Abstract Two themes, the elusiveness of wisdom and the distortion of speech, are traced through three important scenes of Herodotus' Lydian logos, the meeting of Solon and Croesus (1.29––33), the scene where Cyrus places Croesus on the pyre (1.86––90), and the advice of Croesus to Cyrus to cross the river and fight the Massagetae in their own territory (1.207). The paper discusses whether Solon is speaking indirectly at 1.29––33, unable to talk straight to Croesus about his transgressive behavior: if so, that illuminates the dynamics of speech at a court. At 1.86––90 Croesus may not have fully understood what Solon earlier said to him. Cyrus may understand Croesus' report of Solon's words better than Croesus does himself. Herodotus' readers will also be uncertain what the response of Delphi will be to Croesus' indignant questioning: if a reader has failed to grasp the significance of Gyges' transgression five generations earlier, that reenacts the forgetfulness of figures in the text. At 1.207 Croesus' advice to Cyrus is of questionable wisdom: Croesus too cannot speak directly, and he has anyway learned the wrong lesson from his catastrophe, extrapolating too directly from his own experience. The conclusion suggests some reasons why Herodotus should have chosen to begin his History with Lydia, the kingdom that is on the cusp between East and West, and with Croesus, a figure that resists description in the easy formulations of Greek/barbarian discourse.
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