Leaving his first fellow citizens in the world the code of the laws of democracy, the wise Solon went on a journey. He was in Egypt, then he came to Lydia, where he was received by King Croesus. Perhaps you heard: "Rich, like Croesus!" - this is about him. King Croesus took Solon, they talked about what happiness is, and it was this conversation that saved Croesus’ life years later.
The fact is that later in his kingdom invaded the troops of Cyrus, the creator of the great Persian empire. Cyrus captured the capital of Lydia Sardis, took Croesus prisoner and sentenced to be burned at the stake. And then - the most interesting thing: Cyrus came to see how Croesus would be burned, and he heard from the flames of a burning bonfire that he called to the sage: "Oh Solon, how right you were!" Heard this, Cyrus became interested in why Croesus mentions Solon before his death, especially since he also heard this name, ordered the fire to scatter and began to ask the unrefreshed Croesus - "What's the matter?" And Croesus told ... (further in the presentation of Plutarch).
When meeting with Croesus Solon was indifferent to the untold treasures that he showed him in his storerooms. He said: "We in Greece have greatness in the other."
Croesus asked Solon: "Which of the people do you consider the happiest?" He hoped that he would call him, and Solon said: "I think the happiest Athenian Tella." Imagine what the leader of Lydia had to think after that? Who is this, the Athenians Tell? What heroic deeds did he accomplish, how did he become famous? Solon continued: "It was a man who lived in his native city during the heyday of this city, ate from the fruits of his hands, was happy in the family, and died fighting for his homeland."
"Well, after him?" - Once again asked the king. "After him," said Solon, "the sons of the priestess of Hera in the city of Argos." "And these are what? Also fought for their homeland? "-" No, "he says," there s another story. " And he told me leisurely how, on the day of the solemn sacrifice, the bulls who were supposed to carry the chariot with gifts did not come from the pasture. In order to save her city and her priestess mother from the wrath of the goddess Hera, her two sons were harnessed to the heaviest chariot instead of bulls. They dragged the chariot to the temple, and Hera received her gifts. The citizens rejoiced and wore two athletes in their arms, and the mother fell to her knees in front of the goddess s altar and asked: "Goddess, reward my sons." The capricious and strict goddess Hera awarded them: the next morning the children of the priestesses did not wake up. They died in a dream, in the happiest moment of their lives.
Then the nerves of King Croesus could not stand it, he asked bluntly: "And do you think me happy?" Solon replied evasively and very politely: "The gods did not let us know the boundaries of our life, declaring happy the person still living is like proclaiming the winner yet fighting soldier. " And then he left.
After telling this amazing story, Croesus advised Cyrus to stop his soldiers who had robbed Sardis. He said: "If you have won, and your soldiers are robbing Sardis, they are robbing your property!". And he added: "You won, and it's worth finishing the war. After all, there is no such an unreasonable person who prefers war to peace. In peacetime, sons bury their fathers, and in the war the fathers of sons. " Cyrus not only pardoned Croesus, but seated him beside him and made his advisor.
It's an amazing story. And what is important for us in it is that for the ancient Greeks, happiness was not in the possession of treasures, not in enjoyment and not in vivid feelings, but in respecting their fellow citizens, fulfilling their human duty and valiant service to their homeland. And they judged happiness not by fluid experiences in the process of life, but by summing up the results of life as a whole. Perhaps it was not by chance that they became the founders of the whole of European civilization?
And what is the greatest happiness for you?