The Histories by Herodotus – Book I, “Clio”
III – Croesus Turns Toward Persia [71-94]
A – Croesus Looks to Expand [71-77]
- Croesus read the Oracle’s words wrongly and led armies into Cappadocia (Syria), expecting to defeat Persia. A Lydian man, Sandania, told Croesus – You’re about to fight people who eat only what they can scrounge up, don’t drink wine and have no luxuries. If you beat them, they lose nothing. But if you lose, Lydia will lose everything and will hate you for it.
- Cappadocian’s were under Media’s rule and then under Persian rule. The border between the two states was the River Halys, which goes from Armenia to Cilicia.
- Croesus had 2 reasons to attack Cappadocia. 1 – He wanted the land. 2 – He wanted to avenge the death of Astyages, his brother-in-law. But the Scythians rode into Medes to crash. They came and went as it pleased them and Astyages’s father, Cyaxares, was annoyed at that. The Scythians were offended by this attitude and served him food, seemingly hunted food but was actually Median boys entrusted to the Scythians to train. They ran off to Lydia afterwards.
- Alyattes allowed them in and this caused a war with Lydia and Media and it lasted 5 years. During a fight in the 5th year, a day battle suddenly turned night. Thales of Miletus predicted a solar eclipse and told the Ionians about it. The Medes and Lydians saw it and decided to stop fighting and settle for peace. Alyattes’s daughter Aryenis married Cyaxares’s son, Astyage and the Halys River became the border between the 2 lands.
- Cyrus captured Astyages, his own grandfather. This upset Croesus and caused him to ask the Oracle if he should attack Persia. A vague answer made him think it was a good idea. Crossing the Halys. Thales changed the course of the river making it easier to cross.
- Croesus moved into Cappadocia, where he chased around Syrians, becoming their masters. Cyrus tried to get the Ionians to desert Croesus, but they wouldn’t. Croesus took the main Syrian city, Pteria. There Cyrus fought them.
- Croesus blamed the loss on a small number of troops. As Cyrus didn’t repeat this attack. Croesus went back to Sardis to call in help from the Egypt, Babylon and Sparta and disbanded his army for the winter.
B – Cyrus in Lydia [78-85]
- Sardis tried to sort out a snake problem, which was seen as an omen. It was later proven out by Croesus was later taken prisoner.
- Cyrus made a move for Sardis, seeing the Lydian army was on a break. Croesus tried to get his army together and fight back on horseback.
- They met up outside of Sardis near the River Hermus. The Persians put their camels in front of the foot soldiers and cavalry. Croesus’s horses were turned off by the camel smell. It negated all positive effect of Lydian horses, which ran off and forced the Lydians to fight on foot. After a long battle, the Lydians fled.
- Persia laid siege to Sardis. The Lydians called the Spartans and other allies for help.
- The Spartans were bogged down with Argos and were blocked from using a land route to Asia. After a battle with Argos in Thyrea, then won.
- The Lydian messenger showed up asking for help. Spartans got ready and were about to leave when word arrived that Lydia fell and Croesus was taken prisoner. The Spartans never left home.
- After 14 days, Cyrus promised a prize for mounting the wall. They tried an assault with no luck. Later they found a weakness in the wall, climbed in and took the city.
- Right as Croesus was about to be killed, his deaf and dumb son cried out to stop it. He was able to speak from then on.
B – Croesus Taken Prisoner [86-94]
- Croesus’s rule lasted 14 years. The siege lasted 14 days to bring him down. The Oracle said if he attacked, a great power would fall… it was his own. Croesus was brought before Cyrus as a prisoner. Cyrus told him to say his prayers. He thought of Solon’s words, “no one is happy when he’s alive.” He repeated Solon’s name. They started to burn him alive. When Cyrus understood Croesus’s words, he asked the guards to stop the fire, it wasn’t working.
- Croesus cried out to Apollo for help and suddenly it began to rain. They got him out of the fire and asked him why he began the war with Persia. Croesus answered that the Oracle encouraged him and he fell for it.
- Croesus asked if he was free to speak and Cyrus allowed it. He asked what the Persians were doing. Cyrus said – plundering your city and riches. Croesus answered – no, they’re all yours now.
- Croesus said the gods have made me your slave. The Persians are poor but have a strong spirit. But watch out for super greedy people. They’ll be coming for you next. You ought to keep the booty for yourself and do something about the pillagers.
- Cyrus did just that and was impressed with Croesus as a ruler and a man. He allowed Lydian messengers to lay his chains on the threshold and ask if the gods if they weren’t ashamed to encourage his war with Persia.
- They showed up and the Oracle responded. Even the gods can’t escape destiny. This was punishment from 5 generations back when Gyges became king. But Apollo tried to delay it and saved him from the fire. He was warned albeit cryptically about attacking Persia. Cyrus was the mule and won. Croesus took the blame for misunderstanding.
- Most of Croesus’s offerings to Delphi are still around.
- Most of Lydia doesn’t exist anymore except Alyattes’s tomb in Sardis.
- The Lydians had many similar traits as the Greeks. They were the 1st to use metallic currency and had the same games as the Greeks played to avoid boredom and thinking of famine. During the famine, half the population was forced to establish colonies to avoid starvation there, they came in contact with the Greeks.