Power, prestige, luxury, affluence… These Paspects seem to possess some extraordinary magnetic pull, that man in every era is found 'madly' running after them! This 'madness' has the tendency to touch high degrees and magnitudes, as has been expressed through the writings of the wise and also via real incidents in the history of mankind.
In 'The Republic' (Book II), Plato mentions the story of a shepherd, named Gyges. As a customary practice in their community, the shepherds were required to report about their flocks to the king every month. One day, while feeding his flock, Gyges found a golden ring. He wore the ring while going to attend the meeting. Everything was going as usual. Gyges was sitting with the other shepherds while various issues were being discussed in the meeting. During those discussions, Gyges happened to furl around with the ring casually. However, a strange thing occurred the moment Gyges turned the collet of the ring to the inner side of his hand, i.e. towards himself.
People around him started talking as if he was not sitting there. Yes! He had, all of a sudden, become invisible to others. Gyges was left astounded! He just could not believe his eyes! He then turned the collet to the outside. Aha! He was visible again. Gyges tried it once again. And, it happened this time as well. Wow! It was a magical ring that could make Gyges turn visible or invisible at his will… just at one flip of the collet!
Now Gyges had a whole new world before him, with such stupendous magical power! Simultaneously, life offered him a cherry on the cake when he could succeed in seeking the position of the messenger of the king. However, Gyges soon got blown away by the wind of materialistic and carnal pleasures. He developed illicit relations with the king's wife. Together with the queen, he conspired against the king and finally killed him to seize the kingdom. Gyges broke all codes of morality and humanity! After getting to the king's throne, he did all kinds of heinous acts, succumbing to his instincts of greed and lust. He moved in the whole kingdom whenever and wherever he liked. Driven by his whims and fancies, he killed anyone he wished to, tortured the ones he disliked, and, trespassed all limits of characterlessness and covetousness!
Through the Ring of Gyges story, Plato presents a stark conflict of values with 'materialistic pleasures' on one hand and 'self-respect' on the other. It highlights how the psyche of a human being propels him to digress from the path of morality, in order to enjoy more and more worldly pleasures.
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