King CroesusRoyalty / Military Leader
Died: c. 546 B.C.
Birthplace: Anatolia (now Turkey)
Best known as: Wealthy king of ancient Lydia in Asia Minor
The last king of Lydia (c. 560-546 B.C.), Croesus was so famously rich that his name became a byword for wealth in the expression "rich as Croesus." He allied Lydia (in Asia Minor, now Turkey) with Egypt and Babylonia against Persia (550-546 B.C.), but he was defeated and captured by Cyrus II the Great. Croesus was apparently friendly with the Greeks, some of whom (notably the lawgiver Solon) visited his capital at Sardis. The Lydians also contributed to the rebuilding of Greek shrines, including the Oracle at Delphi. The best-known anecdotes about Croesus come to us by way of Herodotus
, but little is known about the true magnitude of his wealth. Archaeologists studying Sardis have yet to find a royal treasury, but they have unearthed evidence that the Lydians minted pure gold and silver coins, making them one of the first civilizations to do so. After Croesus was captured he was either burned on a pyre, miraculously saved by the god Apollo or put to use as an administrator by Cyrus, depending on the legend.
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