Due to an error in the timetabling of the Symposium I accidentally delivered two lectures yesterday. Atherton Frisby was furious. In consequence I’m afraid this means that Dr. Steven Badgett’s lecture, Yeats’ Dung Beetles, has been cancelled. I was really rather looking forward to Badgett’s study, and I shall do my utmost to persuade the organisers to find time for this lecture later in the week.
But in the mean time, I must press on with my Introduction to Lepidoptery. Ah, sweet przepustnica! Today we have been all the way to the Brazilian rain forests in order to give you Croesus Lydius.
In order to explain this flame winged beauty we must travel far back in time to ancient Lydia, situated in Western Asia Minor on the banks of the river Galis. This land was ruled by King Croesus between 560 and 546 BC, and it is believed that it was the Lydians who minted the world’s first coins. Wise Solon, the Greek giver of Laws travelled to Sardis, capital of Lydia, and was challenged by King Croesus to name the happiest man he had ever met. Solon named a few men of little consequence who had died and in so doing invoked the king’s fury.
“Dost thou count my happiness as nothing?” He asked, to which Solon replied, “I count no man happy until his death, for no man can know what the gods may have in store for him.”
If we turn to Chapter 30 of Ezekiel we see that the gods had plenty of grief in store for him:
And the sword shall come upon Egypt, and great pain shall be in
Ethiopia, when the slain shall fall in Egypt, and they shall take away
her multitude, and her foundations shall be broken down.
Ethiopia, and Libya, and Lydia, and all the mingled people, and Chub, and the men of the land that is in league, shall fall with them by the sword.
See that? “and Lydia” – not only was King Croesus’ mighty empire to fall, but it was to do so as an afterthought to some other business in Ethipia. In consequence his lands would be deemed worthy of but a passing mention in the Old Testament. Croesus was not to be named at all.
Likewise, if we turn to Shakespeare, Lydia gets a couple of paltry mentions in Anthony and Cleopatra, but again only as an afterthought (Act III Scene VI, “He gave the stablishment of Egypt; made her / Of lower Syria, Cyprus, Lydia, / Absolute queen.”). The king himself is nowhere to be seen.
Things do not look good for King Croesus of Lydia. Not, that is, until his nameswake was discovered flitting nonchalantly from flower to flower in a time before deforestation hit the Latin American continent. Hail Croesus Lydius! Praise be to your proud black thorax and yellow abdomen. Your scented hindwing shall be the talk of European lepidopterists when you are thence netted and pinned in a striking black frame.
You can buy yourself one for only $115 from Bug in a Box and pay due respect to the first minter of coins.