Herodotus: Fate

Herodotus: The story of Croesus contains many elements that fascinated the ancient Greeks and moderns alike such as destiny, happiness, and an interest in the ways in which rich and powerful people act. Write a response answering the following questions

-What does it mean to believe that an oracular utterance or prophecy cannot be altered, even by the gods? What advantage is it then to know something of the future if one cannot alter it?

What, if anything, is comforting about kings or gods being subject to fate too

Ancient Greek was ruled by kings who had established various empires. Effective leadership in the kingdom relied upon the wise advice of the advisers and religious leaders. The ruling authority heavily relied on prophesies and insights provided in making policies and establishing strategies. On the other hand, the insights in prophesies had a profound impact on the wellbeing, destiny and other aspects such as the happiness of the king. Greek leaders and the prosperous went to great lengths to make sure that they fulfilled their religious obligations to avoid negative repercussions or disobedience. During the reign of Croesus, the oracle’s utterances and prophecies had a tremendous impact on the actions of the king. Before undertaking a major step, the king consulted the oracle at Delphi for insights and advice. In addition, messages delivered through dreams presented an overview of future events that may impact the king or the empire. The subsequent actions of the king determined the wrath of the prophesy or benefits in case the king followed the advice given and sought additional information. This paper analyses the influence of beliefs in the oracular utterances and prophesy as portrayed in the story of Croesus. The utterances and prophesizes could not be altered requiring that those affected take the necessary measures. Finally, there are advantages of knowing ones fate that can be embarrassed to gain a strategic advantage.

The Greek society had to deal with the tremendous influence of the gods, fate, and advice from the wise. In an effort to understand their fate, people sought a comprehensive understanding of concepts such as happiness and fate.  Solon, one of the wise men in Greece interacted with Croesus as the king sought wisdom on happiness.  Riches and affluence do not contribute significantly to happiness as noted in the case of Tellus.  Solon expounded on the case of Cleobis and Biton who passed away after doing a wonderful deed in the society. Death, according to Solon marks the happiest point in a person’s life. However, fate plays a vital aspect in determining the course of an individual’s life.  Croesus was given a glimpse of his son’s fate in a dream. In the dream, Atys would be killed by a weapon. Croesus attempted to change the outcome of the dream by pulling his son from the military and getting him a wife.  However, subsequent events led to the death of Atys as he succeeded in allowing his father to allow him to go on a hunting expedition. Catastrophically, Atys was killed by the weapon of a fellow hunter, who had missed his aim as they wrestled the boar.  

The aspirations of Croesus to save his son from fate indicates the level of belief among the people in the nature of oracular utterances and prophecy. At some point during the reign of King Croesus, the Persians posed a significant threat to Lydia. Advice from the great oracle of Apollo was not fully interpreted by Croesus that led to him facing the mighty Persians leading to a humiliating defeat and the loss of his empire.  The advantages of understanding the course of events is vital for those who take heed of it. If Croesus had taken careful considerations of the advice from the oracle, he would have saved his empire.  The comforting aspect about fate and the belief in utterances given by the oracle is that they affect every individual and gods fairly. The aftermath is that an equilibrium is achieved that aids in maintaining the structure of societies.

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