(6th century B.C.)



Deliberating whether to attack the Persians, Croesus asked the oracle of Delphi if the undertaking would prosper. The oracle replied that if he went to war, he would destroy a great empire. Encouraged, Croesus invaded the Persian realms. He was decisively beaten and the Persians then invaded Lydia, captured its capital, and threw Croesus himself into chains. Croesus again sent an envoy to Delphi, this time with the question, “Why did you deceive me?”

The priestess of the oracle replied that she had not deceived him — Croesus had indeed destroyed a great empire.


Croesus said to Cambyses: That peace was better than war; because in peace the sons did bury their fathers, but in wars the fathers did bury their sons.

~as quoted by Francis Bacon
Biographical Note: 
coin of Croesus

Croesus was the last King of Lydia in Asia Minor (560-546 BC). He lost his throne in an ill-advised campaign against the Persians. His ancient realm lies within present-day Turkey. Croesus derived his wealth from gold and was said to be the richest man of his time; from this comes the phrase “rich as Croesus.”

More Information: 

Read more about the coinage of Croesus.
Or find other books by and about Croesus for further reading.

Photo Info

in Paris. It shows King Croesus of Lydia on the funeral pyre, lit by his servant Euthymos, 500-490 BCE