You should know the name of Croesus not only for what he did but because Croesus was connected with many other famous figures, including Aesop, Solon, Midas, Thales, and Cyrus. King Croesus encouraged trade and mining, and his resultant wealth was legendary -- as was much of his life.
Below are 10 points to be familiar with about Croesus.
- Have you read Aesop's fables about the clever and not-so smart animals? Croesus gave that Aesop an appointment in his court.
- In Asia Minor, Lydia is considered the first kingdom to have coins and King Croesus minted the first gold and silver coins there.
- Croesus was so wealthy, his name became synonymous with wealth. Thus, Croesus is the subject of the simile "rich as Croesus". One might say "Bill Gates is as rich as Croesus."
Solon of Athens was a very wise man who made laws for Athens, for which reason he is called Solon the law-giver. It was in conversation with Croesus, who had all the wealth he could want and was, seemingly, perfectly happy, that Solon said, "count no man happy until his death."
- Croesus is said to have derived his wealth from King Midas' (the man with the golden touch) gold deposits in the river Pactolus.
- According to Herodotus, Croesus was the first foreigner to come in contact with the Greeks.
- Croesus conquered and received tribute from the Ionian Greeks.
- Croesus tragically misinterpreted the oracle that told him that if he crossed a certain river he would destroy a kingdom. He didn't realize the kingdom that would be destroyed would be his own.
- Croesus was defeated by the Persian King Cyrus, proving how prescient Solon the law-giver had been.
- Croesus was responsible for the loss of Lydia to Persia [becoming Saparda (Sardis), a satrapy under the Persian satrap Tabalus, but with the treasury of Croesus in the hands of a native, non-Persian, named Pactyas, who soon revolted, using the treasury to hire Greek mercenaries]. This change led to conflict between the Ionian Greek cities and Persia aka the Persian Wars.
Sources on Croesus and Solon
• Bacchylides 3.15-62
• Diodorus 9.2.1-9.2.5
; 9.26.1-9.27.3; 9.29.1-9.29.2; 9.31.3-9.34.1.
• Herodotus 1
.30.1-1.45.3; 1.46.1-1.56.1; 1.85.1-1.91.6.
• Plutarch Solon
• Xenophon Cryopedia. 7.2.9-7.2.29.
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