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Other names: Korah (in the Bible), Karun (in the Koran)

First known real coin from the reign of Lydian king Croesus

Lydia in the 6th century

(610?- ca. 520 BCE?) Last king of Lydia (560- 546 BCE). Dating here varies somewhat, and both 548 and 547 have been suggested as the final year for his reign.
Croesus' fame is connected more to legends about his enormous wealth, than to his own accomplishments. As a matter of fact, most of his wealth was the product of his father Alyattes 2's great conquests. Croesus himself made conquered neighbouring lands, but his single most important decision as a ruler was to start a war against Persia that would result in a defeat so complete that Lydia's independence was lost forever.
Among the legends that have made Croesus famous is the one in which the Athenian sage Solon visits him. After presenting his enormous wealth, Croesus asks Solon if he should not be considered the happiest man alive. Solon is reported to have answered: "Judge no man's happiness before the moment of his death." Since the Lydian empire came to an end with Croesus, this legend is a popular warning for anyone who believes that he cannot fall from his fame.


Perhaps 610 BCE: There are no sources setting his birth year, but he must have been one of his father Alyattes's oldest sons (Alyattes ruled from 619) yet fit to fight for his right to the throne upon his death in 560.
560: Alyattes dies, and Croesus becomes king after a short fight with his half brother.
550: Medea is conquered by the Persians.
547: After consulting the Oracle of Delphi (now Greece) which tells him ambiguously that "You shall destroy a powerful nation". Croesus interprets this as a promise of victory. He went ahead and allied himself with Babylonia, Egypt and Sparta and attacks Persia and its king Cyrus 2 the Great.
— Croesus' army is stopped at the Pteria at the Halys River (now Kizilirmak River) by the Persians. The battle ends indecisively.
— Upon returning to Sardis for a winter break, Cyrus' army has followed, and Sardis is quickly captured.
— According to legends, Cyrus prepares to execute him by burning, but the god, Apollo, intervenes with rain that extinguishes the flames. Cyrus makes Croesus his advisor, a partnership that is passed on to their sons. According to some historians, this never happened, and that Croesus is killed when Sardis falls.
Around 520: Possible time of death, since according to legend, he survives Cyrus, who dies in 529.

By Tore Kjeilen