Home | Texts by category | | Quick Search:   
Works by Herodotus
Pages of Clio

Previous | Next


in what was said, gave up his ship-building and concluded a league
of amity with the Ionians of the isles.
Croesus afterwards, in the course of many years, brought under his
sway almost all the nations to the west of the Halys. The Lycians
and Cilicians alone continued free; all the other tribes he reduced
and held in subjection. They were the following: the Lydians,
Phrygians, Mysians, Mariandynians, Chalybians, Paphlagonians,
Thynian and Bithynian Thracians, Carians, Ionians, Dorians, Aeolians
and Pamphylians.
When all these conquests had been added to the Lydian empire,
and the prosperity of Sardis was now at its height, there came
thither, one after another, all the sages of Greece living at the
time, and among them Solon, the Athenian. He was on his travels,
having left Athens to be absent ten years, under the pretence of
wishing to see the world, but really to avoid being forced to repeal
any of the laws which, at the request of the Athenians, he had made
for them. Without his sanction the Athenians could not repeal them, as
they had bound themselves under a heavy curse to be governed for ten
years by the laws which should be imposed on them by Solon.
On this account, as well as to see the world, Solon set out upon
his travels, in the course of which he went to Egypt to the court of
Amasis, and also came on a visit to Croesus at Sardis. Croesus
received him as his guest, and lodged him in the royal palace. On
the third or fourth day after, he bade his servants conduct Solon.
over his treasuries, and show him all their greatness and
magnificence. When he had seen them all, and, so far as time
allowed, inspected them, Croesus addressed this question to him.
"Stranger of Athens, we have heard much of thy wisdom and of thy
travels through many lands, from love of knowledge and a wish to see
the world. I am curious therefore to inquire of thee, whom, of all the
men that thou hast seen, thou deemest the most happy?" This he asked
because he thought himself the happiest of mortals: but Solon answered
him without flattery, according to his true sentiments, "Tellus of
Athens, sire." Full of astonishment at what he heard, Croesus demanded
sharply, "And wherefore dost thou deem Tellus happiest?" To which
the other replied, "First, because his country was flourishing in
his days, and he himself had sons both beautiful and good, and he
lived to see children born to each of them, and these children all
grew up; and further because, after a life spent in what our people
look upon as comfort, his end was surpassingly glorious. In a battle
between the Athenians and their neighbours near Eleusis, he came to
the assistance of his countrymen, routed the foe, and died upon the
field most gallantly. The Athenians gave him a public funeral on the
spot where he fell, and paid him the highest honours."
Thus did Solon admonish Croesus by the example of Tellus,
enumerating the manifold particulars of his happiness. When he had
ended, Croesus inquired a second time, who after Tellus seemed to
him the happiest, expecting that at any rate, he would be given the
second place. "Cleobis and Bito," Solon answered; "they were of Argive
race; their fortune was enough for their wants, and they were
besides endowed with so much bodily strength that they had both gained
prizes at the Games. Also this tale is told of them:- There was a
great festival in honour of the goddess Juno at Argos, to which
their mother must needs be taken in a car. Now the oxen did not come
home from the field in time: so the youths, fearful of being too late,
put the yoke on their own necks, and themselves drew the car in
which their mother rode. Five and forty furlongs did they draw her,
and stopped before the temple. This deed of theirs was witnessed by
the whole assembly of worshippers, and then their life closed in the
best possible way. Herein, too, God showed forth most evidently, how
much better a thing for man death is than life. For the Argive men,
who stood around the car, extolled the vast strength of the youths;
and the Argive women extolled the mother who was blessed with such a
pair of sons; and the mother herself, overjoyed at the deed and at the

Previous | Next
Site Search