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:
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 -𐤪𐤷𐤦𐤪𐤫𐤠 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 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.
For others named Agron, see the Agron navigation pageAgron (fl. c.1192 BC) was a legendary king of Lydia who is named by Herodotus as the first of the Lydian Heraclid dynasty. Before he assumed the throne, the ruling family had been the Maeonian line of Lydus, from whom the country's name was derived. According to Herodotus, the Heraclid dynasty in Lydia reigned continuously through 22 generations for 505 years. The last of the line was Candaules, whose date of death was c.687 BC, so Herodotus' computation suggests c.1192 BC for Agron's accession.Ardys of Lydia
Ardys (reigned c.652–c.603 BC; also known as Ardysus) was the second king of the Mermnad dynasty in Lydia, the son of Gyges. According to Herodotus, he reigned for 49 years and was succeeded by his son Sadyattes.Dates for the Mermnad kings are uncertain and are based on a computation by J. B. Bury and Russell Meiggs (1975) who estimated c.687–c.652 BC for the reign of Gyges. Herodotus gave reign lengths for Gyges' successors: Ardys for 49 years (to c.603 BC); and Sadyattes for 12 years (to c.591 BC).Ardys attacked the Ionian Greek city of Miletus and succeeded in capturing the city of Priene. Most of his reign was taken up with the wars against the Cimmerians, who occupied part of Sardis in one invasion.Atys of Lydia
Atys (Ancient Greek: Ἄτυς) is a legendary figure of the 2nd millennium BC who is attested by Herodotus to have been an early king of Lydia, then probably known as Maeonia. He was the son of Manes and the father of Lydus, after whom the Lydian people were later named.Herodotus recounts that Maeonia was beset by severe famine during Atys' reign. To help them endure hunger, the Maeonians developed various expedients including dice, knuckle-bones and ball games. The idea was that they would eat every other day only. On the interim days when they fasted, they would play games all day to distract their minds from hunger. Herodotus says they lived like that for eighteen years. Eventually, Atys decided to halve the population, one half to remain in Maeonia and the other half to leave and found a colony elsewhere. Lots were drawn and Atys appointed himself to stay while one of his sons, Tyrrhenus, led the colonists to Umbria where they settled and became known as Tyrrhenians.The native Greco-Lydian historian Xanthus, who wrote in Ionian Greek slightly after Herodotus on the history of Lydia known as Lydiaca (Λυδιακά), though his work survives only in fragments, also affirmed that King Atys was father to two sons, Lydus and Torubus (Tyrrhenus), who he says parted company, splitting the Maeonian nation into two, Lydians and "Torubians".Candaules
Candaules (died c.687 BC; Greek: Κανδαύλης, Kandaulēs), also known as Myrsilos (Μυρσίλος), was a king of the ancient Kingdom of Lydia in the early years of the 7th century BC. According to Herodotus, he succeeded his father Meles as the 22nd and last king of Lydia's Heraclid dynasty. He was assassinated and succeeded by Gyges.Based on an ambiguous line in the work of the Greek poet Hipponax, it was traditionally assumed that the name of Candaules meant "hound-choker" among the Lydians. J. B. Bury and Russell Meiggs (1975) say that Candaules is a Maeonian name meaning "hound-choker" and that Aryan conquerors (the Heraclids in Greek tradition) had occupied the Lydian throne for centuries. More recently, however, it has been suggested that the name or title Kandaules is cognate with the Luwian hantawatt(i)– ("king") and probably has Carian origin. The name or title Candaules is the origin of the term candaulism, for a sexual practice attributed to him by legend.Several stories of how the Heraclid dynasty of Candaules ended and the Mermnad dynasty of Gyges began have been related by different authors throughout history, mostly in a mythical sense. In Plato's Republic, Gyges used a magical ring to become invisible and usurp the throne, a plot device which reappeared in numerous myths and works of fiction throughout history. The earliest story, related by Herodotus in the 5th century BC, has Candaules betrayed and executed by his wife, Nyssia, in a cautionary tale against pride and possession.Iardanus of Lydia
In Greek mythology, Iardanus (Ancient Greek: Ἰάρδανος or Ἰαρδάνης) is a semi-legendary figure who was the father of Omphale, queen of the people who were formerly called Maeonians, but later Lydians. According to legend, he (or Omphale) bought Heracles as a slave. Herodotus implies that Iardanus was a Maeonian king of Lydia.List of people mentioned in Herodotus, Book One
This article presents a list of people whom Herodotus (c.484–c.425 BC) mentioned in Book One of his major work The Histories. Herodotus presented his theme as "recording the achievements of both our own (Greek) and other peoples; and more particularly, to show how they came into conflict". Structurally, The Histories is sub-divided into nine books, each of which is sometimes named after one of the nine Muses. The work contains numerous digressions but the theme is constant. Although Herodotus' references range from the Trojan War of the 2nd millennium BC to the Peloponnesian War in his own lifetime, the essential scope of the entire work is a record of events from the reign of Cyrus the Great (c.553–c.529 BC) to the defeat of Xerxes I in 479 BC. Book One ends with the death of Cyrus.
Some of the people named by Herodotus are legendary, or at least semi-legendary. Dates and places are given where known and notes are provided to indicate the role and/or importance played by each person in The Histories. Page numbers are those in the Burn/de Sélincourt edition published by Penguin Books in 1975, based on de Sélincourt's 1954 translation.Lydia
Lydia (Assyrian: Luddu; Greek: Λυδία, Lydía; Turkish: Lidya) was an Iron Age kingdom of western Asia Minor located generally east of ancient Ionia in the modern western Turkish provinces of Uşak, Manisa and inland İzmir. Its population spoke an Anatolian language known as Lydian. Its capital was Sardis.The Kingdom of Lydia existed from about 1200 BC to 546 BC. At its greatest extent, during the 7th century BC, it covered all of western Anatolia. In 546 BC, it became a province of the Achaemenid Persian Empire, known as the satrapy of Lydia or Sparda in Old Persian. In 133 BC, it became part of the Roman province of Asia.
Coins are said to have been invented in Lydia around the 7th century BC.Lydus
Lydus (Ancient Greek: Λυδός) is a legendary figure of the 2nd millennium BC who is attested by Herodotus to have been an early king of Lydia, then probably known as Maeonia. He was the son of Atys and the grandson of Manes. Traditionally, the country of Lydia and its people were afterwards named after Lydus.Manes of Lydia
Manes is a legendary figure of the 2nd millennium BC who is attested by Herodotus in Book One of Histories to have been an early king of Lydia, then probably known as Maeonia. He was the father of Atys and the grandfather of Lydus, after whom the Lydian people were later named. Later, in Book Four, Herodotus states that Manes had another son called Cotys and, through him, a grandson called Asies, after whom the Lydians claimed that the continent of Asia is named. This genealogy is preserved by Dionysius of Halicarnassus, who named Callirhoe, daughter of Oceanus, as the mother of Cotys by Manes.Meles of Lydia
Meles (fl. 8th century BC; also known as Myrsus) was a semi-historical king of Lydia. According to Herodotus, he was the 21st and penultimate king of the Heraclid dynasty and was succeeded by his son, Candaules (died c.687 BC).Omphale
In Greek mythology, Omphale (; Ancient Greek: Ὀμφάλη) was queen of the kingdom of Lydia in Asia Minor. Diodorus Siculus provides the first appearance of the Omphale theme in literature, though Aeschylus was aware of the episode. The Greeks did not recognize her as a goddess: the undisputed etymological connection with omphalos, the world-navel, has never been made clear. In her best-known myth, she is the mistress of the hero Heracles during a year of required servitude, a scenario that offered writers and artists opportunities to explore sexual roles and erotic themes.Tantalus (son of Broteas)
In Greek mythology Tantalus (Ancient Greek: Τάνταλος, romanized: Tántalos), not to be confused with his more famous grandfather and namesake (Tantalus) who was also called Atys, was the son of Broteas. He ruled over the city of Lydia. He was the first husband of Clytemnestra and was slain by Agamemnon, King of Mycenae, a soldier in the Trojan War, who made Clytemnestra his wife. After he died, the Tantalid dynasty finished because Agron took the throne. He was a great-grandson of Heracles and Omphale, Atys's stepmother.