), king of Lydia, succeeded his father Sadyattes, B. C. 618. Sadyattes during the last six years of his reign had been engaged in a war with Miletus, which was continued by his son five years longer.
In the last of these years Alyattes burnt a temple of Athena, and falling sick shortly afterwards, he sent to Delphi for advice; but the oracle refused to give him an answer till he had rebuilt the temple.
This he did, and recovered in consequence, and made peace with Miletus.
He subsequently carried on war with Cyaxares, king of Media, drove the Cimmerians out of Asia, took Smyrna, and attacked Clazomenae.
The war with Cyaxares, which lasted for five years, from B. C. 590 to 585, arose in consequence of Alyattes receiving under his protection some Scythians who had fled to him after injuring Cyaxares.
An eclipse of the sun, which happened while the armies of the two kings were fighting, led to a peace between them, and this was cemented by the marriage of Astyages, the son of Cyaxares, with Aryenis, the daughter of Alyattes. Alyattes died B. C. 561 or 560, after a reign of fifty-seven years, and was succeeded by his son Croesus, who appears to have been previously associated with his father in the government. (Hdt. 1.16
The tomb (σῆμα
) of Alyattes is mentioned by Herodotus (1.93
) as one of the wonders of Lydia.
It was north of Sardis, near the lake Gygaea, and consisted of a large mound of earth, raised upon a foundation of great stones.
It was erected by the tradespeople, mechanics, and courtezans, and on the top of it there were five pillars, which Herodotus saw, and on which were mentioned the different portions raised by each; from this it appeared that courtezans did the greater part.
It measured six plethra and two stadia in circumference, and thirteen plethra in breadth.
According to some writers, it was called the "tomb of the courtezan," and was erected by a mistress of Gyges. (Clearch. apud Athen.
xiii. p. 573a.)
This mound still exists. Mr. Hamilton says (Researches in Asia Minor,
vol. i. p. 145), that it took him about ten minutes to ride round its chase, which would give it a circumference of nearly a mile; and he also states, that towards the north it consists of the natural rock--a white, horizontally stratified earthy limestone, cut away so as to appear part of the structure.
The upper portion, he adds, is sand and gravel, apparently brought from the bed of the Hermus.
He found on the top the remains of a foundation nearly eighteen feet square, on the north of which was a huge circular stone ten feet in diameter, with a flat bottom and a raised edge or lip, evidently placed there as an ornament on the apex of the tumulus.