|© 1998 Bernard SUZANNE||Last updated December 12, 1998|
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This page is part of the "tools" section of a site, Plato and his dialogues, dedicated to developing a new interpretation of Plato's dialogues. The "tools" section provides historical and geographical context (chronology, maps, entries on characters and locations) for Socrates, Plato and their time. By clicking on the minimap at the beginning of the entry, you can go to a full size map in which the city or location appears. For more information on the structure of entries and links available from them, read the notice at the beginning of the index of persons and locations.
Region of central Asia Minor (area 7).
Lydia, with Sardis, his capital, was once the kingdom of king Croesus before being subjected by the Persians of Cyrus the Great toward 546 B. C. (the story of Croesus occupies most of book I of Herodotus' Histories (I, 6-94)).
According to Herodotus (Histories, I, 7), Lydia owed its name to its legendary king Lydus, son of Atys, son of Manes, son of Zeus and Gæa. Lydos had a brother, Tyrrhenus, who fled to Italy after the fall of Troy and became the ancestor of the Tyrrhenians (the Greek name for the Etruscans), who gave their name to that part of the Mediterranean sea between Italy, Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica. The lineage of Lydus stayed on the throne of Lydia until it was taken over by Heraclidæ, descending from a son of Heracles and Omphale, the daughter of Iardanus, king of Lydia, conceived while Heracles was in slavery at the service of Omphale. In fact, these so-called Heraclidæ had more to do with a Phoenician God that the Greeks identified to their own Heracles than with the Greek Heracles, and counted among their ancestors the legendary founders of Babylon (Belus in Herodotus' genealogy) and Nineveh (Ninus for Herodotus), the capital of the Assyrian Empire. The last of the Heraclidæ to reign over Lydia was Candaules, who was unseated in 687 B. C. by Gyges, the founder of the dynasty of the Mermnadæ, whose last member was Croesus.
The coast of Lydia had been settled, even before Croesus' time, by Ionians and several member cities of the Ionian confederacy (Ephesus, Colophon, Lebedus, Teos, Clazomenæ and Phocæa) were on Lydian territory.