Lydia, an ancient country of western Asia Minor, bounded N. by Mysia, E. by Phrygia, S. by Caria, and W. by the iEgean sea. " The boundaries, however, varied at different times. According to Strabo, the territory extended from the sources of the Hermus in the Dindy-mus mountains to the .AEgean sea, and from the Messogis and the Cadmus in the south to the Temnus mountains in the north. The Hermus valley was of great fertility, but the most luxuriant vegetation was found near the Gygean lake. The Pactolus, an affluent of the Hermus, carried gold, and the rocks of Mts. Tmolus and Sipylus contained rich veins of it. The principal towns were Sardes, the capital, Magnesia at the foot of Mt. Sipylus, Thyatira, and Philadelphia. In the earlier half of the 5th century B. C. the Lydian Xanthus, son of Candaules, wrote in Greek the history of his people in four books. Extant fragments of this and the statements of Herodotus relate the origin of their reigning houses. Atys, son of Manes, first ruled over them, and after him his son Lydus, after whom the people were called.

The brother of Lydus, whom Xanthus calls Torrhebus and Herodotus Tyrsenus, was the father of the Torrhebi or Tyrseni, whose territory lay near the upper Cayster. The first sovereigns were called Atyadas. Alcimus was the best among the successors of Lydus. Another, Meles, was the father of a lion, which was carried around Sardes in order to render the city impregnable. A later king, Jardanus, was succeeded by his daughter Omphale. Before she ascended the throne she caused the virgins of the land to meet at a certain place and offer themselves to the slaves, and she herself killed the strangers, her guests, after having rested at' their side. The dynasty of the Atyadse was followed by that of the Hera-clidae. According to Herodotus, Hercules was. the father of Alcaeus by a slave of Jardanus, and according to others by Omphale. Belus was the son of Alcaeus, and Ninus of Belus. There can be no doubt as to the mythical nature of these accounts. Manes and Atys were Phrygian divinities; King Lydus was invented after the tribal name; King Alcimus's peaceful and successful reign is probably based on the common belief in an original happy state; the lion is presumed to point to the Syrian solar deity, which is all the more probable as it is recorded that the name of Sardes, the Lydian capital, was given after the god of the sun.

The coins of Sardes were stamped with the image of the lion and the bull. Omphale is easily brought in connection with rites in the service of the Babylonian goddess Mylitta. This mixture of the Phrygian and the Semitic mythology has led to the supposition that the original inhabitants of the shores of the Hermus were Phrygians, and that Semites, coming from the east, conquered and absorbed them, but retained some elements of the Phrygian worship and language. It is possible that the dynasty of the Heraclidae had been preceded by another. Candaules, the last of the Heraclidae, was assassinated by Gyges at the instigation of his wife. With Gyges (about 700 B. C.) begins the dynasty of the Mermnadae, and the historical period of the annals of Lydia. Gyges conquered Colophon, Magnesia, and Sipyla, and devastated Miletus and Smyrna. An invasion of the Cimmerians, however, compelled him, according to Assyrian accounts, to seek the aid of the Assyrians, by submitting to them as a vassal; but venturing to render assistance to Psammetik (Psammetichus), king of Egypt, his country was again invaded and ravaged by the Cimmerians at the call of the king of Assyria. Gyges died during the invasion, after a long reign, and his son Ardys had again to acknowledge the Assyrian supremacy in order to free the country from the barbarians.

Ardys suffered another invasion from them in the latter half of the 7th century, but they soon retired, and he extended his dominion over the Greek city of Priene. Sadyattes and Alyattes were the next kings. The latter, reigning 49 years according to Herodotus, succeeded in taking Smyrna and laying waste Miletus, and subsequently in subjugating Phrygia and Cap-padocia, which brought his territory to the confines of the Median empire. Having given asylum to a Scythian tribe which had been in Median slavery, a war ensued between him and Cyaxares, king of Media, which lasted several years with varied success. During the last battle occurred an eclipse which caused both parties to cease fighting and to conclude peace, agreeing on the river Halys as the boundary of the two empires. The dates assigned to this eclipse range between 625 and 579 B. C.; Larcher's computation fixing it at 597 has been adopted by most scholars. A daughter of Alyattes was given in marriage to Astyages, son of Cyaxares. Croesus, the son of Alyattes, rapidly subjugated the Ionian and AEolian cities, and extended his sway over most of Asia Minor. Cyrus, king of Persia, in the mean time advanced toward the Halys, destroying the Median empire.

Croesus, underrating the strength of the enemy, and misled, it is said, by the oracles of Delphi and Oropus, began the important war which speedily ended in the capture of Sardes, the Lydian capital, and his own captivity. (See Crcesus.) Soon after the departure of Cyrus the Lydians rose in insurrection, and compelled Tabalus, the Persian governor, to seek refuge in the citadel of Sardes. The Mede Mazares quickly repressed the rebellion, and Pactyas, the leader of the Lydians, escaped with the treasures, which Cyrus had put in his charge, to the Grecian isles; but after going from one to another, he was finally given up to the Persians. Lydia was thereafter a Persian satrapy, and shared the fate of the empire. Under the Persians, Lydia together with Mysia formed a satrapy of the empire. After the fall of the latter, it frequently changed masters. The Romans took it from Antiochus the Great of Syria, and gave it to Pergamus. After the death of the last Attalus, it became a part of the Roman province of Asia. It is now comprised in the Turkish vilayet of Aidin. - In regard to the culture of the Lydians, the Greeks considered them to be the inventors of the arts of stamping coins and dyeing wool.

The Lydians were one of the earliest commercial people on the Mediterranean, and their scented ointments, rich carpets, and skilled laborers or slaves were highly celebrated. The Greeks received from them the Lydian flute, and subsequently the cithara of three and of 20 strings, and imitated their harmony. The Homeric poems describe the Lydians or Maeones as men on horseback, clad in armor, and speak of their commerce and wealth. Lydia was rich in precious metals; vast quantities of gold were washed out of the sands of the Pactolus, and Croesus had gold mines in Pergamus. It seems that the worship of the Lydians resembled that of the Syrians, and was polluted with its immoral practices. Not far from Magnesia is a stone which projects about 20 ft. from a marble wall, and which is supposed to have been the idol of a native goddess. The ancient writers often mention the depravity of the Lydians, while admitting their skill and courage in war. When subdued they submitted quietly to their conquerors. - See Rawlin-son's Herodotus; Spiegel, Eranische Alter-thumskunde (2 vols., Leipsic, 187l-'3); and Duncker, Geschichte des Alterthums (4th ed., Leipsic, 1874 et seq.).