Wednesday, May 4, 2011

History of Noble Metals. Part One: The Legend of Croesus.


Maybe you have heard of a saying “as rich as Caesar”?! The original saying actually is “as rich as Croesus”, - it has been ever since ancient times.
Often nowadays people use Caesar’s name instead of Croesus, possibly because it is much harder to pronounce, and it is less recognizable.
King Croesus was the last king of Lydia (560 – 546 B.C.E).
Greatly due to his conquests and trade practices, Croesus was revered by many of his contemporaries as the wealthiest man on earth. Historically, the legend of the immenseness of his wealth is shadowed only by his merit in issuing the first standard purity gold coin - used in general circulation. The coin itself was a crude mix, so called electrum, which is a naturally occurring pallid yellow alloy of silver and gold. It has been also produced artificially during history. Lydian’s and other ancient people referred to it as “white gold”, as opposed to “refined gold”. In 546 B.C.E Croesus was defeated and captured by Persians, who then adopted gold as the predominant metal in their coins.

Croesus gold coin

Although Croesus had subjugated the Ionian city-states, he was friendly to the Greeks, making salient and grand offerings to their oracles.
Herodotus, (ancient Hellenic historian), is in large responsible for the legendary stories involving this Lydian king. According to one, the Athenian Solon once advised Croesus that no man could be deemed happy, despite his riches, until he finished his life happily. Later, after Croesus had already been defeated by Persian ruler Cyrus the II, and sentenced to be burned alive, he allegedly cried out Solon’s name three times from the burning pyre. Cyrus, moved by king’s explanation, sympathetically spared his captive’s life, just to become his friend and ally later on. The myth, however, is chronologically impossible, and it is only one of the legends relating to this very real Midas.

Croesus on Pyre

36 comments:

  1. I love things like this, really informative so thanks! :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. great info, I didn´t knew it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Very interesting, I didn't know Midas had a historical figure behind his story...

    ReplyDelete
  4. That was very interesting, great info.

    ReplyDelete
  5. very interesting, didn't know that! thanks for the post.

    ReplyDelete
  6. thanks for the history lesson!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I didnt know this, thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Pretty epic. I want some electrum.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Really informative and fun reading. Thanks for sharing this.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Awesome read, thanks for sharing this! =D

    ReplyDelete
  11. sweet... i'd like to be that rich

    ReplyDelete
  12. Nice read man, very informative thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I was getting so into it and then you mentioned the chronologically impossible thing. Kinda took the wind out of my sales. :P

    ReplyDelete
  14. That was a great read, I had never heard of Croesus before.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Holy crap, this is good to know. More facts that I know now. Thanks for the post! :D

    ReplyDelete
  16. I learn something new every day!

    ReplyDelete
  17. wow, this history is too old and very very like me, is interesting how the old civilizations can make great things

    ReplyDelete
  18. awesome! definitely learn something new every day

    ReplyDelete
  19. I actually learned something :D

    ReplyDelete
  20. Croesus? Interesting reading

    ReplyDelete
  21. Why is paper money used more than coins? Coins are a lot cooler and SHOULD have more value. I mean, cmon, paper money is PAPER for god sakes!

    ReplyDelete
  22. And something new I learned, thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Croesus was dipped, dat ni**a be goonin

    ReplyDelete
  24. Nice article! Now I'll know where the first godl coin came from - Croesus.

    ReplyDelete
  25. You know that all gold mined in whole history gathered in one place would fit in 20 metres cube

    ReplyDelete