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wife for the fairest of all womankind. Only, I beseech thee, ask me
not to do wickedly."
Gyges thus endeavoured to decline the king's proposal, trembling
lest some dreadful evil should befall him through it. But the king
replied to him, "Courage, friend; suspect me not of the design to
prove thee by this discourse; nor dread thy mistress, lest mischief
be. thee at her hands. Be sure I will so manage that she shall not
even know that thou hast looked upon her. I will place thee behind the
open door of the chamber in which we sleep. When I enter to go to rest
she will follow me. There stands a chair close to the entrance, on
which she will lay her clothes one by one as she takes them off.
Thou wilt be able thus at thy leisure to peruse her person. Then, when
she is moving from the chair toward the bed, and her back is turned on
thee, be it thy care that she see thee not as thou passest through the
doorway."
Gyges, unable to escape, could but declare his readiness. Then
Candaules, when bedtime came, led Gyges into his sleeping-chamber, and
a moment after the queen followed. She entered, and laid her
garments on the chair, and Gyges gazed on her. After a while she moved
toward the bed, and her back being then turned, he glided stealthily
from the apartment. As he was passing out, however, she saw him, and
instantly divining what had happened, she neither screamed as her
shame impelled her, nor even appeared to have noticed aught, purposing
to take vengeance upon the husband who had so affronted her. For among
the Lydians, and indeed among the barbarians generally, it is reckoned
a deep disgrace, even to a man, to be seen naked.
No sound or sign of intelligence escaped her at the time. But in
the morning, as soon as day broke, she hastened to choose from among
her retinue such as she knew to be most faithful to her, and preparing
them for what was to ensue, summoned Gyges into her presence. Now it
had often happened before that the queen had desired to confer with
him, and he was accustomed to come to her at her call. He therefore
obeyed the summons, not suspecting that she knew aught of what had
occurred. Then she addressed these words to him: "Take thy choice,
Gyges, of two courses which are open to thee. Slay Candaules, and
thereby become my lord, and obtain the Lydian throne, or die this
moment in his room. So wilt thou not again, obeying all behests of thy
master, behold what is not lawful for thee. It must needs be that
either he perish by whose counsel this thing was done, or thou, who
sawest me naked, and so didst break our usages." At these words
Gyges stood awhile in mute astonishment; recovering after a time, he
earnestly besought the queen that she would not compel him to so
hard a choice. But finding he implored in vain, and that necessity was
indeed laid on him to kill or to be killed, he made choice of life for
himself, and replied by this inquiry: "If it must be so, and thou
compellest me against my will to put my lord to death, come, let me
hear how thou wilt have me set on him." "Let him be attacked," she
answered, "on the spot where I was by him shown naked to you, and
let the assault be made when he is asleep."
All was then prepared for the attack, and when night fell,
Gyges, seeing that he had no retreat or escape, but must absolutely
either slay Candaules, or himself be slain, followed his mistress into
the sleeping-room. She placed a dagger in his hand and hid him
carefully behind the self-same door. Then Gyges, when the king was
fallen asleep, entered privily into the chamber and struck him dead.
Thus did the wife and kingdom of Candaules pass into the possession of
Gyges, of whom Archilochus the Parian, who lived about the same
time, made mention in a poem written in iambic trimeter verse.
Gyges was afterwards confirmed in the possession of the throne
by an answer of the Delphic oracle. Enraged at the murder of their
king, the people flew to arms, but after a while the partisans of
Gyges came to terms with them, and it was agreed that if the Delphic
oracle declared him king of the Lydians, he should reign; if
otherwise, he should yield the throne to the Heraclides. As the oracle

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