Posts Tagged ‘Croesus’

Solon the law giver after an extended tour through Egypt went to the Lydian capital and King Croesus on hearing his presence invited him over. At Sardis he was shown his opulence and all that befitted the majesty and grandeur of his name. Three or four days later Solon was asked by the king ‘Who is the happiest man you have ever seen?’Solon named one Athenian and said he was the happiest since he died in the midst of battle in his service to the city- state. The king asked who be the second most and again Solon named two brothers who died surrounded by their own kith and kin after fulfilling some great deed. The king was somewhat peeved for he was expecting the noble Athenian would give him the honor of being the happiest mortal.
Realizing this he said,’Croesus, I know God is envious of human prosperity… man is entirely a creature of chance…until he is dead, keep the word ‘happy’ in reserve. Till then he is not happy, but only lucky.’

The great monarch was not happy with his answer and soon dismissed him from his sight. Now it so happened Croesus had two sons one was deaf and dumb and the younger Atys was a fine young man on whom the king had much hope.

One night the king saw a horrible dream in which he saw Atys dying from the blow of an iron weapon. Next morning he saw to that all iron weapons with points were removed out of the young man’s sight. Soon he found a wife for his son and forbade him to go out with other Lydians either to war or to the hunt.

Around this time a Phrygian of noble birth sought exile in his kingdom. He had accidentally killed his brother and begged the king to absolve him from man-slaughter and the king according to the prevailing custom did. After the formalities the king asked Adrastus to live in the palace.

It was at a time the nearby area was terrorized by a monstrous boar that laid waste of the fields and men were most frightened by it. A group of Lydian took their complaint to the king and begged him to send his son at the head of their hunters to put an end to their misery. The king still reeling from the dream refused saying his son was as a newly married man, exempted from any service other than his duties to his bride. Atys somehow got wind of this and he went to his father. He said it was humiliating for him to be confined to his home and insisted that ‘honor demanded that he prove his mettle before his bride and the people.’ The king at last explained about the horrible dream and his concern for his safety.. The young man won the day by pointing out that it was a spear point and not the tusk that killed him in the dream. The king knew he was beaten in the argument and he let him go. Before the hunting party got under way he called for Adrastus and pointed out how he had helped him in his most dire need and asked a favor in return. ‘He had to look to the safety of his son. The noble Phrygian was somewhat in a fix. He said,’ A man under an ill-favored star has no business to mix with those who are lucky.’ However he said he would repay the king’s favor with his life since he relied on his support and he was obliged to the king for his past favor.

The king was relieved and sent him to keep an eye on his son at all times. Thus Adrastus jointed the hunt and moved in the direction of Mt. Olympus where the boar was spotted lately. The huntsmen closed the circle following the dog’s scent of their quarry. The boar was cornered and wanted to break out its trap. In the confusion the huntsmen hurled their spears and the point of Adrastus accidentally struck Atys and he died instantly. The dream of Croesus had come true by the very hand of the man whom he had taken to his family fold!

Man is indeed a creature of Chance. (Selected from the Histories by Herodotus)


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