kandaules are remembered.
But though Herodotus is far more concerned with making his stories memorable that truthful (as his intro makes clear) he does want to be believable to his listeners. Hence even though his account is of little historical value if we want to understand the politics of Lydia in the 7th-8th century BCE it is of value in understanding the expectations of 5th century Athenian men.

mwh wrote:But “fell in love” is an anachronistic euphemism in any case, a product of modern romanticism. (daivid, not even your first reaction should have been that “Kandaules only acted as he did because he loved her”!!) The word is ηρασθη—he was smitten with sexual desire. And that, says Hdt, putting things a bit back to front, got him thinking that his nameless wife was the most beautiful of all women. It's her surpassing beauty that is of course the real starting-point of the tale, and what a less skilled story-teller than Hdt would have opened with.


Humans 2,500 years ago had pretty much the the same DNA as humans today. Erotic love then would have had the same basic chemistry as today but the social construct around those feelings was very different. For Kandaules his feelings of love drives him to possess the object of his desire and to demonstrate his possession to others. A hundred years ago the same feelings would be reason to cherish and protect. Today it produces an impulse towards a partnership of mutual respect.
The opening line is redundant if it merely means that Kandaules had the hots for his wife. It is because the underlying feelings are essentially the same as what we call being in love that Kandaules plunges headlong into disaster.
So translation of ηρασθη by “in love” is not anachronistic but both essential to understanding Herodotus' intention and to how the Athens of his day differ from our societies today.
λονδον
User avatar
daivid
Administrator
Administrator
 
Posts: 2376
Joined: Sat Jul 16, 2011 1:51 pm
Location: ὁ τοῦ βασιλέως λίθος, London, Europe

Re: Candaules got what he deserved?

Postby Bart » Tue Dec 08, 2015 8:25 pm

daivid wrote:Humans 2,500 years ago had pretty much the the same DNA as humans today. Erotic love then would have had the same basic chemistry as today but the social construct around those feelings was very different. For Kandaules his feelings of love drives him to possess the object of his desire and to demonstrate his possession to others. A hundred years ago the same feelings would be reason to cherish and protect. Today it produces an impulse towards a partnership of mutual respect.
The opening line is redundant if it merely means that Kandaules had the hots for his wife. It is because the underlying feelings are essentially the same as what we call being in love that Kandaules plunges headlong into disaster.
So translation of ηρασθη by “in love” is not anachronistic but both essential to understanding Herodotus' intention and to how the Athens of his day differ from our societies today.


The meaning of the verb εραω can be established by studying its use in different sentences and contexts and not by a priori reasoning about what its meaning should be. Also, while reasoning you drift into muddy neurophilosophical waters and make several assumptions that are disputable:
-that having the same dna means having the same feelings
-that there is on the one hand an emotion and on the other its expression and that these two entities can be separated
-that the expression of emotions (but not the emotions themselves apperently) are conditioned by 'the social construct'

This is obviously not the place to discuss these topics, but surely they are not as self evident as you seem to believe.
Bart
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 311
Joined: Sat Mar 16, 2013 3:57 pm
Location: Antwerpen

Re: Candaules got what he deserved?

Postby Paul Derouda » Tue Dec 08, 2015 8:43 pm

Indeed, the debate is getting more and more convoluted, which isn't necessarily a bad thing... :)

My best attempt to translate ὁ Κανδαύλης ἠράσθη τῆς ἑωυτοῦ γυναικός: "Kandaules found her wife very attractive". It's not very literal, and it doesn't quite get the aorist, but I think this is how you'd say the same idea in idiomatic English. He finds her desirable; whether he's loves her in other respects, we do not know, the story doesn't tell – probably not, seeing that he treated her the way he did.
Paul Derouda
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 1595
Joined: Fri Nov 05, 2010 9:39 pm

Re: Candaules got what he deserved?

Postby Bart » Tue Dec 08, 2015 9:21 pm

Paul Derouda wrote:My best attempt to translate ὁ Κανδαύλης ἠράσθη τῆς ἑωυτοῦ γυναικός: "Kandaules found her wife very attractive".


Her wife? Now, there 's a scoop! :D
But seriously, isn't that a bit too weak? 'Overcome by desire' maybe?
Bart
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 311
Joined: Sat Mar 16, 2013 3:57 pm
Location: Antwerpen

Re: Candaules got what he deserved?

Postby Paul Derouda » Tue Dec 08, 2015 10:30 pm

Yes, you're right, it's a bit weak, something stronger is required... I'm not sure "overcome" is quite right either, because to me at least it suggests a dramatic development in the story like "overcome by desire, he fell into a swoon" or "overcome by desire, he took her in his arms". But that's a question of English, so I'm not much of a judge and anyway, this is a Greek & Latin forum... :)
Paul Derouda
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 1595
Joined: Fri Nov 05, 2010 9:39 pm

Re: Candaules got what he deserved?

Postby daivid » Tue Dec 08, 2015 11:03 pm

Paul Derouda wrote:Indeed, the debate is getting more and more convoluted, which isn't necessarily a bad thing... :)

My best attempt to translate ὁ Κανδαύλης ἠράσθη τῆς ἑωυτοῦ γυναικός: "Kandaules found her wife very attractive". It's not very literal, and it doesn't quite get the aorist, but I think this is how you'd say the same idea in idiomatic English. He finds her desirable; whether he's loves her in other respects, we do not know, the story doesn't tell – probably not, seeing that he treated her the way he did.


Chariton 1.1.6 Ταχέως οὖν πάθος ἐρωτικὸν ἀντέδωκαν ἀλλήλοις. As ἐρωτικὸν is the from the same root I my assumption is that Chariton is talking about the same thing as what Herodotos talks about when he uses ἠράσθη. Am I wrong?

Bart wrote:This is obviously not the place to discuss these topics, but surely they are not as self evident as you seem to believe.

I don't understand why you think my point of view to be obviously off-topic since I have pretty much been arguing from that point of view from the initial post.
λονδον
User avatar
daivid
Administrator
Administrator
 
Posts: 2376
Joined: Sat Jul 16, 2011 1:51 pm
Location: ὁ τοῦ βασιλέως λίθος, London, Europe

Re: Candaules got what he deserved?

Postby mwh » Wed Dec 09, 2015 4:02 am

Chariton’s tale of erotic passion is about half a millennium later, and the Greek romances do tend to, well, romanticize, but yes, the same dynamics apply. Eros is still at work (or play), inflaming his hapless victims.

But there’s no need to go beyond Herodotus. If you jump ahead to the end you’ll find the comparable but more complex tale of the ερως of Xerxes, no less. He fancied (ἤρα) first his brother’s wife, and then, with more success (ἤρα τε και ἐτύγχανε), their daughter, whom he had meanwhile hitched to his son. When his wife finds out he’s having it off with his daughter-in-law, she takes revenge—but on the wrong person. But I mustn’t spoil the story (9.108-113).

It’s a wonderfully nasty tale of the power of ερως, lust.

EDIT. And to perfect our understanding, here’s Hdt.2.131, echoing the opening of the Candaules tale: Μυκερῖνος ἠράσθη τῆς ἑωυτοῦ θυγατρὸς καὶ ἔπειτα ἐμίγη οἱ ἀεκούσῃ· μετὰ δὲ λέγουσι ὡς ἡ παῖς ἀπήγξατο
"Mykerinos ἠράσθη his own daughter, and had sex with her against her will. They say that afterwards the child hanged herself."
I don’t think we’d call that falling in love, or think that he only did what he did because he loved her.
Last edited by mwh on Wed Dec 09, 2015 6:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
mwh
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 1750
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 2:34 am

Re: Candaules got what he deserved?

Postby Bart » Wed Dec 09, 2015 5:50 am

daivid wrote:
Bart wrote:This is obviously not the place to discuss these topics, but surely they are not as self evident as you seem to believe.

I don't understand why you think my point of view to be obviously off-topic since I have pretty much been arguing from that point of view from the initial post.


Not you, I was admonishing myself for straying off-topic.
Bart
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 311
Joined: Sat Mar 16, 2013 3:57 pm
Location: Antwerpen

Re: Candaules got what he deserved?

Postby Bart » Wed Dec 09, 2015 9:35 am

Paul Derouda wrote:"overcome by desire, he fell into a swoon" or "overcome by desire, he took her in his arms".


Really, Paul, what kind of novels have you been reading lately? :)
Bart
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 311
Joined: Sat Mar 16, 2013 3:57 pm
Location: Antwerpen

Re: Candaules got what he deserved?

Postby daivid » Wed Dec 09, 2015 3:16 pm

Bart wrote:
daivid wrote:
Bart wrote:This is obviously not the place to discuss these topics, but surely they are not as self evident as you seem to believe.

I don't understand why you think my point of view to be obviously off-topic since I have pretty much been arguing from that point of view from the initial post.


Not you, I was admonishing myself for straying off-topic.


Oh, I see. Now I come to think of it I have done the same thing. I once was criticizing the direction a conversation was going having my own role in mind but the other person took it as a criticism of their role.

But if you need to tackle my underlying assumptions to rebut what I am saying then where ever that takes you must surely be on topic.
λονδον
User avatar
daivid
Administrator
Administrator
 
Posts: 2376
Joined: Sat Jul 16, 2011 1:51 pm
Location: ὁ τοῦ βασιλέως λίθος, London, Europe

Re: Candaules got what he deserved?

Postby Bart » Tue Dec 15, 2015 8:43 pm

Herodotus not only knows how to write a great opening sentence but also how to end a story. The last sentence of the Atys/ Adrastus interlude -Greek tragedy in short story format- is truly magnificent:

Ἄδρηστος δὲ ὁ Γορδίεω τοῦ Μίδεω, οὗτος δὴ ὁ φονεὺς μὲν τοῦ ἑωυτοῦ ἀδελφεοῦ γενόμενος φονεὺς δὲ τοῦ καθήραντος, ἐπείτε ἡσυχίη τῶν ἀνθρώπων ἐγένετο περὶ τὸ σῆμα, συγγινωσκόμενος ἀνθρώπων εἶναι τῶν αὐτὸς ᾔδεε βαρυσυμφορώτατος, ἐπικατασφάζει τῷ τύμβῳ ἑωυτόν.

'Adrastus, son of Gordias, son of Midas, he who was the slayer of his own brother and the slayer of the one who purified him, when there was no one left and it was quiet about the grave, recognising himself as the most heavily beset by misfortune of all human beings he knew, killed himself upon the tomb. '

Especially the 'ἐπείτε ἡσυχίη τῶν ἀνθρώπων ἐγένετο περὶ τὸ σῆμα' part is chilling. I read it as both indicating people had gone away and it being (therefore) quiet about the grave. It is the loneliness and silence of that moment that captures the entire tragedy of Adrastus' life.

On a different note: the story opens with μετὰ δὲ Σόλωνα οἰχόμενον ἔλαβέ ἐκ θεοῦ νέμεσις μεγάλη Κροῖσον -> after Solon's departure a great vengeance from the god visited Croesus. Intriguingly Arieti believes the vengeance doesn't consist in the death of Croesus' son Atys, but in the premonitory dream itself.
Bart
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 311
Joined: Sat Mar 16, 2013 3:57 pm
Location: Antwerpen

Re: Candaules got what he deserved?

Postby mwh » Wed Dec 16, 2015 4:33 am

That seems a singularly perverse reading by Arieti. It’s true that Croesus may have been rather less happy after the dream, but surely the great nemesis is not the immediately following forewarning of his son’s death but the actual death. Dreams, oracles, prophecies, you take steps to prevent their fulfilment—futilely, to be sure, but you don’t know that. (We do, of course; Hdt is strong on dramatic irony.) Disaster comes only with the fulfilment of the prophecy, and only then it is assured that Croesus will not die happy. That’s built in to the structure of Hdt’s telling of the story too.

I fully agree on the ending of the Adrastus part. Was ever an ending so strongly marked? I also like the precision, not to say pedantry, of των αυτος ηδεε (you wouldn’t find such a qualification in tragedy!) and the expressively weighty βαρυσυμφορώτατος before we finally reach that killer phrase (suggestive of sacrifice in –σφαζει) that brings both the story and the life to their predetermined end.

The Croesus tale is less satisfying, less tragic, than that of Oedipus, say, since he doesn’t bring disaster on himself by his efforts to avoid it, but just by being stupid. It fits a familiar folk pattern, but rather clumsily.
mwh
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 1750
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 2:34 am

Re: Candaules got what he deserved?

Postby Bart » Wed Dec 16, 2015 6:00 am

Yes, Arieti's interpretation seems counterintuitive. His reasoning goes more or less like this:

-Croesus mistake (thinking himself the most fortunate man on earth) is an intellectual error not a moral one; so it seems fitting that divine justice takes the form of an 'intellectual challenge' (i.e. the dream, throwing him into confusion)
-secondly capital punishment on an offspring is much too severe a penalty for the arrogance of the father and not in keeping with the justice attributed by Herodotus to the divine. In myth boastfulness is punished on the boaster (Ariadne, Hippolytus)
-the son was fated to die regardless of Croesus having foreknowledge or not
-and then, the 'syntax of the sentence' confirms this interpretation, for the next words indicate the close connection with the vengeance: μετὰ δὲ Σόλωνα οἰχόμενον ἔλαβέ ἐκ θεοῦ νέμεσις μεγάλη Κροῖσον, ὡς εἰκάσαι, ὅτι ἐνόμισε ἑωυτὸν εἶναι ἀνθρώπων ἁπάντων ὀλβιώτατον. αὐτίκα δέ οἱ εὕδοντι ἐπέστη ὄνειρος,


Mmm, having written it down I don't feel the argument to be very convincing.
Bart
Textkit Fan
 
Posts: 311
Joined: Sat Mar 16, 2013 3:57 pm
Location: Antwerpen


Return to Civilization and Culture of the Greeks and Romans

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests