Adrastos, Atys, and a picked crew of young men with dogs went out boar-hunting. They circled Mount Olympus (which is where the boar was), found the boar, cornered it, and readied to kill. And then, as I’m sure you totally didn’t anticipate, Adrastos accidentally misses the boar with a spear and instead kills Atys! Who could have foreseen, etc, etc. The surviving members of the hunting party very dolefully returned to Sardis and told Croesus what had happened. Croesus went on a long monologue about how much Zeus sucked for letting this happen.
Adrastos was extremely apologetic, offering to exile himself, or stand still while Croesus hammered spikes into him, or whatever Croesus wanted. But Croesus was merciful, and told Adrastos that he knew it had been an accident; Croesus didn’t blame Adrastos.
Then at the funeral Adrastos leaped onto Atys’s coffin and slit his own throat.
A couple of years went by, during which everyone in Sardis was very quiet. Then Cyrus the Persian, son of Cambyses, deposed his own grandfather and one of Croesus’s neighbors, King Astyages son of Kyaxares. The Persians were an ascendant power, looming on Croesus’s eastern border. Should Croesus attack them, and snuff out their power before they became too strong?
To answer this question Croesus consulted a whole set of oracles. The Oracle at Delphi, the Oracle at Abi of the Phokians, the Oracle at Dodona, the Oracle of Amphiaraos and the Oracle of Trophonios. He sent messengers to the Oracle at Branchidai in the land of Miletos and to the Oracle of the shrine of Ammon in Libya. For each Oracle he had a splendid bribe (this is the origin, by the way, of the idiom the riches of Croesus if you happened to have been unaware; dude had so much gold and silver to lavish on oracles!) and a single question.
Croesus had a calendrical scheme whereby he sent all his messengers out to ask their question on the same day, once they were all in place, one hundred days after he conceived this plan. The question: what was Croesus king of Lydia doing right that second while the question was being asked? Herodotus doesn’t know what all the other Oracles said, but he knows that the Oracle at Delphi had this answer:
“But the number of sand I know, and the measure of drops in the ocean; the dumb man I understand, and I hear the speech of the speechless. And there hath come to my soul the smell of a strong-shelled tortoise boiling in a bronze cauldron, and the flesh of a lamb mingled with it. Under the bronze it is laid; it hath bronze as a clothing upon it.”
Which, when Croesus heard it, he was very pleased, on account of that was exactly what he’d been doing: cooking up some tortoise-and-lamb stew in a bronze pot with a bronze lid. So he decided that Delphi was the Oracle for him, and sent them more bribes and another question, this time about whether he should attack the Persians, which was what he wanted to know anyway. Herodotus once again provides an inventory of the oracle-bribe Croesus sent: three thousand of each of all the animals that are fit for sacrifice, whole bedroom sets covered with gold and silver, golden goblets, the ashes of a bonfire fueled wholly by purple silks and linens, two gold bricks weighing about 350 lbs each, and one hundred fifteen gold-silver amalgam bricks (roughly 50% each, by mass) weighing 280 lbs. each. Also a giant golden statue of a lion, and a big gold bowl and a big silver bowl, five silver bottles and one gold bottle, a golden statue of a hot lady and Croesus’s wife’s jewelry. Funny story: that gold bottle is still on display in Delphi in Herodotus’s time. It has From the Lacedemonians inscribed on it, but Herodotus knows for a fact that’s a Lydian bottle and the inscription was added afterwards by a jerk who wanted to get in good with the Lacedemonians. The best punishment Herodotus can come up with for this jackass — who was a real piece of work, he says — is willfully not writing down his name, because while all these other ancient Greeks get to have their names preserved through the ages, Herodotus is making sure this one dude gets forgotten. Screw you, guy!