Which is better, iron or gold?

To Croesus, King of Lydia, on being shown his golden treasures, Solon said: “If another comes who hath better iron than you, he will take away your gold.”

1280px-Kroisos_stake_Louvre_G197

Croesus on the pyre*

*image shown depicts King Croesus, unlikely to show Solon.

King Croesus introduces gold coinage (adopted by the Persians after they defeated him) although his coins used a gold-silver alloy (electrum) based on the composition of the alluvial deposits. When he asked the Delphic oracle of Amphiarus if he should wage a campaign against Cyrus the Great of Persia or seek an alliance, the Delphic advice was that if Croesus attacked the Persians, he would destroy a great empire.

Sources

Herodotus, The History of Herodotus, Translated by George Rawlinson

http://classics.mit.edu/Herodotus/history.mb.txt

http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/historians/herod/herodotus2.html

http://www.bartleby.com/344/370.html

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