King Croesus

Cyrus only won the empire of Asia after a long series of wars. The first of these was directed against Croesus, King of Lydia, a kingdom which included most of Asia Minor. That Cyrus was the victor in this contest we know; but for the details of the oft-told story of Croesus' wealth and downfall we are dependent rather on tradition than on proven history. The tale is that Croesus was so proud of all his possessions that he showed his splendors boastfully to the Greek sage Solon, asking if any other man could be so happy. Solon's answer was that no man could be accounted happy until after his death. But Croesus, secure in the strength of his kingdom and his wealth, believed himself beyond the reach of misfortune.

He realized his error when the Persians conquered his kingdom. He was finally made prisoner by Cyrus, and sentenced to be burned to death. As King Cyrus watched his victim on the flaming pile he heard him exclaim: "Solon, thou art right." Curious to know the meaning of the cry, Cyrus stayed the execution and questioned Croesus. The story so impressed him with the uncertainty of even his own royal state, that he not only spared Croesus, but made a friend of him. Croesus thereafter accompanied the Persian monarch, remaining his chief counsellor until the death of Cyrus.

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Read about King Croesus in the The Story of the Greatest Nations and the Worlds Famous Events Vol 1

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