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Description of Babylon.

Holofernes had no less than 1200 mounted contradictions and incongruities of Assyrian history be archers in his war against Judah. In sieges, various made to disappear in the light of clear and consistent engines, such as ladders for scaling, and batteries for narrative. demolishing walls, were employed. The warriors generally wore a tunic of felt, or leather, beneath scale-armor of iron. Different corps had different uniforms. The caps and helmets were of various forms; many were elegant. The shields were round, conical on one side, and highly ornamented. The banners were carried by charioteers: the king and his chief officers used the bow, and attendants supplied them with arrows. The bowmen drew the arm to the ear, like the Saxons and our Indians, and not to the breast, like the Greeks. War seems to have been the chief glory of kings, and it was attended by all the pomp which a gorgeous fancy could suggest, or unbounded wealth supply.

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Supposed Plan of Ancient Babylon.

BABYLON, the capital of Babylonia, and afterwards. of the Assyrian empire, as well as the metropolis of the great empires which followed it, was one of the wonders of the ancient world, for its vast size, architectural embellishments, and the enormous wealth it contained. The accounts of this city, in the writings of the Greeks, seem, to an ordinary observer, exaggerated to a high degree; yet these descriptions are so circumstantial and consistent with known facts, that there can be no doubt of their general truth. Herodotus, who visited Babylon about 450 B. C., describes it with great minuteness and undoubted fidelity.

The king was the source and centre of power; he was lord of the kingdom, and master of the souls and bodies of the people. These yielded without hesitation; he accepted, and used without scruple. He consumed the treasures which the toil of his subjects had gathered as his own, and he sacrificed their happiness, and shed their blood as freely as we do that of our domestic animals, fed and bred for the slaughter-house. Nor need we be too harsh in our estimate of these monarchs of antiquity, for it is This famous city stood on both sides of the Eueasy to find resemblances in an age of greater light. phrates, in the middle of a wide plain. It was an Napoleon sacrificed as many lives in his Russian exact square, fifteen miles in length and breadth; concampaign as Senacherib in his invasion of Judah; sequently, the whole circuit of the walls was 60 the French in Algeria have done deeds as merciless miles. They were 350 feet high, and 87 feet thick; as those of any eastern despot; the British, at the they were built of brick cemented with bitumen, and present moment, are waging war in India, as grasping were encompassed by a broad ditch, filled with water. and merciless as the wars of Nebuchadnezzar, or Tig- On each side of the city were 25 gates of solid brass, lath Pileser; and in our own conquest and removal of and upwards of 100 towers rose above the battlements the Seminoles, we have closely followed the conduct of the walls. The streets of the city were all straight, of the Assyrian kings toward the Jews, which drew crossing each other at right angles; and in this mandown the denunciations and the doom of prophecy. ner they formed 676 squares, each two miles and a Such are the main results of the recent discoveries among the ruins of Nineveh. It is clear that the ancient Assyrian manners and customs greatly resembled those of the Babylonians, which we have already described. We see in them, indeed, the same government, religion, and civilization, in their earlier In the centre of the city was a bridge across the stages. This is a great accession to our knowledge; Euphrates, an eighth of a mile in length. The arches if, at last, the writings upon the bricks and slabs were built of stones fastened together with clamps of now deposited in London and Paris shall be deci-iron and lead. As the Euphrates is subject to periodphered, still more interesting contributions to history ical inundations, occasioned by the melting of the snow will be realized. In that event, long lines of kings, on the mountains of Armenia, two canals were cut, to hitherto unknown, may be brought to light, wide turn the waters into the Tigris, and vast artificial chasms in chronology may be filled up, and the mazy embankments were raised on each side of the river.

quarter in circuit. The river ran through the city from north to south, and on each side was a quay of the same thickness as the walls of the city. These quays were furnished with gates of brass, and steps leading down to the river.



On the western side of the city was an artificial lake, 40 miles square and 35 feet deep, into which the waters of the river might be turned, when necessary. At each end of the bridge was a palace, and a tunnel passing under the river afforded a communication between them. The larger of these palaces was surrounded by walls seven miles in circuit. Within the outer circuit were two other walls, the one within the other, and the whole three were adorned with curious sculpture, representing different species of animals and hunting scenes. This palace contained many magnificent works of architecture, among which were three halls of brass, one under another, opening by a curious mechanical contrivance, and designed for the celebration of certain festivals.

luxuries. All this may be explained by referring to the fertility of Babylonia, which, owing to irrigation of the lands, not only produced more abundantly than other countries, but also supplied a quicker succession of crops,

one product of nature speedily following another in the same season. The Babylonians also, like the inhabitants of Southern Asia in general, lived on the simple and immediate produce of the ground; and it is well known that nations subsisting chiefly on grains and roots attain a degree of populousness almost incredible to those who judge animal food necessary to existence. In the dry climate of Babylonia the crops of many years might be treasured up with safety, and we have abundant proof in history that this expedient for preventing scarcity was in actual use by the BabyloNear the centre of Babylon stood the temple of nians. Belus, attributed to Semiramis. It comprised eight After Alexander's conquest, history says very little stories or towers, rising one above the other, to the of this great city. For a time it was the capital of height of 600 feet. In the different stories were Seleucus, but he soon transferred his court to Antilarge halls, with ceilings, supported by pillars. On och. A Parthian general is said to have ravaged the top of the whole was an astronomical observatory. it about B. C. 127, destroying the public buildings, In the various parts of this edifice were chapels, appro- and carrying off great numbers of the inhabitants priated to the worship of the god Bel, and other divin- to slavery. In the reign of the emperor Augustus, ities, and all of these contained treasures of immense Babylon was almost deserted. Some time afterwards value, in statues, censers, cups, and sacred vessels of the Jews took refuge in this city, where they were massy gold. On the summit of the topmost tower cruelly persecuted by Caligula. In the beginning of were three golden statues of divinities, called by the the fourth century the walls were used as an enGreeks Jupiter, Juno, and Rhea. The first was forty closure for game, by the King of Persia. In the feet high. That of Juno was proportionally inferior middle of the fifth century the only inhabitants of in size; she was seated on a golden throne, with lions Babylon were a few Jews. At this date the Euphraat each knee, and two serpents of silver. The statue tes had changed its course, and no longer reached the of Rhea was of the same height with that of Jupiter; city, except by means of a small canal. After this, she grasped a serpent in her right hand, and a sceptre we hear no more of Babylon but as a heap of ruins. enriched with gems in her left. Accompanying these It is now a scene of desolation, and strikingly fulfils statues was a table of beaten gold, forty feet long and fifteen feet wide, supporting goblets and vases of the richest description. It has been calculated that the treasures in this temple amounted in value to six hundred millions of dollars. All this wealth the kings of Babylon had acquired by the plunder of their neighbors.

the prophecy of Isaiah, uttered in the height of its prosperity : "And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldee's excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. The wild beasts of the desert shall lurk in its ruins: the houses shall be full of doleful creatures; there shall the owls dwell and the satyrs dance."


Celebrated Characters among the Assyrians and

Babylonians. General Remarks.

The hanging gardens were among the chief curiosities of the city. The wife of Nebuchadnezzar, having been bred in the mountainous part of Media, desired to have something in Babylon to resemble the scenes of her childhood; and the king, to gratify her, caused these gardens to be constructed. They consisted of large terraces raised upon arches, one over the other. On the tops of the highest terraces were first laid large flat stones; over these a layer of reeds mixed with NIMROD was the son of Cush, the grandson of Ham, bitumen, and on these a layer of bricks closely ce- and great-grandson of Noah. In becoming what the mented. All these were covered with sheets of lead, Scriptures call "a mighty hunter," he seems to have which served as a floor for the garden mould; and had two objects in view. The first was to gain the this mould was so deep that large trees could take people's affection, by delivering them from the ravages root in it. The whole surface was diversified with of wild beasts. The other was to train up numbers trees, shrubs, and flowers, and with summer-houses, of young people, by the exercise of hunting, to endure from which the most delightful prospects were afforded. As it is impossible to call in question the astonishing magnitude of Babylon, many persons have been perplexed in endeavoring to discover how its inhabitants could have been supplied with food. In the We find in ancient writers some notice of this artinarratives of ancient writers we hear nothing of those fice. Diodorus mentions Nimrod, under the name of famines which often prevail in the populous cities of Ninus, in these words: "Ninus, the most ancient of China, and other countries of the East, and which Assyrian kings mentioned in history, performed great reduce the wretched natives to the most deplorable actions. Being naturally of a warlike disposition, and straits for food. On the contrary, the Babylonians ambitious of the glory that attends valor, he armed a are represented as living in great plenty, and the up- considerable number of young men, who were brave per classes as enjoying the habitual use of expensive and vigorous like himself, trained them up a long

labor and hardship; to form them to the use of arms, and the practice of discipline and obedience, that he might in the end have a body of soldiers at command, for more serious purposes than hunting animals.


time in exercises and hardships, and by that means accustomed them to bear the fatigues of war patiently, and to face danger with courage."

Semiramis may be regarded as one of the most remarkable women that ever lived, although, according to the opinions of many, the actions recorded of her cannot be justly ascribed to a single person, but ought rather to be regarded as a collated view of the achievements of many distinct sovereigns. What is known of her, however, serves to show her general spirit and character. Ambition, and the love of glory, were evidently the predominant features of the character of Semiramis. Regardless of the welfare of others, she took delight only in conquering nations, and in performing deeds designed to send her fame to the remotest corners of the globe, and transmit it to posterity. No risk was thought too considerable, no expense too great, and no trouble too oppressive, to a woman bent on grasping at splendid though empty distinctions. Her name is, indeed, recorded on the page of history, and mighty actions are ascribed to her; but they are so deeply involved in obscurity that they can scarcely be called the acts of Semiramis; and the progress of intellectual light and sound knowledge has shown them rather to merit condemnation than applause.

Belesis, the governor of Babylonia, was a Chaldean priest. He seems to have been crafty and mean, for he practised deception upon Arbaces, his coadjutor in the conquest of Assyria. Being informed of the immense treasures consumed in the palaces by the conflagration of Nineveh, he pretended to Arbaces that he had made a vow to his god, Belus, to carry the ashes of the city to Babylon. The ashes were accordingly taken thither, and were doubtless well sifted by the pious Belesis. The trick was afterwards discovered, and the deceiver was condemned to death; but Arbaces generously left him in possession of his throne, saying, "The good he has done ought to serve as a veil to his crime." It is added that Belesis became so debased as to disgust Arbaces, who seems to have despised effeminacy. Accordingly, he sent an ambassador to reprove the Babylonian sovereign: but the latter caused the messenger to be assailed by various seductions, and forgetting his mission, he became more dissipated than the object of his intended reproof.


of more authentic materials, are received as history. Cautioned by these considerations, we may still arrive at certain important conclusions, in respect to the policy and influence of these ancient governments.

It is certain that the countries of Assyria and Babylonia once teemed with a population to whom fertile fields, large flocks, ample harvests, productive manufactures, and an extended commerce, gave occupation and support; that they were covered with cities, abounding in wealth and luxury; and that here, indeed, was the seat of trade, arts, and civilization. It is equally certain that these territories are now, to a great extent, desolate, the soil unproductive, and the inhabitants, few in number, in a state of abject barbarism. As the climate of these lands is the same now as in ancient times, -as the hills, valleys, rivers the great landmarks of nature - are ever the same, whence the amazing difference between the past and the present, in all the features of moral and political geography?

The answer is full of instruction; it is to government we must impute these striking phenomena. At the outset of society, the rulers of Assyria and Babylonia, the Nimrods and Ashurs, were doubtless military chieftains, who had yet the enlightened views of statesmen. They established regular governments, insured tranquillity, and gave general security to life and property. Under such auspices, the industry and genius of the people found scope in the cultivation of the soil, in the pursuits of commerce, and, in due time, in the working of mines, and the labors and inventions attendant upon the arts which have birth among a thriving people.

Admitting the despotic character of the Assyrian monarchies, we still come to the conclusion that they were administered, at least for long periods of time, with ability and wisdom. Selfish as these sovereigns seem blemished as are their personal annals by acts of cruelty, debauchery and crime-the results show that many of them were statesmen of enlarged views; and if we cannot call them patriots, we may at least assign to them that enlightened ambition which seeks glory in national improvement. Not only the records of history, but the vestiges of canals, dykes, embankments and bridges, testify to the liberal Nebuchadnezzar distinguished himself by executing policy of some of these ancient sovereigns in the prothe great projects which had been first conceived by motion of internal improvements for the benefit of his father. After he had firmly established himself agriculture, commerce and the arts. upon the throne, and enlarged and secured the borders To this source, then, - the wise encouragement of of his empire, he turned his attention to the improve-government, we are to look for the wealth and prosment and embellishment of his capital. In his hands perity of the Assyrians and Babylonians. The forBabylon acquired that magnitude and splendor for eign wars of the kings, at certain periods, may have which it was celebrated in subsequent ages. To given to the two great capitals a portion of their Nebuchadnezzar we must assign the most magnifi- splendor; but the substantial prosperity of the kingcent ornamental and useful objects in that great city; dom was doubtless diminished rather than augmented the fortifications, the gardens, the lakes, &c., which by these means. From the luxury consequent upon some writers ascribe to Semiramis. This suppo- the plunder of other nations, we may suppose the corsition agrees with the scriptural account of his own ruptions sprung which debased alike the government vain-glorious boast, as he looked down upon the city and the people, and prepared the way for the total from the terraces of his palace: Is not this great wreck of society which ensued. In this condition, Babylon, that I have built for the house of the king- Assyria and Babylonia became the victims of Mahomdom by the might of my power, and for the honor of etanism, a system of religion and law, which in all my majesty ?" ages and all countries has impoverished the masses, If we attempt to pass from these sketches of indi- and proved an effectual barrier to general prosperity vidual character to general views of the Assyrian and national civilization. "The grass never grows monarchs, we are necessarily embarrassed by the im- where the Sultan's horse has set his foot" is an eastperfect state of our knowledge, and the apocryphal ern proverb, the force of which is seen in many of the nature of many of the details, which, in the absence finest portions of Asia.

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700 to 534 B. C.

Reign of Dijoces-Scythian Invasion-End of the Median Empire.

MEDIA Comprised the country south of the Caspian Sea, now belonging to Persia, and called Irak Adjemi, or Persian Irak, to distinguish it from Irak Arabi, or Babylonian Irak. It constitutes the central part of the present kingdom of Persia. It is traversed by long naked mountains, with fertile valleys between. It is scattered over with ruins of cities, aqueducts, gardens and roads, whose founders have faded from the pages of history.

Such is Media proper; but as spoken of in history, it is impossible to fix its boundaries, for they varied at different times. The country is mentioned as early as the date of the first kings of Assyria. Semiramis is said to have marched hither with a large army, which implies that the Medes were then numerous and powerful. She is said to have caused many monuments to be raised along her track, and some of the existing vestiges of cities and gardens are referred to her time.

at the Persian court in the time of Artaxerxes Mnemon, tells one story, and Herodotus another. These are utterly irreconcilable, but on the supposition that each omits large portions of history, and one frequently speaks of dynasties wholly overlooked by the other.

Groping in this darkness, we are only able to assure ourselves of the facts above stated in relation to the remote annals of Media. There were, doubtless, kings and dynasties wholly lost to history, except such casual glimpses as are revealed in the accounts of Assyria and Babylonia, to which we have alluded. Herodotus speaks of Dijoces as the founder of a very ancient line of kings, but we know nothing of them. Subsequent to this, in the eighth century B. C., Media appears to be a province of Assyria, of which Arbaces is satrap or governor. Disgusted with the effeminacy of Sardanapalus, he combined with Belesis, governor of Babylonia, and together they overturned and divided the empire, 876 B. C. Arbaces became King of Media, over which he reigned twenty-eight years. Ctesias makes his dynasty consist of eight kings.

Herodotus considers another Dijoces than the one already mentioned, as the true founder of the Median The ancient population of Media seems to have empire. He may have been one of the successors of possessed a vigorous character, and to have been Arbaces, who extended his dominion over all Media, greatly addicted to horsemanship. Their country, reducing the independent tribes and consolidating the consisting of mountains and valleys, was favorable to whole into one empire. He was originally no more the breeding of horses, the Nisæan plain, alone, having than a private citizen; but he bore a high character for 150,000 at a time. In other respects, the country was talents and prudent conduct. In his time, great disorders also highly productive. For many ages, the Median were prevalent in the country, owing to defects in the nation seems to have been more important than the government, or, perhaps, to the want of all governPersian. In the later ages, when Media became ment. Dijoces, on account of his commanding qualimore known, it is spoken of as divided into Great ties and high reputation, was elevated to the post of Media, of which Ecbatana, now Hamadan, was the chief man in his native village. In this office he capital; and Lesser Media, of which Gaza, now Febris, acquitted himself with great discretion and success, was the capital. and brought the inhabitants of his village into reguThe same confusion which attends the early history lar and peaceful modes of life. The members of the of Assyria and Babylonia disfigures that of Media. other communities, whom perpetual disorders had Ctesias, a Greek physician, who lived seventeen years kept in a wretched and suffering state, observing the


good order and prosperity which the government of Dijoces had introduced, began to apply to him, and make him the arbitrator of their differences.

The fame of his equity daily increased, and his influence in the nation soon eclipsed that of any other man. He now conceived the design of establishing his authority in a formal and permanent manner. For this purpose, he withdrew from public business, pretending to be overwhelmed with the multiplicity of its cares. The want of his advice and authority was so sensibly felt that Dijoces found no difficulty in persuading the people to elect him their king. This is said to have occurred about 700 years before Christ.


pursued and overtaken by his enemies, who deliberately shot him through with darts.

Cyaxares I. is the next King of Media mentioned in history. He is said to have begun his reign B. C. 635. He re-established the affairs of the kingdom, and enlarged its borders by new conquests. He next undertook a war against the Assyrians, to avenge the insult which his nation had sustained in the sacking of Ecbatana. In the first battle he defeated the Assyrians, and drove them into Nineveh, their capital. Pursuing his victory, he laid siege to the city, which was on the point of surrendering, when an unexpected event suddenly turned the tide of war against the invaders.

Dijoces, having secured his authority in this man- A great army of Scythians, from the neighborhood ner, determined to surround himself with all those of the northern shores of the Black Sea, had a short marks of dignity and power which inspire respect for time before this expelled the Cimmerians from Euthe person of a monarch. He caused his subjects to rope, and was still marching, under the command of build him a magnificent palace, strongly fortified; King Madyes, in pursuit of them. The Cimmerians and in this residence he maintained a large body of had found means to escape from their enemies, and guards, with trains of attendants, servants, &c. Hav- the Scythians, in the pursuit, advanced as far as Meing thus provided for his personal security, he under-dia. The account of this invasion was brought to took the task of civilizing the Medes, and bringing Cyaxares while he was encamped before Nineveh. them into sober and orderly habits. Before his time He immediately raised the siege, and marched with all they led a barbarous life, and their habits were roving his forces against the mighty army of barbarians, and unsettled. Dijoces determined to build a large which threatened to overwhelm all the civilized porcity, as a means of giving a new and permanent character to the population.

He accordingly selected a spot, and marked out the circuit of the walls. The people willingly assisted in carrying his plans into effect; so high an opinion did they entertain of his wisdom. When the whole was completed, the city was encompassed with seven walls, one within the other; the interior walls rising above the outer, so that the inhabitants of the whole seven could be seen at once from without. The site of the place favored this design, it being a rising ground, with an equal slope on every side. Within the seventh enclosure stood the king's palace and treasury. Outside of this were lodged the officers of his household; the remainder of the city was occupied by the common people. This city he named Ecbatana: it has been supposed to be the same with the modern Ispahan, though more probably the site was near the present city of Hamadan.

Dijoces made good laws for the government of the Medes; but either from a fear of conspiracies, or with a design to envelop himself in mystery, and thereby strike the people with awe, he passed all his time in the innermost part of his palace, unseen by the multitude. They continued to regard him with feelings of obedience and veneration, and his reign passed in tranquillity, undisturbed either by domestic sedition or foreign war. He died B. C. 657.

tion of Asia. The two armies met; the Medes were vanquished, and the Scythians were masters of all Media and the neighboring countries. They next directed their march to Egypt, but Psammetichus, the king of that country, purchased their friendship with presents. They then overran Palestine, and plundered the temple of Venus, at Askelon, which was the most ancient shrine dedicated to that goddess. Some of them settled permanently at Bethshan, a city belonging to the Jewish tribe of Manasseh, which, from this circumstance, received the name of Scythopolis.

During a period of twenty-eight years the Scythians remained masters of Media, Armenia, Cappadocia, Pontus, Colchis, and Iberia: that is, they continued marching hither and thither over these countries, spreading desolation wherever they came. The Medes, finding it impossible to expel them from their territories by force, resorted to stratagem. Under pretence of strengthening the alliance which they had been forced to make with these people, they invited the greater part of them to a general feast, which was participated in by every family. Each master of the feast made his guests intoxicated, and in that condition the Scythians were nearly all massacred. The Medes then re-conquered the provinces which they had lost, and once more extended their empire to the banks of the river Halys, in Asia Minor, which was their ancient boundary in the west.

Phraortes his son, succeeded him. He was of a Those of the Scythians who escaped the massacre very warlike temper, and not content with the king- fled into the kingdom of Lydia, where they were redom of Media, invaded the territory of the Persians, ceived in a friendly manner by King Halyattes. This defeated them in a great battle, and established his brought on a war between him and Cyaxares; and a own dominion over them. Uniting the Persian army Median army immediately advanced to the frontiers to that of Media, he found himself strong enough to of Lydia. Many battles were fought in the space of attack other neighboring nations. He made many five years, without any decisive results. In the sixth conquests, and at length, turned his arms against the year, a very remarkable event happened. At the Assyrians. In this war, however, he was unsuccess- commencement of a battle between the armies of the ful. The Median army was defeated, and compelled two nations an eclipse of the sun occurred, The comto retreat to their own country. The Assyrians pur- batants, terrified at this phenomenon, believed it to be sued them, captured Ecbatana, pillaged the city, and a sign of the anger of the gods, and immediately put stripped the royal palace of all its treasures and orna- an end to the fight. A peace was concluded between Phraortes escaped to the mountains, but was the two kings in consequence of this interruption of


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