Essay about Powerful Female Characters Of Candaules And Gyges

Essay about Powerful Female Characters Of Candaules And Gyges

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One of the first stories presented by Herodotus in the Histories features a powerful female character and her character plays a crucial role in the story of Candaules and Gyges. In this story, Candaules acts wrongly in two manners. First, he “conceived a passion for his own wife” (1.8). Second, he forced his bodyguard, Gyges, to see his wife (who remains nameless) naked. When sneaking a peak at the queen, however, Gyges does not go unnoticed. The queen, feeling ashamed, for “with the Lydians…it is thought highly indecent even for a man to be seen naked,” devised a plan for revenge upon her husband (1.10). She manipulates Gyges and gives him an ultimatum: he can either kill Candaules and take over the throne, or kill himself. Gyges decides that the former is the better option. This seizing of the throne put the Mermnadae in power and got rid of the Heraclids, eventually leading to Gyges’ descendant Croesus coming to power. The queen uses her place of power to punish both Candaules and Gyges for wronging her.
Another story from the Histories that exemplifies how impactful female characters can be, is that of Cambyses. Herodotus writes that there are multiple stories that try to explain Cambyses’ invasion of Egypt, both of which use women as the pretext. One explanation is that when Cambyses asked Amasis for his daughter in marriage, Amasis sent Nitetis, the daughter of the late King Apries, instead. When the trickery was revealed to Cambyses, he was livid, and it was this deception which “brought down upon Egypt the wrath of Cambyses” (3.1). The other explanation is that when Cambyses was a child, he overheard his mother, Cassandane, say that Cyrus “gives all his attention to that woman he got from Egypt” (3.3). Cambyses vowed to t...

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...son of Tomyris” (1.207-211). Tomyris sent a message to Cyrus saying, “[G]ive me back my son and get out of my country with your forces intact…If you refuse, I swear by the sun our master to give you more blood than you can drink, for all your gluttony” (1.212). When Spargapises killed himself, after Cyrus had ignored Tomyris’ threat, Tomyris engaged Cyrus in the field. During the battle, the Massagetae destroyed most of the Persian army and Cyrus was killed. The queen searched for the dead body of Cyrus, and upon finding it she submerged his head in a skin full of human blood and cried: “Though I have conquered you and live, yet you have ruined me by treacherously taking my son. See now – I fulfil my threat: you have your fill of blood” (1.214). This story seems to present the idea that rulers who attack others out of “gluttony” will be punished, one way or another.

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