A History of Greece: From the Time of Solon to 403 B.C

By George Grote; J. M. Mitchell et al. | Go to book overview

5 [XVII, XXXII-XXXIV]

IONIAN GREEKS - RISE OF THE PERSIAN EMPIRE

IN the preceding chapter I have followed the history of Central Greece very nearly down to the point at which the history of the Asiatic Greeks becomes blended with it, and after which the two streams begin to flow to a great degree in the same channel. I now turn to the affairs of the Asiatic Greeks, and of the Asiatic kings as connected with them.

With Gygês, the Mermnad King, commences the series of aggressions from Sardis upon the Asiatic Greeks, which ultimately ended in their subjection. Gygês invaded the territories of Milêtus and Smyrna, and even took the city (probably not the citadel) of Kolophôn. Though he thus, however, made war upon the Asiatic Greeks, he was munificent in his donations to the Grecian god of Delphi. His numerous as well as costly offerings were seen in the temple by Herodotus. Elegiac compositions of the poet Mimnermus celebrated the valour of the Smyrnæans in their battle with Gygês. 1 Gygês also attacked the territory of Magnêsia (probably Magnêsia on Sipylus) and after a considerable struggle took the city. 2

How far the Lydian kingdom of Sardis extended during the reign of Gygês we have no means of ascertaining. Strabo alleges that the whole Troad 3 belonged to him, and that the Greek settlement of Abydus on the Hellespont was established by the Milesians only under his auspices. On what authority this statement is made we are not told, and it appears doubtful, especially as so many legendary anecdotes are connected with the name of Gygês. This prince reigned (according to Herodotus) thirty-eight years, and was succeeded by his son Ardys, who reigned forty-nine years (about 678-629 B.C.). 4 We learn that

1 Herod., i. 14; Pausan., ix, 29, 2.

2 Nikolaus Damasc., p. 52, ed. Orelli.

3 Strabo, xiii., p. 590.

4 The early history of Lydia, as told by Grote, is little more than a record of successive dynasties whose actual achievements remain utterly unknown to us. Though this account, based wholly on Herodotus and other Greek writers whose knowledge of the subject was more mythological than historical, can now be supplemented to a certain extent by the results of recent archæological research, our total sum of information is still exceedingly scanty. Until Lydia, like the neighbouring kingdoms of the Phrygians and Hittites, becomes more

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