Croesus vs. the Oracle of Delphi

Oracle of Delphi!

I am Croesus

As you well know

King of Lydia,

The richest man in the world.


You could pave the world

With gold from my hold

I wouldn’t miss it.

Yet, I’m poor of knowledge.


Mythology poemI’ve tested you among Oracles

You alone could tell

What I ate

On Friday the Eighth of Dios.


I’m no stranger to prophesy

I dreamt how my son Atys would die

So I kept him away from spears


I took the bait of fate

Sent Atys to fight a boar

Whoever heard of those with spears?

Alas, Atys’s bodyguard speared him.


So now I need to rely on the big guns

You know what’s on our mind

Don’t need to tell you

I want to fight

Cyrus, the King of Persia.

I hunger to know

Should I?


If you attack Persia, sire,

You’ll destroy a great empire

Answered the oracle,

In words plumped with honey.


Perfect! Thanks Or of Del

I’m going to bury you in gold


Off dancing Croesus went

Little realizing he’ll soon lament

Language sword cuts both ways

Stick him in the stomach


The empire he would destroy

Was his own.


I was doing  Know Thyself– a philosophy course by the University of Edinburgh on Coursera when I came across this story. Its ambiguity appealed to me. I enjoyed doing research for this piece, on Croesus and the Oracle of Delphi. History came alive as I tried to transform them in living, breathing characters. This was the final assignment for the University of Iowa’s Writing from the Margins course. I had to expand a bit to explain to the reader the background and the story. The Oracle of Delphi still remains a little mysterious, despite all the research I did. However much we try, we can’t fully peer behind the veil of history. Here’s another historical character I wrote about.

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