List of kings of Lydia
This page lists the known kings of Lydia, both legendary and historical. Lydia was an ancient kingdom in western Anatolia during the first millennium BC. It may have originated as a country in the second millennium BC and was possibly called Maeonia at one time, given that Herodotus says the people were called Maeonians before they became known as Lydians. Herodotus and other sources refer to three dynasties: the Maeoniae, Heracleidae (Heraclids) and Mermnadae. The first two are legendary, though later members of the Heraclid dynasty are at least semi-legendary. The Mermnadae are historical.
The earliest Maeonian or Lydian king mentioned by Herodotus is Manes who was the father of Atys. There was a severe famine during the reign of Atys and half of the citizens, led by Atys' son Tyrrhenus, emigrated to Italy as the Tyrrhenians. Other sources, such as Strabo, name Tmolus and his son Tantalus as kings of the region about the same time, supposedly ruling from the land about Mount Sipylus, but it is asserted that these two were the same people as Manes and Atys, especially as Omphale is a member of both families.
The known legendary kings are:
Herodotus says that Lydus gave his name to the country and its people. The line of Lydus continued through an unstated number of generations until they, as Herodotus says, "turned over the management of affairs to the Heraclids". He adds that the Heraclids in Lydia were the descendants of Heracles and a slave-girl belonging to Iardanus; the line was from Heracles through Alcaeus, Belus and Ninus to Agron who was the first Heraclid king of Lydia.
Herodotus says the Heraclids ruled Lydia for 505 years through 22 generations with son succeeding father all down the line from Agron to Candaules. While Candaules was the last of the Heraclids to reign at Sardis, Herodotus says Agron was the first and thereby implies that Sardis was already the capital of Lydia in Maeonian times. Candaules died c.687 BC and so the 505-year span stated by Herodotus suggests c.1192 BC for Agron's accession.
The known Heraclid kings are:
- Agron (fl. c.1192 BC; legendary great-great-grandson of Heracles and a Lydian slave-girl via Alcaeus, Belus and Ninus)
- 19 legendary kings, names unknown, all succeeding father to son
- Meles, aka Myrsus (8th century BC; semi-legendary father of Candaules)
- Candaules, aka Myrsilus (died c.687 BC; probably historical; son of Meles; murdered by Gyges)
Although this dynasty is historical, the dates for it have never been determined with certainty. The traditional dates are derived from Herodotus, who gives some reign-lengths, but these have been questioned by modern scholars on the basis of synchronisms with Assyrian history. The name of the dynasty (Gk. Μερμνάδες) may be attested in Lydian transmission as mλimna-. Etymologically, it possibly contains the Carian word mno- 'son' or 'descendant', which would then represent an argument for the Carian origin of the Mermnad clan.
There were five kings, all historical figures, in the Mermnad line:
- Gyges, aka Guges (c.687–c.652 BC; husband of Candaules' widow)
- Ardys, aka Ardysus (c.652–c.603 BC; son of Gyges)
- Sadyattes (c.603–c.591 BC; son of Ardys)
- Alyattes (c.591–560 BC; son of Sadyattes)
- Croesus, aka Kroisos (560–546 BC; son of Alyattes)
Gyges died in battle c.652, fighting against the Cimmerians, and was succeeded by Ardys. The most successful king was Alyattes, under whom Lydia reached its peak of power and prosperity. Croesus was defeated by Cyrus the Great at the battles of Pteria and Thymbra. Cyrus annexed Lydia after the Siege of Sardis which ended in early 546 BC, but the fate of Croesus himself is uncertain.
- Herodotus & de Sélincourt 1954, p. 80
- Greek Mythology Link: Tantalus Archived 2007-01-06 at the Wayback Machine.
- "Theoi Project Guide to Greek Mythology: Plouto". Theoi.com. 2017. Retrieved 30 June 2018.
- Herodotus & de Sélincourt 1954, pp. 43, 80
- Herodotus & de Sélincourt 1954, p. 43
- Herodotus & de Sélincourt 1954, pp. 43–44
- Bury & Meiggs 1975, p. 82
- Herodotus & de Sélincourt 1954, pp. 43–46
- Compendium of World History: Homer and the Lydian Kings
- Encyclopaedia of the Orient: Lydia
- Livius Articles on Ancient History: Mermnad dynasty
- Ilya Yakubovich. “An agreement Between the Sardians and the Mermnads in the Lydian Language?” Indogermanische Forschungen 122 (2017), pp. 165–193.
- Ivo Hajnal apud Yakubovich, op. cit. p. 289.
- Bury & Meiggs 1975, pp. 82–83
- Herodotus & de Sélincourt 1954, p. 45
- Herodotus & de Sélincourt 1954, p. 46
- Herodotus & de Sélincourt 1954, p. 46–47
- Herodotus & de Sélincourt 1954, p. 43–48
- Herodotus & de Sélincourt 1954, p. 43–79
- Greek Mythology Link: Croesus
- Bury & Meiggs 1975, p. 144