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the Caspian Sea. More than a hundred castles were found garrisoned by the Assassins, and upwards of twelve thousand of this tribe were put to death by order of Hulaku. This enterprise certainly entitled the conqueror to the gratitude of the country which he came to subdue, and we receive a favorable impression of his character from the joy which he testified at being able to release Nasser ud Deen, and the high estimation in which he continued to hold that eminent philosopher.

The extinction of the Assassin power may be fixed at this date, though a small branch, with a very limited power, remained till the reign of Shah Rokh Mirza, in the early part of the fifteenth century, when the last remnant of their dominion was extirpated by the governor of Ghilan. Though none of this sect have ever since enjoyed political power, they still exist in a scattered state. The Borahs, an industrious race of men, whose pursuits were commercial, and who are well known in the British settlements in India, belong to the sect of Ismail, and they still maintain that part of the Assassin creed taught by Hussun Subah, which enjoins a complete devotion to their high priest. But this principle, so dreadful in its operation in a large organized body like the ancient Assassins, seems to be attended with no manifest evil in a small class of men, who have neither the disposition nor the power to disturb the peace of the community in which they live.

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THE ancient Syrians were idolaters, though we are unable to say much of the very earliest forms of religion in this country. At Damascus, the chief object of worship was an idol named Rimmon. Another, of later date, was Adad, supposed to be the same with Benhadad, who was deified after his death. Several similar idolatries are supposed to have flourished here till the conquest of the country by Tiglath Pileser, when the Syrian worship appears to have experienced a change. But we have no circumstantial account of the religious rites celebrated here till the second century of the Christian era, when the satirist Lucian, himself a native of Syria, furnishes some information on this point, to the following purport.

In the city of Hierapolis stood a magnificent temple, dedicated to the great Syrian goddess, containing many golden statues, a celebrated oracle, and a variety of sacred animals, as oxen, horses, lions, bears, &c. The whole edifice, from the roof downward, glittered with gold. The gifts sent to the temple by the surrounding nations formed a treasure of incredible value. The air of the place was so strongly impregnated with aromatic odors, that the garments of the worshippers retained their fragrancy for a considerable time. Upwards of three hundred priests, in white habits, attended the sacrifices. Bands of consecrated minstrels accompanied the solemnities with the sound of various instruments. The high priest wore a purple garment and golden mitre, and was annually elected to the sacerdotal dignity. There were regular sacrifices every day, and an extraordinary offering every spring,


on which occasion large trees were cut down to make a sacrificial pile: on this were heaped great numbers of goats, sheep, birds, rich suits of clothing, and vessels of gold and silver all which were consumed by fire, while the priests walked round the burning pile with the sacred images. This sacrifice was always attended by a great concourse of people, every one bringing images made in resemblance of those in the temple.

There was a class of infatuated devotees attached to the Syrian worship; these persons, at stated times, which occurred twice a year, climbed up to the summits of lofty columns, and remained there for seven days, being supplied with food by means of a chain which they drew up from below. During this space of time, they pretended to hold immediate intercourse with the great goddess, and told the wondering populace that these ceremonies were practised in memory of Deucalion's flood, when men fled for refuge to the tops of trees and mountains. At another festival, the gods were transported to a lake near the temple, where the sacred fishes were kept. Here a strange farce was enacted between Jupiter and Juno, the former proposing to go down into the lake, and the latter attempting to dissuade him, lest her favorite fishes should die beneath the effulgence of his glory. Twice a year, also, the inhabitants went in crowds to the seaside, and performed certain extraordinary ceremonies in obedience to a pretended command of Deucalion. They then returned with vessels full of water, which they emptied in a cleft of the temple, which they believed to be the identical spot where the waters of the deluge were swallowed up.

Of the general state of manners among the ancient Syrians, we know very little. Plutarch observes that, in his time, these people were an effeminate race, and remarkable for hiding themselves from the light of the sun, in caves and other subterranean places, on the death of their relatives. The Syrian language, called by lexicographers the Syriac, is entirely distinct from the Greek, although the latter, from the time of the Seleucida, was the general language of commerce, government, and literature, in Syria. The Syriac was not only spoken in Syria, but also in Mesopotamia, Chaldea, and Assyria; and, after the Babylonish captivity, it was introduced into Palestine. It was origi nally a pure and primitive tongue, and is supposed, by many, to be the mother of all the Oriental dialects; but, after the Greek began to prevail in Syria, it was corrupted by the introduction of words from that language.

Ctesias, the Greek historian, states that Semiramis employed Syrian mariners in her expedition to India. From this fact, we may conclude that the Syrians were early addicted to navigation. It is probable that they had ships on the Mediterranean as soon as any of their neighbors, and that they traded with the Eastern countries upon the Euphrates at a very early period. Their country abounded with valuable commodities, fit for exportation; and they are generally supposed to have been the first importers of the products of Persia and India into the western parts of Asia.

Of the political institutions of ancient Syria little has been recorded by historians. The government was probably monarchical from the most ancient period; and the spoils and tributes which the Syrian monarchs obtained by war, and the commerce of the people with the surrounding nations,



enabled the principal communities to become rich | This city was also particularly honored by the Jews, on and powerful. The cities of Syria were remarkable for the magnificence of their architecture, and the wealth and luxury of their inhabitants. One of the most ancient was Baalbec, called, by the Greeks, Heliopolis, or the City of the Sun. It was beautifully situated at the foot of Mount Anti-Libanus, about thirty miles from the sea-coast. At what time or by whom this city was founded, it is impossible to say; indeed, all the early part of its history is quite obscure. The advantages of its situation, both as an agreeable residence and a mart of trade, must have contributed to its growth at a very early period. The plains adjoining the city are watered by beautiful streams descending from the mountains, forming a considerable river which flows into the Mediterranean near Tyre. The connection of Baalbec with Tyre and Palmyra caused a great portion of the traffic with India to pass through it. This was probably the source of its early wealth, and furnished the means of erecting those stupendous piles of architecture, the ruins of which now strike the traveller with amazement. Baalbec was a garrison town in the time of Augustus, and its fortifications were strengthened by the Byzantine emperor Heraclius, to resist the invasion of the Saracens. Being exposed to the ravages of war, however, it rapidly went to ruin.

Ruins of Baalbec.

The chief edifice now visible amid the remains of Baalbec is the Temple of the Sun, an edifice of enormous dimensions, and constituting one of the most imposing masses of ruins in the world. Many of the columns which remain are upwards of seventy feet in height. The stones used in the masonry of the walls are of equally gigantic proportions, some of them being fifty-eight feet long and twelve feet thick. The sculptures which adorn this edifice are remarkable for their boldness and magnificent effect. The architectural order is mostly Corinthian. The material is a white granite, a stone which abounds on the spot and in the neighboring mountains. Baalbec is surrounded by a wall, and still contains a few thousand inhabitants, who dwell in mean hovels, scattered among the ruins. Antioch was founded by Seleucus, the first of the dynasty of the Seleucidæ, (300 B. C.,) and was, for a long time, the capital of Syria. It was situated on the River Orontes, twenty miles from the Mediterranean, about midway between Constantinople and Alexandria, or seven hundred miles from each. After the overthrow of the kingdom of Syria, the Roman governors, who presided over the affairs of the eastern provinces, made Antioch their chief residence. In early Christian times, it was the seat of the chief patriarch of Asia.

account of the right of citizenship which had been granted to them by its founder. A few miles from Antioch was a place called Daphne, where Seleucus planted a grove, and erected a temple consecrated to Apollo and Daphne. To this spot the citizens resorted for their idle pleasures; and it soon became so notorious for the dissipated character of its frequenters, that to "live after the manner of Daphne" was used proverbially to express the most voluptuous and dissolute mode of life. Luxury and dissipation were, in fact, the general characteristics of the people of Antioch, in almost every period of their history; and to this disposition may be ascribed many of the numerous calamities which befell this celebrated city. It was often the scene of violent tumults and seditions, in which hundreds of thousands of men were killed. It has also been dreadfully ravaged, at different times, by earthquakes and fires. In the reign of Trajan, an earthquake shook the city while the emperor was holding his court there. A great part of it was laid in ruins, and the emperor himself escaped with difficultyand not unhurt-out of a window. In the year 587, an earthquake levelled almost every house in Antioch with the ground, and destroyed thirty thousand of its inhabitants. But these are only a small part of the calamities recorded in the history of this city which bore the proud title of "Queen of the East." Antioch is still inhabited, but is only a collection of ruins and mudwalled hovels, exhibiting every appearance of poverty and wretchedness.

Damascus is one of the very few cities in the world which have maintained a flourishing existence from the time of their foundation. Though often captured and desolated by the ravages of war, it has always recovered its prosperity, and, in all ages, it has enjoyed the reputation of being one of the most delightful places in the world. It is, perhaps, one of the oldest cities now in existence, being mentioned in the time of Abraham. Its political importance as the capital of a kingdom, and the residence of the Arabian khalifs, has already been mentioned. The sovereigns of Syria held their court here for three centuries. The situation of Damascus is about fifty miles from the Mediterranean, in a fertile plain, watered by a river which the Greeks called Chrysorrhoas, or Golden Stream, but now known as the Barrady. It is the centre of the Syrian trade, and forms the rendezvous of all the pilgrims who visit Mecca from the north of Asia. The streets of the city are varied, and one of them, called "Straight," is mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles. Damascus is famous for its manufactures, particularly of sword-blades, which are of so perfect a temper, that no European art has ever been able to equal them.

Damascus was formerly noted for the fanatical bigotry of its inhabitants, and their hatred of Christians. A few years ago, a European dared not enter the streets of this city unless he could manage to disguise himself as a Turk or an Arab. As soon, however, as Ibrahim Pacha had established his authority there, he made such regulations as prevented Christian strangers from being insulted. In 1833, a British consul made a public entry into Damascus, amid a numerous concourse of spectators, who murmured greatly at this innovation; but they were restrained from giving any further proof of their dissatisfaction by the troops which lined the streets on the occasion. It seems, however, that the introduction of Europeans here has



tended to destroy many prejudices that existed against them.

Aleppo, the ancient Beræa, stands on a hilly spot adjoining the desert. Its numerous minarets and domes exhibit a delightful prospect to the eye, fatigued with the monotony of the brown and parched plains that stretch around. It is accounted the third city in the Turkish empire, yielding the precedence only to Constantinople and Cairo. This greatness it owes to the vast extent of its inland trade, for which it is most favorably situated, being in close connection with Syria, Asia Minor, Armenia, and Persia. It is also a rendezvous for pilgrims from all these countries to Mecca. Although it contains no grand monuments, nor even any very magnificent modern edifices, it is yet esteemed the neatest and best built of the Turkish cities. The society is also represented as displaying more toleration and urbanity than that of other Mahometan cities. Aleppo suffered by a dreadful earthquake on the 13th of August, 1822. Twenty thousand persons were killed in the city, and the greater part of the houses were either destroyed or damaged. The population of Aleppo, before the earthquake, was estimated at 250,000.

Scanderoon, or Alexandretta, on the Mediterranean, is regarded as the port of Aleppo. It has a fine harbor, which affords the only good anchorage for large vessels on the coast of Syria. The marshes near the place render it unhealthy, so that it is inhabited only by those persons whom the absolute necessities of commerce compel to make it their residence. It has, consequently, never been any thing more than a large, open village. The inhabitants of this place formerly carried on their correspondence with the merchants of Aleppo by means of carrier pigeons, but this practice is now disused.

Beyroot, the ancient Berytus, and within the limits of ancient Phoenicia, is beautifully situated in a pleasant country, which, from the sea-shore to the foot of the mountains of Lebanon, is covered with rich plantations of olives, mulberry, and palm-trees, diversified with picturesque hamlets and villas, and fragrant lemon and orange groves. The town occupies a declivity, the summit of which is uninhabited. It has for some time been a station for the American missionaries. This place, as has been already remarked, was nearly destroyed by the allied fleet in 1839.

The present inhabitants of Syria are compounded of various races. Within twenty-five hundred years may be reckoned ten great invasions, which have introduced into this country a succession of foreign nations. At the present day, the population may be divided into three principal classes: 1. The descendants of the Greeks of the Byzantine empire; 2. The Arabs, their conquerors; 3. The Turks, who constitute the present ruling power. There are also wandering tribes of Kurds, Turkomans, and Bedouin Arabs. The ancient Syrians, who inhabited the country before the Macedonian conquest, have been either extirpated or so completely absorbed by the conquering population, that they may be regarded as an extinct race.

Of these different inhabitants, some are dispersed over every part of the country, and others confine themselves to particular spots. The Greeks, the Turks, and the Arabian peasants belong to the former class, with this difference, that the Turks reside only in the towns, where they possess the military employments and the offices of the magistracy, and where


they exercise the arts. The Arabs and the Greeks inhabit the villages, forming the class of husbandmen in the country and the inferior population in the towns. The Turkomans, the Kurds, and the Bedouins have no fixed habitations, but are perpetually wandering, with their tents and herds, in limited districts, of which they claim to be the proprietors. The Turkoman hordes generally encamp on the plain of Antioch, the Kurds in the mountains, and the Arabs spread over the whole portion adjacent to the desert.


Famous Men of Syria Libanius


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Jamblichus - Johannes Damascenus, &c. ONE of the most eminent of the Syrian writers was Lucian the Satirist. He was born in the reign of Trajan, at Samosata, the capital of Comagene, a province of Syria. His father, being poor, sent him to learn a sculptor's trade. But in this he had little success. The manner in which Lucian was determined to the vocation of a man of letters is too curious not to be mentioned. We give it in his own words:

"I was fifteen years old when I left off going to school. My father then consulted with his friends how to dispose of me. They did not approve my being devoted to letters on account of the expense. I was therefore put apprentice to my uncle, who was an excellent sculptor. I did not dislike this art, because I had amused myself, at a very early age, in making little figures of wax, in which I succeeded tolerably well. Besides, sculpture seemed to me not so much a trade as an elegant amusement. I therefore went to work in earnest; but I laid on the chisel so clumsily that the stone broke under the weight of my blows; and my angry master beat me. home, crying bitterly, to the great affliction of my mother. That night I had a dream, which made a strong impression upon me.


I ran

Methought two female figures stood before me. The one was rough in appearance, uncombed and dirty, with sleeves tucked up, and face covered with sweat and dust. The other had a graceful air, a sweet and smiling aspect, and a neat and modest attire. They pulled me eagerly to and fro, each one desiring me to choose her for my companion, and, at length, pleaded their cause in the following manner: The first said, 'My son, I am Sculpture, whom you have lately espoused, and whom you have known from infancy, your uncle having made himself very famous by me. If you will follow me, I will render you illustrious. Be not in pain on account of my dress it is that of Phidias and Polycletus, and other great sculptors, who, when living, were adored for their works, and who are still adored with the gods they made. Consider how much glory you will acquire by treading in their steps, and what joy you will give your father and family.'

"The other female said, 'I am Erudition, who preside over all the branches of polite knowledge. Sculpture has shown what you will gain from her; but, by listening to her advice, you will always remain a poor artificer, dependent upon great men for a living. Should you ever rise to the head of your profession, you will only be admired, while none will envy your condition. But, if you follow me, I will teach you



whatever is most noble and excellent in the universe. | tonic philosopher, who flourished in the early part of I will adorn you with the most exalted virtues, modes- the fourth century. He was a perfect master of all ty, justice, piety, humanity, equity, prudence, patience, the mysteries of the Plotinian system, and taught it and the love of whatever is praiseworthy. I will even with such reputation and success, that he attracted bestow immortality upon you, and make you live crowds of disciples. He made high pretensions to forever in the remembrance of mankind. Consider supernatural powers, and astonished the people with what Eschines and Demosthenes, the admiration of wonders which he pretended to perform by means of all ages, became by my help. Socrates, who at first an intercourse with invisible beings. He appears to followed my rival, Sculpture, no sooner knew me, have been a sort of Mesmerist. He was popularly than he abandoned his first mistress to walk in my known by the name of the "most divine and wondertrain.' She had no sooner spoken these words, than I ful teacher." His writings display extensive reading, flew to her embrace. The other, transported with but they are sufficiently obscure. The third Jamblirage and indignation, was immediately transformed chus flourished under Julian the Apostate. He was a into a statue like Niobe. Erudition, to reward my great favorite with that prince, who wrote many letters choice, made me ascend with her into her chariot, to him. His most esteemed work treats of the mysand, touching her winged horses, she carried me from teries of the Egyptians, Chaldeans, and Assyrians. east to west, causing me to scatter universally some- The two latter authors are often confounded together. thing of celestial and divine, that caused mankind to Libanius, the Sophist, was a native of Antioch. He look up with astonishment, and load me with blessings lived in the fourth century, and enjoyed the friendship and praises. She afterwards brought me back to my of the emperor Julian. He was distinguished beyond own country, crowned with glory and honor; and, all his contemporaries in eloquence, and suffered from restoring me to my father, pointed to the splendid robe the envy of rivals, through whose influence he was in which I was arrayed, and said, 'Behold the exalted banished from Constantinople, (A. D. 346.) He retired fortune of which you would have deprived your son first to Nice, in Bithynia, and from thence to Nicomedia, had I not interposed.' Here ended my vision!" in the same province, but was afterwards recalled to Constantinople. Subsequently, however, he withdrew from that capital, and passed the remainder of his life at Antioch. He was admired and patronized by Julian, and, in common with that emperor, cherished the hope of restoring the reign of paganism in the Roman empire. He wrote a great number of discourses, and an autobiography, with about two thousand letters, some of them to Christian fathers. Basil and Chrysostom were both his pupils.

The effect of this dream was to kindle in the mind of Lucian an ardent love for the study of polite learning, to which he entirely devoted himself. He first settled at Antioch; from this city he went into Ionia and Greece, and subsequently travelled in Italy and Gaul. His longest residence was at Athens. While at Antioch, he practised as an advocate: in other places he delivered lectures. In his old age, he was procurator, or register, of the Roman prefect of Egypt. He lived to the reign of the emperor Commodus, to whom he dedicated one of his works.

Lucian was neither a Christian nor a pagan, nor did he espouse any particular sect or creed in philosophy. He wrote on a great variety of subjects, and distinguished himself by acuteness of observation, liveliness of wit, and great power of ridicule and satire. The purity of his Greek, and his clear, lively, and animated style, render him one of the most agreeable of all the ancient writers. Most of his pieces are in the form of dialogue. The absurdities of the pagan religion, and the fashionable conceits, fopperies, and impostures of the day, are equally the butt of his raillery. He paints in a most impressive style the miseries of an artificial state of manners, the vanity and credulity of mankind, the preposterous pride of philosophers, and the arrogant conceit of pedants. His Dialogues of the Dead are admirable specimens of sly humor and ingenious pleasantry. His study was human character, in all its varieties, and the age in which he lived furnished ample materials for his observation. Many of his pictures, though drawn from the circumstances of his own times, are true for every age and country. The character of his mind was decidedly practical, and he was not disposed to believe any thing without sufficient evidence of its truth. The Christian religion is sometimes the object of his satire, but he appears to have been acquainted only with its corruptions.

Three distinguished writers of the name of Jamblichus were natives of Syria. They flourished at different periods. The first lived in the reign of Trajan, and is chiefly known as the author of a romance entitled the Loves of Sinon and Rodane. The second was a Pla

Johannes Damascenus, sometimes called St. John of Damascus, was born in the seventh or eighth century. His youth was spent in the service of a Mahometan khalif, but he afterwards retired into the monastery of St. Sabas, in Syria, where he became a monk, and died at the age of eighty-four. He was the author of many theological and controversial writings, particularly against the sect of Iconoclasts, which subjected him to much persecution. In the legends of the saints, it is stated that his right hand was cut off as a punishment for having used his pen against the ecclesiastical authority which then prevailed, but that it was miraculously restored to him by the Virgin Mary. He is chiefly known as the author of a romance entitled the Lives of Barlaam and Josaphat. This work appears to have been written with a view to promote the taste for monkish seclusion. In the times which succeeded the early ages of Christianity, the spirit of the new religion was but imperfectly understood by many of its most zealous ministers. A belief most fatal to the prac tice of genuine religion became prevalent-that the rejection of the Creator's bounties in this world is the best method of securing happiness in the next. John of Damascus, in striving to enforce this dogma, invented a fiction which deserves special notice in a history of the progress of polite literature.

This author pretends that the incidents of his tale had been told to him by certain pious Ethiopians, meaning Hindoos, as is evident by referring to the state of geographical knowledge at that period. These Ethiopians found them engraved on tablets of unsuspected veracity. The story has furnished a model for all subsequent spiritual romances. It is said, with some probability, to be founded in truth, though the



prophetic orthodoxy of the writer has anticipated reli- | breathing flames, and prepared to devour him, while gious discussions which were not agitated till some the unicorn was endeavoring to reach him from above. centuries after the date of his narrative. Martyrs In this situation, his attention was attracted by drops of and magicians, theological arguments and triumphs over infidelity, alternately fill the pages of the romance, while Satan and his agents lie in wait for every opportunity to entrap the unwary seeker for religious truth. The style is formed on that of the Bible. The long discourses of Barlaam abound with parables and ingenious and amusing similitudes. It is remarkable that so long a composition, on a religious subject, should continue throughout to interest the reader, by the variety of its incidents and the spirit and liveliness of the dialogue. Many of the parables and apologues bear evident marks of Oriental origin. We copy one as a specimen :

"A traveller once met a unicorn, which pursued him at a furious pace. In attempting to escape, he fell over the edge of a deep pit, but saved himself by grasping the twigs of a shrub which grew on the side. While he hung suspended over the yawning abyss, he observed two mice, the one white and the other black, gnawing away the root of the plant by which he held. At the bottom of the gulf he saw a monstrous dragon,

honey distilling from the branches to which he clung. Unmindful of the horrors by which he was surrounded, he occupied himself in licking the honey from the plant, instead of thinking how he might save his life. In this apologue the unicorn typifies Death, by whom all men are pursued; the pit is the world, full of evils; the shrub, gnawed by the black and white mice, is life, which is diminished, and at last consumed, by night and day; the dragon is hell; and the honey temporal pleasure, which we eagerly follow, regardless of the snares which are every where spread for our destruction."

In consequence of the number and beauty of these apologues and parables, the Lives of Barlaam and Josaphat became a great favorite in the middle ages, and was frequently imitated. At a later period its influence was felt in Italian literature. Several of the tales of Boccaccio are composed of materials drawn from this work, and it was unquestionably the model of that species of spiritual fiction which was so prevalent in France during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

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Ruins of Palmyra.

The Trade of the East Reign of Zenobia Siege of Palmyra by the Romans.

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ON a small oasis in the Syrian desert, about midway between the Mediterranean Sea and the Euphrates, lie the ruins of a city alike wonderful for its extent and magnificence. This city was Palmyra, called in Scripture Tadmor in the Desert. Its origin is uncertain, nor is it known at what time it was founded. The coast of Syria was in very early ages rich and populous, and the ruins of more than thirty cities are to be seen in the region to the south-east of the Dead

Sea, and from thence towards Palmyra. This latter
city was, therefore, probably only one link in a con-
tinued chain of settlements from the sea to the interior
of the desert or perhaps its termination.
The situation of towns and cities in the sandy desert
must of necessity be determined by local advantages.
Palmyra is placed where two ridges of hills converge.
The spot is level, enclosed on three sides by lofty
eminences, and bounded on the fourth by a vast plain.
The hills afford water, and the air around is salubrious;
but the soil is barren, producing only a few palm-
trees. The fortunate position of the place, however,
between Mesopotamia and Syria, recommended it, at
a very early period, as a proper site for a commercial
station. Before the age of Moses, the journeys of

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