LYDIA AND ITS NEIGHBORS

Herodotos, whose topic is the advance of the power of the Persian Empire into the Greek world, begins his consideration of historical events in Asia with the capture of Sardis, capital of Lydia, by the Persians. Up to this point the Greeks had lived under the influence of the Lydian kingdom which dazzled them with its power and wealth. It came as a great shock to them when the power of Lydia was swept away by another incomparably greater power. At that moment Greece was thrown into the much wider horizon of world politics. For this reason the defeat and capture of the last king of Lydia, Kroisos, by the Persians became to the Greeks a symbol of how destiny is determined by historical forces that are beyond the control and power of prediction. This feeling was expressed by the Greeks in a series of anecdotes containing Kroisos' reflections about the uncertainty of the future and the uncertainty of human fortunes; some of these anecdotes were incorporated by Herodotos in his narratives.

Since Lydia concerns Herodotos only in terms of its being conquered by the Persians, he constructs as a single unit the chronology of Lydia before Kroisos and that of Persia before the Persian conquest of Kroisos' capital. Herodotos had few data about the genealogy of Kroisos; but it was within Greek memory to know that the Kingdom of Lydia had been established by King Gyges who had overthrown the Phrygian King Kandaules.

Gyges is the first historical figure of the Greek world about whom we are provided with some wealth of information, because his accession to the throne of Lydia affected the life of the Greeks in many important ways.1 The establishment of the Lydian kingdom was related to the rebirth of Egypt as an independent power under the rule of the Saite monarchy (Twenty-sixth Dynasty). It came amid great changes in Asia Minor, caused by the invasion of the marauding Kimmerians and by the extension of the military advance of Assyria to Western Asia Minor.

The Kimmerian invasions began at the end of the eighth century B.C. The Kimmerians were nomadic tribes of Thrakian origin who, thanks to their skill as horsemen, were able for more than half a century to terrorize with their raids the Greek cities of Asia and the neighboring kingdoms. One of the immediate consequences of these raids was to prove the inferiority of the technique of fighting from chariots that was used by Greek aristocrats. The decline of importance of chariot warfare is one of a series of changes in military tactics that took place in the seventh century B.C. These changes finally culminated in the development of fighting with hoplite armor in phalanx formation. It was possibly the phalanx of hoplites that put an end to the Kimmerian power in the second half of the century. The development of phalanx fighting caused the decline of the political power of the aristocrats and the emergence of a new class, the oligarchs, some of whom became tyrants. This military and political revolution had economic aspects of which an essential part was the invention of coined money.

More indirectly the life of western Asia Minor was affected by the establishment of military and political contacts with the then expanding Assyrian Empire. In the year 720 B.C., a Midas, king of Phrygia, tried to cause in eastern Asia Minor a defection among the subjects of king Sargon of Assyria. An allegedly successful campaign by Sargon in 709 B.C. forced Midas to cease interfering in the area of Assyrian domination. At this point peace was made between Assyria and Phrygia because both powers were threatened by the Kimmerians. Around 706 B.C. the Kimmerians ceased to disturb Assyria and turned against Phrygia: when the Kimmerians are mentioned again as attacking Assyria in 679 B.C., they were settled in the eastern part of the kingdom of Phrygia. This information from by the Assyrian royal records upholds the reliability of the chronological data provided by Eusebios2 according to which Midas of Phrygia ascended the throne in 742 B.C. and committed suicide in 696 B.C. after having been defeated by the Kimmerians. Heinrich Gelzer denied the reliability of these two dates because Africanus (in Excerpta Latina Barbari) who draws from the same chronological tradition as Eusebios, puts Midas' death in B.C. But as Olmstead has suggested, the Midas mentioned by Africanus is a different one, to wit, a grandson of the first Midas, since the names of Gordias and Midas alternate in the Phrygian royal family.

These dates relating to the two Midases derive from the same Greek chronographers from whom the dates of Gyges' reign are derived. Gelzer has proved to the satisfaction of scholars that Gyges' dates are reliable because they agree with the information provided by the Assyrian royal records mentioning Gyges. One accepts as a certain fact that Gyges became king in 687 B.C. and died in fighting the Kimmerians in 652 B.C. But by the same token one should accept as reliable the information that a Midas ascended the throne in 742 B.C. and died in 696 B.C. after a defeat by the Kimmerians. Hence the first acceptable dates in the fields of Greek history are not those of Gyges' reign but those of Midas' reign, more than half a century earlier. That the earliest available dates should concern the years of reign of Oriental monarchs is a conclusion that is not unexpected on principle.

The Kimmerian raids were either the cause or the symptom of the decline of the Kingdom of Phrygia which up to the time of Gyges' usurpation had been the dominating influence in western Asia Minor. This kingdom encompassed the area to the east of the Greek cities of the Aiolic group, whereas the area further south, to the east of the Greek cities of the Ionian group, constituted the kingdom of Maionia. Apparently Maionia was in some sort of dependency in relation to Phrygia.

More indirectly the life of western Asia Minor was affected by the establishment of military and political contacts with the then expanding Assyrian Empire. In the year 720 B.C., a Midas, king of Phrygia, tried to cause in eastern Asia Minor a defection among the subjects of king Sargon of Assyria. An allegedly successful campaign by Sargon in 709 B.C. forced Midas to cease interfering in the area of Assyrian domination. At this point peace was made between Assyria and Phrygia because both powers were threatened by the Kimmerians. Around 706 B.C. the Kimmerians ceased to disturb Assyria and turned against Phrygia: when the Kimmerians are mentioned again as attacking Assyria in 679 B.C., they were settled in the eastern part of the kingdom of Phrygia. This information from by the Assyrian royal records upholds the reliability of the chronological data provided by Eusebios3 according to which Midas of Phrygia ascended the throne in 742 B.C. and committed suicide in 696 B.C. after having been defeated by the Kimmerians. Heinrich Gelzer denied the reliability of these two dates because Africanus (in .us Excerpta Latina Barbari) who draws from the same chronological tradition as Eusebios, puts Midas' death in B.C. But as Olmstead has suggested, the Midas mentioned by Africanus is a different one, to wit, a grandson of the first Midas, since the names of Gordias and Midas alternate in the Phrygian royal family.

These dates relating to the two Midases derive from the same Greek chronographers from whom the dates of Gyges' reign are derived. Gelzer has proved to the satisfaction of scholars that Gyges' dates are reliable because they agree with the information provided by the Assyrian royal records mentioning Gyges. One accepts as a certain fact that Gyges became king in 687 B.C. and died in fighting the Kimmerians in 652 B.C. But by the same token one should accept as reliable the information that a Midas ascended the throne in 742 B.C. and died in 696 B.C. after a defeat by the Kimmerians. Hence the first acceptable dates in the fields of Greek history are not those of Gyges' reign but those of Midas' reign, more than half a century earlier. That the earliest available dates should concern the years of reign of Oriental monarchs is a conclusion that is not unexpected on principle.

Maionia and Phrygia are considered by historians to have been loose organizations of feudal type; for this reason they may not have been a serious threat to the freedom of the Greek cities. The most relevant datum concerning the relations of these monarchies with the Greeks is that the Dynasty of Phrygia intermarried with the Greek rulers of Kyme, while the dynasty of Maionia intermarried with the Greek leading family of Kolophon. Apparently these arrangements had the purpose of providing each monarchy with a sort of Greek agency and outlet on the sea; in turn they were also potent instruments for the spread of Hellenic culture to the hinterland.

To the south of Maionia there extended the territory of the Karians about whom the most certain information is that they were known for their activities as mercenary soldiers. Ephoros reports that the Karians exercised the "thalassocracy" from 706 to 646 B.C.4 Diodoros' dates are 732-671 B.C. Latev I shall point to facts from which one may conclude that Miletos was a Karian city at the beginning of the seventh century and became a Greek city after this period. Conceivably the loss of Miletos may have marked the decline of the importance of the Karians. It is about this time that the Greek cities began to develop as naval powers. One may wonder whether it was at this time that the Karians, being cut out from the profits of sea trade and being restricted to a poor mountainous area, for the first time resorted to the profession of mercenary soldier. It is a fact that soon we find the Greeks, too, practicing the same profession for the king of Lydia and for the king of Egypt.

The rebirth of an independent Egypt in 663 B.C. marked the beginning of the decline of the Assyrian Empire. It was Gyges who initiated the king of Egypt into the secret of the power that could be obtained by the hiring of a body of Greek hoplites. But Assurbanipal felt that Gyges had found his nemesis, since before 652 B.C. the latter was compelled to make overtures to Assyria and ask for forgiveness in order to obtain aid against the Kimmerians. In 652 B.C. Gyges died fighting the Kimmerians, but the Dynasty of the Mermnadai survived and he was succeeded by his son Ardys (652 to ca. 615 B.C.).

The overthrow of the Herakleid dynasty of Maionia by the Mermnadai changed the character of the state: whereas Maionia seems to have been a feudal state, the new kingdom of Lydia was a centralized power based on the king's own mercenary army. Lydia pursued an aggressive policy towards the Greek cities and towards Phrygia; by the end of the seventh century Phrygia was totally absorbed by Lydia. The cities of the Ionian coast had mostly to choose between open conflict with Lydia and subjection. A peculiar position was granted to Ephesos since Gyges and all his successors intermarried with the Greek lords of the city; this was an arrangement similar to that which had existed between the kings of Phrygia and Maionia and the cities of Kyme and Kolophon, respectively. Because of this relation Ephesos became the chief agency and outlet of Lydia on the seacoast.

Among the three main cities of Ionia, Ephesos was the one that had the longest and closest relations of friendship with Lydia. The Lydian dynasty of the Mermnads was established by Gyges thanks to the help of Melas the Elder, lord of Ephesos; Melas married Gyges' daughter and for more than a century, down to the reign of Kroisos, the Greek lords of Ephesos intermarried with the Lydian royal family. Ephesos became a half-Lydian city. Radet and Picard maintain that the Mermnad kings caused Ephesos to supplant Kyme as the terminal of the Royal Road from Sardis to the coast. There are many reasons for believing that Ephesos was the center of Lydian economic activities on the coast. As to the Ephesian sanctuary of Artemision, Picard considers it a native Lydian cult which the Ionian settlers were able to Hellenize only with difficulty and slowly over a period of centuries. In Aristophanes .us (Clouds 599) Artemis is addressed as "you who have the all-golden house in Ephesos where the Lydian maidens greatly worship you," and the playwright Autokrates (fr. 1 Keil) speaks of the "maiden daughters of the Lydians letting their hair fly loose and clapping their hands before the Ephesian Artemis."

The political relations between Ephesos and the Mermnads became unfriendly in the reign of Sadyattes (615-610 B.C.) and possibly continued to be so during the first years of the rule of his son Alyattes. Nikolaos of Damaskos (fr. ) reports that Sadyattes had an uncontrollable temper and chased from Ephesos his brother-in-law Miletos, lord of the city. The same Nikolaos (fr. ) and Xenophilos (fr. ) relate that in the first years of his reign Alyattes was as violent and unbridled as his father, but later became a wise and just king. This seems to indicate that the king put an end to the conflict after a few years of reign. It is certain that peace was restored when Melas the Younger, son of Miletos, married a daughter of Alyattes.5

Kolophon, on the contrary, tended to have tense relations with the Mermnad kings. Picard ascribes this hostility to the bonds of loyalty that the city had with the Herakleid dynasty that the Mermnads had supplanted; the basis of this contention is that the Thespiods, interpreters of the oracle of Klarion, claimed descent from the Herakleid kings. Herodotos (I. 14) reports that Gyges tried to conquer the city but succeeded only in seizing its lower part, not the acropolis. Polyainos (VII 2,2) tells the following story:

The Kolophonians had a great cavalry strength and Alyattes, in order to deprive them of their horses, who had a great cavalry stength, entered into alliance with them. In distributing the booty of military expeditions he was ever giving the greater part to the horsemen. Finally, as he was in Sardis, he arranged a magnificent market for them and prepared a double pay. The horsemen, whose camp was outside the city, delivered their horses to the grooms and went inside the walls looking forward to the double pay. Alyattes shut the gates and, having surrounded the horsemen with his own hoplites, cut them all to pieces. Then he gave their horses to his hoplites.

This event may have marked the enslavement of Kolophon to Lydia about which Xenophanes complains. The origin of the rich life of the Kolophonians, which according to Xenophanes the Lydians taught them before making them subjects, may have been the mercenary service for the Lydian kings mentioned in Polyainos' anecdote. This supposition is supported by the statement of Phylarchos (fr. 66 Jacoby) that the luxury of the Kolophonians began with their alliance with Lydia, and by the statement of Aristotle .us (Pol. IV 1290 B) that the majority of the private citizens of Kolophon was rich up to the time of the conflict with Lydia.

According to Herodotos (I 14-22), Gyges tried unsuccessfully to conquer Miletos, and the war was started again by Sadyattes and continued by his son Alyattes who, despairing of ever being able to reduce the city, made a treaty of alliance with it. This attack on Miletos followed by an alliance may be explained as part of a general policy of aggression against the Ionian cities initiated by Sadyattes and continued by Alyattes, but reversed when the Median danger began to loom at the Eastern border of Lydia in the first years of the sixth century B.C. Alyattes' seizure of Kolophon, the destruction of Smyrna, and an unsuccessful attack on Klazomenai may be dated, together with the quarrel with Ephesos, in the first decade of his reign.

A radical change in the relations between Lydia and the Ionian cities took place at the death of Alyattes. A Greek party at the Lydian court opposed the succession of Kroisos and supported the pretender Pantaleon, a younger son of Alyattes by an Ionian woman. But Kroisos prevailed and turned his wrath against the Ionians. The Ephesians had to surrender after a siege: they were granted local self-government but had to abandon the elevated part of their city and settle around the Artemision (Strabo XIV I, 21). It seems that the entire area of the city was declared sacred and attached to the temple (Polyainos VI 50). After subduing Ephesos, Kroisos turned against Miletos which surrendered without a fight; Miletos was probably granted better conditions (cf. Her. I 141) but became a tributary city under pretence of an alliance (Diog. Laer. I 25). The other cities of Ionia in general were hostile to the Mermnads and looked at them as usurpers of the throne and oppressors of their liberty. By and large one can state that the power of Lydia continued to increase up to the time in which Kroisos was defeated by Kyros and Lydia became a Persian satrapy (546 B.C.).

References

1. It has rightly been called the "Lydian Revolution" by Georges Radet, in his La Lydie et le monde grec au temps des Mermnades (687-546) (Paris, 1893), Ch. III.

2. The information is contained in a lost chronicle of Hieronymus, upon which Eusebius drew.

3. Eusebius Werke, ed. R. Helm (Leipzig, 1913) vol. VII, pp. 89, 92. The information is contained in a lost chronicle of Hieronymus, upon which Eusebius drew.

4. Molly Miller, The Thalassocracies: |Studies in Chronography II (Albany, 1971).

5. Ael., Var. Hist., III.26.