CKM 2019-20 / Aziz Yardımlı



  Lydia (Kingdom c. 1200-546 BC)

Terracotta skyphos (drinking cup), Lydia, 6th century B.C.

Ionia and Lydia around 50 AD.

Lydian kingdom, ca. 685-547 BC. (L)

📹 Lydian Kingdom (VİDEO)

📹 Lydian Kingdom (LINK)

Lydian Kingdom, Mermnad Dynasty, Gyges, Ardys, Sadyattes, Alyates, Croesus, Collapse of Phrygia, Cimmerian invasions, wars with the Medes, Milesians, Persians, Ionian, Aeolian, Dorian Greeks.



Lydia (W)

600 BC.

(Assyrian: Luddu; Greek: Λυδία, Lydía; Turkish: Lidya) was an Iron Age kingdom of western Asia Minor located generally east of ancient Ionia in the modern western Turkish provinces of Uşak, Manisa and inland İzmir. Its population spoke an Anatolian language known as Lydian. Its capital was Sardis.

The Kingdom of Lydia existed from about 1200 BC to 546 BC. At its greatest extent, during the 7th century BC, it covered all of western Anatolia. In 546 BC, it became a province of the Achaemenid Persian Empire, known as the satrapy of Lydia or Sparda in Old Persian. In 133 BC, it became part of the Roman province of Asia.

Coins are said to have been invented in Lydia around the 7th century BC.

Defining Lydia


The endonym Śfard (the name the Lydians called themselves) survives in bilingual and trilingual stone-carved notices of the Achaemenid Empire: the satrapy of Sparda (Old Persian), Aramaic Saparda, Babylonian Sapardu, Elamitic Išbarda, Hebrew סְפָרַד. These in the Greek tradition are associated with Sardis, the capital city of King Gyges, constructed during the 7th century BC. Lydia is called Kisitan in The Flower of the History of the East by Hayton of Corycus, which was corrupted to Quesiton in The Travels of Sir John Mandeville.

The region of the Lydian kingdom was during the 15th-14th centuries part of the Arzawa kingdom. However, the Lydian language is usually not categorized as part of the Luwic subgroup, unlike the other nearby Anatolian languages Luwian, Carian, and Lycian.

An Etruscan/Lydian association has long been a subject of conjecture. The Greek historian Herodotus stated that the Etruscans came from Lydia, repeated in Virgil's epic poem the Aeneid, and Etruscan-like language was found on the Lemnos stele from the Aegean Sea island of Lemnos. However, the decipherment of Lydian and its classification as an Anatolian language mean that Etruscan and Lydian were not even part of the same language family. Furthermore, a mitochondrial DNA study (2013) suggests that the Etruscans were probably an indigenous population, showing that Etruscans appear to fall very close to a Neolithic population from Central Europe and to other Tuscan populations, strongly suggesting that the Etruscan civilization developed locally from the Villanovan culture, with the most likely separation time between Tuscany and Western Anatolia falling around 7,600 years ago, with a 95% credible interval between 5,000 and 10,000.


History of Lydia (W)

History of Lydia (W)

Map of the Mediterranean 550 BC.

Early history: Maeonia and Lydia

Lydia developed after the decline of the Hittite Empire in the 12th century BC. In Hittite times, the name for the region had been Arzawa. According to Greek source, the original name of the Lydian kingdom was Maionia (Μαιονία), or Maeonia: Homer (Iliad ii. 865; v. 43, xi. 431) refers to the inhabitants of Lydia as Maiones (Μαίονες). Homer describes their capital not as Sardis but as Hyde (Iliad xx. 385); Hyde may have been the name of the district in which Sardis was located. Later, Herodotus (Histories i. 7) adds that the "Meiones" were renamed Lydians after their king Lydus (Λυδός), son of Atys, during the mythical epoch that preceded the Heracleid dynasty. This etiological eponym served to account for the Greek ethnic name Lydoi (Λυδοί).


In Greek mythology

Lydian mythology is virtually unknown, and their literature and rituals have been lost due to the absence of any monuments or archaeological finds with extensive inscriptions; therefore, myths involving Lydia are mainly from Greek mythology.

For the Greeks, Tantalus was a primordial ruler of mythic Lydia, and Niobe his proud daughter; her husband Amphion associated Lydia with Thebes in Greece, and through Pelops the line of Tantalus was part of the founding myths of Mycenae's second dynasty. (In reference to the myth of Bellerophon, Karl Kerenyi remarked, in The Heroes of The Greeks 1959, p. 83. "As Lykia was thus connected with Crete, and as the person of Pelops, the hero of Olympia, connected Lydia with the Peloponnesos, so Bellerophontes connected another Asian country, or rather two, Lykia and Karia, with the kingdom of Argos.")

“Hercules and Omphale,” by Louis Jean François Lagrenée.

In Greek myth, Lydia had also adopted the double-axe symbol, that also appears in the Mycenaean civilization, the labrys. Omphale, daughter of the river Iardanos, was a ruler of Lydia, whom Heracles was required to serve for a time. His adventures in Lydia are the adventures of a Greek hero in a peripheral and foreign land: during his stay, Heracles enslaved the Itones; killed Syleus, who forced passers-by to hoe his vineyard; slew the serpent of the river Sangarios (which appears in the heavens as the constellation Ophiucus) and captured the simian tricksters, the Cercopes. Accounts tell of at least one son of Heracles who was born to either Omphale or a slave-girl: Herodotus (Histories i. 7) says this was Alcaeus who began the line of Lydian Heracleidae which ended with the death of Candaules c. 687 BC. Diodorus Siculus (4.31.8) and Ovid (Heroides 9.54) mention a son called Lamos, while pseudo-Apollodorus (Bibliotheke 2.7.8) gives the name Agelaus and Pausanias (2.21.3) names Tyrsenus as the son of Heracles by "the Lydian woman". All three heroic ancestors indicate a Lydian dynasty claiming Heracles as their ancestor. Herodotus (1.7) refers to a Heraclid dynasty of kings who ruled Lydia, yet were perhaps not descended from Omphale. He also mentions (1.94) the legend that the Etruscan civilization was founded by colonists from Lydia led by Tyrrhenus, brother of Lydus. Dionysius of Halicarnassus was skeptical of this story, indicating that the Etruscan language and customs were known to be totally dissimilar to those of the Lydians. In addition, the story of the "Lydian" origins of the Etruscans was not known to Xanthus of Lydia, an authority on the history of the Lydians.

Later chronologists ignored Herodotus' statement that Agron was the first Heraclid to be a king, and included his immediate forefathers Alcaeus, Belus and Ninus in their list of kings of Lydia. Strabo (5.2.2) has Atys, father of Lydus and Tyrrhenus, as a descendant of Heracles and Omphale but that contradicts virtually all other accounts which name Atys, Lydus and Tyrrhenus among the pre-Heraclid kings and princes of Lydia. The gold deposits in the river Pactolus that were the source of the proverbial wealth of Croesus (Lydia's last king) were said to have been left there when the legendary king Midas of Phrygia washed away the "Midas touch" in its waters. In Euripides' tragedy The Bacchae, Dionysus, while he is maintaining his human disguise, declares his country to be Lydia.


Autochthonous [yerel] dynasties

According to Herodotus, Lydia was ruled by three dynasties from the second millennium BC to 546 BC. The first two dynasties are legendary and the third is historical. Herodotus mentions three early Maeonian kings: Manes, his son Atys and his grandson Lydus. Lydus gave his name to the country and its people. One of his descendants was Iardanus, with whom Heracles was in service at one time. Heracles had an affair with one of Iardanus' slave-girls and their son Alcaeus was the first of the Lydian Heraclids.

The Maeonians relinquished control to the Heracleidae and Herodotus says they ruled through 22 generations for a total of 505 years from c. 1192 BC. The first Heraclid king was Agron, the great-grandson of Alcaeus. He was succeeded by 19 Heraclid kings, names unknown, all succeeding father to son. In the 8th century BC, Meles became the 21st and penultimate Heraclid king and the last was his son Candaules (died c. 687 BC), who was assassinated and succeeded by his former friend Gyges, who began the Mermnad dynasty.

  • Gyges, called Gugu of Luddu in Assyrian inscriptions (c. 687 – c. 652 BC). Once established on the throne, Gyges devoted himself to consolidating his kingdom and making it a military power. The capital was relocated from Hyde to Sardis. Barbarian Cimmerians sacked many Lydian cities, except for Sardis. Gyges was the son of Dascylus, who, when recalled from banishment in Cappadocia by the Lydian king Myrsilos — called Candaules "the Dog-strangler" (a title of the Lydian Hermes) by the Greeks — sent his son back to Lydia instead of himself. Gyges turned to Egypt, sending his faithful Carian troops along with Ionian mercenaries to assist Psammetichus in ending Assyrian domination. Some Bible scholars believe that Gyges of Lydia was the Biblical character Gog, ruler of Magog, who is mentioned in the Book of Ezekiel and the Book of Revelation.
  • Ardys (c. 652 BC – c. 603 BC).
  • Sadyattes (c. 603 – c. 591 BC). Herodotus wrote (in his Inquiries) that he fought with Cyaxares, the descendant of Deioces, and with the Medes, drove out the Cimmerians from Asia, captured Smyrna, which had been founded by colonists from Colophon, and invaded the city-states Clazomenae and Miletus.
  • Alyattes (c. 591-560 BC). One of the greatest kings of Lydia. When Cyaxares attacked Lydia, the kings of Cilicia and Babylon intervened and negotiated a peace in 585 BC, whereby the River Halys was established as the Medes’ frontier with Lydia. Herodotus writes:

    “On the refusal of Alyattes to give up his supplicants when Cyaxares sent to demand them of him, war broke out between the Lydians and the Medes, and continued for five years, with various success. In the course of it the Medes gained many victories over the Lydians, and the Lydians also gained many victories over the Medes.”

    The Battle of the Eclipse was the final battle in a five year war between Alyattes of Lydia and Cyaxares of the Medes. It took place on 28 May 585 BC, and ended abruptly due to a total solar eclipse.
  • Croesus (560-546 BC). The expression "rich as Croesus" refers to this king. The Lydian Empire ended after Croesus attacked the Persian Empire of Cyrus II and was defeated in 546 BC.


Persian Empire

Satrapy of Lydia. Lydia, including Ionia, during the Achaemenid Empire.

In 547 BC, the Lydian king Croesus besieged and captured the Persian city of Pteria in Cappadocia and enslaved its inhabitants. The Persian king Cyrus The Great marched with his army against the Lydians. The Battle of Pteria resulted in a stalemate, forcing the Lydians to retreat to their capital city of Sardis. Some months later the Persian and Lydian kings met at the Battle of Thymbra. Cyrus won and captured the capital city of Sardis by 546 BC. Lydia became a province (satrapy) of the Persian Empire.


Lydian delegation at Apadana, circa 500 BC.

📹 Battle of Thymbra — 49.000 Persians vs 105.000 Lydians (VİDEO)


Epic cinematic showing of the battle of Thymbra! You will find out how only 49 000 Persians, led by Cyrus managed to defeat the army of Croesus which numbered more than 100 000 men! The video is made with a great emphasis on historical accuracy!

Further Reading: Battles that Changed History: An Encyclopedia of World Conflict (by Spencer C. Tucker) The Persian Army 560-330 BC (by Nicholas Sekunda) Cyrus the Great Paperback (by Jacob Abbott )

"Whenever you can, act as a liberator. Freedom, dignity, wealth — these three together constitute the greatest happiness of humanity. If you bequeath all three to your people, their love for you will never die." — Cyrus the Great.



Hellenistic Empire

Lydia remained a satrapy after Persia's conquest by the Macedonian king Alexander III (the Great) of Macedon.

When Alexander's empire ended after his death, Lydia was possessed by the major Asian diadoch dynasty, the Seleucids, and when it was unable to maintain its territory in Asia Minor, Lydia was acquired by the Attalid dynasty of Pergamum. Its last king avoided the spoils and ravage of a Roman war of conquest by leaving the realm by testament to the Roman Empire.

Roman province of Asia

Roman province of Asia.

When the Romans entered the capital Sardis in 133 BC, Lydia, as the other western parts of the Attalid legacy, became part of the province of Asia, a very rich Roman province, worthy of a governor with the high rank of proconsul.


Battle of the Eclipse or Battle of Halys

Battle of the Eclipse or Battle of Halys (585 BC) (W)

The Battle of the Eclipse  or Battle of Halys  was fought between the Medes and the Lydians in the early 6th century BC. The result was a draw which led to both parties negotiating a peace treaty and ending a six-year war. According to Herodotus, the appearance of a solar eclipse at the time of battle was interpreted as an omen, and interrupted the battle.

Halys River in the border regions of the Lydian and Median kingdoms in the early 6th century BC.

Herodotus writes that in the sixth year of the war, the Lydians under King Alyattes and the Medes under Cyaxares were engaged in an indecisive battle when suddenly day turned into night, leading to both parties halting the fighting and negotiating a peace agreement. Herodotus also mentions that the loss of daylight had been predicted by Thales of Miletus. He does not, however, mention the location of the battle.

Afterwards, on the refusal of Alyattes to give up his suppliants when Cyaxares sent to demand them of him, war broke out between the Lydians and the Medes, and continued for five years, with various success. In the course of it the Medes gained many victories over the Lydians, and the Lydians also gained many victories over the Medes. Among their other battles there was one night engagement. As, however, the balance had not inclined in favour of either nation, another combat took place in the sixth year, in the course of which, just as the battle was growing warm, day was on a sudden changed into night. This event had been foretold by Thales, the Milesian, who forewarned the Ionians of it, fixing for it the very year in which it actually took place. The Medes and Lydians, when they observed the change, ceased fighting, and were alike anxious to have terms of peace agreed on.

As part of the terms of the peace agreement, Alyattes’s daughter Aryenis was married to Cyaxares’s son Astyages, and the Halys River (now known as the Kızılırmak River) was declared to be the border of the two warring nations.

Cicero mentions that Thales was the first man to successfully predict a solar eclipse during the reign of Astyages. He was the son and successor of Cyaxares and his reign began at the end of the war after Cyaxares' death.

Pliny the Elder mentions as well that Thales had predicted a solar eclipse during the reign of Alyattes.

If one reads the description by Herodotus of the event as a solar eclipse, then based on modern astronomical calculations it can be identified with the solar eclipse of May 28, 585 BC (the Eclipse of Thales), hence yielding the exact date of the battle. For the location of the battle, some scholars assume the Halys River (today Kızılırmak River) as it was located in the border region between both kingdoms. As Isaac Asimov noted, this would be the earliest recorded eclipse the date of which was accurately determined in advance of its occurrence.

However, such a reading is for a variety of reasons rather problematic and hence disputed by various scholars. For example, the known astronomical knowledge available of that time was not sufficient for Thales to predict the eclipse. Also, the eclipse would have occurred shortly before sunset at any plausible site of the battle, and it was very uncommon for battles to take place at that time of day. Furthermore, based on the list of Medean kings and their regnal lengths reported elsewhere by Herodotus, Cyaxares died 10 years before the eclipse.


📹 28th May 585 BCE — Eclipse of Thales ends the Battle of Halys between the Medes and the Lydians (VİDEO)

📹 28th May 585 BCE — Eclipse of Thales ends the Battle of Halys between the Medes and the Lydians (LINK)

The Eclipse of Thales was recorded in The Histories of the Greek historian Herodotus. He claims that the philosopher Thales of Miletus accurately predicted the eclipse in advance, marking what science writer Isaac Asimov later described as ‘the birth of science’.

Herodotus writes that the Lydians under King Alyattes II and the Medes under Cyaxares had been at war for five years over their competing interests in Anatolia. The spark had been a desire for revenge over the killing of one of Cyaxares’ sons by nomadic hunters who were subsequently given protection by the Lydians. Having fought a series of indecisive battles in the preceding years, the two armies met again in 585 BCE during which a solar eclipse took place.

There is some doubt over Herodotus’ claim that Thales predicted the eclipse in advance, especially as no records survive regarding exactly how he made his calculations. However, the eclipse was also recorded in other accounts. Herodotus describes how ‘suddenly the day became night’ and that the warring armies interpreted this as an omen to stop fighting. The peace was sealed by Alyattes’ daughter marrying one of Cyaxares’ surviving sons.

Later astronomers were able to pinpoint the exact date of historical eclipses, using the same calculations that help to predict future ones. By combining data of these ancient events with contextual knowledge of the Battle of Halys, 28 May 585 BCE was consequently identified as the most likely date. This makes the day of the battle a cardinal date, meaning it provides a waypoint from which numerous other dates in the ancient world can be calculated.


📹 The Eclipse that Stopped a War (VİDEO)

📹 The Eclipse that Stopped a War (LINK)




Lydians (W)

The Lydians (known as Sparda to the AchaemenidsOld Persian cuneiform 𐎿𐎱𐎼𐎭) were an Anatolian people living in Lydia, a region in western Anatolia, who spoke the distinctive Lydian language, an Indo-European language of the Anatolian group.

Questions raised regarding their origins, as defined by the language and reaching well into the 2nd millennium BC, continue to be debated by language historians and archeologists. A distinct Lydian culture lasted, in all probability, until at least shortly before the Common Era, having been attested the last time among extant records by Strabo in Kibyra in south-west Anatolia around his time (1st century BC).

The Lydian capital was at Sfard or Sardis. Their recorded history of statehood, which covers three dynasties traceable to the Late Bronze Age, reached the height of its power and achievements during the 7th and 6th centuries BC, a time which coincided with the demise of the power of neighboring Phrygia, which lay to the north-east of Lydia.

Lydian power came to an abrupt end with the fall of their capital in events subsequent to the Battle of Halys in 585 BC and defeat by Cyrus the Great in 546 BC.


Material in the way of historical accounts of themselves found to date is scarce; the knowledge on Lydians largely rely on the impressed but mixed accounts of ancient Greek writers.

The Homeric name for the Lydians was Μαίονες, cited among the allies of the Trojans during the Trojan War, and from this name “Maeonia” and “Maeonians” derive and while these Bronze Age terms have sometimes been used as alternatives for Lydia and the Lydians, nuances have also been brought between them. The first attestation of Lydians under such a name occurs in Neo-Assyrian sources. The annals of Assurbanipal (mid-7th century BC) refer to the embassy of Gu(g)gu, king of Luddi, to be identified with Gyges, king of the Lydians. It seems likely that the term Lydians came to be used with reference to the inhabitants of Sardis and its vicinity only with the rise of the Mermnad dynasty.

Herodotus states that the Lydians "were the first men whom we know who coined and used gold and silver currency". While this specifically refers to coinage in electrum, some numismatists think that coinage per se arose in Lydia. He also states that during the kingship of Croesus, there was no other Asia Minor ethnos braver and more militant than the Lydians.



According to Herodotus, once a Lydian girl reached maturity, she would ply the trade of prostitute until she had earned a sufficient dowry, upon which she would publicize her availability for marriage. This was the general practice for girls not born into nobility.

He also attributes the Lydians with inventing a variety of ancient games, notably knucklebones, claiming the games' rise in popularity to be during a particularly severe drought, where the games afforded the Lydians a psychological reprieve from their troubles.


Language and script

Lydian texts discovered to date are not numerous and usually short, but close liaisons maintained between leading scholars of Anatolian linguistics enables constant impetus and progress in the field, new epigraphical findings, evidence being added and new words being recorded continuously. Nevertheless, a real breakthrough for the understanding of the Lydian language has not occurred yet.

Presently available texts begin around the mid-7th century and extend until the 2nd century BC, which leads one scholar to conclude, "Lydians wrote early, but [in the light of the available sources, it seems] they did not write much."



A number of Lydian religious concepts may well go back to the Early Bronze Age and even Late Stone Age, such as the vegetation goddess Kore, the snake and bull cult, the thunder and rain god and the double-axe (Labrys) as a sign of thunder, the mountain mother goddess (Mother of Gods) assisted by lions, associable or not to the more debated Kuvava (Cybele). A difficulty in compounding Lydian religion and mythology remains as reciprocal contacts and transfer with ancient Greek concepts occurred for over a millennium from the Bronze Age to classical (Persian) times. As pointed out by archaeological explorers of Lydia, Artimu (Artemis) and Pldans (Apollo) have strong Anatolian components and Cybele-Rhea, the Mother of Gods, and Baki (Bacchus, Dionysos) went from Anatolia to Greece, while both in Lydia and Caria, Levs (Zeus) preserved strong local characteristics all at the same sharing the name of its Greek equivalent.

Among other divine figures of the Lydian pantheon which still remain relatively obscure, Santai, Kuvava's escort and sometimes a hero burned on a pyre, and Marivda(s), associated with darkness, may be cited.


Lydians in literature and arts

, daughter of Tantalus and Dione and sister of Pelops and Broteas, had known Arachne, a Lydian woman, when she was still in Lydia/Maeonia in her father's lands near to Mount Sipylus, according to Ovid's account. These eponymous figures may have corresponded to the obscure ages associated with the semi-legendary dynasty of the Atyads and/or Tantalids, and situated around the time of the emergence of a Lydian nation from their predecessors and/or previous identities as Maeonians and Luvians.

Several accounts on the dynasty of Tylonids succeeding the Atyads and/or Tantalids are available and once into the last Lydian dynasty of Mermnads, the legendary accounts surrounding Ring of Gyges, and Gyges's later enthronement to the Lydian throne and foundation of the new dynasty, by replacing the King Kandaules, the last of the Taylanids, this in alliance with Kandaules's wife who then became his queen, are Lydian stories in the full sense of the term, as recounted by Herodotus, who himself may have borrowed his passages from Xanthus of Lydia, a Lydian who had reportedly written a history of his country slightly earlier in the same century.

Several expressions on Lydians were in common use in ancient Greek and in Latin languages, and a collection and detailed treatment of these were done by Erasmus in his Adagia.

There are also several works of visual arts depicting Lydians and/or using as theme subject matters of Lydian history.



The Cimmerians, Lydia, and Cilicia, c. 700–547 BCE (B)

The Cimmerians, Lydia, and Cilicia, c. 700-547 BCE (B)


After the Cimmerians sacked Gordium, the Phrygian capital,
in 696-695, they withdrew to the countryside and confined themselves to a mostly nomadic existence in western Anatolia. No habitation levels or sites in Anatolia have been assigned to Cimmerian occupation; according to the Greek historian Herodotus, they settled in the area of Sinop on the Black Sea. Herodotus may be right, for that same general area supported the Kaskan nomads of the 2nd millennium BCE. Many scholars have concluded from classical sources that a second wave of Cimmerians entered Anatolia from the west and that these western Cimmerians were reinforced by Thracian invaders.



Another new people that appeared in western Anatolia about that time were the Lydians. Their capital and earliest settlement was at Sardis, near modern İzmir on the Aegean coast. According to ancient writers, they were the first people to coin money. Their ruling house in the 7th century were the Mermnads, founded by Gyges (c. 680-652). The presence of Greek pottery in early layers at Sardis testifies to Lydian contact with the Greeks in that period. The Lydian language is classified in the Anatolian branch of Indo-European and resembled Hittite, Luwian, and Palaic.


In 679 Esarhaddon of Assyria (680-669) defeated the Cimmerians under King Teuspa in the region of Hubusna (probably Hupisna-Cybistra), but the area was not pacified. In the same year Esarhaddon’s troops also fought a war in Hilakku, and a few years later they punished the Anatolian prince of Kundu (Cyinda) and Sissu (Sisium, modern Sis), who had allied himself with Phoenician rebels against Assyrian rule. The regions to the north of the Cilician plain repeatedly caused trouble for Assyria. Early in the reign of Ashurbanipal (668-627), however, another Cimmerian invasion threatened the Anatolian states, arousing such alarm that not only Tabal and Hilakku but even Gyges of Lydia sought help from the Assyrians. According to the Assyrian texts, the god Ashur appeared to Gyges in a dream, advising him to turn to Ashurbanipal for help. On the same day that Gyges sent his messengers to Ashurbanipal, the Cimmerian invaders were repulsed. When Gyges afterward failed to make these temporary relations permanent and instead formed an alliance with the Egyptian king Psamtik, however, Ashurbanipal prayed that “Gyges’ body would be thrown down before his enemy,” and indeed Gyges was killed during a second attack in 652 in which Sardis, with the exception of the citadel, was taken by the Cimmerians. (Excavators of Sardis have found a destruction layer that appears to be associated with this event.)

Herodotus reports that, like the Phrygian Midas before him, Gyges dedicated offerings to the temple at Delphi but also that he conducted campaigns against his Greek neighbours at Miletus and Smyrna (İzmir) and conquered the Greek city of Colophon. Ardys, his successor on the Lydian throne (651–c. 615), again attacked Miletus and took Priene. During his reign Sardis was taken a second time, that time by the Treres, a Thracian tribe that operated in close connection with the Cimmerians. According to Assyrian sources, Ardys restored Lydia’s diplomatic relations with Assyria. The Cimmerian forces were finally beaten by the Assyrians in Cilicia between 637 and 626. At that time the Cimmerian leader was Tugdamme (Lygdamis), who is identified in Greek tradition as the victor over Sardis in 652 and is also said to have attacked Ephesus. A nonaggression pact signed between Ashurbanipal and Tugdamme, if correctly dated after the mid-650s, confirms the Greek data concerning Tugdamme’s involvement in the events of 652 — the capture of Sardis and the death of Gyges. The pact ascribes the initiative to Tugdamme, who may have wished to seek a guarantee against Assyrian intervention. The final defeat of Tugdamme is known both from Assyrian sources and from the later Greek geographer Strabo. The Lydian kings Sadyattes (died c. 610) and Alyattes (ruled c. 610–c. 560) continued their attacks on Greek Miletus. Under Alyattes Lydia reached its commercial and political zenith. He attacked Clazomenae, took Smyrna in 590, and subjected many inland regions to Lydian rule. The war described by Herodotus between the Lydians and the Medes, expanding out of Iran in the east, probably occurred between 590 and 585. From then on, the Kızıl River marked the border between the two powers, Lydia on the west and Media (later Persia) on the east.

The growth of an independent Cilicia was one of the most-important developments of the last decades of the 7th century BCE. It did not include Que, which came under the control of the Neo-Babylonian empire after the fall of Assyria in 612. During the conflict between Lydia and the Medes, independent Cilicia and Babylonia, as two important nonaligned powers of the region, acted jointly as mediators. The next and last king of Lydia was Croesus (c. 560-546). Famous for his wealth, he ranks with Midas among the Anatolian rulers who made a deep impression on the imagination of the Greeks. Like Midas, Croesus sent offerings to Greek sanctuaries, including those of Delphi, Miletus, and Ephesus. A number of the relief-decorated pillars of the world-famous Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, were presented by him. Stories about his fabulous wealth find some support in the archaeological discovery at Sardis of gold-refining installations from the time of Alyattes and Croesus.

Croesus completed the work of his predecessors by subduing the Greek cities of Anatolia. He planned to conquer the Greeks of the Aegean islands as well, but the growing threat from the Persians, who had replaced the Medes as the dominant Iranian power, forced him to make an alliance with them instead. According to Herodotus, Croesus ruled all Anatolia west of the Kızıl, although the Greek cities probably enjoyed a considerable measure of autonomy. Having secured the support of Egypt, Babylonia, and Sparta (Cilicia remained neutral), Croesus decided to make war against the Persians. Taking the initiative, he crossed the Kızıl into Persian territory in 547. The parties fought a battle in the region of Pteria (probably Boğazköy-Hattusas). Although the battle was indecisive, Croesus decided to return home to his capital, intending to reinforce his troops with allied forces and to renew the war in the following spring. Cyrus II the Great, the Persian king, unexpectedly turned after him and took him by surprise. After a short siege, Sardis was taken and Persian hegemony established over Anatolia.


Cimmerians (W)

Cimmerians (W)

The Cimmerians (also KimmeriansGreekΚιμμέριοιKimmérioi) were a nomadic Indo-European people, who appeared about 1000 BC and are mentioned later in 8th century BC in Assyrian records. While the Cimmerians were often described by contemporaries as culturally “Scythian,” they evidently differed ethnically from the Scythians proper, who also displaced and replaced the Cimmerians.

Probably originating in the Pontic steppe, the Cimmerians subsequently migrated both into Western Europe and to the south, by way of the Caucasus.

Some of them likely comprised a force that, c. 714 BC, invaded Urartu, a state subject to the Neo-Assyrian Empire. This foray was defeated by Assyrian forces under Sargon II in 705, after which the same, southern branch of Cimmerians turned west towards Anatolia and conquered Phrygia in 696/5. They reached the height of their power in 652 after taking Sardis, the capital of Lydia; however an invasion of Assyrian-controlled Anshan was thwarted. Soon after 619, Alyattes of Lydia defeated them. There are no further mentions of them in historical sources, but it is likely that they settled in Cappadocia.


  Kings of Lydia

List of kings of Lydia

List of kings of Lydia (W)

Lydia was an ancient kingdom in western Anatolia during the first millennium BC. It may have originated as a country in the second millennium BC and was possibly called Maeonia at one time, given that Herodotus says the people were called Maeonians before they became known as Lydians. Herodotus and other sources refer to three dynasties: the Maeoniae, Heracleidae (Heraclids) and Mermnadae. The first two are legendary, though later members of the Heraclid dynasty are at least semi-legendary. The Mermnadae are historical.


Lydia map.




The earliest Maeonian or Lydian king mentioned by Herodotus is Manes who was the father of Atys. There was a severe famine during the reign of Atys and half of the citizens, led by Atys' son Tyrrhenus, emigrated to Italy as the Tyrrhenians. Other sources, such as Strabo, name Tmolus and his son Tantalus as kings of the region about the same time, supposedly ruling from the land about Mount Sipylus, but it is asserted that these two were the same people as Manes and Atys, especially as Omphale is a member of both families.

The known legendary kings are:


Herodotus says that Lydus gave his name to the country and its people. The line of Lydus continued through an unstated number of generations until they, as Herodotus says, "turned over the management of affairs to the Heraclids". He adds that the Heraclids in Lydia were the descendants of Heracles and a slave-girl belonging to Iardanus; the line was from Heracles through Alcaeus, Belus and Ninus to Agron who was the first Heraclid king of Lydia.


Herodotus says the Heraclids ruled Lydia for 505 years through 22 generations with son succeeding father all down the line from Agron to Candaules. While Candaules was the last of the Heraclids to reign at Sardis, Herodotus says Agron was the first and thereby implies that Sardis was already the capital of Lydia in Maeonian times. Candaules died c.687 BC and so the 505-year span stated by Herodotus suggests c.1192 BC for Agron's accession.

The known Heraclid kings are:

  • Agron (fl. c.1192 BC; legendary great-great-grandson of Heracles and a Lydian slave-girl via Alcaeus, Belus and Ninus)
  • 19 legendary kings, names unknown, all succeeding father to son
  • Meles, aka Myrsus (8th century BC; semi-legendary father of Candaules)
  • Candaules, aka Myrsilus (died c.687 BC; probably historical; son of Meles; murdered by Gyges).



Although this dynasty is historical, the dates for it have never been determined with certainty. The traditional dates are derived from Herodotus, who gives some reign-lengths, but these have been questioned by modern scholars on the basis of synchronisms with Assyrian history. The name of the dynasty (Gk. Μερμνάδες) may be attested in Lydian transmission as -𐤪𐤷𐤦𐤪𐤫𐤠 mλimna-. Etymologically, it possibly contains the Carian word mno- 'son' or 'descendant', which would then represent an argument for the Carian origin of the Mermnad clan.

There were five kings, all historical figures, in the Mermnad line:

  • Gyges, aka Guges (c.687–c.652 BC; husband of Candaules' widow)
  • Ardys, aka Ardysus (c.652–c.603 BC; son of Gyges)
  • Sadyattes (c.603–c.591 BC; son of Ardys)
  • Alyattes (c.591–560 BC; son of Sadyattes)
  • Croesus, aka Kroisos (560–546 BC; son of Alyattes)


Gyges died in battle c.652, fighting against the Cimmerians, and was succeeded by Ardys. The most successful king was Alyattes, under whom Lydia reached its peak of power and prosperity. Croesus was defeated by Cyrus the Great at the battles of Pteriaand Thymbra. Cyrus annexed Lydia after the Siege of Sardis which ended in early 546 BC, but the fate of Croesus himself is uncertain.

Bin Tepe royal funeral tumulus (tomb of Alyattes, father of Croesus), Lydia, 6th century BC. (W)




Gyges of Lydia

Gyges — KING OF LYDIA (c. 680-652 BC) (B)



Gyges, (died c. 652 BC), king of Lydia, in western Anatolia (now Turkey), from about 680 to about 652 BC; he founded the Mermnad dynasty and made his kingdom a military power.

According to all the ancient sources, Gyges came to the throne after slaying King Candaules and marrying his queen, but there are several versions of the event itself.

According to all the ancient sources, Gyges came to the throne after slaying King Candaules and marrying his queen, but there are several versions of the event itself. Herodotus wrote that Candaules, who was inordinately proud of his wife’s beauty, compelled Gyges to see her nude. She caught Gyges spying on her and forced him on pain of death to kill her husband. In the standard version of Plato’s Republic, Gyges was a shepherd who found a ring that made him invisible and used it to seduce the queen and murder the king. A third version is provided by Nicholas of Damascus, in the 1st century BC. Drawing upon the 5th-century Lydian historian Xanthus, Nicholas depicted Gyges as an army officer, already suspected of treachery by the royal house, who killed Candaules after the queen had accused him of attempted seduction.

Candaules, King of Lydia, Shews his Wife by Stealth to Gyges, One of his Ministers, as She Goes to Bed.

Gyges cooperated with King Ashurbanipal of Assyria in a struggle against the Cimmerians, who had overrun Phrygia, in northern Anatolia. He then invaded Ionia in western Anatolia, capturing the Greek city of Colophon and attacking Miletus, after which he travelled to Greece to make offerings at Delphi. His downfall came when he lost Assyrian military support because he had dispatched troops to aid a revolt in Egypt. This left him open to another Cimmerian invasion, during which he was defeated and killed.


In the standard version of Plato’s Republic, Gyges was a shepherd who found a ring that made him invisible and used it to seduce the queen and murder the king.

A third version is provided by Nicholas of Damascus, in the 1st century BC. Drawing upon the 5th-century Lydian historian Xanthus, Nicholas depicted Gyges as an army officer, already suspected of treachery by the royal house, who killed Candaules after the queen had accused him of attempted seduction.


Gyges of Lydia (c. 687-652 BC) (W)

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 (as told by Herodotus, Gyges watched the naked queen secretly, but is seen by her as he is sneaking out of concealment). An earlier artistic treatment of the same subject, by Dosso Dossi, is now in the Galleria Borghese.

Gyges (Γύγης; Lydian: 𐤨𐤰𐤨𐤠𐤮 Kukaś; fl. 7th century BC) was the founder of the Mermnad dynasty of Lydian kings. The dates of his reign are uncertain but have been tentatively estimated as c. 687 – c. 652 BC. He was a bodyguard of his predecessor Candaules whom he assassinated in order to seize the throne. His action was approved by the Delphic Oracle and that decision prevented civil war in Lydia. Once established on the throne, Gyges devoted himself to consolidating his kingdom and making it a military power.

He captured Colophon, Magnesia on the Maeander, and probably also Sipylus, whose successor was to become the city also named Magnesia in later records. Smyrna was besieged, and to the north, the Troad was brought under Lydian control. Gyges pushed back the Cimmerians, who had ravaged Asia Minor and caused the fall of Phrygia. During his campaigns against the Cimmerians, he failed to engage the help of the Assyrians and turned instead to Ancient Egypt, sending his Carian troops to assist Psammetichus. Gyges later fell in a battle against the Cimmerii under Dugdamme, and was succeeded by his son Ardys of Lydia.


Allegorical accounts of Gyges’ rise to power

Authors throughout ancient history have told differing stories of Gyges' rise to power, which considerably vary in detail, but virtually all involve Gyges seizing the throne after killing the king, Candaules, and marrying Candaules’ widow, Nyssia. Gyges was the son of Dascylus. Dascylus was recalled from banishment in Cappadocia by the Lydian king Candaules and sent his son back to Lydia instead of himself. Civil war ensued on the death of Candaules and was only ended when Gyges sought to justify his accession to the throne by petitioning for the approval of the Oracle at Delphi.

According to Nicolaus of Damascus, Gyges soon became a favourite of Candaules and was dispatched by him to fetch Tudo, the daughter of Arnossus of Mysia, whom the Lydian king wished to make his queen. On the way Gyges fell in love with Tudo, who complained to Sadyates of his conduct. Forewarned that the king intended to punish him with death, Gyges assassinated Candaules in the night and seized the throne. According to Plutarch, Gyges seized power with the help of Arselis of Mylasa, the captain of the Lydian bodyguard, whom he had won over to his cause. In Plato’s Republic, Gyges was a shepherd who discovered a magic ring of invisibility, by means of which he murdered the king and won the affection of the queen.

The main source for Gyges is Herodotus, whose account may be traced to the poet Archilochus of Paros. In this, Gyges was a bodyguard of Candaules, who believed his wife to be the most beautiful woman on Earth. He insisted upon Gyges seeing his wife disrobed and the betrayal so enraged her that she afterwards gave Gyges the choice of murdering her husband and making himself king, or of being put to death himself.

Herodotus goes on to record how Gyges plied the Oracle with numerous gifts, notably six mixing bowls minted of gold extracted from the Pactolus river weighing thirty talents. The Oracle confirmed Gyges as the rightful king of Lydia and gave moral support to the Lydians in their conflict with the Ionians. The priestess nevertheless declared that the dynasty of Gyges would fall in the fifth generation. This prediction was later fulfilled when Gyges' fourth descendant, Croesus, lost the kingdom as a result of attacking the Achaemenid Empire of Cyrus the Great.


📹 Gyges and the Queen — Herodotus Histories — An imation (VİDEO)

📹 Gyges and the Queen — Herodotus Histories — Animation (LINK)

This video features love and lust in a land where it's disgraceful for anyone... even a man, to be seen naked! A lowly bodyguard murders the king and seizes the thrown of Lydia, apparently through no fault of his own.


🎨 Candaules, King of Lydia, Shews his Wife by Stealth to Gyges, One of his Ministers, as She Goes to Bed

Candaules, King of Lydia, Shews his Wife by Stealth to Gyges, One of his Ministers, as She Goes to Bed (W)

“Candaules, King of Lydia Shews his Wife to Gyges,” William Etty.

Candaules, King of Lydia, Shews his Wife by Stealth to Gyges, One of his Ministers, as She Goes to Bed, occasionally formerly known as The Imprudence of Candaules, is a 45.1 by 55.9 cm (17.8 by 22.0 in) oil painting on canvas by English artist William Etty, first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1830.

It shows a scene from the Histories by Herodotus, in which Candaules, king of Lydia, invites his bodyguard Gyges to hide in the couple's bedroom and watch his wife Nyssia undress, to prove to him her beauty. Nyssia notices Gyges spying and challenges him to either accept his own execution or to kill Candaules as a punishment. Gyges chooses to kill Candaules and take his place as king. The painting shows the moment at which Nyssia, still unaware that she is being watched by anyone other than her husband, removes the last of her clothes.

Etty hoped that his audience would take from the painting the moral lesson that women are not chattels and that men infringing on their rights should justly be punished, but he made little effort to explain this to audiences. The painting was immediately controversial and perceived as a cynical combination of a pornographic image and a violent and unpleasant narrative, and it was condemned as an immoral piece of the type one would expect from a foreign, not a British, artist. It was bought by Robert Vernon on its exhibition, and in 1847 was one of a number of paintings given by Vernon to the nation. The work retained its controversial reputation in later years, and when The Art Journal bought the reproduction rights to Vernon's former collection in 1849 they did not distribute reproductions of Candaules. In 1929 it was among several paintings transferred to the newly expanded Tate Gallery, where as of 2018 it remains.

Jean-Léon Gérôme, “El rey Candaules.”

“The Myth of King Candaules,“ by C.D. Hue.

“The Wife of King Candaule,” 1846. Charles-Victoire-Frederic Moench.


Mythical Gyges — Ring of Gyges

Mythical Gyges — Ring of Gyges (W)


In the second book of Plato's philosophical work The RepublicGlaucon recounts the story of the Ring of Gyges to Socrates, using it to illustrate a point about human nature. Some scholars have suggested that Plato's story was based on a now-lost older version of the myth, while others argue that Plato invented it himself, using elements from Herodotus's story of Gyges. It told of a man named Gyges who lived in Lydia, an area in modern Turkey. He was a shepherd for the king of that land. One day, there was an earthquake while Gyges was out in the fields, and he noticed that a new cave had opened up in a rock face. When he went in to see what was there, he noticed a gold ring on the finger of a former giant king who had been buried in the cave, in an iron horse with a window in its side. He took the ring away with him and soon discovered that it allowed the wearer to become invisible. The next time he went to the palace to give the king a report about his sheep, he put the ring on, seduced the queen, killed the king, and took control of the palace.

In The Republic, Glaucon argues that men are inherently unjust, and are only restrained from unjust behavior by the fetters of law and society. In Glaucon's view, unlimited power blurs the difference between just and unjust men. "Suppose there were two such magic rings," he tells Socrates, "and the just [man] put on one of them and the unjust the other; no man can be imagined to be of such an iron nature that he would stand fast in justice. No man would keep his hands off what was not his own when he could safely take what he liked out of the market or go into houses and lie with anyone at his pleasure, or kill or release from prison whom he would, and in all respects be like a god among men. Then the actions of the just would be as the actions of the unjust; they would both come at last to the same point." Socrates concludes, however, that a truly just man is not a slave to his appetites, so that the opportunities afforded by the ring would not tempt him to abandon his principles.


📹 UCB Phil 160 — Ring of Gyges Presentation (VİDEO)

📹 UCB Phil 160 — Ring of Gyges Presentation (LINK)

Story of Ring of Gyges : From Plato's Republic Book II


📹 Gyges Ring movie (VİDEO)

📹 Gyges Ring movie (LINK)


📹 Law and Justice — Plato’s Republic — 7.6 Ring of Gyges (VİDEO)

📹 Law and Justice — Plato’s Republic — 7.6 Ring of Gyges (LINK)



Alyattes of Lydia

Alyattes of Lydia (c. 610-560 BC) (W)

Alyattes (Greek Ἀλυάττης Aluáttēs, likely from a Lydian Walwates; reigned c. 610–560 BC), sometimes described as Alyattes I, was the fourth king of the Mermnad dynasty in Lydia, the son of Sadyattes and grandson of Ardys. He was succeeded by his son Croesus. A battle between his forces and those of Cyaxares, king of Media, was interrupted by the solar eclipse of 28 May 584 BC. After this, a truce was agreed and Alyattes married his daughter Aryenis to Astyages, the son of Cyaxares. The alliance preserved Lydia for another generation, during which it enjoyed its most brilliant period. Alyattes continued to wage a war against Miletus for many years but eventually he heeded the Delphic Oracle and rebuilt a temple, dedicated to Athena, which his soldiers had destroyed. He then made peace with Miletus.

Alyattes was the first monarch who issued coins, made from electrum (and his successor Croesus was the first to issue gold coins). Alyattes is therefore sometimes mentioned as the originator of coinage, or of currency.

The Greek form Ἀλυάττης is most likely derived from a name with initial digamma, ϝαλυάττης (walwattes), from a Lydian walwet- (Lydian alphabet: 𐤥𐤠𐤩𐤥𐤤𐤯).


📹 Herodotus, the Burnt Temple (VİDEO)

📹 Herodotus, the Burnt Temple (LINK)

Dedicated to Arcania and Serena

Hello this is Bertie,

Last time I told you about a country called Lydia that existed in ancient times in the place we now called Turkey. Much of what we know about Lydia comes from the Histories of Herodotus - but there is also evidence from archeology - which means digging into the ground to find relics of the past. For instance you can see gold coins from ancient Lydia. Some of them are now in the British Museum. The capital of Lydia was Sardis and if you go to Turkey you can explore the ruins of this ancient city. And not far from Sardis, archaeologists have found impressive tombs of the Lydian kings, including Gyges and his great grandson, Alyattes, who features in this story.

Alyattes became king of Lydia 610 years before the birth of Christ. At that time Lydia was in the middle of a long war with the Greek city of Miletus, on the coast of Asia. It was situated in the mouth of the winding river Meander, from which we get the word “meander”, which means to wander this way and that.

Miletus owned a powerful navy. Its ships sailed freely to and from its port and out into the Mediterranean sea. But on the land, the empire of Lydia surrounded Miletus, and the kings of Lydia wanted to bring the city under their rule.

Alyattes tried to starve the Miletans into submission. Every year he marched the Lydian army into the fields around the city playing trumpets and drums. They burned all the crops to try and deprive the Miletans of food, but they did not touch any of the farmhouses. So the next year, they could repeat the whole thing again. In the 12th year of the war, his soldiers accidentally set fire to a temple dedicated to the Greek goddess, Athena. Not long after the temple’s destruction, King Alyattes fell ill. Coincidence? Well at the time, lots of people thought that his illness was the revenge of the goddess.

Now, if you offended a Greek goddess, the person you would ask for advice, would be the oracle at Delphi. We mentioned her last time — she was a priestess who claimed to be in touch with the gods. So the sick king Alyattes sent a messenger to Delphi asking how he could become well again. The oracle replied that she could say nothing until he repaired the burnt temple of Athena.




Croesus (W)



Croesus (Κροῖσος, Kroisos; 595 BC – c. 546 BC) was the king of Lydiawho, according to Herodotus, reigned for 14 years: from 560 BC until his defeat by the Persian king Cyrus the Great in 546 BC (sometimes given as 547 BC).

Croesus was renowned for his wealth; Herodotus and Pausanias noted that his gifts were preserved at Delphi.The fall of Croesus had a profound effect on the Greeks, providing a fixed point in their calendar.

Legendary biography

Aside from a poetical account of Croesus on the pyre in Bacchylides (composed for Hiero of Syracuse, who won the chariot race at Olympia in 468), there are three classical accounts of Croesus: Herodotus presents the Lydian accounts of the conversation with Solon (Histories 1.29-33), the tragedy of Croesus' son Atys (Histories 1.34-45) and the fall of Croesus (Histories 1.85-89); Xenophon instances Croesus in his panegyric fictionalized biography of Cyrus: Cyropaedia, 7.1; and Ctesias, whose account is also an encomium of Cyrus. Croesus is a descendant of Gyges, of the Myrmnadae Clan, who seized power when Gyges killed Candaules after Candaules's wife found out about a conspiracy to watch her disrobe, according to Herodotus.

Interview with Solon

Croesus showing his treasures to Solon (Frans Francken the Younger, 17th century).

King Croesus of Lydia encouraged trade and mining, and his resultant wealth was legendary. He was also responsible for the loss of Lydia to Persia.

According to Herodotus, Croesus encountered the Greek sage Solon and showed him his enormous wealth. Croesus, secure in his own wealth and happiness, asked Solon who the happiest man in the world was, and was disappointed by Solon's response that three had been happier than Croesus: Tellus, who died fighting for his country, and the brothers Kleobis and Biton who died peacefully in their sleep after their mother prayed for their perfect happiness because they had demonstrated filial piety by drawing her to a festival in an oxcart themselves. Solon goes on to explain that Croesus cannot be the happiest man because the fickleness of fortune means that the happiness of a man’s life cannot be judged until after his death. Sure enough, Croesus' hubristic happiness was reversed by the tragic deaths of his accidentally-killed son and, according to Critias, his wife's suicide at the fall of Sardis, not to mention his defeat at the hands of the Persians.

Solon at the court of Croesus. Illustration for Hutchinson's History of the Nations (Hutchinson, c 1915). (LINK)

The interview is in the nature of a philosophical disquisition on the subject "Which man is happy?" It is legendary rather than historical. Thus the "happiness" of Croesus is presented as a moralistic exemplum of the fickleness of Tyche, a theme that gathered strength from the fourth century, revealing its late date. The story was later retold and elaborated by Ausonius in The Masque of the Seven Sages, in the Suda (entry "Μᾶλλον ὁ Φρύξ," which adds Aesop and the Seven Sages of Greece), and by Tolstoy in his short story "Croesus and Fate".

"Tribute to Croseus," (Croesus Receiving Tribute From A Lydian Peasant), Claude Vignon.

"Croesus and Solon," Painting by Gerard van Honthorst.

"Croesus showing his treasures to Solon, 6th Century BC. Liebig card, published in late 19th or early 20th century. From a series on goldsmiths through the ages.

Croesus at the Stake (Illustration from History of Greece by Victor Duruy, Boston, 1890). (LINK)



Croesus, KING OF LYDIA (B)

Croesus, KING OF LYDIA (B)

Croesus on the Funeral Pyre.

Croesus, (died c. 546 BC), last king of Lydia (reigned c. 560-546), who was renowned for his great wealth. He conquered the Greeks of mainland Ionia (on the west coast of Anatolia) and was in turn subjugated by the Persians.

A member of the Mermnad dynasty, Croesus succeeded to the throne of his father, Alyattes, after a struggle with his half brother. Croesus is said to have acted as viceroy and commander in chief before his father’s death. He completed the conquest of mainland Ionia by capturing Ephesus and other cities in western Anatolia. Lack of sea power forced him to form alliances with, rather than conquer, the islanders of Ionia. His wealth was proverbial, and he made a number of rich gifts to the oracle at Delphi.

After the overthrow of the Median empire by the Persians under the Achaemenian Cyrus II the Great (550), Croesus found himself confronted by the rising power of a Persian empire. The Lydian king formed a coalition with Nabonidus of Babylon, and Egypt and Sparta promised to send troops. Taking the initiative, Croesus invaded Cappadocia, a region of eastern Anatolia. After what was evidently an inconclusive battle at Pteria, he returned to his capital, Sardis, to gather the forces of the confederacy. Cyrus pursued him, caught him completely by surprise, and stormed the city (546).

Croesus’ subsequent fate is recounted in several ancient sources. According to the Greek poet Bacchylides, Croesus tried to burn himself on a funeral pyre but was captured. Herodotus claims that the King, condemned by Cyrus to be burned alive, was saved by the god Apollo and eventually accompanied Cyrus’ successor, Cambyses II, to Egypt. The Greek-born Persian doctor Ctesias says Croesus subsequently became attached to the court of Cyrus and received the governorship of Barene in Media.

Victory of Cyrus over Lydia's Croesus at the Battle of Thymbra, 546 BC.

One of the most famous tales concerning Croesus is Herodotus’ account of the (fictitious) meeting of Croesus with the Athenian lawgiver Solon. Solon was said to have lectured his host on how good fortune, not wealth, was the basis of happiness.


10 Points to Be Familiar With About Croesus

10 Points to Be Familiar With About Croesus (L)

  1. Have you read Aesop's fables about the clever and not-so-smart animals? Croesus gave that Aesop an appointment in his court.
  2. In Asia Minor, Lydia is considered the first kingdom to have coins and King Croesus minted the first gold and silver coins there.
  3. 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."
  4. 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."
  5. Croesus is said to have derived his wealth from King Midas' (the man with the golden touch) gold deposits in the river Pactolus.
  6. According to Herodotus, Croesus was the first foreigner to come in contact with the Greeks.
  7. Croesus conquered and received tribute from the Ionian Greeks.
  8. 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.
  9. Croesus was defeated by the Persian King Cyrus, proving how prescient Solon the law-giver had been.
  10. 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.


  Lydian language

Lydian language

Lydian language (W)




Lydian (𐤮𐤱𐤠𐤭𐤣𐤸𐤯𐤦𐤳 Śfardẽtis "[language] of Sardis") is an extinct Indo-European Anatolian languagespoken in the region of Lydia, in western Anatolia (now in Turkey). The language is attested in graffiti and in coin legends from the late 8th century or the early 7th century to the 3rd century BC, but well-preserved inscriptions of significant length are so far limited to the 5th century and the 4th century BC, during the period of Persian domination. Thus, Lydian texts are effectively contemporaneous with those in Lycian.

Extant Lydian texts now number slightly over 100, all but a few having been found in or near Sardis, the Lydian capital, but fewer than 30 of the inscriptions consist of more than a few words or are reasonably complete. Most of the inscriptions are on stone and are sepulchral in content, but several are decrees of one sort or another, and some half-dozen texts seem to be in verse, with a stress-based meter and vowel assonance at the end of the line. Tomb inscriptions include many epitaphs, which typically begin with the words 𐤤𐤮 𐤥𐤠𐤫𐤠𐤮 eś wãnaś ("this grave"), as well as short graffiti.

Strabo mentions that around his time (1st century BC), the Lydian language was no longer spoken in Lydia proper but was still being spoken among the multicultural population of Kibyra (now Gölhisar) in southwestern Anatolia, by the descendants of the Lydian colonists, who had founded the city.


Within the Anatolian group, Lydian occupies a unique and problematic position. One reason is the still very limited evidence and understanding of the language. Another reason is a number of features that are not shared with any other Anatolian language. It is still not known whether those differences represent developments peculiar to pre-Lydian or the retention in Lydian of archaic features that were lost in the other Anatolian languages. Until more satisfactory knowledge becomes available, the status of Lydian within Anatolian remains a "special" one.

Writing system

The Lydian script, which is strictly alphabetic, is related to or derived from that of Greek as well as its western Anatolian neighbours, the exact relationship still remaining unclear. The direction of writing in the older texts is either from left to right or right to left. Later texts show exclusively the latter. Use of word-dividers is variable. The texts were found chiefly at the ancient capital of Sardis and include decrees and epitaphs, some of which were composed in verse; most were written during the 5th century and the 4th century BC, but a few may have been created as early as the 7th century.

Text Transliteration Reconstructed Pronunciation
[𐤬]𐤭𐤠𐤷 𐤦𐤳𐤩𐤷 𐤡𐤠𐤨𐤦𐤩𐤩𐤷 𐤤𐤳𐤯 𐤪𐤭𐤰𐤣 𐤤𐤮𐤮𐤨 [𐤥𐤵𐤫𐤠𐤮]
[𐤩𐤠𐤲𐤭𐤦𐤳𐤠𐤨 𐤲𐤤𐤩𐤠𐤨 𐤨𐤰𐤣𐤨𐤦𐤯 𐤦𐤳𐤯 𐤤𐤮𐤷 𐤥𐤵𐤫[𐤠𐤷
[𐤡𐤷𐤯𐤠𐤭𐤥𐤬𐤣 𐤠𐤨𐤠𐤣 𐤪𐤠𐤫𐤤𐤩𐤦𐤣 𐤨𐤰𐤪𐤩𐤦𐤩 𐤳𐤦𐤩𐤰𐤨𐤠𐤩𐤦𐤣 𐤠𐤨𐤦𐤯 𐤫[𐤵𐤲𐤦𐤳
𐤤𐤳𐤷 𐤪𐤭𐤰𐤷 𐤡𐤰𐤨 𐤤𐤳𐤷 𐤥𐤵𐤫𐤠𐤷 𐤡𐤰𐤨 𐤤𐤳𐤸𐤠𐤸
[𐤩𐤠𐤲𐤭𐤦𐤳𐤠𐤸 𐤡𐤰𐤨𐤦𐤯 𐤨𐤰𐤣 𐤦𐤳𐤯 𐤤𐤳𐤷 𐤥𐤵𐤫𐤠𐤷 𐤡𐤷𐤯𐤠𐤭𐤥𐤬[𐤣
𐤠𐤨𐤯𐤦𐤫 𐤫𐤵𐤲𐤦𐤳 𐤲𐤤𐤩𐤷𐤨 𐤱𐤶𐤫𐤳𐤷𐤦𐤱𐤦𐤣 𐤱𐤠𐤨𐤪𐤷 𐤠𐤭𐤯𐤦𐤪𐤰𐤮
𐤦𐤡𐤮𐤦𐤪𐤳𐤦𐤳 𐤠𐤭𐤯𐤦𐤪𐤰𐤨 𐤨𐤰𐤩𐤰𐤪𐤳𐤦𐤳 𐤠𐤠𐤭𐤠𐤷 𐤡𐤦𐤭𐤠𐤷𐤨
𐤨𐤷𐤦𐤣𐤠𐤷 𐤨𐤬𐤱𐤰𐤷𐤨 𐤲𐤦𐤭𐤠𐤷 𐤲𐤤𐤩𐤷𐤨 𐤡𐤦𐤩𐤷 𐤥𐤹𐤡𐤠𐤲𐤶𐤫𐤯
[o]raλ islλ bakillλ est mrud eśśk [wãnaś]
laqrisak qelak kudkit ist esλ wãn[aλ]
bλtarwod akad manelid kumlilid silukalid akit n[ãqis]
esλ mruλ buk esλ wãnaλ buk esνaν
laqrisaν bukit kud ist esλ wãnaλ bλtarwo[d]
aktin nãqis qelλk fẽnsλifid fakmλ artimuś
ibśimsis artimuk kulumsis aaraλ biraλk
kλidaλ kofuλk qiraλ qelλk bilλ wcbaqẽnt
ɔɾaʎ içləʎ pakilləʎ eçt mɾuð essək wã:nas
lakʷɾiçak kʷelak kuθkit içt eçəʎ wã:naʎ
pʎtaɾwɔð akað manelið kumlilið çilukalið akit nãkʷiç
eçʎ mɾuʎ puk eçʎ wã:naʎ puk eçɲaɲ
lakʷɾiçaɲ pukit kuð içt eçʎ wã:naʎ pʎtaɾwɔð
aktin nãkʷiç kʷelʎək ɸẽnçʎiɸið ɸakməʎ aɾdimus
ipsimçiç aɾdimuk kulumçiç aɾaʎ piɾaʎk
kʎiðaʎ kɔɸuʎk kʷiɾaʎ kʷeləʎk piləʎ w̩tspakʷãnd


Lydian alphabet

Lydian alphabet (W)

Lydian script was used to write the Lydian language. Like other scripts of Anatolia in the Iron Age, the Lydian alphabet is related to the East Greek alphabet, but it has unique features.

The first modern codification of the Lydian alphabet was made by Roberto Gusmani in 1964, in a combined lexicon, grammar, and text collection.

Early Lydian texts were written either from left to right or from right to left. Later texts all run from right to left. One surviving text is in the bi-directional boustrophedon manner. Spaces separate words except in one text that uses dots instead. Lydian uniquely features a quotation mark in the shape of a right triangle.






The Lydian alphabet is closely related to the other alphabets of Asia Minor as well as to the Greek alphabet. It contains letters for 26 sounds. Some are represented by more than one symbol, which is considered one "letter." Unlike the Carian alphabet, which had an f derived from Φ, the Lydian f has the peculiar 8 shape also found in the Etruscan alphabet.


Examples of words

𐤬𐤭𐤠 ora [ora] "month"

𐤩𐤠𐤲𐤭𐤦𐤳𐤠 laqrisa [lakʷrisa] "wall, dromos" or "inscrip "

𐤡𐤦𐤭𐤠 bira [pira] "house, home"

𐤥𐤹𐤡𐤠𐤲𐤶𐤫𐤯 wcbaqẽnt [w̩t͡spaˈkʷãnd] "to trample on" (from PIE *pekʷ- "to crh")

Sample Glossary (L)

Some Lydian words and their relation to other Indo-European languages

to love
H. Luwian “áza-”, Latin “amor”, Greek “ ammia” ( mother)
I, me
Lycian “emu, amu”, H. Luwian “á-mu”, Palaic “=mu”,Greek “ eimi”
Greek “ allos/alla”,Armenian “a il”, Gaulish “alla”, Oscan “allo”, Tocharian “alak-”
a member of the commune
Phrygian “brater-”, Greek“ phrater” , Old Persian“ brata” , Sanskrit “ b hrátár”, Latin ” frater” , Old Norse “broðir”, Lithuanian “broterelis”
ciw -
Hittit e “šiu-”,C.Luwian “siwata”, Luwian “tiwat”, Palaic “tijaz”, Mycenean Greek “ di-wo” - Zeus, Latin “deus”, Sanskrit “deva”, Phrygian “ tiweia” ( goddess ) , Thracian ” ziu”, Old Persian “daiva” evil god
to give
Hittite “da”, Latin “ dare”,Greek “ didomi” , Sanskrit “dadati”, Armenian “dal”, Lithuanian “duoti”, Latvian “dot”, O.C Slavonic “dati”
to press
C. Luwian “damaš”, Avestan “dvaidī”, O.C Slavonic “davljǫ”
C. Luwian “andan”, Hittite “antan”, Greek “ endon” , Proto -Armenian “*en”, Tocharian “yn-/en-”, Avestan “antara-”, Albanian “nder” (between, in)
Hittite “*kuųan-”, C. Luwian “wānā-”, Greek Myc. “ku-na-ja” (woman) - Arcado-Cypriot “ku-na”, Armenian “kin”, Phrygian “ knaika” , Old Prussian “*gena”
C. Luwian “nā”, Hittite “natta”, Latin “nē”, Oscan “nei”, Albanian “nuk”, Avestan “na-”
Carian “gela, kδouś”, Hittite “haššu-”, Greek “ koiranos”
Hittite “uųan” 16, Greek “uios”, Sanskrit “sunu”, Lithuanian “súnus”, Armenian “ustr”


  Omphale and Heracles

Omphale and Heracles

Omphale and Heracles (W)

In Greek mythology, Omphale (Ὀμφάλη) was queen of the kingdom of Lydia in Asia Minor. Diodorus Siculus provides the first appearance of the Omphale theme in literature, though Aeschylus was aware of the episode. The Greeks did not recognize her as a goddess: the undisputed etymological connection with omphalos, the world-navel, has never been made clear. In her best-known myth, she is the mistress of the hero Heracles during a year of required servitude, a scenario that offered writers and artists opportunities to explore sexual roles and erotic themes.

Family of hers

Omphale was the daughter of Iardanus, either a king of Lydia, or a river-god. According to Bibliotheke she was the wife of Tmolus, the oak-clad mountain king of Lydia; after he was gored to death by a bull, she continued to reign on her own.


Heracles and Omphale

In one of many Greek variations on the theme of penalty for "inadvertent" murder, for his murder of Iphitus, the great hero Heracles, whom the Romans identified as Hercules, was, by the command of the Delphic Oracle Xenoclea, remanded as a slave to Omphale for the period of a year, the compensation to be paid to Eurytus, who refused it. The theme, inherently a comic inversion of sexual roles, is not fully illustrated in any surviving text from Classical Greece. Plutarch, in his vita of Pericles, 24, mentions lost comedies of Kratinos and Eupolis, which alluded to the contemporary capacity of Aspasia in the household of Pericles, and to Sophocles in The Trachiniae it was shameful for Heracles to serve an Oriental woman in this fashion, but there are many late Hellenistic and Roman references in texts and art to Heracles being forced to do women's work and even wear women's clothing and hold a basket of wool while Omphale and her maidens did their spinning. Omphale even wore the skin of the Nemean Lion and carried Heracles' olive-wood club. No full early account survives to supplement the later vase-paintings.

But it was also during his stay in Lydia that Heracles captured the city of the Itones and enslaved them, killed Syleus who forced passersby to hoe his vineyard, and captured the Cercopes. He buried the body of Icarus and took part in the Calydonian Boar Hunt and the Argonautica.

After some time, Omphale freed Heracles and took him as her husband. They travelled to the grove of Dionysus and planned to celebrate the rites of Bacchus at dawn. Hercules slept alone in a bed covered with the clothes of Omphale. The Greek god Pan hoped to have his way with Omphale and crept naked into the bed of Hercules who threw Pan to the floor and laughed.


Sons of Heracles in Lydia


Diodorus Siculus (4.31.8) and Ovid in his Heroides (9.54) mention a son named Lamos. But Bibliotheca (2.7.8) gives the name of the son of Heracles and Omphale as Agelaus.

Pausanias (2.21.3) gives yet another name, mentioning Tyrsenus, son of Heracles by "the Lydian woman", by whom Pausanias presumably means Omphale. This Tyrsenus supposedly first invented the trumpet, and Tyrsenus' son Hegeleus taught the Dorians with Temenus how to play the trumpet and first gave to Athena the surname Trumpet.

The name Tyrsenus appears elsewhere as a variant of Tyrrhenus, whom many accounts bring from Lydia to settle the Tyrsenoi/ Tyrrhenians/ Etruscans in Italy. Dionysius of Halicarnassus (1.28.1) cites a tradition that the supposed founder of the Etruscan settlements was Tyrrhenus, the son of Heracles by Omphale the Lydian, who drove the Pelasgians out of Italy from the cities north of the Tiber river. Dionysius gives this as an alternate to other versions of Tyrrhenus' ancestry.

Herodotus (1.7) refers to a Heraclid dynasty of kings who ruled Lydia, yet were perhaps not descended from Omphale, writing, "The Heraclids, descended from Heracles and the slave-girl of Iardanus...." Omphale as slave-girl seems odd. However, Diodorus Siculus relates that when Heracles was still Omphale's slave, before Omphale (daughter of Iardanus) set Heracles free and married him, Heracles fathered a son, Cleodaeus, on a slave-woman. This fits, though in Herodotus the son of Heracles and the slave-girl of Iardanus is named Alcaeus.

But according to the historian Xanthus of Lydia (fifth century B.C.) as cited by Nicolaus of Damascus, the Heraclid dynasty of Lydia traced their descent to a son of Heracles and Omphale named Tylon, and were called Tylonidai. We know from coins that this Tylon was a native Anatolian god equated with the Greek Heracles.

Herodotus asserts that the first of the Heraclids to reign in Sardis was Agron, the son of Ninus, son of Belus, son of Alcaeus, son of Heracles. Later writers know a Ninus who is the primordial king of Assyria, and they often call this Ninus son of Belus. Their Ninus is the legendary founder and eponym of the city of Ninus, referring to Ninevah, while Belus, though sometimes treated as a human, is identified with the god Be.

An earlier genealogy may have made Agron, as a legendary first king of an ancient dynasty, to be a son of the mythical Ninus, son of Belus, and stopped at that point. In the genealogy given by Herodotus, someone may have grafted the tradition of a Lydian son of Heracles at the top end of it, so that Ninus and Belus in the list now become descendants of Heracles, who just happen to bear the same names as the more famous Ninus and Belus.

That, at least, is the interpretation of later chronologists who also ignored Herodotus' statement that Agron was the first to be a king, and included Alcaeus, Belus, and Ninus in their List of kings of Lydia.

As to how Agron gained the kingdom from the older dynasty descended from Lydus son of Atys, Herodotus only says that the Heraclids, "having been entrusted by these princes with the management of affairs, obtained the kingdom by an oracle."

Strabo (5.2.2) makes Atys father of Lydus, and Tyrrhenus to be one of the descendants of Heracles and Omphale. But all other accounts place Atys, Lydus, and Tyrrhenus brother of Lydus among the pre-Heraclid kings of Lydia.



“Hercules and Omphale,” 1724, François LEMOYNE (Paris, 1688 - Paris, 1737). (LINK)

Hercules has fallen under the spell of Omphale, Queen of Lydia, and is reduced to spinning wool, spindle and distaff in hand. Omphale is wearing the hero's lion skin and is clasping his club in an extremely suggestive manner. The sensuality and vibrancy of the painting reflect the influence of Venetian art.

“Hercules and Omphale,” by Louis Jean François Lagrenée.

“Heracles and Omphale,” Francois Boucher.

“Hercules and Omphale,” Johann Heinrich, The Elder Tischbein (1722-1789, Germany).

“Hercules and Omphale,” Jacopo Amigoni (1682-1752).

“Hercules and Omphale,” Luigi Garzi, 1638-1721.

“Hercules and Omphale,” by Louis Jean François Lagrenée.

“Hercules and Omphale” is a circa 1602 painting by Peter Paul Rubens, now held in the Louvre Museum in Paris.




Ephesus (W)

Ephesus street scene.

(Έφεσος Efesos; Turkish: Efes; may ultimately derive from Hittite Apasa) was an ancient Greek city on the coast of Ionia, three kilometres southwest of present-day Selçuk in İzmir Province, Turkey. It was built in the 10th century BC on the site of the former Arzawan capital by Attic and Ionian Greek colonists. During the Classical Greek era it was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League. The city flourished after it came under the control of the Roman Republic in 129 BC.

The city was famed for the nearby Temple of Artemis (completed around 550 BC), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Among many other monumental buildings are the Library of Celsus, and a theatre capable of holding 25,000 spectators.

Aqueduct near Ephesus" (Mayer Luigi, 1810).


Ephesos was one of the seven churches of Asia that are cited in the Book of Revelation. The Gospel of John may have been written here. The city was the site of several 5th-century Christian Councils (see Council of Ephesus).

The city was destroyed by the Goths in 263, and although rebuilt, the city's importance as a commercial centre declined as the harbour was slowly silted up by the Küçükmenderes River. It was partially destroyed by an earthquake in AD 614.

The roof of the Library of Celsus has collapsed, but its large façade is still intact.


History of Ephesus

History of Ephesus (W)

Neolithic age

The area surrounding Ephesus was already inhabited during the Neolithic Age (about 6000 BC), as was revealed by excavations at the nearby höyük (artificial mounds known as tells) of Arvalya and Cukurici.

Bronze Age

Excavations in recent years have unearthed settlements from the early Bronze Age at Ayasuluk Hill. According to Hittite sources, the capital of the Kingdom of Arzawa (another independent state in Western and Southern Anatolia/Asia Minor) was Apasa (or Abasa). Some scholars suggest that this is the later Greek Ephesus. In 1954, a burial ground from the Mycenaean era (1500-1400 BC) with ceramic pots was discovered. This was the period of the Mycenaean Expansion when the Achaioi (as they were called by Homer) settled in Asia Minor during the 14th and 13th centuries BC. The names Apasa and Ephesus appear to be cognate, and recently found inscriptions seem to pinpoint the places in the Hittite record.

Period of Greek migrations

Ephesus was founded as an Attic-Ionian colony in the 10th century BC on a hill (now known as the Ayasuluk Hill), three kilometers (1.9 miles) from the centre of ancient Ephesus (as attested by excavations at the Seljuk castle during the 1990s). The mythical founder of the city was a prince of Athens named Androklos, who had to leave his country after the death of his father, King Kodros. According to the legend, he founded Ephesus on the place where the oracle of Delphi became reality ("A fish and a boar will show you the way"). Androklos drove away most of the native Carian and Lelegian inhabitants of the city and united his people with the remainder. He was a successful warrior, and as a king he was able to join the twelve cities of Ionia together into the Ionian League. During his reign the city began to prosper. He died in a battle against the Carians when he came to the aid of Priene, another city of the Ionian League. Androklos and his dog are depicted on the Hadrian temple frieze, dating from the 2nd century. Later, Greek historians such as Pausanias, Strabo and Herodotos and the poet Kallinos reassigned the city’s mythological foundation to Ephos, queen of the Amazons.

The Greek goddess Artemis and the great Anatolian goddess Kybele were identified together as Artemis of Ephesus. The many-breasted "Lady of Ephesus", identified with Artemis, was venerated in the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the World and the largest building of the ancient world according to Pausanias (4.31.8). Pausanias mentions that the temple was built by Ephesus, son of the river god Caystrus, before the arrival of the Ionians. Of this structure, scarcely a trace remains.

Ancient sources seem to indicate that an older name of the place was Alope (Ancient Greek: Ἀλόπη, romanized: Alópē).

Archaic period

About 650 BC, Ephesus was attacked by the Cimmerians who razed the city, including the temple of Artemis. After the Cimmerians had been driven away, the city was ruled by a series of tyrants. Following a revolt by the people, Ephesus was ruled by a council. The city prospered again under a new rule, producing a number of important historical figures such as the elegiac poet Callinus and the iambic poet Hipponax, the philosopher Heraclitus, the great painter Parrhasius and later the grammarian Zenodotos and physicians Soranus and Rufus.

About 560 BC, Ephesus was conquered by the Lydians under king Croesus, who, though a harsh ruler, treated the inhabitants with respect and even became the main contributor to the reconstruction of the temple of Artemis. His signature has been found on the base of one of the columns of the temple (now on display in the British Museum). Croesus made the populations of the different settlements around Ephesus regroup (synoikismos) in the vicinity of the Temple of Artemis, enlarging the city.

Later in the same century, the Lydians under Croesus invaded Persia. The Ionians refused a peace offer from Cyrus the Great, siding with the Lydians instead. After the Persians defeated Croesus, the Ionians offered to make peace, but Cyrus insisted that they surrender and become part of the empire. They were defeated by the Persian army commander Harpagos in 547 BC. The Persians then incorporated the Greek cities of Asia Minor into the Achaemenid Empire. Those cities were then ruled by satraps.

Ephesus has intrigued archaeologists because for the Archaic Period there is no definite location for the settlement. There are numerous sites to suggest the movement of a settlement between the Bronze Age and the Roman period, but the silting up of the natural harbours as well as the movement of the Kayster River meant that the location never remained the same.

Classical period

Ephesus continued to prosper, but when taxes were raised under Cambyses II and Darius, the Ephesians participated in the Ionian Revolt against Persian rule in the Battle of Ephesus (498 BC), an event which instigated the Greco-Persian wars. In 479 BC, the Ionians, together with Athens, were able to oust the Persians from the shores of Asia Minor. In 478 BC, the Ionian cities with Athens entered into the Delian League against the Persians. Ephesus did not contribute ships but gave financial support.

During the Peloponnesian War, Ephesus was first allied to Athens but in a later phase, called the Decelean War, or the Ionian War, sided with Sparta, which also had received the support of the Persians. As a result, rule over the cities of Ionia was ceded again to Persia.

These wars did not greatly affect daily life in Ephesus. The Ephesians were surprisingly modern in their social relations: they allowed strangers to integrate and education was valued. In later times, Pliny the Elder mentioned having seen at Ephesus a representation of the goddess Diana by Timarata, the daughter of a painter.

In 356 BC the temple of Artemis was burnt down, according to legend, by a lunatic called Herostratus. The inhabitants of Ephesus at once set about restoring the temple and even planned a larger and grander one than the original.


Hellenistic period

Battle of Alexander and Darius by Pietro da Cortona (1597-1669), painted 1644-1650. Palazzo dei Conservatori, Capitoline Museums , Rome.

When Alexander the Great defeated the Persian forces at the Battle of Granicus in 334 BC, the Greek cities of Asia Minor were liberated. The pro-Persian tyrant Syrpax and his family were stoned to death, and Alexander was greeted warmly when he entered Ephesus in triumph. When Alexander saw that the temple of Artemis was not yet finished, he proposed to finance it and have his name inscribed on the front. But the inhabitants of Ephesus demurred, claiming that it was not fitting for one god to build a temple to another.



After Alexander's death in 323 BC, Ephesus in 290 BC came under the rule of one of Alexander's generals, Lysimachus.

As the river Cayster (Grk. name Κάϋστρος) silted up the old harbour, the resulting marshes caused malaria and many deaths among the inhabitants. Lysimachus forced the people to move from the ancient settlement around the temple of Artemis to the present site two kilometres (1.2 miles) away, when as a last resort the king flooded the old city by blocking the sewers. The new settlement was officially called Arsinoea (Ancient Greek: Ἀρσινόεια or Ἀρσινοΐα) or Arsinoe (Ἀρσινόη), after the king's second wife, Arsinoe II of Egypt. After Lysimachus had destroyed the nearby cities of Lebedos and Colophon in 292 BC, he relocated their inhabitants to the new city.


Seleucus I Nicator.

Ephesus revolted after the treacherous death of Agathocles, giving the Hellenistic king of Syria and Mesopotamia Seleucus I Nicator an opportunity for removing and killing Lysimachus, his last rival, at the Battle of Corupedium in 281 BC. After the death of Lysimachus the town again was named Ephesus.

Thus Ephesus became part of the Seleucid Empire. After the murder of king Antiochus II Theos and his Egyptian wife, pharaoh Ptolemy III invaded the Seleucid Empire and the Egyptian fleet swept the coast of Asia Minor. Ephesus came under Egyptian rule between 263 and 197 BC.


Antiochus III the Great.
The Seleucid king Antiochus III the Great tried to regain the Greek cities of Asia Minor and recaptured Ephesus in 196 BC but he then came into conflict with Rome. After a series of battles, he was defeated by Scipio Asiaticus at the Battle of Magnesia in 190 BC. As a result of the subsequent Treaty of Apamea, Ephesus came under the rule of Eumenes II, the Attalid king of Pergamon, (ruled 197-159 BC). When his grandson Attalus III died in 133 BC without male children of his own, he left his kingdom to the Roman Republic, on condition that the city of Pergamon is kept free and autonomous.

📹 Battle of Magnesia 190 BC Roman-Seleucid (VİDEO)

Battle of Magnesia, 190 BC — Roman-Seleucid War (LINK)

This documentary is on Roman - Seleucid Syrian War of 192-188 BC (also known as War of Antiochus) and the battles of Thermopylae and Magnesia. Both the Roman Republic and the Seleucid empires were vying for control over Greece and Eastern Mediterranean and their war reshaped the map of the region in the II century BC and was the most significant conflict of its time with a quarter of a million warriors taking part in the hostilities on both sides.

Roman period

Ephesus, as part of the kingdom of Pergamon, became a subject of the Roman Republic in 129 BC after the revolt of Eumenes III was suppressed.

The city felt Roman influence at once; taxes rose considerably, and the treasures of the city were systematically plundered. Hence in 88 BC Ephesus welcomed Archelaus, a general of Mithridates the Great, king of Pontus, when he conquered Asia (the Roman name for western Asia Minor). From Ephesus, Mithridates ordered every Roman citizen in the province to be killed which led to the Asiatic Vespers, the slaughter of 80,000 Roman citizens in Asia, or any person who spoke with a Latin accent. Many had lived in Ephesus, and statues and monument of Roman citizens in Ephesus were also destroyed. But when they saw how badly the people of Chios had been treated by Zenobius, a general of Mithridates, they refused entry to his army. Zenobius was invited into the city to visit Philopoemen, the father of Monime, the favourite wife of Mithridates, and the overseer of Ephesus. As the people expected nothing good of him, they threw him into prison and murdered him. Mithridates took revenge and inflicted terrible punishments. However, the Greek cities were given freedom and several substantial rights. Ephesus became, for a short time, self-governing. When Mithridates was defeated in the First Mithridatic War by the Roman consul Lucius Cornelius Sulla, Ephesus came back under Roman rule in 86 BC. Sulla imposed a huge indemnity, along with five years of back taxes, which left Asian cities heavily in debt for a long time to come.

King Ptolemy XII Auletesof Egypt retired to Ephesus in 57 BC, passing his time in the sanctuary of the temple of Artemis when he failed to get restoration of his throne from the Roman senate.

Mark Antonywas welcomed by Ephesus for periods when he was proconsul and in 33 BC with Cleopatra when he gathered his fleet of 800 ships before the battle of Actium with Octavius.

When Augustus became emperor in 27 BC, the most important change was when he made Ephesus the capital of proconsular Asia (which covered western Asia Minor) instead of Pergamum. Ephesus then entered an era of prosperity, becoming both the seat of the governor and a major centre of commerce. According to Strabo, it was second in importance and size only to Rome.

The city and temple were destroyed by the Goths in 263 AD. This marked the decline of the city's splendour. However emperor Constantine the Great rebuilt much of the city and erected new public baths.


  Temple of Artemis, Ephesus

Temple of Artemis, Ephesus

Temple of Artemis, Ephesus (W)

This model of the Temple of Artemis, at Miniatürk Park, Istanbul, Turkey, attempts to recreate the probable appearance of the third temple

The Temple of Artemis or Artemision (Greek: Ἀρτεμίσιον; Turkish: Artemis Tapınağı), also known less precisely as the Temple of Diana, was a Greek temple dedicated to an ancient, local form of the goddess Artemis (associated with Diana, a Roman goddess). It was located in Ephesus (near the modern town of Selçuk in present-day Turkey). It was completely rebuilt twice, once after a devastating flood and three hundred years later after an act of arson, and in its final form was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. By 401 AD it had been ruined or destroyed. Only foundations and fragments of the last temple remain at the site.

Artemis. Goddess of the Hunt, known as the "Diana of Versailles", as exhibited in the Louvre Museum, Paris, France. 2nd century CE copied from a Greek original dating to 330 BCE.

The ruins of the Temple of Artemis in Sardis in Lydia, originally built by the Greeks in 300 BCE and later renovated by the Romans in the 2nd century CE. The Temple of Artemis in Sardis was the fourth largest Ionic temple in the ancient world.


Foundation deposit

A rich foundation deposit from this era, also called the "Artemision deposit", yielded more than a thousand items, including what may be the earliest coins made from the silver-gold alloy electrum. The foundation deposit at the Temple of Artemis is the earliest known deposit of electrum coins. The deposit contains some of the earliest inscribed coins, those of Phanes, dated to 625-600 BC from Ephesus, with the legend ΦΑΝΕΟΣ ΕΜΙ ΣΗΜΑ (or similar) (“I am the badge of Phanes”), or just bearing the name ΦΑΝΕΟΣ (“of Phanes”).

Silver wine jug from ancient Lydia, ca. 550 BC.


In 356 BC, the temple was destroyed in a vainglorious act of arson by a man, Herostratus, who set fire to the wooden roof-beams, seeking fame at any cost; thus the term herostratic fame. For this outrage, the Ephesians sentenced the perpetrator to death and forbade anyone from mentioning his name; but Theopompus later noted it. In Greek and Roman historical tradition, the temple's destruction coincided with the birth of Alexander the Great (around 20/21 July 356 BC). Plutarch remarked that Artemis was too preoccupied with Alexander's delivery to save her burning temple.

Final destruction

Marble column from the Temple of Artemis at Sardis.

Period: Hellenistic
Date: ca. 300 B.C.
Culture: Greek
Medium: Marble
Dimensions: H. 142 1/8 in. (361 cm)
Classification: Stone Sculpture


It is unknown how long the building stood after the closure of the temple by the Christians. At least some of the stones from the temple were eventually used in construction of other buildings. Some of the columns in Hagia Sophia originally belonged to the temple of Artemis, and the Parastaseis syntomoi chronikai records the re-use of several statues and other decorative elements from the temple, throughout Constantinople.

The main primary sources for the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus are Pliny the Elder's Natural History, Pomponius Mela i:17, and Plutarch's Life of Alexander (referencing the burning of the Artemiseum).

"The Temple of Diana at Ephesus," (LINK)

The section of a fluted Ionic column in the center of this room stood over fifty-eight feet high in its original location at the Temple of Artemis. The delicate foliate carving on the capital is unique among extant capitals from the temple, and the torus (foliated base), with its vegetal scale-like pattern, is also exceptionally elaborate. This capital is slightly smaller than others found at the site, indicating that it does not belong to the outer colonnade. Two similar pairs of columns (marked in red on the plan shown nearby) stood in the east and west porches. The column, displayed here with most of the shaft omitted, was probably originally from one or more of those pairs. Alternatively, it may be from the cella (inner room) or from the inner back porch. Parts of the fluted shaft are restored, and the profiled base below the torus is a copy of the original. (THE-MET)


A 360 degree panoramic view of the site of the Temple of Artemis near Selcuk, Turkey.


Ionic style Temple of Artemis in the ancient Greek city of Sardis in Lydia, Turkey dates from 300 BC. Renovated by Romans 200 AD.

Temple of Artemis, Ephesus ( Andre Castaigne, 1897).

Column drum Ephesus.

Column drum from the temple of Artemis at Ephesus.Subject unidentified, possibly l-r Thanatos, Alkestis, Hermes, Persephone and Hades (unseen), ca. 320 BC. (W)



Kill Them All, and Let the Gods Sort Them Out (LINK)

1. Kill Them All, and Let the Gods Sort Them Out
Adrienne Mayor
Published 2009


Mithradates the Great, silver tetradrachm.

In Spring of 88 BC, in dozens of cities across Anatolia (Asia Minor, modern Turkey), sworn enemies of Rome joined a secret plot. On an appointed day in one month's time, they vowed to kill every Roman man, woman, and child in their territories. The conspiracy was masterminded by King Mithradates the Great, who communicated secretly with numerous local leaders in Rome's new province of Asia. ("Asia" at this time referred to lands from the eastern Aegean to India; Rome's province of Asia encompassed western Turkey.) How Mithradates kept the plot secret remains one of the great intelligence mysteries of antiquity. The conspirators promised to round up and slay all the Romans and Italians living in their towns, including women and children and slaves of Italian descent. They agreed to confiscate the Romans' property and throw the bodies out to the dogs and crows. Anyone who tried to warn or protect Romans or bury their bodies was to be harshly punished. Slaves who spoke languages other than Latin would be spared, and those who joined in the killing of their masters would be rewarded. People who murdered Roman moneylenders would have their debts canceled. Bounties were offered to informers and killers of Romans in hiding. The deadly plot worked perfectly. According to several ancient historians, at least 80,000 — perhaps as many as 150,000 — Roman and Italian residents of Anatolia and Aegean islands were massacred on that day. The figures are shocking — perhaps exaggerated — but not unrealistic. Exact population figures for the first century BC are not known. But great numbers of Italian merchants and new Roman citizens had swarmed to recently conquered lands as Rome expanded its empire in the late republic. Details of the bloody attack were recorded by the Roman historian.




Sardis (W)

Title: Sardis Turkey Drawn By Thomas Allom Engraved By E. Brandard From The Collection Of G. Virtue Esq. C.1863.

Sardis or Sardes (Lydian: 𐤮𐤱𐤠𐤭𐤣 Sfard; Ancient Greek: Σάρδεις Sardeis; Old Persian: Sparda) was an ancient city at the location of modern Sart (Sartmahmut before 19 October 2005), near the Salihli in Turkey's Manisa Province. Sardis was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Lydia, one of the important cities of the Persian Empire, the seat of a Seleucid Satrap, the seat of a proconsul under the Roman Empire, and the metropolis of the province Lydia in later Roman and Byzantine times.

Foundation stories

Terracotta lydion (perfume jar), Lydia, 6th century B.C.

Great numbers of these jars have been found at Sardis as well as around the Mediterranean. Because they seem to have been a specialty of Lydia, modern scholars call this type of vase a lydion. Such jars probably contained baccaris, a perfume for which Sardis was noted in antiquity. (L)


The Greek historian and father of history, Herodotus, notes that the city was founded by the sons of Hercules, the Heraclides.According to Herodotus, the Heraclides ruled for five hundred and five years beginning with Agron, 1220 BC, and ending with Candaules, 716 BC. They were followed by the Mermnades, which began with Gyges, 716 BC, and ended with Croesus, 546 BC. The earliest reference to Sardis is in The Persians of Aeschylus (472 BC); in the Iliad, the name “Hyde” seems to be given to the city of the Maeonian (i.e. Lydian) chiefs and in later times Hyde was said to be the older name of Sardis, or the name of its citadel.

It is, however, more probable that Sardis was not the original capital of the Maeonians, but that it became so amid the changes which produced the powerful Lydian empire of the 8th century BC.


Siege of Sardis, 546 BCE (B)

Siege of Sardis, 546 BCE (B)

The defeat of King Croesus of Lydia by Persian ruler Cyrus II at Sardis was a major step forward in the rise of the Persian Empire. The victory was achieved against heavy odds through Cyrus’s calm resourcefulness, the discipline of his men, and a remarkable use of camels as both a martial and an olfactory deterrent.

Cyrus II belonged to the Achaemenid dynasty, claiming descent from the mythical hero Achaemenes. As of the mid-sixth century BCE, his house no longer had the illustrious empire that its lineage warranted, but Cyrus set out to change this. In 550 BCE, the king of the Persians encouraged the neighboring Medes to rise up against Astyages, their ruler. When he then invaded their land, he was greeted as a liberator. Croesus, ruler of Lydia, in modern-day Turkey, was Astyages’ brother-in-law. He marched into Media to avenge Astyages, but Cyrus’s soldiers defeated him at the Battle of Pteria.

Pursuing the fleeing Lydians into the heart of their own country, the Persians found themselves outnumbered when Croesus called up all his reserves. Famous for his wealth, the Lydian ruler could marshal impressive forces, reportedly just over 100,000 to the Persians’ 50,000. Cyrus formed his army into a vast defensive square, surrounded by the camels from his baggage train. The onrushing Lydian cavalry fanned out as though to enfold the square in a classic encircling movement, but soon realized that they had spread themselves too thin. Worse, their horses shied away in panic at the strange sight and smell of the Persian camels, an effect that Cyrus had noticed earlier at Pteria. Croesus’s army broke and scattered; the king withdrew to his capital Sardis, but it was taken by the Persians after a two-week siege.

Losses: Unknown.


📹 Drone Flight over Sardis / The Temple of Artemis (VİDEO)

📹 Drone Flight over Sardis / The Temple of Artemis (LINK)
Ooriginal .mov file, shot with a DJI Phantom 3 quadcopter.


  Lydian Coinage

Lydian Coinage

Lydian Coinage (W)

First coinage


According to Herodotus, the Lydians were the first people to use gold and silver coins and the first to establish retail shops in permanent locations. It is not known, however, whether Herodotus meant that the Lydians were the first to use coins of pure gold and pure silver or the first precious metal coins in general. Despite this ambiguity, this statement of Herodotus is one of the pieces of evidence most often cited on behalf of the argument that Lydians invented coinage, at least in the West, although the first coins (under Alyattes I, reigned c.591–c.560 BC) were neither gold nor silver but an alloy of the two called electrum.


Lydian electrum trite (4.71g, 13x10x4 mm). This coin type, made of a gold and silver alloy, was in all likelihood the world's first, minted by King Alyattes in Sardis, Lydia, Asia Minor (present-day Turkey), c. 610-600 BC. It can be attributed, among other ways, as Weidauer 59-75 (Type 15). (LINK)

The dating of these first stamped coins is one of the most frequently debated topics of ancient numismatics, with dates ranging from 700 BC to 550 BC, but the most common opinion is that they were minted at or near the beginning of the reign of King Alyattes (sometimes referred to incorrectly as Alyattes II). The first coins were made of electrum, an alloy of gold and silver that occurs naturally but that was further debased by the Lydians with added silver and copper.

The largest of these coins are commonly referred to as a 1/3 stater (trite) denomination, weighing around 4.7 grams, though no full staters of this type have ever been found, and the 1/3 stater probably should be referred to more correctly as a stater, after a type of a transversely held scale, the weights used in such a scale (from ancient Greek ίστημι=to stand), which also means "standard." These coins were stamped with a lion's head adorned with what is likely a sunburst, which was the king's symbol. The most prolific mint for early electrum coins was Sardis which produced large quantities of the lion head thirds, sixths and twelfths along with lion paw fractions. To complement the largest denomination, fractions were made, including a hekte (sixth), hemihekte (twelfth), and so forth down to a 96th, with the 1/96 stater weighing only about 0.15 grams. There is disagreement, however, over whether the fractions below the twelfth are actually Lydian.

Alyattes' son was Croesus (Reigned c.560–c.546 BC), who became associated with great wealth. Croesus is credited with issuing the Croeseid, the first true gold coins with a standardised purity for general circulation, and the world's first bimetallic monetary system circa 550 BCE.

Triti, Phanes, 625-600 BC, Ionia — The earliest known inscribe coinage.

The earliest known inscribed coinage, from the foundation deposit of the Temple of Athena: electrum coin of Phanes from Ephesus, 625-600 BC. Obverse: Stag grazing right, ΦΑΝΕΩΣ (retrograde). Reverse: Two incuse punches, each with raised intersecting lines

IONIA, Ephesos. Phanes. Circa 625-600 BC. EL Trite (14mm, 4.67 g). ΦANEOS (in retrograde archaic Greek), stag grazing right, its dappled coat indicated by indentations on the body / Two incuse punches, each with raised intersecting lines. (W)

It took some time before ancient coins were used for commerce and trade. Even the smallest-denomination electrum coins, perhaps worth about a day's subsistence, would have been too valuable for buying a loaf of bread. The first coins to be used for retailing on a large-scale basis were likely small silver fractions, Hemiobol, Ancient Greek coinage minted in Cyme (Aeolis) under Hermodike II then by the Ionian Greeks in the late sixth century BC.

Sardis was renowned as a beautiful city. Around 550 BC, near the beginning of his reign, Croesus paid for the construction of the temple of Artemis at Ephesus, which became one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. Croesus was defeated in battle by Cyrus II of Persia in 546 BC, with the Lydian kingdom losing its autonomy and becoming a Persian satrapy.

Archaic Age

800-500 BC


610 BC Lydians of Asia Minor invent coinage; shortly afterward it spreads to Greek cities in Asia Minor, then Greek islands, then Greek mainland, then rest of world

600 BC China issues its first coins, cast bronze pieces in shape of farm tools

560 BC Lydians invent bimetallic coinage, issuing coins of pure gold and pure silver

550 BC First coinage minted in mainland Greece, in Athens and Corinth

509 BC Rome replaces monarchy with aristocratic republic

507 BC Athens initiates world's first democracy, with power shared by male citizens


  Aesop (620-564)


Aesop (W)

Aesop in front of Croesus

Aesop (Αἴσωπος, Aisōpos; c. 620-564 BCE) was a Greek fabulist and storyteller credited with a number of fables now collectively known as Aesop's Fables. Although his existence remains unclear and no writings by him survive, numerous tales credited to him were gathered across the centuries and in many languages in a storytelling tradition that continues to this day. Many of the tales are characterized by animals and inanimate objects that speak, solve problems, and generally have human characteristics.

Scattered details of Aesop's life can be found in ancient sources, including Aristotle, Herodotus, and Plutarch. An ancient literary work called The Aesop Romance tells an episodic, probably highly fictional version of his life, including the traditional description of him as a strikingly ugly slave (δοῦλος) who by his cleverness acquires freedom and becomes an adviser to kings and city-states. Older spellings of his name have included Esop(e) and Isope. Depictions of Aesop in popular culture over the last 2500 years have included many works of art and his appearance as a character in numerous books, films, plays, and television programs.




The earliest Greek sources, including Aristotle, indicate that Aesop was born around 620 BCE in Thrace at a site on the Black Sea coast which would later become the city Mesembria. A number of later writers from the Roman imperial period (including Phaedrus, who adapted the fables into Latin) say that he was born in Phrygia. The 3rd-century poet Callimachus called him "Aesop of Sardis,” and the later writer Maximus of Tyre called him “the sage of Lydia.”


Aesop relating his fables.

From Aristotle and Herodotus we learn that Aesop was a slave in Samos and that his masters were first a man named Xanthus and then a man named Iadmon; that he must eventually have been freed, because he argued as an advocate for a wealthy Samian; and that he met his end in the city of Delphi. Plutarch tells us that Aesop had come to Delphi on a diplomatic mission from King Croesus of Lydia, that he insulted the Delphians, was sentenced to death on a trumped-up charge of temple theft, and was thrown from a cliff (after which the Delphians suffered pestilence and famine). Before this fatal episode, Aesop met with Periander of Corinth, where Plutarch has him dining with the Seven Sages of Greece, sitting beside his friend Solon, whom he had met in Sardis. (Leslie Kurke suggests that Aesop himself "was a popular contender for inclusion" in the list of Seven Sages.)

Problems of chronological reconciliation dating the death of Aesop and the reign of Croesus led the Aesop scholar (and compiler of the Perry Index) Ben Edwin Perry in 1965 to conclude that "everything in the ancient testimony about Aesop that pertains to his associations with either Croesus or with any of the so-called Seven Wise Men of Greece must be reckoned as literary fiction," and Perry likewise dismissed Aesop's death in Delphi as legendary; but subsequent research has established that a possible diplomatic mission for Croesus and a visit to Periander "are consistent with the year of Aesop's death." Still problematic is the story by Phaedrus which has Aesop in Athens, telling the fable of the frogs who asked for a king, during the reign of Peisistratos, which occurred decades after the presumed date of Aesop's death.




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