Croesus (the traditional transliteration of the Greek Kροισος), who was legendary for his enormous wealth, was king of Lydia from 560 BC until his defeat by the Persians in about 547 BC. He was the son of Alyattes and continued his father's policy of conquering the Ionian cities of Asia Minor, but was friendlier to the Greeks than his father had been, giving refuge at one point to the Athenian statesman Solon.
It was said that Adrastus exiled himself to Lydia after accidentally killing his brother. King Croesus welcomed him but then Adrastus accidentally killed Croesus' son, and then committed suicide.
Before starting his campaign he turned to the Oracle of Delphi to ask about the fate of his campaign, the priestess said: "You shall destroy a powerful empire".
Croesus, now feeling secure, launched his campaign into the Persian Empire. He was intercepted near the river Halys in central Anatolia and an undecided battle was fought. As was usual in those days, the armies would disband for winter and Croesus did accordingly. Unfortunately for him Cyrus didn't and he attacked Croesus in Sardis and captured him. It painfully became clear that the powerful empire Croesus was about to destroy was his own.
According to Herodotus, Croesus was placed upon a great pile by Cyrus's orders, for Cyrus wanted to see if any of the heavenly powers would appear to save him from being burned alive. The pile was set ablaze, then Cyrus hearing from the interpreters that Croesus relented and bethinking himself that he too was a man, and one who once been as blessed by fortune, bade them to quench the blazing fire as quickly as they could. They tried to do this, but the flames were not to be mastered. Croesus called out to Apollo and prayed to him. The sky had been clear and the day without a breath of wind, dark clouds gathered and a storm with rain of such violence that the flames were speedily extinguished. Cyrus, convinced by this that Croesus was a good man made Croesus an advisor who served Cyrus well and later Cyrus's son Cambyses, his son by Cassandane.
- Herodotus' account of Croesus (from the Perseus Project): see 1.6-94; contains links to both English and Greek versions
- An in-depth account of Croesus' life, by Carlos Parada