Book II, a—c Socrates believes he has adequately responded to Thrasymachus and is through with the discussion of justice, but the others are not satisfied with the conclusion they have reached. Glaucon states that all goods can be divided into three classes:
The legends[ edit ] Gyges of Lydia was a historical king, the founder of the Mermnad dynasty of Lydian kings. Various ancient works—the most well-known being The Histories of Herodotus  —gave different accounts of the circumstances of his rise to power.
In Glaucon 's recounting of the myth, an unnamed ancestor of Gyges  was a shepherd in the service of the ruler of Lydia.
After an earthquake, a cave was revealed in a mountainside where he was feeding his flock. Entering the cave, he discovered that it was in fact a tomb with a bronze horse containing a corpselarger than that of a man, who wore a golden ringwhich he pocketed. He discovered that the ring gave him the power to become invisible by adjusting it.
He then arranged to be chosen as one of the messengers who reported to the king as to the status of the flocks. Arriving at the palace, he used his new power of invisibility to seduce the queen, and with her help he murdered the king, and became king of Lydia himself.
The role of the legend in Republic[ edit ] In Republic, the tale of the ring of Gyges is described by the character of Glaucon who is the brother of Plato.
Glaucon asks whether any man can be so virtuous that he could resist the temptation of being able to perform any act without being known or discovered. Glaucon suggests that morality is only a social constructionthe source of which is the desire to maintain one's reputation for virtue and justice.
Hence, if that sanction were removed, one's moral character would evaporate. Suppose now that there were two such magic rings, and the just put on one of them and the unjust the other; no man can be imagined to be of such an iron nature that he would stand fast in justice.
No man would keep his hands off what was not his own when he could safely take what he liked out of the market, or go into houses and lie with any one at his pleasure, or kill or release from prison whom he would, and in all respects be like a god among men.
Then the actions of the just would be as the actions of the unjust; they would both come at last to the same point. And this we may truly affirm to be a great proof that a man is just, not willingly or because he thinks that justice is any good to him individually, but of necessity, for wherever any one thinks that he can safely be unjust, there he is unjust.
For all men believe in their hearts that injustice is far more profitable to the individual than justice, and he who argues as I have been supposing, will say that they are right.
If you could imagine any one obtaining this power of becoming invisible, and never doing any wrong or touching what was another's, he would be thought by the lookers-on to be a most wretched idiot, although they would praise him to one another's faces, and keep up appearances with one another from a fear that they too might suffer injustice.
Though his answer to Glaucon's challenge is delayed, Socrates ultimately argues that justice does not derive from this social construct:Following his line of argument, Glaucon now relates the legend of Gyges, a common shepherd, who one day discovered a ring that gave him the power to become invisible.
Glaucon argues that no man would think twice about doing something unjust if he had the opportunity to do it without being punished. He proposes a mind-experiment: the myth of the magic ring of Gyges. (Note how any effectiveness of his argument is actually an ad populum fallacy.) Glaucon argues that if someone had a ring which made him invisible, then that person would be foolish not to use it for personal advantage.
According to the tradition, Gyges was a shepherd in the service of the king of Lydia; there was a great storm, and an earthquake made an opening in the earth at the place .
The Ring of Gyges, from the Republic, Book II "They say that to do injustice is, by nature, good; to suffer injustice, evil; but that the evil is greater than the good. The “Ring of Gyges” begins with a challenge put forth by Glaucon-he wants Socrates to defend the just life and he wants the defense to show that justice is intrinsically preferable to injustice.
For the sake of the argument, Glaucon proposes to present a defense of injustice. The Ring of Gyges can be found in book two (a- d) and tells the story of Gyges of Lydia who was a shepherd in service of the King, Candaules. Shortly after an earthquake occurred a cave surfaced and upon entering it Gyges discovered a tomb that contained a corpse slightly larger than a man.