King Croesus was once one of the richest kings in the world. He ruled over Lydia, an ancient empire located near modern-day Turkey and controlled a valuable commodity: gold. Many people were very envious of him.
One day, a messenger disclosed some interesting news: political unrest in Persia had weakened the empire. Before then, the Persians had taken over many countries. Many leaders were scared of the Persian conquest. But King Croesus understood the dynamics of war better than most. He decided that it would be a good time to try to beat the Persians while they were weak.
He advocated starting war, but nobody shared his sentiment. Then he asked a wise member of the senate who was visiting from Athens. The sage didn’t say whether he should attack the Persians or not. He only warned him that his good luck wouldn’t last.
Finally, King Croesus sent a messenger to visit the Oracle, a special lady who could see the future. The messenger gave the Oracle jugs of wine and baskets of lentils in order to make her happy.
When the messenger came back, he was in a festive mood.
“What was the Oracle’s prophecy?” asked King Croesus.
The jolly messenger responded, “She said that if you attack Persia, you will destroy a great empire.”
The news filled Croesus with euphoria. After hearing the Oracle’s prophecy, many civilians enrolled in the Lydian army. The king marshaled his troops and prepared them for a war with Persia. Their morale was high because they were sure they would win. Soon, King Croesus authorized an attack against the Persians.
However, the Persian army was still very strong. After a few months of fighting, it was obvious that the Oracle’s prophecy had come true: by attacking the Persians, King Croesus had destroyed a great empire—his own! King Croesus should have considered the advice more carefully.