Primary Sources: Herodotus, CLIO part 4
According to Herodotus, Gyges’s son and grandson did not lead terribly interesting lives. War, invasion, yadda yadda. But his great-grandson (Croesus’s father) Atyattes was a little better; he performed other deeds very worthy of mention. He inherited a war with a neighboring country on the Black Sea, Miletos, which he waged for eleven years by marching an army into Miletos every harvest-time, looting or burning most of the Milesian grain, and then marching the army back out. This worked great for eleven years, but the twelfth time he tried it, while he was burning a wheat field a wind came up and blew the fire onto a nearby temple of Athena. When the temple burned down (killing all inside), Athena hit Atyattes with a delayed-action death curse.
A few weeks later, sick unto death and pretty frantic about it, Atyattes sent couriers with more gold to the Oracle at Delphi, asking advice, and got back the answer that he needed to rebuild the temple he’d burned. Meanwhile, this Milesian named Periander the son of Kypselos, guest of Thrasybulos the king of Miletos, intercepted this answer at some point in its journey. Periander passed on the message to Thrasybulos, who deduced that Atyattes would likely come to him looking to make peace and rebuild that temple.
So Thrasybulos emptied out his granary and got all the food stores in his capital city together, and threw a gigantic feast just as soon as Atyattes’s envoy arrived. The envoy was shocked, inasmuch as all the Lydians had assumed that the Milesians were starving to death (what with eleven years of burned wheat). He sent word back to Atyattes, who was likewise surprised, and long story short Thrasybulos negotiated some solid concessions in his peace treaty with Lydia. Atyattes built two new temples to Athena, recovered from his illness, and everyone lived happily ever after. As his last act before his death forty-odd years later, Atyattes donated another offering to the Oracle, namely a great mixing-bowl of silver with a stand for it of iron welded together, which sounds kind of lame but Herodotus assures us it was a very special treasure because it was the work of Glaucos the Chian, whom Herodotus asserts invented ironworking.
Side note: Periander had a sidekick named Arion of Methymn, a minstrel who had a crazy adventure. This one time he was on a ship sailing from Taras to Corinth, and the sailors aboard decided to murder him and take his money. That’s not the crazy part. They were going to just slit his throat and throw him overboard, but somehow Arion talked them into letting him put on one last musical revue before he went, right there on the deck of the ship. So there he was, all festooned with costumery and playing his harp, and as he finished his last song he took a running jump off the deck and landed on the back of a dolphin, which his incredible musicality had summoned! The dolphin carried him back home, where everyone thought he was crazy until the sailors showed up with a sob story about how he’d died but before that he’d said that they, the sailors, should get all his money? And then there he was, alive, and the sailors freaked out and corroborated his story. This is the tale told by the Corinthians and Lesbians alike, Herodotus says, and there is at Tainaron a votive offering of Arion of no great size, namely a bronze figure of a man upon a dolphin’s back.
I would never have guessed that back then, mixing bowls were the equivalent of bars of gold-pressed latinum.
You gotta admire the slow-death curse thing. Gives the target time to reconsider his actions. Athena rocks.