Candaulism

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Candaules, King of Lydia, Shews his Wife by Stealth to Gyges, One of his Ministers, As She Goes to Bed by William Etty. This image illustrates Herodotus's version of the tale of Gyges.

Candaulism is a sexual practice or fantasy in which a man exposes his female partner, or images of her, to other people for their voyeuristic pleasure.

The term may also be applied to the practice of undressing or otherwise exposing a female partner to others, or urging or forcing her to engage in sexual relations with a third person, such as during a swinging activity. There have also been reports of a woman's partner urging or forcing her into prostitution or pornography, such as in the case of Karen Lancaume and others. Similarly, the term may also be applied to the posting of personal images of a female partner on the Internet or urging or forcing her to wear clothing which reveals her physical attractiveness to others, such as by wearing very brief clothing, such as a microskirt, tight-fitting or see-through clothing or a low-cut top.

History of the term[edit]

The term is derived from ancient King Candaules who conceived a plot to show his unaware naked wife to his servant Gyges of Lydia. After discovering Gyges while he was watching her naked, Candaules' wife ordered him to choose between killing himself and killing her husband in order to repair the vicious mischief.[1][2][3]

The term was first defined by Richard von Krafft-Ebing in his book: Psychopathia sexualis. Eine klinisch-forensische Studie (Stuttgart: Enke 1886).[4]

Psychology of candaulism[edit]

Isidor Sadger hypothesized that the candaulist completely identifies with his partner's body, and deep in his mind is showing himself.[5] Candaulism is also associated with voyeurism and exhibitionism. An alternative definition proposes it as a practice involving one person observing, often from concealment, two others having sexual relations.

Historical instances of candaulism[edit]

The case of Sir Richard Worsley, Bt, against George Bissett for "criminal conversation", that is adultery with Lady Worsley, revealed an incident in which Sir Richard had assisted Bissett to spy on Lady Worsley taking a bath.[6]

The art collector and connoisseur Charles Saatchi has considered the influence of candaulism upon the work of Salvador Dali, citing episodes recorded by the artist's biographers in which his wife Gala was displayed to other men. (London Evening Standard 21 August 2014)

The notorious American FBI agent caught spying for the Soviet Union (later, Russia), Robert Hanssen, took explicit photographs of his wife and sent them to a friend. Later Hanssen invited his friend to clandestinely observe him having sex with his wife during his occasional visits to the Hanssen household. Initially, his friend watched through a window from outside the house. Later, Hanssen appropriated video equipment from the FBI to set up closed-circuit television to allow his friend to watch from his guest bedroom.[7] Hanssen also posted sexually explicit stories to the Internet crafted to allow readers who knew the Hanssens to identify them, also without his wife's knowledge.

Candaulism in literature[edit]

Candaulism is a theme of A Dance to the Music of Time, the cycle of novels by Anthony Powell. A key scene in the penultimate volume Temporary Kings, is set in a Venetian palazzo under a ceiling on which Tiepolo has depicted King Candaules allowing his wife to be seen naked by Gyges. The theme of voyeurism runs through the sequence of novels including a scene in which the arch-villain, Widmerpool watches his wife with a lover.

Candaulism in films[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ André Gide, Le roi Candaule (1901)
  2. ^ Hebbel, Gyges und sein Ring
  3. ^ Herodotus, Histories, Book 1.8
  4. ^ Richard von Krafft-Ebing in his book: Psychopathia sexualis. Eine klinisch-forensische Studie (Stuttgart: Enke 1886).
  5. ^ Ernest Borneman, Lexicon der Liebe (Hannibal, 1984)
  6. ^ Rubenhold, Hallie (2008). Lady Worsley's Whim. London: Vintage Books. ISBN 978-0-7011-7980-9. 
  7. ^ Wise 2003, pp. 252–253
    Adrian Havill. "Robert Philip Hanssen: The Spy who Stayed out in The Cold". Court TV (now TruTV). Retrieved 6 February 2007. 
    "Hanssen: Deep Inner Conflicts". Texas A&M Research Foundation. Retrieved 4 Nov 2010. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]