How significant is it that Croesus is not Greek, in Herodotus Histories?
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According to Herodotus, Croesus was the first non greek to come into contact with the Greeks:
“He was the first foreigner, so far as we know to come in direct contact with the Greeks, both in the way of conquest and alliance”
Although this statement is unlikely to be true, the significance of Croesus not being Greek is obviously very high.
Herodotus tells moral stories using historical figures, Croesus being one of them. For example, the story of him and Solon, which is almost certainly untrue when we see Croesus ignoring a wise person’s thoughts and advice. As his Histories were written for a Greek audience, it wouldn’t have been wise to show a Greek to be so foolish and a barbarian like Croesus would have been a good person to choose.
Herodotus, at the time of writing, would have been telling the histories to entertain Athenian people. For entertainment’s sake, Croesus being a foreigner would have been very important, as his life would be a new and untold story that his audience wouldn’t have heard before, whereas had he been a Greek, people knowing about him would have been highly likely.
Croesus, we see, while being extremely generous towards the Delphic Oracle, questions and tests it and later makes mistakes in interpreting the prophecies. Any message Herodotus was trying to convey here, again is better done so through a non-Greek, being somewhat foolish, rather than a Greek like his audience.
The point of Herodotus’ Histories was to tell the story of the Persian Wars with background from both sides so to find a cause for it. He says in his opening paragraph: