Here is an interesting message I received about Plato’s “Ring of Gyges” myth:
…I have found what I think might be a reference to the Brazen Bull method of torture and execution. Refer to the text at Stephanus number 359 D on page 55. It is the story of Gyges and the ring as told through Plato. In this translation as he descends into the chasm he then finds “a hollow bronze horse fitted with doors.”, could this in any way be a reference to the Brazen Bull. As he does find a corpse with no clothing, only equipped with the ring…
Dear Cory, in the original the word is “horse”, not “bull”, and is thus correctly translated in the Jowett edition (see Plato, Republic 1, p. 41) and in the translation you quote. No one has connected the reference with the brazen bull torture, and there are more things one must observe.
If there was a relation with the brazen bull, Plato most probably would find something relevant to say, especially when the naked man must have been in a rather ‘bad’ condition after boiling in there. Contrary to that, the man in the horse is described as even larger than a normal man (“of stature”, as Jowett translates, “μείζω ἢ κατ’ ἄνθρωπον, in the original, which means ‘bigger than a man usually is’”), a description that makes us think of someone like a giant.
Personally, reading the whole scene I recall rather Odysseus’ horse which brought the fall of Troy. In this regard, Gyge’s ring, the mysterious and terrible device that makes men invisible, can be considered as someone’s purposeful trap, by which he could achieve the fall of the human community.
The question of course remains open, if anyone has something to add.