Tuesday, 22 March 2011

The Second Dilemma

From Croesus to Mago I

Croesus ( 595 BC – c. 547? BC) was the king of Lydia from 560 to 547 BC until his defeat by the Persians. The fall of Croesus made a profound impact on the Hellenes, providing a fixed point in their calendar. "By the fifth century at least," J.A.S. Evans remarked, "Croesus had become a figure of myth, who stood outside the conventional restraints of chronology." Croesus was renowned for his wealth—Herodotus and Pausanias noted his gifts preserved at Delphi.

In Greek and Persian cultures the name of Croesus became a synonym for a wealthy man. Croesus' wealth remained proverbial beyond classical antiquity: in English, expressions such as "rich as Croesus" or "richer than Croesus" are used to indicate great wealth to this day.

Croesus is credited with the issuing the first true gold coins with a standardised purity for general circulation.But they were quite crude, and were made of electrum, a naturally occurring pale yellow alloy of gold and silver. The composition of these first coins was similar to alluvial deposits found in the silt of the Pactolus river, which ran through the Lydian capital, Sardis. King Croesus' gold coins follow the first silver coins that had been minted by King Pheidon of Argos around 700 BC. In 546 BC, Croesus was defeated and captured by the Persians, who then adopted gold as the main metal for their coins.

Croesus' uneasy relations with the Greeks obscures the larger fact that he was the last bastion of the Ionian cities against the increasing Persian power in Anatolia. He began preparing a campaign against Cyrus the Great of Persia. Before setting out he turned to the Delphic oracle and the oracle of Amphiaraus to inquire whether he should pursue this campaign and whether he should also seek an alliance. The oracles answered, with typical ambiguity, that if Croesus attacked the Persians, he would destroy a great empire – this would become one of the most famous oracular statements from Delphi.

Croesus was also advised to find out which Greek state was most powerful and to ally himself with it.Croesus, now feeling secure, formed an alliance with Sparta in addition to those he had with Amasis II of Egypt and Nabonidus of Babylonia, and launched his campaign against the Persian Empire in 547 BC. He was intercepted near the Halys River in central Anatolia and an inconclusive battle was fought. As was usual in those days, the armies would disband for winter and Croesus did accordingly. Cyrus did not, however, and he attacked Croesus in Sardis, capturing him. It became clear that the powerful empire Croesus was about to destroy was his own.
In Bacchylides' ode, composed for Hiero of Syracuse, who won the chariot race at Olympia in 468, Croesus with his wife and family mounted the funeral pyre, but before the flames could envelop the king, he was snatched up by Apollo and spirited away to the Hyperboreans. Herodotus' version includes Apollo in more "realistic" mode: Cyrus, repenting of the immolation of Croesus, could not put out the flames until Apollo intervened.

Apollo's intervention

Herodotus tells us that in the Lydian account, Croesus was placed upon a great pyre by Cyrus' orders, for Cyrus wanted to see if any of the heavenly powers would appear to save him from being burned alive. The pile was set ablaze, and as Cyrus watched he saw Croesus call out "Solon" three times. He asked the interpreters to find out why he said this word with such resignation and agony. The interpreters returned the answer that Solon had warned Croesus of the fickleness of good fortune. This touched Cyrus, who realized that he and Croesus were much the same man, and he bade the servants to quench the blazing fire as quickly as they could. They tried to do this, but the flames were not to be mastered. According to the story, Croesus called out to Apollo and prayed to him. The sky had been clear and the day without a breath of wind, but soon dark clouds gathered and a storm with rain of such violence that the flames were speedily extinguished. Cyrus, convinced by this that Croesus was a good man, made Croesus an advisor who served Cyrus 'well' and later Cyrus's son by Cassandane, Cambyses. Recently, Stephanie West has argued that the historical Croesus did in fact die on the pyre, and that the stories of him as a 'wise adviser' to the courts of Cyrus and Cambyses are purely legendary, showing similarities to the sayings of Ahiqar.

It is not known when exactly Croesus died, although it is traditionally dated 547 BC, after Cyrus' conquest. In the Nabonidus Chronicle it is said that Cyrus "marched against the country -- , killed its king, took his possessions, put there a garrison of his own." Unfortunately, all that remains of the name of the country are traces of the first cuneiform sign. It has long been assumed that this sign should have been LU, so that the country referred to would be Lydia, with Croesus as the king that was killed. However, J. Cargill has shown that this restoration was based upon wishful thinking rather than actual traces of the sign LU. Instead, J. Oelsner and R. Rollinger have both read the sign as Ú, which might imply a reference to Urartu. With Herodotus' account also being unreliable chronologically in this case, as J.A.S. Evans has demonstrated, this means that we have no way of dating the fall of Sardis; theoretically, it may even have taken place after the fall of Babylon. Evans also asks what happened after the episode at the pyre and suggests that "neither the Greeks nor the Babylonians knew what really happened to Croesus".

The Delphian god had received much gold and silver, and his priests had to explain why the pious worshipper had been punished.


Croesus became a synonym of a wealthy man,"rich as Croesus" 
The episode at the pyre  
Neither the Greeks nor the Babylonians knew what really happened to Croesus.
The pious worshiper. 

Mago I of Carthage (occasionally referred to as Magon) was the king of the Ancient Carthage from 550 BCE to 530 BCE and the founding monarch of the Magonid dynasty of Carthage. Mago I was originally a general. Under Mago, Carthage became preeminent among the Phoenician colonies in the western Mediterranean.

Under Mago, Carthage established itself as the dominant Phoenician military power in the western Mediterranean. It remained economically dependent on Tyre, the capital of Phoenicia, but acted increasingly independent. One of Mago's political achievements was an alliance with the Etruscans against the Ancient Greece. This alliance lasted until around the time when Rome expelled the Etruscan kings. He was also active in Sicily, and married a Syracusan wife.(a)

 With the arrival of Mago Carthaginian foreign policy appears to have changed dramatically. If previously Carthage had tentatively colonized the island of Ibiza on its own, it now took the lead, establishing itself firmly as the dominant Phoenician military power in the western Mediterranean. Although it still remained an economic dependent of Tyre, it now acted increasingly independently. 

If Mago was a ruler of Carthage, it is perhaps wrong to imagine him as a king. Far more Carthage had a Council of Elders and a People's Assembly. Though Mago appears to have dominated Carthaginian politics as 'tyrant'. The way though by which 'tyrants' were chosen remains obscure. It appears that there was some religious connection, as the Magonid dynasty was a lineage of warlike elected high priests. But it does seem as though they were elected for a limited amount of time and thereafter need to seek re-election. 

One of Mago's political achievements was a alliance with the Etruscans against the Greeks. This alliance should last until around the time when Rome expelled the Etruscan kings, for Rome itself now made a treaty with Carthage. Mago was succeeded by his son Hasdrubal, who was elected 'tyrant' eleven times.(b)

The reign of "Kings" in Carthage

Carthage was initially ruled by "kings", who were elected by the Carthaginian "senate" and served for a specific time period. The election took place in Carthage, and the kings at first were war leaders, civic administrators and performed certain religious duties. According to Aristotle, kings were elected on merit, not by the people but by the senate, and the post was not hereditary. However, the crown and military commands could also be purchased by the highest bidder. Initially these kings may have enjoyed near absolute power, which was curtailed as Carthage moved towards a more democratic government. Gradually, military command fell to professional officers, and a pair of suffets replaced the king in some of the civic functions and eventually kings were no longer elected. Records show that two families had held the kingship with distinction during 550-310 BC. The Magonid family produced several members who were elected kings between 550 BC and 370 BC, who were in the forefront of the overseas expansion of Carthage. Hanno "Magnus", along with his son and grandson, held the kingship for some years between 367 and 310 BC. Records of other elected kings or their impact on Carthaginian history are not available. The suffets, who would ultimately displace the kings, were elected by the people. Suffets would ultimately discard their military duties and become purely civic officials.(c)


One of Mago's political achievements was an alliance with the Etruscans against the Ancient Greece.
The crown and military commands could also be purchased by the highest bidder.
The Magonid dynasty was a lineage of warlike elected high priests



The pious and the wealthy King Croesus lost his kingdom in Lydia to Cyrus the Great of Persia but he didn't loose his wealth (Treasures) and his rank of king.
Croesus managed to find himself the name of Mago I king of Carthage by bidding on the kingship with his treasures.

Understanding from the first Dilemma and the second Dilemma

When Troy was sacked by the Greeks, Aeneas, after being commanded by the gods to flee, he went to Carthage, then to Sicily and become the father of  the Etruscans.
When the Persian king Cyrus the Great captured Lydia Croesus left to Carthage and became it's  king by buying the monarch 
under the name of Mago I. So the alliance of Mago I with the Etruscans against the Greek was a political decision based on origins.

It is highly possible that Nero was hunting not only for Dido's treasure but Mago's I treasure as well, he was sure that the existence of a treasure in a cave in North Africa, he known that the information of the treasure went through priests as Aeneas had some of the prophecy, Croesus was a pious king and Caesellius Bassus was a priest. 

Saturday, 19 March 2011

The First Dilemma

Nero hunting  Dido's (Queen Elissa) treasure

In 65 AD, a Carthaginian man named Caesellius Bassus sailed to Rome, purchased a private audience with the Emperor Nero, and claimed that he had discovered, on his own property in northern Africa, a vast cave containing a massive amount of gold (magna vis auri, Tacitus, Annales 16.1). The cache wasn’t limited merely to gold coins, either. It was a veritable thesaurus of ancient, unwrought bullion, with heavy bars of solid gold both lying on the ground and stacked up in columns. The gold had been hidden there, Bassus explained, by someone who didn’t want the colonists of the new Carthaginian settlement to be distracted by an unhealthy preoccupation with luxury, and someone who didn’t want the hostile Numidian kings, motivated by a desire of the gold (cupidine auri, 16.1), to invade her burgeoning city. It had been hidden there, in other words, by Dido herself.

Of course, by the first century AD, the legend of Dido’s treasure had been circulating around the Mediterranean for close to a thousand years, and many Romans would have been familiar with the version of the story told in Vergil’s Aeneid. An earlier version of the myth, however, comes from Pompeius Trogus, a contemporary of Vergil who was probably following in the tradition of the Greek author Timaeus, and whose works were later documented by Justin. In this account, the Phoenician Dido (Elissa) is married to her uncle Acerbas, a wealthy priest who hides his substantial treasure (magnae opes, 18.4.6) in the earth to keep it concealed from Dido’s brother Pygmalion, the greedy king of Tyre. A rumor of this treasure quickly spreads throughout the city, and Pygmalion, inflamed with avarice, murders Acerbas without any proper regard for piety (sine respectu pietatis occidit, 18.4.8). Dido hates her brother for this terrible crime, but she conceals her feelings, telling Pygmalion that she plans to move back to the family residence so that she can get over the memory of Acerbas. Pygmalion expects Dido to bring the gold with her (existimans cum ea et aurum Acherbae ad se venturum, 18.4.11), but she has a more subversive plan in mind. She pretends to throw the precious treasure into the sea – the bags were actually filled with sand rather than money (onera harenae pro pecunia, 18.4.12) – and then sails away with members of the Tyrian aristocracy, first to Cyprus and then eventually on to the shores of Carthage.(a)

In addition, attempting to recover Dido’s treasure was a means of legitimizing and reinforcing Nero’s family connections to Aeneas, Venus, and Jupiter, a legendary mythology so important to the Julio-Claudian tradition. Furthermore, it is important to remember that gold was a quintessential symbol of Nero himself. This was, after all, an emperor who worked tirelessly to associate himself with the golden sun god Apollo – the apotheosis scene in Lucan’s Pharsalia (1.48), for example, specifically describes Nero climbing aboard Apollo’s chariot – and who built himself an opulent palace called the Domus Aurea. In short, Nero was attempting to recreate an Augustan Golden Age during his reign, and so whether or not he actually believed that he was going to find buried treasure in Carthage, the quest for Dido’s gold was a symbolic celebration of his public persona, and he had every political incentive to pursue it.(b)

The thesaurus of Phoenician gold appears again in Ovid’s Heroides. For most of the story, Ovid follows the Vergilian tradition, with the greedy Pygmalion murdering Sychaeus at a sacred altar in Phoenicia (coniunx mactatus ad aras, 7.113), driving his sister Dido into exile (exul agor, 7.115), and looming as a constant physical threat to her safety (est etiam frater, cuius manus impia poscit / respergi nostro sparsa cruore viri, 7.127-128). Unlike Dido in the Aeneid, however, Dido in the Heroides, desperate to persuade Aeneas to stay in Carthage, proposes that he accept the treasure of Sychaeus ( Acerbas) as part of a very lucrative dowry (in dotem . . . accipe . . . opes, 7.149-150). The prospect of becoming one of the wealthiest men in the Mediterranean world overnight may have been very tempting for Aeneas, especially since he had observed the Greek army plundering the treasures of his native land as he escaped from the city (Aeneid 2.761-766). But because Helenus had filled his ships with gold, silver, and ivory (Aeneid 3.463-471) before he arrived in Carthage, the incentive to accept such an offer wouldn’t have been nearly as strong. (c)

Jarbas , a king and priest of the Gaetulians, in Northern Africa, and a son of Jupiter (Zeus) Ammon by a Libyan nymph. He built many magnificent temples to his father, and desired to marry Dido on her arrival in Africa. He was so pressing in demanding the hand of Dido, that the queen, who would not marry him, according to some traditions, saw no other way of escape except by self destruction. (Virg. Aen. iv. 196, &c.; Ov. Heroid. vii. 125; Auson. Epigr. 118; Justin, xviii. 6.) (d)


Many Historians and scholars explained the expedition of Nero to recover Queen Dido's lost treasure as fellow:
Suetonius and Tacitus, both of whom are heavily biased against Nero, offer similar interpretations: Suetonius attributes the episode to Nero’s insanity (furorem, 31.4), Tacitus to his foolish vanity (vanitatem, 16.1). Rather than reading the treasure hunt as a simple example of Neronian madness, however, several scholars interpret it as an illustration of a sophisticated political agenda.

I have a different interpretation to the expedition of Nero to recover Queen's  Dido lost treasure which is as fellow:
As we know that Aeneas is an ancestor of Nero from the Julius family. The story of Queen's Dido treasure was heard by Nero through the Julius family before Bassus revealed it to him. The telling of the dream about the treasure to Nero emphasised the reality of it's existence .
After the Departure of Aeneas and the death of Dido Jarbas Helped himself with the Treasure.

Jarbas was the highest priest in Numidia during the 8th century BC
Bassus was a priet as well during the first century AD
a- http://ancientcarthage.wikispaces.com/Dido%27s+Treasure
b- c- http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/tac/a16000.htm
d- http://www.mythindex.com/greek-mythology/I/Iarbas.html