The Histories by Herodotus – Book I, “Clio” – I – Trojan War, Candaules & Gyges and Early Croesus Years [1-45]

Candaules & Gyges checking out the Queen

The Histories by Herodotus – Book I, “Clio”

I – Trojan War, Candaules & Gyges and Early Croesus Years [1-45]

A – Kidnappings and War [1-5]

  • Kidnappings of Io, Medea, Europé and Helen – The Phoenicians were originally from near the Indian Ocean but moved to the Mediterranean Sea. They traded with the Greeks, especially with Argos. One day, the Phoenicians kidnapped Argive women, including Io, the daughter of Inachus.
  • A group of Greeks went to Tyre and took the king’s daughter, Europé, in retaliation. The king demanded her back with reparations. Since the Phoenicians never did this with Io, the Greeks refused. They took Medea from Aea.
  • A generation later, Priam’s son, Alexander, took a Greek woman, Helen. The Greeks demanded her return with no response because of the Greek abduction of Europé and Medea. Threats of violence and war followed.
  • Kidnappings aside, the Persians blame the Trojan War on the Greeks since they started fighting first by leading an army to Troy. Asians would have let it go but the Greek burnt the city to the ground. This wars the origin of the European and Asian rift.

B – Candaules the Freak & Gyges the Ripper [6-14]

  • Croesus, son of Alyattes, a Lydia was king of all nations west of the River Halys (Central Turkey and westward). He was the first barbarian (Foreign) king to deal with Greece, conquering Aeolians, Ionians, and Dorians.
  • The throne of Lydia came to Croesus from the Mermnadae. Candaules, grandson of Hercules, was the last of the Mermnadae. The Lydian kings lasted 22 generations from Agron to Candaules (505 years).
  • Candaules was in love with his own wife (Poor fella). He would talk to his bodyguard, Gyges, about how beautiful his wife was. He wanted Gyges to see his wife naked. Gyges didn’t think that was a good idea.
  • Gyges went along with it. Candaules led him to a spot where he could see the queen change. She caught him as he was leaving. She was so pissed off at Candaules that she was determined to get revenge.
  • She had Gyges brought to her and gave him 2 choices: 1 – Kill Candaules, become my husband and King of Lydia. 2 – Die right now because you broke the law and you must die. He asked how he should kill Candaules. She said – On the same spot where you watched me naked.
  • That night he sneaked into their room while the king was sleeping and stabbed him to death. Gyges then became king.
  • The people were upset that their king was murdered but were eventually convinced to accept it once the Oracle of Delphi said it was legit. But she also said 5 generations later, vengeance will come.
  • Once he was crowned, Gyges sent tons of silver and gold gifts to Delphi. In Herodotus’s time, they were in Corinth. It was the first time a Barbarian king sent presents to Delphi. He then made moves on Miletus and Smyrna, as well as the city of Colophon. Not a lot else happened in his 38 years as ruler.

C – Alyattes [15-22]

  • Gyges’s son, Ardys, fought Miletus. The Cimmerians left Scythia for Asia, capturing Sardis. Ardys ruled for 49 years. His son, Sadyattes ruled for 12 years and his son, Alyattes began his rule.
  • Alyattes went to war with the Medes and ran out the Cimmerians from Asia, took Smyrna, Colophon and invaded Clazomenae (West Coast of Turkey) but lost that one.
  • He continued the fight with Miletus in sending an army into its territory, burning their crops without touching people or buildings, so they have to replant them every year.
  • They did this 11 years straight. Only the Chians offered Miletus any help.
  • In the 12th year, they lit the fields again, this time they accidentally burned a temple to Minerva. Soon after, Alyattes fell ill. A messenger heard from the Oracle who said that the Temple had to be rebuilt.
  • Herodotus got all this Delphians and Milesians. Periander of Corinth got wind of the Oracle’s message and took the ruler of Miletus, Thrasybulus.
  • Alyattes asked for a truce to rebuild the temple. Having heard what the Oracle said, Thrasybulus had all the grains put into the center of the city, and started to party when the Lydia envoy showed up.
  • He hoped the envoy would go home thinking the war didn’t affect them. The tricked worked and Alyattes asked for peace. He rebuilt the temple and built another one. Soon after, he got better and fought the Thracians.

D – Periander and Arion, the Dolphin Boy [23-24]

  • Periander was tyrant of Corinth. Both Corinthians and Lesbians agree on one story: Arion of Methymna, a world famous harp and poet, rode from Italy to Taernarum on the back of a dolphin
  • He was in Corinth in Periander’s court and then went to Italy and Sicily. On his way back to Greece, he hitched a ride with some Corinthians who decided to take his money and make him walk the plank. Before jumping, he played the harp and recited a poem. When he jumped, he rode a dolphin all the way back to Taenarum. He made his way to Corinth and told Periander what had happened, and he didn’t believe it. When the sailors came back, they were summoned and out popped Arion. They were so amazed he was still alive that they gave themselves away to Periander. Arion’s shrine in Taenarum has a bronze statue of him riding a dolphin.

E – Croesus’s Early Years

  • Alyattes died after 57 years of rule. He had sent just as many gifts to Delphi as Gyges did.
  • His son, Croesus became king at 35. He attacked all the Ionian and Aeolian Greek colonies he could
  • He landed over Greek cities in Asia demanding tribute and used the money to build an army and navy to take Greek islands. Bias of Priêné talked to him that the islanders had 10000 horsemen ready for attack. This made Croesus reconsider his plan to attack and ask for peace with them.
  • Croesus solidified power in Asia, west of the River Halys, except Lycia and Cilicia.
  • One of the Sages of Greece, Solon of Athens, was traveling the world mostly to avoid repealing unpopular and annoying laws in Athens. Only Solon could do that.
  • He went to Lydia to visit Croesus, who showed him his treasury and asked him, “Who’s the happiest man ever?” Solon thought about it and said, “Tellus of Athens because his country is flourishing in his own time. His sons grew up and had kids of their own. He lived in comfort and he died gloriously in battle, received the highest honors.
  • Croesus asked, “Who’s no. 2?” Solon answered, “Cleobis and Bito from Argos. They died carrying their mother to a festival and won many prizes. Their mother asked Juno to bless them. They fell asleep and died and were given their own shrine in Delphi.”
  • Croesus asked, “Where do I rank?” Solon answered, “Well, you’re rich and powerful but you aren’t dead yet. Things can change at any time. Only when you’re dead will we know if you lived a truly happy life.”
  • Croesus was looking for praise and Solon couldn’t tell him anything. It’s safe to say that Croesus was knocked down a few pegs. He then had dreams foreshadowing his downfall. His one son was deaf and dumb. The other, Atys, he had a dream about that he would die from an iron weapon; He was ordered to stay away from war and weapons.
  • During the wedding plans for his able son, a man came to Croesus from Sardis seeking redemption from accidentally killing his brother. He was Adrastus, son of Gordias. He was kicked out but welcomed by Croesus.
  • A large boar was ruining the countryside. Locals looked for help. Croesus wouldn’t let his son take part because of his dream. He sent other men.
  • His son, Atys, complained that he was being denied any glory. No bride or anyone could respect him.
  • Croesus told him about the dream he had about Atys dying from an iron weapon.
  • Atys answered that he could be wrong. A boar doesn’t use weapons. It would get me by his tusks. Please let me go.
  • Croesus allowed him to go.
  • Croesus asked Adrastus to keep an eye on his son during the hunt. “I think you’re a strong reliable man.”
  • Adrastus warned him that he was bad luck and was uncomfortable with the task.
  • The group went and split into 2. They surrounded the pig and Adrastus threw a spear, missed the pig and killed Atys.
  • Croesus was upset about his son and asked the gods, “WHY?!?!”
  • Adrastus asked to be sacrificed to make amends. Croesus wouldn’t let him because he knew it was an accident. Adrastus felt so guilty that he killed himself on Atys’s tomb.

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