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157
LYDIA

which enanied him to turn from elaborate epics to quite popular poems like the M umming at Herdord, A Ditty of Wamenkr Horns and London Lickpenny. The humour of this last is especially bright and effective, but, unluckily for the author, the piece is believed to have been retouched by some other hand. The longer efforts partake of the nature of translations from sundry medieval compilations like those of Guido di Colonna and Boccaccio, which are in Latin. See publications of the Early English Text Society, especially the Temple of Glass, edited by Dr Schick; Koeppel's Lydgate's Story of Thebes, eine Quellenuntersuchung (Munich, 1884), and the same scholar's Laurents de Premierfait und John Lydgates Bearbeitungen von Boccaccios De Casibus Illustrium Virorum (Munich, 1885); Warton's History of English Poetry; Ritson's Bibliotheca Anglo-Poetica; Furnivall's Political Poems (E. E. T. S.); and Sidney Lee's article in the Dict. Nat. Biog. (F. J. S.)


LYDIA, in ancient geography, a district of Asia Minor, the boundaries of which it is difficult to fix, partly because they varied at different epochs. The name is first found under the form of Luddi in the inscriptions of the Assyrian king Assur-bani-pal, who received tribute from Gyges about 660 B.C. In Homer we read only of Maeonians (Il. ii. 865, v. 43, x. 431), and the place of the Lydian capital Sardis is taken by Hyde (Il. xx. 385), unless this was the name of the district in which Sardis stood (see Strabo xiii. p. 626).[1] The earliest Greek writer who mentions the name is Mimnermus of Colophon, in the 37th Olympiad. According to Herodotus (i. 7), the Meiones (called Maeones by other writers) were named Lydians after Lydus, the son of Attis, in the mythical epoch which preceded the rise of the Heraclid dynasty. In historical times the Maeones were a tribe inhabiting the district of the upper Hermus, where a town called Maeonia existed (Pliny, N.H. v. 30; Hierocles, p. 670). The Lydians must originally have been an allied tribe which bordered upon them to the north-west, and occupied the plain of Sardis or Magnesia at the foot of Timolus and Sipylus. They were cut off from the sea by the Greeks, who were in possession, not only of the Bay of Smyrna, but also of the country north of Sipylus as far as Temnus in the pass (boghaz), through which the Hermus forces its way from the plain of Magnesia into its lower valley.[2] In a Homeric epigram the ridge north of the Hermus, on which the ruins of Temnus lie, is called Sardenē. Northward the Lydians extended at least as far as the Gygaean Lake (Lake Coloe, mod. Mermereh), and the Sardenē range (mod. Dumanli Dagh). The plateau of the Bin Bir Tepē, on the southern shore of the Gygaean Lake, was the chief burial-place of the inhabitants of Sardis, and is still thickly studded with tumuli, among which is the “ tomb of Alyattes ” (260 ft. high). Next to Sardis the chief city was Magnesia ad Sipylum (q.v.), in the neighbourhood of which is the famous seated figure of “ Niobe ” (Il. xxiv. 614–617), cut out of the rock, and probably intended to represent the goddess Cybele, to which the Greeks attached their legend of Niobe. According to Pliny (v. 31), Tantalis, afterwards swallowed up by earthquake in the pool Salē or Saloē, was the ancient name of Sipylus and “ the capital of Maeonia ” (Paus. vii. 24; Strabo xii. 579). Under the Heraclid dynasty the limits of Lydia must have been already extended, since according to Strabo (xiii. 590), the authority of Gyges reached as far as the Troad. Under the Mermnads Lydia became a maritime as well as an inland power. The Greek cities were conquered, and the coast of Ionia included within the Lydian kingdom. The successes of Alyattes and of Croesus finally changed the Lydian kingdom into a Lydian empire, and all Asia Minor westward of the Halys, except Lycia, owned the supremacy of Sardis. Lydia never again shrank back into its original dimensions. After the Persian conquest the Maeander was regarded as its southern boundary, and in the Roman period it comprised the country between Mysia and Caria on the one side and Phrygia and the Aegean on the other.

Lydia proper was exceedingly fertile. The hill-sides were clothed with vine and fir, and the rich broad plain of Hermus produced large quantities of corn and saffron. The climate of the plain was soft but healthy, though the country was subject to frequent earthquakes. The Pactolus, which flowed from the fountain of Tarnē in the Tmolus mountains, through the centre of Sardis, into the Hermus, was believed to be full of golden sand; and gold mines were worked in Tmolus itself, though by the time of Strabo the proceeds had become so small as hardly to pay for the expense of working them (Strabo xiii. 591). Maeonia on the east contained the curious barren plateau known to the Greeks as the Katakekaumenē (“ Burnt country ”), once a centre of volcanic disturbance. The Gygaean lake (where remains of pile dwellings have been found) still abounds with carp.

Herodotus (i. 171) tells us that Lydus was a brother of Mysus and Car. The statement is on the whole borne out by the few Lydian, Mysian and Carian words that have been preserved, as well as by the general character of the civilization prevailing among the three nations. The race was probably a mixed one, consisting of aborigines and Aryan immigrants. It was characterized by industry and a commercial spirit, and, before the Persian conquest, by bravery. The religion of the Lydians resembled that of the other civilized nations of Asia Minor. It was a nature worship, which at times became wild and sensuous. By the side of the supreme god Medeus stood the sun-god Attis, as in Phrygia the chief object of the popular cult. He was at once the son and bridegroom of Cybele (q.v.) or Cybebe, the mother of the gods, whose image carved by Broteas, son of Tantalus, was adored on the cliffs of Sipylus (Paus. iii. 22). The cult may have been brought westward by the Hittites who have left memorials of themselves in the pseudo-Sesostris figures of Kara-bel (between Sardis and Ephesus) as well as in the figure of the Mother-goddess, the so-called Niobe. At Ephesus, where she was adored under the form of a meteoric stone, she was identified with the Greek Artemis (see also Great Mother of the Gods). Her mural crown is first seen in the Hittite sculptures of Boghaz Keui (see Pteria and Hittites) on the Halys. The priestesses by whom she was served are depicted in early art as armed with the double-headed axe, and the dances they performed in her honour with shield and bow gave rise to the myths which saw in them the Amazons, a nation of woman-warriors. The pre-Hellenic cities of the coast—Smyrna, Samorna (Ephesus), Myrina, Cyme, Priene and Pitane—were all of Amazonian origin, and the first three of them have the same name as the Amazon Myrina, whose tomb was pointed out in the Troad. The prostitution whereby the Lydian girls gained their dowries (Herod. i. 93) was a religious exercise, as among the Semites, which marked their devotion to the goddess Cybele. In the legend of Heracles, Omphale takes the place of Cybele, and was perhaps her Lydian title. Heracles is here the sun-god Attis in a new form; his Lydian name is unknown, since E. Meyer has shown (Zeitschr. d. Morg. Gesell. xxxi. 4) that Sandon belongs not to Lydia but to Cilicia. By the side of Attis stood Manes or Men, identified later with the Moon-god.

According to the native historian Xanthus (460 B.C.) three dynasties ruled in succession over Lydia. The first, that of the Attiads, is mythical. It was headed by a god, and included geographical personages like Lydus, Asies and Meles, or such heroes of folk-lore as Cambletes, who devoured his wife. To this mythical age belongs the colony which, according to Herodotus (i. 94), Tyrsenus, the son of Attis, led to Etruria. Xanthous, however, puts Torrhebus in the place of Tyrsenus, and makes him the eponym of a district in Lydia. It is doubtful whether Xanthus recognized the Greek legends which brought Pelops from Lydia, or rather Maeonia, and made him the son of Tantalus. The second dynasty was also of divine origin, but the names which head it prove its connexion with the distant East. Its founder, a descendant of Heracles and Omphale, was, Herodotus tells us (i. 7), a son of Ninus and grandson of Belus. The Assyrian inscriptions have shown that the Assyrians had never crossed the Halys, much less known the name of Lydia, before the age of Assur-bani-pal, and consequently the theory which brought the Heraclids from Nineveh must be given up. But the Hittites, another Oriental people, deeply imbued with the elements of Babylonian culture, had overrun Asia Minor and established themselves on the shores of the Aegean before the reign of the Egyptian king Rameses II.

The subject allies who then fight under their banners include

the Masu or Mysians and the Dardani of the Troad, while the

  1. Pliny (v. 30) makes it the Maeonian name.
  2. See Sir W. M. Ramsay in the Journal of Hellenic Studies, ii. 2.