πρὶν δ᾿ ἂν τελευτήσῃ, ἐπισχεῖν, μηδὲ καλέειν κω ὄλβιον ἀλλ᾿ εὐτυχέα. [Herodotus]the almighty US dollar did in the 20thC. The word dollar is, indeed a corruption of Thaler.
But we're here for the happiness not for the loot. It's hard to know much for certain about Croesus because he quickly became the stuff of legends. Even his mode of death became more fabulous with each retelling. At the height of his powers, he invited Solon, the Athenian statesman and philosopher to visit so that he could learn something useful about how to live. "Who is the happiest man who ever lived?", he asked . . . expecting the Me Me Me answer "Why you, O gracious and most powerful king!". But Solon wasn't having any of that sycophancy and spoke the truth (as he saw it) to Power; citing a succession of quite ordinary folks who were dead. It forced everyone in the room to reflect on such, now tired old, saws as carpe diem, live in the moment and call no man happy til he's dead. Happiness, in Solon's estimation, is more than being lucky [in your birth, on the Lotto]; ghastly misfortune stalks us all, ready to snatch the paltry trappings of success and deliver misery and pain.
So whatevs, like?
I've encountered a tuthree short bios recently that point to a life well lived, (which is surely the aspiration of all who are not totally damaged goods?):
- Vince McIntyre, an Irish son-without-the-farm who left for Canada as a migrant farm laborer and is now farming his own gaff without machinery just as things were in 1950s Ireland.
- Longer [uneditted 25min] version.
- Corky Lee an ABC in NYC who caught a lucky picture of police brutality and devoted his life to documenting (and changing) the lives and trials of the Asian community in New York. Dead from Covid last week.
- John Sassall - A Fortunate Man by John Berger and Jean Mohr.