Ancient Greek History

Battle of the Eclipse in the Lydian and Median War of Ancient Greece

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There are many legendary battles that are part of the history of Ancient Greece. They each have their own character, and each was important to shape the history and culture of Ancient Greece. The Battle of the Eclipse is one of the most unique wars that was fought in Ancient Greece. As the legend tells, the battle was fought under the cover of darkness, presumably during an eclipse. Here’s more information about this:

About the Battle of Eclipse

The Battle of the Eclipse, also known as the Battle of Halys, was a conflict involving the Medes and the Lydians. In the 6th century B.C., the six-year war came to a sudden end with the appearance of a solar eclipse, an event foretold by Thales of Miletus. The eclipse was thought to be an ill omen by the people. The two warring nations came to a peace agreement soon after.

Thales of Miletus may have been the first person to predict a solar eclipse, according to Marcus Tullius Cicero, Pliny the Elder, and Isaac Asimov. Asimov described Herodotus’s account of the event as “the birth of science.” Even so, some things don’t seem to match up.

Cause of the Battle

Herodotus wrote that the cause of the war was an interest in Anatolia, coveted by both the Lydian king Alyattes and the king of the Medes Cyaxares. There may have been personal reasons for violence. Cyaxares insulted some Scythian hunters when they returned to him with nothing in hand. In response, the hunters murdered one of the king’s sons and fed him to the Medes. The hunters escaped to Sardis, the Lydian capital. King Cyaxares invaded Sardis after Alyattes refused to return the hunters. Thus began the nearly six-year conflict.

The Battle of the Eclipse was just one of the battles that took place during this war, nut it was one of the most memorable because it took place during the night, and during an eclipse. Neither side seemed to gain an advantage over the other, not even at the end. The Battle of Halys ended when the day grew dark, and the two sides agreed to stop fighting. The people of that time had no idea that eclipses were the result of the moon coming between the sun and the Earth. They just thought it was ominous.

Entering Into Peace Talks

Once the battle was fought, the two warring sides entered into peace talks. To cement the peace, the Lydian king arranged for his daughter Aryenis to be married to Astyages, the son of the king of the Medes Cyaxares. Afterward, the Halys River became the border between the two nations.

Using the information provided by Herodotus, the day the eclipse occurred was thought to be May 28, 585 B.C., also called the Eclipse of Thales. There may be some discrepancies between the date and time of the battle. Possibly Herodotus was rattling on about things he did not witness. It could also be that modern-day historians could have misinterpreted Herodotus’s texts.

It is also possible that a lunar eclipse happened on the day of the battle, right before night fell. Taking this into account, the date of the Battle of the Eclipse could have been September of 609 B.C. Upon looking at some other texts, Cyaxares possibly died more than ten years before the eclipse.


Wikipedia – Battle of Eclipse

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This post was written by Greek Boston

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