Croesus was an ancient king who ruled over the Kingdom of Lydia and was renowned for his unfathomable wealth. He was also a firm believer in the prophecies of oracles, and after making numerous offerings at several locations, Croesus had concluded that the most trustworthy and accurate diviner was the famed Oracle at Delphi.
During the mid6th century BC, Croesus couldn’t help but notice the rise of Cyrus the Great, the king of a relatively small city named Anshan who, nevertheless, managed to conquer the much more powerful Kingdom of Media. Wanting to know how he should handle this upstart, Croesus asked the oracle what would happen if he went to war against Cyrus. The oracle replied that “if Croesus goes to war he will destroy a great empire.”
Now, we all know that prophecies are generally vague so people can interpret them as they want. But in the mind of the king, this could only mean one thing – a triumphant victory for Lydia. So Croesus went to war against Cyrus but, as it turned out, the “great empire” he destroyed was his own. Cyrus won the war, conquered Lydia, and went on to conquer Babylon, as well as other nations, thus founding the Achaemenid Empire.