Comments on the Croesus Saga (Long)
Jon Cato Lorentzen
jonlo at ifi.uio.no
Tue Jan 31 22:07:07 CET 1995
Well, I asked my pal Vidar (who has visited the remains of the Croesus Temple
and read quite a lot about it) to comment the latest Don Rosa story, and he
came up with the rather long text below. It contains a lot of historic facts,
but also points out some errors in Rosa's story. So I hope most of you find
Be warned, there are minor spoilers below....
The text below is written by Vidar Lund.
I understand that Don Rosa would like some comments about
his latest story from Turkey.
I visited the place in the summer of 93, and found it
very facinating! The westcoast of Turkey has one of
the highest consentrations of ancient ruins in the world.
Everywhere we went, and I really mean everywhere, had old
ruins of towns, temples and castles.
The castles are usually well preserved and situated on top
of a cliff or hill.
I was surpriced to discover that one of the seven wonders
of the world was situated outside Ephesus. Me and my brother
took the bus to Ephesus from Izmir (the late Smyrna, hometown
of Homer) a hot summerday.
We first visited the town of Selcuk and looked at the ruins
of Saint Johns basilica, a big church built by emperor
Justinian (ruled 527-565 AD), who wanted to honour the grave
of Saint John with a monument that could rival the previous
glory of the Artemission. At that time the Artemission was already
destroyed, and remnants of the Temple was extensively used
in building the Church.
The house of Saint Mary is also situated in the
vicinity of Ephesus, and so is the cave of the Seven sleepers.
After visiting the church we walked down to the Artemission.
An 'archaologist' tried to sell 'ancient' coins to us at the
site. We asked if it wasn't illegal to sell coins from the
excavation, but he claimed it wasn't any problem if you only
took a few hundred coins! We met these coinsellers all over Turkey.
The coins were lousy replica of old roman coppercoins.
All that is left of the Artemission today is parts of the basement
and a few columnfracments. The site is dug out of a swamp,
and excavations are still done. To give a description of the
Artemission I would like to refer to a Turkish book about Ephesus;
" Of the Artemission, all that remains is one column, which can be
seen beside the road leading from Selcuk to Kusadasi.
The column was re-constituted by superimposing pieces found
in the vicinity. The single cause of the destruction was the rivalry
between the various religions and beliefs.
The first Christians of Ephesus, having suffered violent persecution,
bore a severe grudge against the protectress of Ephesus and her Temple.
Once they had gained the upper hand, they annihilated the temple.
Part of its architectural material was re-used in the building
of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. Other pieces were carved up at quarries.
Shortly thereafter, the alluvia brought by the Cayster river
covered up the rest of the temple and wiped out all traces of it.
In 1869 the English engineer Wood located the temple and over
the following years, excavations were intensified and many works of
art and pieces of columns were carried of to the British Museum in
London. This continued to 1895, when the Austrian Institute of
Archeology Brought their share to Wienna for the next 10 years.
According to Strabo the Artemission, a precious example of Ionian
architecture, was destroyed and rebuilt seven times. The latest
excavations confirm this statement. Whereas of old it was situated
on the edge of the sea, the temple is now five kilometers inland.
The first temple, which we refer to as the archaic temple, was
destroyed in the seventh Century by the Cimmerians. During excavation,
geometrically shaped vessels were found, along with ornamental objects
made of gold and ivory dating from this period.
In the year of 570 BC, the inhabitants of Ephesus decided to erect
a temple more majestic than that of Hera at Samos. They gave the job
of building it to the architect Chersiphron of Knossos, his son
Metagenes and the architect Theodoros, who had proved his talent by
the construction of the temple of Hera at Samos on land which,
like that of Ephesus, was swamp-ridden. The foundations of the temple
were placed over a layer of coal which was covered in leather.
In the end, a beautiful construction of 55 x 115 meters appeared.
It was the largest temple ever built of marble. A double row of 19 m
high columns surrounded the walls. The 'columna caelata', that is,
the 36 front columns were decorated with friezes donated by Croessus.
Croessus conquered Ephesus in a millitary attack.
The Ephesians tried to stop him. They actually dragged a rope
from the temple to the city in hope that the power of Artemis
would protect them. This clearly shows that the Artemission was
near completion or completed at the time Croessus conquered Ephesus.
Croessus later donated the beautiful frontcolumn friezes and other
gifts to the temple to please Artemis and the Ephesians, but
it was the Ephesians who build the temple. ]
It is said that a certain Herostrates, in order to immortalise his
name, burned the temple in 356 BC, the night of the birth of
Alexander the great. It was later said that on that night Artemis
had gone to assist the birth of Alexander.
Writings by Karaagac (called the fisherman of Halicarnassus)
suggests that the temple was actually lit by priests who had
stolen gold and jewelery from the temple and wanted to cover it up.
After all the temple was guarded and not easy to set afire,
by a single man.
The Ephesians restored the temple according to the original architect's
plan. The new temple was essentially identical to the first except
that it was elevated on a base three meters high with 13 steps.
Not thirty years had passed before Alexander entered Ephesus,
having conquered the Persians. He had of course heard of the fame of
Artemis of Ephesus. The temple was not yet completed. Alexander
promised to the Ephesians that he would cover all the remaining
construction costs as long as his name was carved on the facade.
In spite of being short of money and not in a good position to refuse
Alexanders offer, they found a subterfuge: they claimed that it would
not be right for one god to have a temple built to the glory of another.
Thus they had honoured Alexander by attributing to him the title god.
They finished the work on the temple by themselves.
It was 155 meters in length and 55 meters wide. The Ephesians summoned
all the famous engineers, architects and painters of their day,
so that their temple should be unique.
This magnificent temple was preserved during the time of the
Roman Empire, but destroyed by the Goths in 265 AD. Although it was
subsequently restored, it was finally annihilated by the Christians! "
That is the story, sad but true.
To get a good impression of the Artemission you can visit the
temple of Apollo at Didyma, a short drive south of Ephesus.
(If you dare to drive. 100000 people got killed in the traffic in
1993! Yes, hundredthousand!).
To quote a Guidebook; " The temple of Apollo at Didyma is one of the
outstanding buildings of the Greek world, not only in size but
in architectural style as well. The vast structure seen there
today dates from about 300 BC. "
The temple was the home of a famous Oracle that claimed to descent
from the Oracle at Delphi. In ancient times emperors consulted the
Oracle for advice. Croessus, who once consulted the Oracle,
was told that a great empire would crumble if he were to attack
Persia. In fact, it was his own empire that was destroyed.
The Oracle existed for over 1000 years.
The temple at Didyma is thought to be very similar to the Artemission,
though a bit smaller. It's about 40 x 80 meters with a double row
of columns all the way around the walls, and it's raised on a three meters
high base with 13 steps. The base is very well preserved and three complete
columns, the same hight as the once of the Artemission, are still standing.
The inner wall and lower parts of the front columns are in good condition.
Unfortunately I didn't visit this impressive temple.
It's clear that some statements in the Croessus-story by Rosa, don't
fit very well in this picture, but most of the story does. :-)
I don't have the original english version of the story but I guess
the content of the norwegian version is the same.
First of all the statements that Croessus build the temple are obviously
wrong. Croessus was just one of many different emperors who wanted to
have a piece of the Ephesians cake.
The drawing of the Artemission is great, it certainly captures the
shape and glory of the temple.
The next panel of text (page 5) says that;
'The temple was unconquered for over thousand years.
It resisted the attacks by Romans in the year of 57 and the Goths in 260.'
Ephesus was conquered many times during the lifetime of the Artemission
by Lydians, Persians, Macedonians, Greeks, Egyptians, Syrians and Romans,
but they did not destroy the beatiful temple (at least not completely).
The statement that it resisted attacks of the Romans is strange,
because Ephesus was the Roman capital of Asia and a very prosperous
city with 250.000 citizens.
It was in fact the third biggest city in the entire Roman Empire (after Rome
and Antioch), and renowned for its beatiful marble streets and buildings.
It's not true that it resisted the raid of the Goths in 265 AD,
because the temple was destroyed, eventhough it was subsequently restored.
All the drawings of the temple contain an architectural flaw, particularly
noticeble on page 13, when the re-erected temple collapses.
The temple is entirely made of columns!
The Artemission only had a double row of columns surrounding the inner wall.
Panel one on side 17 is a drawing of the ducks overlooking a plain at
Sardis. Schrooge says;
" Sardis, the beatiful capital of Lydia, was situated on this plain."
One of the kids replies;
" Bought Sardis and Efesus are completely destroyed, but the river
Paktolos is still flowing. "
This is utterly wrong!
To quote the book about Ephesus again;
" In our day and age, of all the antique cities in the world,
Ephesus is the best preserved! "
Excavations at Ephesus were started in 1869, and yet they have continued
steadily for 125 years, only 4-5% of the city has been excavated.
The excavated areas are the main streets and some important buildings,
like temples, theaters, marketplaces and baths.
Hillsides around the excavated city are packed with residental areas
covered by meters of sand and ruble. I believe that the most important reson
for the preservation of the city is that it was abandoned around 500 AD when
the citizens settled in the vicinity of St. Johns Chapel, because the river
had silted the harbour. This move was only a few kilometers but the old city
was left alone, except for the stones that was 'quarried' for building
material in the new town.
Much of the same can be said about Sardis, eventhough it's not as impressive
as Ephesus. I only got a small glimse of some restored temple-buildings in
Sardis, when we passed the old Lydian capital on our way to Cappadocia.
Sardis is also a vast area of ruins, most of wich have not been excavated yet.
The city was abandoned a long time ago, just like Ephesus, and is thus well
preserved. The citizens probably moved to the nearest seaport town of Smyrna
when the importance of Sardis gradually dwindled.
Many other great towns like Rome, Smyrna and Antioch are today big cities
and most of the ancient buildings were demolished a long time ago to make
space for new houses.
These are my comments. Any questions or complaints may be directed at;
vlund at vuoep1.uio.no
Well, that was it.
-Jon C. Lorentzen
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