450. Triangular altar, Khorsabad (after Botta)
451. Portable altar in an Assyrian camp,
with priests offering, Khorsabad (ditto)
at Nimrud (ditto)
452. Worshipper bringing an offering,
from a cylinder (after Lajard)
453. Figure of Tiglath-Pileser I.
(from an original drawing by Mr. John Taylor)
455. Stele of Asshur-izir-pal with an altar in front, Nimrud
(from the original in the British Museum)
457. Assyrian sphinx, time of Asshur-bani-pal
458. Scythian soldiers, from a vase found in a Scythian tomb
"The graven image, and the molten image."—NAHUM i. 14
The religion of the Assyrians so nearly resembled—at least in its external aspect, in which alone we can contemplate it—the religion of the primitive Chaldaeans, that it will be unnecessary, after the full treatment which that subject received in an earlier portion of this work, to do much more than notice in the present place certain peculiarities by which it would appear that the cult of Assyria was distinguished from that of the neighboring and closely connected country. With the exception that the first god in the Babylonian Pantheon was replaced by a distinct and thoroughly national deity in the Pantheon of Assyria, and that certain deities whose position was prominent in the one occupied a subordinate position in the other, the two religious systems may be pronounced, not similar merely but identical. Each of them, without any real monotheism, commences with the same preeminence of a single deity, which is followed by the same groupings of identically the same divinities; and after that, by a multitudinous polytheism, which is chiefly of a local character. Each country, so far as we can see, has nearly the same worship-temples, altars, and ceremonies of the same type—the same religious emblems—the same ideas. The only difference here is, that in Assyria ampler evidence exists of what was material in the religious system, more abundant representations of the objects and modes of worship; so that it will be possible to give, by means of illustrations, a more graphic portraiture of the externals of the religion of the Assyrians than the scantiness of the remains permitted in the case of the primitive Chaldaeans.
At the head of the Assyrian Pantheon stood the "great god." Asshur. His usual titles are "the great Lord," "the King of all the Gods," "he who rules supreme over the Gods." Sometimes he is called "the Father of the Gods," though that is a title which is more properly assigned to Belus. His place is always first in invocations. He is regarded throughout all the Assyrian inscriptions as the especial tutelary deity both of the kings and of the country. He places the monarchs upon their throne, firmly establishes then in the government, lengthens the years of their reigns, preserves their power, protects their forts and armies, makes their name celebrated, and the like. To him they look to give them victory over their enemies, to grant them all the wishes of their heart, and to allow them to be succeeded on their thrones by their sons and their sons' sons, to a remote posterity. Their usual phrase when speaking of him is "Asshur, my lord." They represent themselves as passing their lives in his service. It is to spread his worship that they carry on their wars. They fight, ravage, destroy in his name. Finally, when they subdue a country, they are careful to "set up the emblems of Asshur," and teach the people his laws and his worship.
The tutelage of Asshur over Assyria is strongly marked by the identity of his name with that of the country, which in the original is complete. It is also indicated by the curious fact that, unlike the other gods, Asshur had no notorious temple or shrine in any particular city of Assyria, a sign that his worship was spread equally throughout the whole land, and not to any extent localized. As the national deity, he had given name to the original capital; but even at Asshur (Kileh-Sherghat) it may be doubted whether there was any building which was specially his. Therefore it is a reasonable conjectures that all the shrines throughout Assyria were open to his worship, to whatever minor god they might happen to be dedicated.
In the inscriptions the Assyrians are constantly described as "the servants of Asshur," and their enemies as "the enemies of Asshur." The Assyrian religion is "the worship of Asshur." No similar phrases are used with respect to any of the other gods of the Pantheon.
We can scarcely doubt that originally the god Asshur was the great progenitor of the race, Asshur, the son of Shen, deified. It was not long, however, before this notion was lost, and Asshur came to be viewed simply as a celestial being—the first and highest of all the divine agents who ruled over heaven and earth. It is indicative of the (comparatively speaking) elevated character of Assyrian polytheism that this exalted and awful deity continued from first to last the main object of worship, and was not superseded in the thoughts of men by the lower and more intelligible divinities, such as Shamas and Sin, the Sun and Moon, Nergal the God of War, Nin the God of Hunting, or Vul the wielder of the thunderbolt.
The favorite emblem under which the Assyrians appear to have represented Asshur in their works of art was the winged circle or globe, from which a figure in a horned cap is frequently seen to issue, sometimes simply holding a bow (Fig. I.), sometimes shooting his arrows against the Assyrians' enemies (Fig II.). This emblem has been variously explained; but the most probable conjecture would seem to be that the circle typifies eternity, while the wings express omnipresence, and the human figure symbolizes wisdom or intelligence. The emblem appears under many varieties. Sometimes the figure which issues from it has no bow, and is represented as simply extending the right hand (Fig. III.); occasionally both hands are extended, and the left holds a ring or chaplet (Fig. IV.). In one instance we see a very remarkable variation: for the complete human figure is substituted a mere pair of hands, which seem to come from behind the winged disk, the right open and exhibiting the palm, the left closed and holding a bow. In a large number of cases all sign of a person is dispensed with, the winged circle appearing alone, with the disk either plain or ornamented. On the other hand, there are one or two instances where the emblem exhibits three human heads instead of one—the central figure having on either side of it, a head, which seems to rest upon the feathers of the wing.
It is the opinion of some critics, based upon this form of the emblem, that the supreme deity of the Assyrians, whom the winged circle seems always to represent, was in reality a triune god. Now certainly the triple human form is very remarkable, and lends a color to this conjecture; but, as there is absolutely nothing, either in the statements of ancient writers, or in the Assyrian inscriptions, so far as they have been deciphered, to confirm the supposition, it can hardly be accepted as the true explanation of the phenomenon. The doctrine of the Trinity, scarcely apprehended with any distinctness even by the ancient Jews, does not appear to have been one of those which primeval revelation made known throughout the heathen world. It is a fanciful mysticism which finds a Trinity in the Eicton, Cneph, and Phtha of the Egyptians, the Oromasdes, Mithras, and Arhimanius of the Persians, and the Monas, Logos and Psyche of Pythagoras and Plato. There are abundant Triads in ancient mythology, but no real Trinity. The case of Asshur is, however, one of simple unity, He is not even regularly included in any Triad. It is possible, however, that the triple figure shows him to us in temporary combination with two other gods, who may be exceptionally represented in this way rather than by their usual emblems. Or the three heads may be merely an exaggeration of that principle of repetition which gives rise so often to a double representation of a king or a god, and which is seen at Bavian in the threefold repetition of another sacred emblem, the horned cap.
It is observable that in the sculptures the winged circle is seldom found except in immediate connection with the monarch. The great King wears it embroidered upon his robes, carries it engraved upon his cylinder, represents it above his head in the rock-tablets on which he carves his image a stands or kneels in adoration before it, fights under its shadow, under its protection returns victorious, places it conspicuously in the scenes where he himself is represented on his obelisks. And in these various representations he makes the emblem in a great measure conform to the circumstances in which he himself is engaged at the time. Where he is fighting, Asshur too has his arrow on the string, and points it against the king's adversaries. Where he is returning from victory, with the disused bow in the left hand and the right hand outstretched and elevated, Asshur takes the same attitude. In peaceful scenes the bow disappears altogether. If the king worships, the god holds out his hand to aid; if he is engaged in secular arts, the divine presence is thought to be sufficiently marked by the circle and wings without the human figure.
An emblem found in such frequent connection with the symbol of Asshur as to warrant the belief that it was attached in a special way to his worship, is the sacred or symbolical tree. Like the winged circle, this emblem has various forms. The simplest consists of a short pillar springing from a single pair of rams' horns, and surmounted by a capital composed of two pairs of rams' horns separated by one, two, or three horizontal bands; above which there is, first, a scroll resembling that which commonly surmounts the winged circle, and then a flower, very much like the "honeysuckle ornament" of the Greeks. More advanced specimens show the pillar elongated with a capital in the middle in addition to the capital at the top, while the blossom above the upper capital, and generally the stem likewise, throw out a number of similar smaller blossoms, which are sometimes replaced by fir-cones or pomegranates. Where the tree is most elaborately portrayed, we see, besides the stem and the blossoms, a complicated network of branches, which after interlacing with one another form a sort of arch surrounding the tree itself as with a frame.
It is a subject of curious speculation, whether this sacred tree does not stand connected with the Asherah of the Phoenicians, which was certainly not a "grove," in the sense in which we commonly understand that word. The Asherah which the Jews adopted from the idolatrous nations with whom they came in contact, was an artificial structure, originally of wood, but in the later times probably of metal, capable of being "set" in the temple at Jerusalem by one king, and "brought out" by another. It was a structure for which "hangings" could be made, to cover and protect it, while at the same time it was so far like a tree that it could be properly said to be "cut down," rather than "broken" or otherwise demolished. The name itself seems to imply something which stood, straight up; and the conjecture is reasonable that its essential element was "the straight stem of a tree," though whether the idea connected with the emblem was of the same nature with that which underlay the phallic rites of the Greeks is (to say the least) extremely uncertain. We have no distinct evidence that the Assyrian sacred tree was a real tangible object: it may have been, as Mr. Layard supposes, a mere type. But it is perhaps on the whole more likely to have been an actual object; in which case we can not but suspect that it stood in the Assyrian system in much the same position as the Asherah in the Phoenician, being closely connected with the worship of the supreme god, and having certainly a symbolic character, though of what exact kind it may not be easy to determine.
An analogy has been suggested between this Assyrian emblem and the Scriptural "tree of life," which is thought to be variously reflected in the multiform mythology of the East. Are not such speculations somewhat over-fanciful There is perhaps, in the emblem itself, which combines the horns of the ram—an animal noted for procreative power—with the image of a fruit or flower-producing tree, ground for supposing that some allusion is intended to the prolific or generative energy in nature; but more than this can scarcely be said without venturing upon mere speculation. The time perhaps ere long arrive when, by the interpretation of the mythological tablets of the Assyrians, their real notions on this and other kindred subjects may become known to us. Till then, it is best to remain content with such facts as are ascertainable, without seeking to penetrate mysteries at which we can but guess, and where, even if we guess aright, we cannot know that we do so.
The gods worshipped in Assyria in the next degree to Asshur appear to have been, in the early times, Anu and Vul; in the later, Bel, Sin, Shamas, Vul, Nin or Ninip, and Nergal. Gula, Ishtar, and Beltis were favorite goddesses. Hoa, Nebo, and Merodach, though occasional objects of worship, more especially under the later empire, were in far less repute in Assyria than in Babylonia; and the two last-named may almost be said to have been introduced into the former country from the latter during the historical period.
For the special characteristics of these various gods—common objects of worship to the Assyrians and the Babylonians from a very remote epoch—the reader is referred to the first part of this volume, where their several attributes and their position in the Chaldaean Pantheon have been noted. The general resemblance of the two religious systems is such, that almost everything which has been stated with respect to the gods of the First Empire may be taken us applying equally to those of the Second; and the reader is requested to make this application in all cases, except where some shade of difference, more or less strongly marked, shall be pointed out. In the following pages, without repeating what has been said in the first part of this volume, some account will be given of the worship of the principal gods in Assyria and of the chief temples dedicated to their service.
The worship of Anu seems to have been introduced into Assyria from Babylonia during the times of Chaldaean supremacy which preceded the establishment of the independent Assyrian kingdom. Shamas-Vul, the son of Ishii-Dagon, king of Chaldaea, built a temple to Anu and Vul at Asshur, which was then the Assyrian capital, about B.C. 1820. An inscription of Tiglath-Pileser I., states that this temple lasted for 621 years, when, having fallen into decay, it was taken down by Asshurdayan, his own great-grandfather. Its site remained vacant for sixty years. Then Tiglath-Pileser I., in the beginning of his reign, rebuilt the temple more magnificently than before; and from that time it seems to have remained among the principal shrines in Assyria. It was from a tradition connected with this ancient temple of Shamas-Vul, that Asshur in later times acquired the name of Telane, or "the Mound of Anu," which it bears in Stephen.
Anu's place among the "Great Gods" of Assyria is not so well marked as that of many other divinities. His name does not occur as an element in the names of kings or of other important personages. He is omitted altogether from many solemn invocations. It is doubtful whether he is one of the gods whose emblems were worn by the king and inscribed upon the rock-tablets. But, on the other hand, where he occurs in lists, he is invariably placed directly after Asshur; and he is often coupled with that deity in a way which is strongly indicative of his exalted character. Tiglath-Pileser I., though omitting him from his opening invocation, speaks of him in the latter part of his great Inscription, as his lord and protector in the next place to Asshur. Asshur-izir-pal uses expressions as if he were Anu's special votary, calling himself "him who honors Anu," or "him who honors Anu and Dugan." His son, the Black-Obelisk king, assigns him the second place in the invocation of thirteen gods with which he begins his record. The kings of the Lower Dynasty do not generally hold him in much repute; Sargon, however, is an exception, perhaps because his own name closely resembled that of a god mentioned as one of Anu's sons. Sargon not infrequently glorifies Anu, coupling him with Bel or Bil, the second god of the first Triad. He even made Anu the tutelary god of one of the gates of his new city, Bit-Sargina (Khorsabad), joining him in this capacity with the goddess Ishtar.
Anu had but few temples in Assyria. He seems to have had none at either Nineveh or Calah, and none of any importance in all Assyria, except that at Asshur. There is, however, reason, to believe that he was occasionally honored with a shrine in a temple dedicated to another deity.
BIL, or BEL.
The classical writers represent Bel as especially a Babylonian god, and scarcely mention his worship by the Assyrians; but the monuments show that the true Bel (called in the first part of this volume Bel-Nimrod) was worshipped at least as much in the northern as in the southern country. Indeed, as early as the time of Tiglath-Pileser I., the Assyrians, as a nation, were especially entitled by their monarchs "the, people of Belus;" and the same periphrasis was in use during the period of the Lower Empire. According to some authorities, a particular quarter of the city of Nineveh was denominated "the city of Belus" which would imply that it was in a peculiar way under his protection. The word Bel does not occur very frequently as an element in royal names: it was borne, however, by at least three early Assyrian kings: and there is evidence that in later times it entered as an element into the names of leading personages with almost as much frequency as Asshur.
The high rank of Bel in Assyria is very strongly marked. In the invocations his place is either the third or the second. The former is his proper position, but occasionally Anu is omitted, and the name of Bel follows immediately on that of Asshur. In one or two places he is made third, notwithstanding that Anu is omitted, Shamas, the Sun-god, being advanced over his head; but this is very unusual.
The worship of Bel in the earliest Assyrian times is marked by the royal names of Bel-snmili-kapi and Bel-lush, borne by two of the most ancient kings. He had a temple at Asshur in conjunction with Il or Ra, which must have been of great antiquity, for by the time of Tiglath-Pileser I. (B.C. 1130) it had fallen to decay and required a complete restoration, which it received from that monarch. He had another temple at Calah; besides which he had four "arks" or "tabernacles," the emplacement of which is uncertain. Among the latter kings, Sargon especially paid him honor. Besides coupling him with Anu in his royal titles, he dedicated to him—in conjunction with Beltis, his wife—one of the gates of his city, and in many passages he ascribes his royal authority to the favor of Bel and Merodach. He also calls Bel, in the dedication of the eastern gate at Khorsabad, "the establisher of the foundations of his city."
It may be suspected that the horned cap, which was no doubt a general emblem of divinity, was also in an especial way the symbol of this god. Esarhaddon states that he setup over "the image of his majesty the emblems of Asshur, the Sun, Bel, Nin, and Ishtar." The other kings always include Bel among the chief objects of their worship. We should thus expect to find his emblem among those which the kings specially affected; and as all the other common emblems are assigned to distinct gods with tolerable certainty, the horned cap alone remaining doubtful, the most reasonable conjecture seems to be that it was Bel's symbol.
It has been assumed in some quarters that the Bel of the Assyrians was identical with the Phoenician Dagon. A word which reads Da-gan is found in the native lists of divinities, and in one place the explanation attached seems to show that the term was among the titles of Bel. But this verbal resemblance between the name Dagon and one of Bel's titles is probably a mere accident, and affords no ground for assuming any connection between the two gods, who have nothing in common one with the other. The Bel of the Assyrians was certainly not their Fish-god; nor had his epithet Da-gaga any real connection with the word dag, "a fish." To speak of "Bel-Dagon" is thus to mislead the ordinary reader, who naturally supposes from the term that he is to identify the great god Belus, the second deity of the first Triad, with the fish forms upon the sculptures.
HEA, or HOA.
Hen, or Hoa, the third god of the first Triad, was not a prominent object of worship in Assyria. Asshur-izir-pal mentions him as having allotted to the four thousand deities of heaven and earth the senses of hearing, seeing, and understanding; and then, stating that the four thousand deities had transferred all these senses to himself, proceeds to take Hoa's titles, and, as it were, to identify himself with the god. His son, Shalmaneser II., the Black-Obelisk king gives Hoa his proper place in his opening invocation, mentioning him between Bel and Sin. Sargon puts one of the gates of his new city under Hoa's care, joining him with Bilat Ili—"the mistress of the gods"—who is, perhaps, the Sun-goddess, Gula. Sennacherib, after a successful expedition across a portion of the Persian Gulf, offers sacrifice to Hoa on the seashore, presenting him with a golden boat, a golden fish, and a golden coffer. But these are exceptional instances; and on the whole it is evident that in Assyria Hoa was not a favorite god. The serpent, which is his emblem, though found on the black stones recording benefactions, and frequent on the Babylonian cylinder-seals, is not adopted by the Assyrian kings among the divine symbols which they wear, or among those which they inscribe above their effigies. The word Hoa does not enter as an element into Assyrian names. The kings rarely invoke him. So far as we can tell, he had but two temples in Assyria, one at Asshur (Kileh-Sherghat) and the other at Calah (Nimrud). Perhaps the devotion of the Assyrians to Nin—the tutelary god of their kings and of their capital—who in so many respects resembled Hoa, caused the worship of Hoa to decline and that of Nin gradually to supersede it.
MYLITTA, or BELTIS.
Beltis, the "Great Mother," the feminine counterpart of Bel, ranked in Assyria next to the Triad consisting of Anu, Bel, and Hoa. She is generally mentioned in close connection with Bel, her husband, in the Assyrian records. She appears to have been regarded in Assyria as especially "the queen of fertility," or "fecundity," and so as "the queen of the lands," thus resembling the Greek Demeter, who, like Beltis, was known as: "the Great Mother." Sargon placed one of his gates under the protection of Beltis in conjunction with her husband, Bel: and Asshur-bani-pal, his great-grandson, repaired and rededicated to her a temple at Nineveh, which stood on the great mound of Koyunjik. She had another temple at Asshur, and probably a third at Calah. She seems to have been really known as Beltis in Assyria, and as Mylitta (Mulita) in Babylonia, though we should naturally have gathered the reverse from the extant classical notices.
SIN, or THE MOON.
Sin, the Moon-god, ranked next to Beltis in Assyrian mythology, and his place is thus either fifth or sixth in the full lists, according as Beltis is, or is not, inserted. His worship in the time of the early empire appears from the invocation of Tiglath-Pileser I., where he occurs in the third place, between Bel and Shamas. His emblem, the crescent, was worn by Asshur-izir-pal, and is found wherever divine symbols are inscribed over their effigies by the Assyrian kings. There is no sign which is more frequent on the cylinder-seals, whether Babylonian or Assyrian, and it would thus seem that Sin was among the most popular of Assyria's deities. His name occurs sometimes, though not so frequently as some others, in the appellations of important personages, as e, g. in that of Sennacherib, which is explained to mean "Sin multiplies brethren." Sargon, who thus named one of his sons, appears to have been specially attached to the worship of Sin, to whom, in conjunction with Shamas, he built a temple at Khorsabad, and to whom he assigned the second place among the tutelary deities of his city.
The Assyrian monarchs appear to have had a curious belief in the special antiquity of the Moon-god. When they wished to mark a very remote period, they used the expression "from the origin of the god Sin." This is perhaps a trace of the ancient connection of Assyria with Babylonia, where the earliest capital, Ur, was under the Moon-god's protection, and the most primeval temple was dedicated to his honor.
Only two temples are known to have been erected to Sin in Assyria. One is that already mentioned as dedicated by Sargon at Bit-Sargina (Khorsabad) to the Sun and Moon in conjunction. The other was at Calah, and in that Sin had no associate.
Shamas, the Sun-god, though in rank inferior to Sin, seems to have been a still more favorite and more universal object of worship. From many passages we should have gathered that he was second only to Asshur in the estimation of the Assyrian monarchs, who sometimes actually place him above Bel in their lists. His emblem, the four-rayed orb, is worn by the king upon his neck, and seen more commonly than almost any other upon the cylinder-seals. It is even in some instances united with that of Asshur, the central circle of Asshur's emblem being marked by the fourfold rays of Shamas.
The worship of Shamas was ancient in Assyria. Tiglath-Pileser I., not only names him in his invocation, but represents himself as ruling especially under his auspices. Asshur-izir-pal mentions Asshur and Shamas as the tutelary deities under whose influence he carried on his various wars. His son, the Black-Obelisk king, assigns to Shamas his proper place among the gods whose favor he invokes at the commencement of his long Inscription. The kings of the Lower Empire were even more devoted to him than their predecessors. Sargon dedicated to him the north gate of his city, in conjunction with Vul, the god of the air, built a temple to him at Khorsabad in conjunction with Sin, and assigned him the third place among the tutelary deities of his new town. Sennacherib and Esarhaddon mention his name next to Asshur's in passages where they enumerate the gods whom they regard as their chief protectors.
Excepting at Khorsabad, where he had a temple (as above mentioned) in conjunction with Sin, Shamas does not appear to have had any special buildings dedicated to his honor. His images are, however, often noticed in the lists of idols, and it is probable therefore that he received worship in temples dedicated to other deities. His emblem is generally found conjoined with that of the moon, the two being placed side by side, or the one directly under the other.
VUL, or IVA.
This god, whose name is still so uncertain, was known in Assyria from times anterior to the independence, a temple having been raised in his sole honor at Asshur, the original Assyrian capital, by Shamas-Vul, the son of the Chaldaean king Ismi-Dagon, besides the temple (already mentioned) which the same monarch dedicated to him in conjunction with Anu. These buildings having fallen to ruin by the time of Tiglath-Pileser I., were by him rebuilt from their base; and Vul, who was worshipped in both, appears to have been regarded by that monarch as one of his special "guardian deities." In the Black-Obelisk invocation Vul holds the place intermediate between Sin and Shamas, and on the same monument is recorded the fact that the king who erected it held, on one occasion, a festival to Vul in conjunction with Asshur. Sargon names Vul in the fourth place among the tutelary deities of his city, and dedicates to him the north gate in conjunction with the Sun-god, Shamas. Sennacherib speaks of hurling thunder on his enemies like Vul, and other kings use similar expressions. The term Vul was frequently employed as an element in royal and other names; and the emblem which seems to have symbolized him—the double or triple bolt—appears constantly among those worn by the kings, and engraved above their heads on the rock-tablets.
Vul had a temple at Calah besides the two temples in which he received worship at Asshur. It was dedicated to him in conjunction with the goddess Shala, who appears to have been regarded as his wife.
It is not quite certain whether we can recognize any representations of Vul in the Assyrian remains. Perhaps the figure with four wings and a horned cap, who wields a thunderbolt in either hand, and attacks therewith the monster, half lion, half eagle, which is known to us from the Nimrod sculptures, may be intended for this deity. If so, it will be reasonable also to recognize him in the figure with uplifted foot, sometimes perched upon an ox, and bearing, like the other, one or two thunderbolts, which occasionally occurs upon the cylinders. It is uncertain, however, whether the former of these figures is not one of the many different representations of Nin, the Assyrian Hercules; and, should that prove the true explanation in the one case, no very great confidence could be felt in the suggested identification in the other.
Gula, the Sum-goddess, does not occupy a very high position among the deities of Assyria. Her emblem, indeed, the eight-rayed disk, is borne, together with her husband's, by the Assyrian monarchs, and is inscribed on the rock-tablets, on the stones recording benefactions, and on the cylinder-seals, with remarkable frequency. But her name occurs rarely in the inscriptions, and, where it is found, appears low down in the lists. In the Black-Obelisk invocation, out of thirteen deities named, she is the twelfth. Elsewhere she scarcely appears, unless in inscriptions of a purely religious character. Perhaps she was commonly regarded as so much one with her husband that a separate and distinct mention of her seemed not to be requisite.
Gula is known to have had at least two temples in Assyria. One of these was at Asshur, where she was worshipped in combination with ten other deities, of whom one only, Ishtar, was of high rank. The other was at Calah, where her husband had also a temple. She is perhaps to be identified with Bilat-Ili, "the mistress of the gods," to whom Sargon dedicated one of his gates in conjunction with Hoa.
NINIP, or NIN.
Among the gods of the second order, there is none whom the Assyrians worshipped with more devotion than Nin, or Ninip. In traditions which are probably ancient, the race of their kings was derived from him, and after him was called the mighty city which ultimately became their capital. As early as the thirteenth century B.C. the name of Nin was used as an element in royal appellations; and the first king who has; left us an historical inscription regarded himself as being in an especial way under Nin's guardianship. Tiglath-Pileser I., is "the illustrious prince whom Asshur and Nin have exalted to the utmost wishes of his heart." He speaks of Nin sometimes singly, sometimes in conjunction with Asshur, as his "guardian deity." Nin and Nergal make his weapons sharp for him, and under Nin's auspices the fiercest beasts of the field fall beneath them. Asshur-izir-pal built him a magnificent temple at Nimrud (Calah). Shamas-Vul, the grandson of this king, dedicated to him the obelisk which he set up at that place in commemoration of his victories. Sargon placed his newly-built city in part under his protection, and specially invoked him to guard his magnificent palace. The ornamentation of that edifice indicated in a very striking way the reverence of the builder for this god, whose symbol, the winged bull, guarded all its main gateways, and who seems to have been actually represented by the figure strangling a lion, so conspicuous on the Hareem portal facing the great court. Nor did Sargon regard Nin as his protector only in peace. He ascribed to his influence the successful issue of his wars; and it is probably to indicate the belief which he entertained on this point that he occasionally placed Nin's emblems on the sculptures representing his expeditions. Sennacherib, the son and successor of Sargon, appears to have had much the same feelings towards Nin, as his father, since in his buildings he gave the same prominence to the winged bull and to the figure strangling the lion; placing the former at almost all his doorways, and giving the latter a conspicuous position on the grand facade of his chief palace. Esarhaddon relates that he continued in the worship of Nin, setting up his emblem over his own royal effigy, together with those of Asshur, Shamas, Bel, and Ishtar.
It appears at first sight as if, notwithstanding the general prominency of Nin in the Assyrian religious system, there was one respect in which he stood below a considerable number of the gods. We seldom find his name used openly as an element in the royal appellations. In the list of kings three only will be found with names into which the terms Nin enters. But there is reason to believe that, in the case of this god, it was usual to speak of him under a periphrasis; and this periphrasis entered into names in lieu of the god's proper designation. Five kings (if this be admitted) may be regarded as named after him, which is as large a number as we find named after any god but Vul and Asshur.
The principal temples known to have been dedicated to Nin in Assyria were at Calah, the modern Nimrud. There the vast structure at the north-western angle of the great mound, including the pyramidical eminence which is the most striking feature of the ruins, was a temple dedicated to the honor of Nin by Asshur-izir-pal, the builder of the North-West Palace. We can have little doubt that this building represents the "busta Nini" of the clasical writers, the place where Ninus (Nin or Nin-ip), who was regarded by the Greeks as the hero-founder of the nation, was interred and specially worshipped. Nin had also a second temple in this town, which bore the name of Bit-kura (or Beth-kura), as the other one did of Bit-zira (or Beth-zira). It seems to have been from the fame of Beth-zira that Nin had the title Pal-zira, which forms a substitute for Nin, as already noticed, in one of the royal names.
Most of the early kings of Assyria mention Merodach in their opening invocations, and we sometimes find an allusion in their inscriptions, which seems to imply that he was viewed as a god of great power. But he is decidedly not a favorite object of worship in Assyria until a comparatively recent period. Vul-lush III., indeed claims to have been the first to give him a prominent place in the Assyrian Pantheon; and it may be conjectured that the Babylonian expeditions of this monarch furnished the impulse which led to a modification in this respect of the Assyrian religious system. The later kings, Sargon and his successors, maintain the worship introduced by Vul-lush. Sargon habitually regards his power as conferred upon him by the combined favor of Merodach and Asshur, while Esarhaddon sculptures Merodach's emblem, together with that of Asshur, over the images of foreign gods brought to him by a suppliant prince. No temple to Merodach, is, however, known to have existed in Assyria, even under the later kings. His name, however, was not infrequently used as an element in the appellations of Assyrians.
Among the Minor gods, Nergal is one whom the Assyrians seem to have regarded with extraordinary reverence. He was the divine ancestor from whom the monarchs loved to boast that they derived their descent—the line being traceable, according to Sargon, through three hundred and fifty generations. They symbolized him by the winged lion with a human head, or possibly sometimes by the mere natural lion; and it was to mark their confident dependence on his protection that they made his emblems so conspicuous in their palaces. Nin and Nergal—the gods of war and hunting, the occupations in which the Assyrian monarchs passed their lives—were tutelary divinities of the race, the life, and the homes of the kings, who associate the two equally in their inscriptions and their sculptures.
Nergal, though thus honored by the frequent mention of his name and erection of his emblem, did not (so far as appears) often receive the tribute of a temple. Sennacherib dedicated one to him at Tarbisi (now Sherif-khan), near Khorsabad; and he may have had another at Calah (Nimrud), of which he is said to have been one of the "resident gods." But generally it would seem that the Assyrians were content to pay him honor in other ways without constructing special buildings devoted exclusively to his worship.
Ishtar was very generally worshipped by the Assyrian monarchs, who called her "their lady," and sometimes in their invocations coupled her with the supreme god Asshur. She had a very ancient temple at Asshur, the primeval capital, which Tiglath-Pileser I., repaired and beautified. Asshur-izir-pal built her a second temple at Nineveh, and she had a third at Arbela, which Asshur-bani-pal states that he restored. Sargon placed under her protection, conjointly with Anu, the western gate of his city; and his son, Sennacherib, seems to have viewed Asshur and Ishtar as the special guardians of his progeny. Asshur-bani-pal, the great hunting king was a devotee of the goddess, whom he regarded as presiding over his special diversion, the chase.
What is most remarkable in the Assyrian worship of Ishtar is the local character assigned to her. The Ishtar of Nineveh is distinguished from the Ishtar of Arbela, and both from the Ishtar of Babylon, separate addresses being made to them in one and the same invocation. It would appear that in this case there was, more decidedly than in any other, an identification of the divinity with her idols, from which resulted the multiplication of one goddess into many.
The name of Ishtar appears to have been rarely used in Assyria in royal or other appellations. It is difficult to account for this fact, which is the more remarkable, since in Phoenicia Astarte, which corresponds closely to Ishtar, is found repeatedly as an element in the royal titles.
Nebo must have been acknowledged as a god by the Assyrians from very ancient times, for his name occurs as an element in a royal appellation as early as the twelfth century B.C. He seems, however, to have been very little worshipped till the time of Vud-lush III., who first brought him prominently forward in the Pantheon of Assyria after an expedition which he conducted into Babylonia, where Nebo had always been in high favor. Vul-lush set up two statues to Nebo at Calah and probably built him the temple there which was known as Bit-Siggil, or Beth-Saggil, from whence the god derived one of his appellations. He did not receive much honor from Sargon; but both Sennacherib and Esarhaddon held him in considerable reverence, the latter even placing him above Merodach in an important invocation. Asshur-bani-pal also paid him considerable respect, mentioning him and his wife Warmita, as the deities under whose auspices he undertook certain literary labors.
It is curious that Nebo, though he may thus almost be called a late importation into Assyria, became under the Later Dynasty (apparently) one of most popular of the gods. In the latter portion of the list of Eponyms obtained from the celebrated "Canon," we find Nebo an element in the names as frequently as any other god excepting Asshur. Regarding this as a test of popularity we should say that Asshur held the first place; but that his supremacy was closely contested by Bel and Nebo, who were held in nearly equal repute, both being far in advance of any other deity.
Besides these principal gods, the Assyrians acknowledged and worshipped a vast number of minor divinities, of whom, however, some few only appear to deserve special mention. It may be noticed in the first place, as a remarkable feature of this people's mythological system, that each important god was closely associated with a goddess, who is commonly called his wife, but who yet does not take rank in the Pantheon at all in accordance with the dignity of her husband. Some of these goddesses have been already mentioned, as Beltis, the feminine counterpart of Bel; Gala, the Sun-goddess, the wife of Shamas; and Ishtar, who is sometimes represented as the wife of Nebo. To the same class belong Sheruha, the wife of Asshur; Anata or Anuta, the wife of Anu; Dav-Kina, the wife of Hea or Hoa; Shales, the wife of Vul or Iva; Zir-banit, the wife of Merodach; and Laz, the wife of Nergal. Nin, the Assyrian Hercules, and Sin, the Moon-god, have also wives, whose proper names are unknown, but who are entitled respectively "the Queen of the Land" and "the great Lady." Nebo's wife, according to most of the Inscriptions, is Warmita; but occasionally, as above remarked, this name is replaced by that of Ishtar. A tabular view of the gods and goddesses, thus far, will probably be found of use by the reader towards obtaining a clear conception of the Assyrian Pantheon:
It appears to have been the general Assyrian practice to unite together in the same worship, under the same roof, the female and the male principle. The female deities had in fact, for the most part, an unsubstantial character: they were ordinarily the mere reflex image of the male, and consequently could not stand alone, but required the support of the stronger sex to give then something of substance and reality. This was the general rule; but at the same time it was not without certain exceptions. Ishtar appears almost always as an independent and unattached divinity; while Beltis and Gula are presented to us in colors as strong and a form as distinct as their husbands, Bel and Shamas. Again, there are minor goddesses, such as Telita, the goddess of the great marshes near Babylon, who stand alone, unaccompanied by any male. The minor male divinities are also, it would seem, very generally without female counterparts.
Of these minor male divinities the most noticeable are Martu, a son of Anu, who is called "the minister of the deep," and seems to correspond to the Greek Erebus; Sargana, another son of Anu, from whom Sargon is thought by some to have derived his name Idak, god of the Tigris; Supulat, lord of the Euphrates; and Il or Ra, who seems to be the Babylonian chief god transferred to Assyria, and there placed in a humble position. Besides these, cuneiform scholars recognize in the Inscriptions some scores of divine names, of more or less doubtful etymology, some of which are thought to designate distinct gods, while others may be names of deities known familiarly to us under a different appellation. Into this branch of the subject it is not proposed to enter in the present work, which addresses itself to the general reader.
It is probable that, besides gods, the Assyrians acknowledged the existence of a number of genii, some of whom they regarded as powers of good, others as powers of evil. The winged figure wearing the horned cap, which is so constantly represented as attending upon the monarch when he is employed in any sacred function, would seem to be his tutelary genius—a benignant spirit who watches over him, and protects him from the spirits of darkness. This figure commonly bears in the right hand either a pomegranate or a pine-cone, while the left is either free or else supports a sort of plaited bag or basket. Where the pine-cone is carried, it is invariably pointed towards the monarch, as if it were the means of communication between the protector and the protected, the instrument by which grace and power passed from the genius to the mortal whom he had undertaken to guard. Why the pine-cone was chosen for this purpose it is difficult to form a conjecture. Perhaps it had originally become a sacred emblem merely as a symbol of productiveness after which it was made to subserve a further purpose, without much regard to its old symbolical meaning.
The sacred basket, held in the left hand, is of still more dubious interpretation. It is an object of great elegance, always elaborately and sometimes very tastefully ornamented. Possibly it may represent the receptacle in which the divine gifts are stored, and from which they can be taken by the genius at his discretion, to be bestowed upon the mortal under his care.
Another good genius would seem to be represented by the hawk-headed figure, which is likewise found in attendance upon the monarch, attentively watching his proceedings. This figure has been called that of a god, and has been supposed to represent the Nisroch of Holy Scripture; but the only ground for such an identification is the conjectural derivation of Nisroch from a root nisr, which in some Semitic languages signifies a "hawk" or "falcon." As nisr, however, has not been found with any such meaning in Assyrian, and as the word "Nisroch" nowhere appears in the Inscriptions, it must be regarded as in the highest degree doubtful whether there is any real connection between the hawk-headed figure and the god in whose temple Sennacherib was assassinated. The various readings of the Septuagint version make it extremely uncertain what was the name actually written in the original Hebrew text. Nisroch, which is utterly unlike any divine name hitherto found in the Assyrian records, is most probable a corruption. At any rate there are no sufficient grounds for identifying the god mentioned, whatever the true reading of his name may be, with the hawk-headed figure, which has the appearance of an attendant genius rather than that of a god, and which was certainly not included among the main deities of Assyria.
Representations of evil genii are comparatively infrequent; but we can scarcely be mistaken in regarding as either an evil genius, or a representation of the evil principle, the monster—half lion, half eagle—which in the Nimrud sculptures retreats from the attacks of a god, probably Vul, who assails him with thunderbolts. [PLATE CXLIII., Fig. I.] Again, in the case of certain grotesque statuettes found at Khorsabad, one of which has already been represented, where a human figure has the head of a lion with the ears of an ass, the most natural explanation seems to be that an evil genius is intended. In another instance, where we see two monsters with heads like the statuette just mentioned, placed on human bodies, the legs of which terminate in eagles' claws—both of them armed with daggers and maces, and engaged in a struggle with one another—we seem to have a symbolical representation of the tendency of evil to turn upon itself, and reduce itself to feebleness by internal quarrel and disorder. A considerable number of instances occur in which a human figure, with the head of a hawk or eagle, threatens a winged human-headed lion—the emblem of Nergal—with a strap or mace. In these we may have a spirit of evil assailing a god, or possibly one god opposing another—the hawk-headed god or genius driving Nergal (i.e., War) beyond the Assyrian borders.
If we pass from the objects to the mode of worship in Assyria, we must notice at the outset the strongly idolatrous character of the religion. Not only were images of the gods worshipped set up, as a matter of course, in every temple dedicated to their honor, but the gods were sometimes so identified with their images as to be multiplied in popular estimation when they had several famous temples, in each of which was a famous image. Thus we hear of the Ishtar of Arbela, the Ishtar of Nineveh, and the Ishtar of Babylon, and find these goddesses invoked separately, as distinct divinities, by one and the same king in one and the same Inscription. In other cases, without this multiplication, we observe expressions which imply a similar identification of the actual god with the mere image. Tiglath-Pileser I., boasts that he has set Anu and Vul (i.e., their images) up in their places. He identifies repeatedly the images which he carries off from foreign countries with the gods of those countries. In a similar spirit Sennacherib asks, by the mouth of Rabshakeh, "Where are the gods of Hamath and of Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivah?"—and again unable to rise to the conception of a purely spiritual deity, supposes that, because Hezekiah has destroyed all the images throughout Judaea, he has left his people without any divine protection. The carrying off of the idols from conquered countries, which we find universally practised, was not perhaps intended as a mere sign of the power of the conqueror, and of the superiority of his gods to those of his enemies; it was probably designed further to weaken those enemies by depriving them of their celestial protectors; and it may even have been viewed as strengthening of the conqueror by multiplying his divine guardians. It was certainly usual to remove the images in a reverential manner; and it was the custom to deposit them in some of the principal temples of Assyria. We may presume that there lay at the root of this practice a real belief in the super-natural power of the in images themselves, and a notion that, with the possession of the images, this power likewise changed sides and passed over from the conquered to the conquerors.
Assyrian idols were in stone, baked clay, or metal. Some images of Nebo and of Ishtar have been obtained from the ruins. Those of Nebo are standing figures, of a larger size than the human, though not greatly exceeding it. They have been much injured by time, and it is difficult to pronounce decidedly on their original workmanship: but, judging by what appears, it would seem to have been of a ruder and coarser character than that of the slabs or of the royal statues. The Nebo images are heavy, formal, inexpressive, and not over well-proportioned; but they are not wanting in a certain quiet dignity which impresses the beholder. They are unfortunately disfigured, like so many of the lions and bulls, by several lines of cuneiform writing inscribed round their bodies; but this artistic defect is pardoned by the antiquarian, who learns from the inscribed lines the fact that the statues represent Nebo, and the time and circumstances of their dedication.
Clay idols are very frequent. They are generally in a good material, and are of various sizes, yet never approaching to the full stature of humanity. Generally they are mere statuettes, less than a foot in height. Specimens have been selected for representation in the preceding volume, from which a general idea of their character is obtainable. They are, like the stone idols, formal and inexpressive in style, while they are even ruder and coarser than those figures in workmanship. We must regard them as intended chiefly for private use among the mass of the population, while we must view the stone idols as the objects of public worship in the shrines and temples.
Idols in metal have not hitherto appeared among the objects recovered from the Assyrian cities. We may conclude, however, from the passage of Nahum prefixed to this chapter, as well as from general probability, that they were known and used by the Assyrians, who seem to have even admitted them—no less than stone statues—into their temples. The ordinary metal used was no doubt bronze; but in Assyria, as in Babylonia, silver, and perhaps in some few instances gold, may have been employed for idols, in cases where they were intended as proofs to the world at large of the wealth and magnificence of a monarch.
The Assyrians worshipped their gods chiefly with sacrifices and offerings, Tiglath-Pileser I., relates that he offered sacrifice to Anu and Vul on completing the repairs of their temple. Asshur-izir-pal says that he sacrificed to the gods after embarking on the Mediterranean. Vul-lush IV, sacrificed to Bel-Merodach, Nebo, and Nergal, in their respective high seats at Babylon, Borsippa, and Cutha. Sennacherib offered sacrifices to Hoa on the sea-shore after an expedition in the Persian Gulf. Esarhaddon "slew great and costly sacrifices" at Nineveh upon completing his great palace in that capital. Sacrifice was clearly regarded as a duty by the kings generally, and was the ordinary mode by which they propitiated the favor of the national deities.
With respect to the mode of sacrifice we have only a small amount of information, derived from a very few bas-reliefs. These unite in representing the bull as the special sacrificial animal. In one we simply see a bull brought up to a temple by the king; but in another, which is more elaborate, we seem to have the whole of a sacrificial scene fairly, if not exactly, brought before us. [PLATE CXLIV., Fig. 1.] Towards the front of the temple, where the god, recognizable by his horned cap, appears seated upon a throne, with an attendant priest, who is beardless, paying adoration to him, advances a procession consisting of the king and six priests, one of whom carries a cup, while the other five are employed about the animal. The king pours a libation over a large bowl, fixed in a stand, immediately in front of a tall fire-altar, from which flames are rising. Close behind this stands the priest with a cup, from which we may suppose that the monarch will pour a second libation. Next we observe a bearded priest directly in front of the bull, checking the advance of the animal, which is not to be offered till the libation is over. The bull is also held by a pair of priests, who walk behind him and restrain him with a rope attached to one of his fore-legs a little above the hoof. Another pair of priests, following closely on the footsteps of the first pair, completes the procession: the four seem, from the position of their heads and arms, to be engaged in a solemn chant. It is probable, from the flame upon the altar, that there is to be some burning of the sacrifice; while it is evident, from the altar being of such a small size, that only certain parts of the animal can be consumed upon it. We may conclude therefore that the Assyrian sacrifices resembled those of the classical nations, consisting not of whole burnt offerings, but of a selection of choice parts, regarded as specially pleasing to the gods, which were placed upon the altar and burnt, while the remainder of the victim was consumed by priest or people.
Assyrian altars were of various shapes and sizes. One type was square, and of no great height; it had its top ornamented with gradines, below which the sides were either plain or fluted. Another which was also of moderate height, was triangular, but with a circular top, consisting of a single flat stone, perfectly plain, except that it was sometimes inscribed round the edge. [PLATE CXLIII. Fig. 2.] A third type is that represented in the sacrificial scene. [PLATE CXLIV.] This is a sort of portable stand—narrow, but of considerable height, reaching nearly to a man's chin. Altars of this kind seem to have been carried about by the Assyrians in their expeditions: we see them occasionally in the entrenched camps, and observe priests officiating at them in their dress of office. [PLATE CXLIII., Fig. 3.]
Besides their sacrifices of animals, the Assyrian kings were accustomed to deposit in the temples of their gods, as thank-offerings, many precious products from the countries which they overran in their expeditions. Stones and marbles of various kinds, rare metals, and images of foreign deities, are particularly mentioned; but it would seem to be most probable that some portion of all the more valuable articles was thus dedicated. Silver and gold were certainly used largely in the adornment of the temples, which are sometimes said to have been made "as splendid as the sun," by reason of the profuse employment upon them of these precious metals.
It is difficult to determine how the ordinary worship of the gods was conducted. The sculptures are for the most part monuments erected by kings; and when these have a religious character, they represent the performance by the kings of their own religious duties, from which little can be concluded as to the religious observances of the people. The kings seem to have united the priestly with the regal character; and in the religious scenes representing their acts of worship, no priest ever intervenes between them and the god, or appears to assume any but a very subordinate position. The king himself stands and worships in close proximity to the holy tree; with his own hand he pours libations; and it is not unlikely that he was entitled with his own arm to sacrifice victims.
But we can scarcely suppose that the people had these privileges. Sacerdotal ideas have prevailed in almost all Oriental monarchies, and it is notorious that they had a strong hold upon the neighboring and nearly connected kingdom of Babylon. The Assyrians generally, it is probable, approached the gods through their priests; and it would seem to be these priests who are represented upon the cylinders as introducing worshippers to the gods, dressed themselves in long robes, and with a curious mitre upon their heads. The worshipper seldom comes empty-handed. He carries commonly in his arms an antelope or young goat, which we may presume to be an offering intended to propitiate the deity. [PLATE CXLIV., Fig. 2.]
It is remarkable that the priests in the sculptures are generally, if not invariably, beardless. It is scarcely probable that they were eunuchs, since mutilation is in the East always regarded as a species of degradation. Perhaps they merely shaved the beard for greater cleanliness, like the priests of the Egyptians and possibly it was a custom only obligatory on the upper grades of the priesthood.
We have no evidence of the establishment of set festivals in Assyria. Apparently the monarchs decided, of their own will, when a feast should be held to any god; and, proclamation being made, the feast was held accordingly. Vast numbers, especially of the chief men, were assembled on such occasions; numerous sacrifices were offered, and the festivities lasted for several days. A considerable proportion of the worshippers were accommodated in the royal palace, to which the temple was ordinarily a mere adjunct, being fed at the king's cost, and lodged in the halls and other apartments.
The Assyrians made occasionally a religious use of fasting. The evidence on this point is confined to the Book of Jonah, which, however, distinctly shows both the fact and the nature of the usage. When a fast was proclaimed, the king, the nobles, and the people exchanged their ordinary apparel for sackcloth, sprinkled ashes upon their heads, and abstained alike from food and drink until the fast was over. The animals also that were within the walls of the city where the fast was commanded, had sackcloth placed upon them; and the same abstinence was enforced upon them as was enjoined on the inhabitants. Ordinary business was suspended, and the whole population united in prayer to Asshur, the supreme god, whose pardon they entreated, and whose favor they sought to propitiate. These proceedings were not merely formal. On the occasion mentioned in the book of Jonah, the repentance of the Ninevites seems to have been sincere. "God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil that he had said that he would do unto them: and he did it not."
The religious sentiment appears, on the whole, to have been strong and deep-seated among the Assyrians. Although religion had not the prominence in Assyria which it possessed in Egypt, or even in Greece—although the temple was subordinated to the palace, and the most imposing of the representations of the gods were degraded to mere architectural ornaments—yet the Assyrians appear to have been really, nay, even earnestly, religious. Their religion, it must be admitted, was of a sensuous character. They not only practised image-worship, but believed in the actual power of the idols to give protection or work mischief; nor could they rise to the conception of a purely spiritual and immaterial deity. Their ordinary worship was less one of prayer than one by means of sacrifices and offerings. They could, however, we know, in the time of trouble, utter sincere prayers; and we are bound therefore to credit them with an honest purpose in respect of the many solemn addresses and invocations which occur both in their public and their private documents. The numerous mythological tablets testify to the large amount of attention which was paid to religious subjects by the learned; while the general character of their names, and the practice of inscribing sacred figures and emblems upon their signets, which was almost universal, seem to indicate a spirit of piety on the part of the mass of the people.
The sensuous cast of the religion naturally led to a pompous ceremonial, a fondness for processional display, and the use of magnificent vestments. These last are represented with great minuteness in the Nimrud sculptures. The dresses of those engaged in sacred functions seem to have been elaborately embroidered, for the most part with religious figures and emblems, such as the winged circle, the pine-cone, the pomegranate, the sacred tree, the human-headed lion, and the like. Armlets, bracelets, necklaces, and earrings were worn by the officiating priests, whose heads were either encircled with a richly-ornamented fillet, or covered with a mitre or high cap of imposing appearance. Musicians had a place in the processions, and accompanied the religious ceremonies with playing or chanting, or, in some instances, possibly with both.
It is remarkable that the religious emblems of the Assyrian are almost always free from that character of grossness which in the classical works of art, so often offends modern delicacy. The sculptured remains present us with no representations at all parallel to the phallic emblems of the Greeks. Still we are perhaps not entitled to conclude, from this comparative purity, that the Assyrian religion was really exempt from that worst feature of idolatrous systems—a licensed religious sensualism. According to Herodotus the Babylonian worship of Beltis was disgraced by a practice which even he, heathen as he was, regarded as "most shameful." Women were required once in their lives to repair to the temple of this goddess, and there offer themselves to the embrace of the first man who desired their company. In the Apocryphal Book of Baruch we find a clear allusion to the same custom, so that there can be little doubt of its having really obtained in Babylonia; but if so, it would seem to follow, almost as a matter of course, that the worship of the same identical goddess in the an joining country included a similar usage. It may be to this practice that the prophet Nahum alludes, where he denounces Nineveh as a "well-favored harlot," the multitude of whose harlotries was notorious.
Such then was the general character of the Assyrian religion. We have no means of determining whether the cosmogony of the Chaldaeans formed any part of the Assyrian system, or was confined to the lower country. No ancient writer tells us anything of the Assyrian notions on this subject, nor has the decipherment of the monuments thrown as yet any light upon it. It would be idle therefore to prolong the present chapter by speculating upon a matter concerning which we have at present no authentic data.
The chronology of the Assyrian kingdom has long exercised, and divided, the judgments of the learned. On the one hand, Ctesias and his numerous followers—including, among the ancients, Cephalion, Castor, Diodorus Siculus, Nicolas of Damascus, Trogus Pompeius, Velleius Paterculus, Josephus, Eusebius, and Moses of Chorene; among the moderns, Freret, Rollin, and Clinton have given the kingdom a duration of between thirteen and fourteen hundred years, and carried hack its antiquity to a time almost coeval with the founding of Babylon; on the other, Herodotus, Volney, Ileeren, B. G. Niebuhr, Brandis, and many others, have preferred a chronology which limits the duration of the kingdom to about six centuries and a half, and places the commencement in the thirteenth century B.C. when a flourishing empire had already existed in Chaldaea, or Babylonia, for a thousand years, or more. The questions thus mooted remain still, despite of the volumes which have been written upon them, so far undecided, that it will be necessary to entertain and discuss theirs at some length in this place, before entering on the historical sketch which is needed to complete our account of the Second Monarchy.
The duration of a single unbroken empire continuously for 1306 (or 1360) years, which is the time assigned to the Assyrian Monarchy by Ctesias, must be admitted to be a thing hard of belief, if not actually incredible. The Roman State, with all its elements of strength, had (we are told), as kingdom, commonwealth, and empire, a duration of no more than twelve centuries. The Chaldaean Monarchy lasted, as we have seen, about a thousand years, from the time of the Elamite conquest. The duration of the Parthian was about five centuries of the first Persian, less than two and a half; of the Median, at the utmost, one and a half; of the later Babylonian, less than one. The only monarchy existing under conditions at all similar to Assyria, whereto an equally long—or rather a still longer—duration has been assigned with some show of reason, is Egypt. But there it is admitted that the continuity was interrupted by the long foreign domination of the Hyksos, and by at least one other foreign conquest—that of the Ethiopian Sabacos or Shebeks. According to Ctesias, one and the same dynasty occupied the Assyrian throne during the whole period, of thirteen hundred years. Sardanapalus, the last king in his list, being the descendant and legitimate successor of Ninus.
There can be no doubt that a monarchy lasting about six centuries and a half, and ruled by at least two or three different dynasties, is per se a thing far more probable than one ruled by one and the same dynasty for more than thirteen centuries. And therefore, if the historical evidence in the two cases is at all equal—or rather, if that which supports the more improbable account does not greatly preponderate—we ought to give credence to the more moderate and probable of the two statements.
Now, putting aside authors who merely re-echo the statements of others, there seem to be, in the present case, two and two only distinct original authorities—Herodotus and Ctesias. Of these two, Herodotus is the earlier. He writes within two centuries of the termination of the Assyrian rule, whereas Ctesias writes at least thirty years later. He is of unimpeachable honesty, and may be thoroughly trusted to have reported only what he had heard. He had travelled in the East, and had done his best to obtain accurate information upon Oriental matters, consulting on the subject, among others, the Chaldaeans of Babylon. He had, moreover, taken special pains to inform himself upon all that related to Assyria, which he designed to make the subject of an elaborate work distinct from his general history.
Ctesias, like Herodotus, had had the advantage of visiting the East. It may be argued that he possessed even better opportunities than the earlier writer for becoming acquainted with the views which the Orientals entertained of their own past. Herodotus probably devoted but a few months, or at most a year or two, to his Oriental travels; Ctesias passed seventeen years at the Court of Persia. Herodotus was merely an ordinary traveller, and had no peculiar facilities for acquiring information in the East; Ctesias was court-physician to Artaxerxes Mnemon, and was thus likely to gain access to any archives which the Persian kings might have in their keeping. But these advantages seem to have been more than neutralized by the temper and spirit of the man. He commenced his work with the broad assertion that Herodotus was "a liar," and was therefore bound to differ from him when he treated of the same periods or nations. He does differ from him, and also from Thucydides, whenever they handle the same transactions; but in scarcely a single instance where he differs from either writer does his narrative seem to be worthy of credit. The cuneiform monuments, while they generally confirm Herodotus, contradict Ctesias perpetually. He is at variance with Manetho on Egyptian, with Ptolemy on Babylonian, chronology. No independent writer confirms him on any important point. His Oriental history is quite incompatible with the narrative of Scripture. On every ground, the judgment of Aristotle, of Plutarch, of Arrian, of Scaliger, and of almost all the best critics of modern times, with respect to the credibility of Ctesias, is to be maintained, and his authority is to be regarded as of the very slightest value in determining any controverted matter.
The chronology of Herodotus, which is on all accounts to be preferred, assigns the commencement of the Assyrian Empire to about B.C. 1250, or a little earlier, and gives the monarchy a duration of nearly 650 years from that time. The Assyrians, according to him, held the undisputed supremacy of Western Asia for 520 years, or from about B.C. 1250 to about B.C. 730—after which they maintained themselves in an independent but less exalted position for about 130 years longer, till nearly the close of the seventh century before our era. These dates are not indeed to be accepted without reserve; but they are approximate to the truth, and are, at any rate, greatly preferable to those of Ctesias.
The chronology of Berosus was, apparently, not very different from that of Herodotus. There can be no reasonable doubt that his sixth Babylonian dynasty represents the line of kings which ruled in Babylon during the period known as that of the Old Empire in Assyria. Now this line, which was Semitic, appears to have been placed upon the throne by the Assyrians, and to have been among the first results of that conquering energy which the Assyrians at this time began to develop. Its commencement should therefore synchronize with the foundation of an Assyrian Empire. The views of Berosus on this latter subject may be gathered from what he says of the former. Now the scheme of Berosus gave as the date of the establishment of this dynasty about the year B.C. 1300; and as Berosus undoubtedly placed the fall of the Assyrian Empire in B.C. 625, it may be concluded, and with a near approach to certainty, that he would have assigned the Empire a duration of about 675 years, making it commence with the beginning of the thirteenth century before our era, and terminate midway in the latter half of the seventh.
If this be a true account of the ideas of Berosus, his scheme of Assyrian chronology would have differed only slightly from that of Herodotus; as will be seen if we place the two schemes side by side.
In the case of a history so ancient as that of Assyria, we might well be content if our chronology were vague merely to the extent of the variations here indicated. The parade of exact dates with reference to very early times is generally fallacious, unless it be understood as adopted simply for the sake of convenience. In the history of Assyria, however, we may make a nearer approach to exactness than in most others of the same antiquity, owing to the existence of two chronological documents of first-rate importance. One of these is the famous Canon of Ptolemy, which, though it is directly a Babylonian record, has important bearings on the chronology of Assyria. The other is an Assyrian Canon, discovered and edited by Sir H. Rawlinson in 1862, which gives the succession of the kings for 251 years, commencing (as is thought) B.C. 911 and terminating B. C. 660, eight years after the accession of the son and successor of Esarhaddon. These two documents, which harmonize admirably, carry up an exact Assyrian chronology almost from the close of the Empire to the tenth century before our era. For the period anterior to this we have, in the Assyrian records, one or two isolated dates, dates fixed in later times with more or less of exactness; and of these we might have been inclined to think little, but that they harmonize remarkably with the statements of Berosus and Herodotus, which place the commencement of the Empire about B.C. 1300, or a little later. We have, further, certain lists of kings, forming continuous lines of descent from father to son, by means of which we may fill up the blanks that would otherwise remain in our chronological scheme with approximate dates calculated from an estimate of generations. From these various sources the subjoined scheme has been composed, the sources being indicated at the side, and the fixed dates being carefully distinguished from those which are uncertain or approximate.
It will be observed that in this list the chronology of Assyria is carried back to a period nearly a century and a half anterior to B.C. 1300, the approximate date, according to Herodotus and Berosus, of the establishment of the "Empire." It might have been concluded, from the mere statement of Herodotus, that Assyria existed before the time of which he spoke, since an empire can only be formed by a people already flourishing. Assyria as an independent kingdom is the natural antecedent of Assyria as an Imperial power: and this earlier phase of her existence might reasonably have been presumed from the later. The monuments furnish distinct evidence of the time in question in the fourth, fifth, and sixth kings of the above list, who reigned while the Chaldaean empire was still flourishing in Lower Mesopotamia. Chronological and other considerations induce a belief that the four kings who follow like-wise belonged to it; and that, the "Empire" commenced with Tiglathi-Nin I., who is the first great conqueror.
The date assigned to the accession of this king, B.C. 1300, which accords so nearly with Berosus's date for the commencement of his 526 years, is obtained from the monuments in the following manner. First, Sennacherib, in an inscription set up in or about his tenth year (which was B.C. 694), states that he recovered from Babylon certain images of gods, which had been carried thither by Meroclach-idbin-akhi, king of Babylon, who had obtained them in his war with Tiglath-Pileser, king of Assyria, 418 years previously. This gives for the date of the war with Tiglath-Pileser the year B.C. 1112. As that monarch does not mention the Babylonian war in the annals which relate the events of his early years, we must suppose his defeat to have taken place towards the close of his reign, and assign him the space from B.C. 1130 to B.C. 1110, as, approximately, that during which he is likely to have held the throne. Allowing then to the six monumental kings who preceded Tiglath-Pileser average reigns of twenty years each, which is the actual average furnished by the lines of direct descent in Assyria, where the length of each reign is known, and allowing fifty years for the break between Tiglathi-Nin and Bel-kudur-uzur, we are brought to (1130 + 120 + 50) B.C. 1300 for the accession of the first Tiglathi-Nin, who took Babylon, and is the first king of whom extensive conquests are recorded. Secondly. Sennacherib in another inscription reckons 600 years from his first conquest of Babylon (B.C. 703) to a year in the reign of this monarch. This "six hundred" may be used as a round number; but as Sennacherib considered that he had the means of calculating exactly, he would probably not have used a round number, unless it was tolerably near to the truth. Six hundred years before B.C. 703 brings us to B.C. 1303.
The chief uncertainty which attaches to the numbers in this part of the list arises from the fact that the nine kings from Tiglathi-Nin downwards do not form a single direct line. The inscriptions fail to connect Bel-kudur-uzur with Tiglathi-Nin, and there is thus a probable interval between the two reigns, the length of which can only be conjectured.
The dates assigned to the later kings, from Vul-lush II., to Esarhaddon inclusive, are derived from the Assyrian Canon taken in combination with the famous Canon of Ptolemy. The agreement between these documents, and between the latter and the Assyrian records generally, is exact; and a conformation is thus afforded to Ptolemy which is of no small importance. The dates from the accession of Vul-lush II. (B.C. 911) to the death of Esarhaddon (B.C. 668) would seem to have the same degree of accuracy and certainty which has been generally admitted to attach to the numbers of Ptolemy. They have been confirmed by the notice of a great eclipse in the eighth year of Asshur-dayan III., which is undoubtedly that of June 15, B.C. 763.
The reign of Asshur-bani-pal (Sardanapalus), the son and successor of Esarhaddon, which commenced B.C. 668, is carried down to B.C. 626 on the combined authority of Berosus, Ptolemy, and the monuments. The monuments show that Asshur-bani-pal proclaimed himself king of Babylon after the death of Saul-mugina whose last year was (according to Ptolemy) B.C. 647: and that from the date of this proclamation he reigned over Babylon at least twenty years. Polyhistor, who reports Berosus, has left us statements which are in close accordance, and from which we gather that the exact length of the reign of Asshur-bani-pal over Babylon was twenty-one years. Hence, B.C. 626 is obtained as the year of his death. As Nineveh appears to have been destroyed B.C. 625 or 624, two years only are left for Asshur-bani-pal's son and successor, Asshur-emid-illin, the Saracus of Abydenus.
The framework of Assyrian chronology being thus approximately, and, to some extent, provisionally settled, we may proceed to arrange upon it the facts so far as they have come down to us, of Assyrian history.
In the first place, then, if we ask ourselves where the Assyrians came from, and at what time they settled in the country which thenceforth bore their name, we seem to have an answer,at any rate to the former of these two questions, in Scripture. "Out of that land"—the land of Shinar—"went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh." The Assyrians, previously to their settlement on the middle Tigris, had dwelt in the lower part of the great valley—the flat alluvial plain towards the mouths of the two streams. It was here, in this productive region, where nature does so much for man, and so little needs to be supplied by himself, that they had grown from a family into a people; that they had learnt or developed a religion, and that they had acquired a knowledge of the most useful and necessary of the arts. It has been observed in a former chapter that the whole character of the Assyrian architecture is such as to indicate that their style was formed in the low flat alluvium, where there were no natural elevations, and stone was not to be had. It has also been remarked that their writing is manifestly derived from the Chaldaean; and that their religion is almost identical with that which prevailed in the lower country from a very early time. The evidence of the monuments accords thus, in the most striking way, with the statement of the Bible, exhibiting to us the Assyrians as a people who had once dwelt to the south, in close contact with the Chaldaeans, and had removed after awhile to a more northern position.
With regard to the date of their removal, we can only say that it was certainly anterior to the time of the Chaldaean kings, Purna-puriyas and Kurri-galzu, who seem to have reigned in the fifteenth century before our era. If we could be sure that the city called in later times Asshur bore that name when Shamas-Vul, the son of Ismi-Dagon, erected a temple there to Anu and Vul, we might assign to the movement a still higher antiquity for Shamas-Vul belongs to the nineteenth century B.C. As, however, we have no direct evidence that either the city or the country was known as Asshur until four centuries later, we must be content to lay it down that the Assyrians had moved to the north certainly as early as B.C. 1440, and that their removal may not improbably have taken place several centuries earlier.
The motive of the removal is shrouded in complete obscurity. It may have been a forced colonization, commanded and carried out by the Chaldaean kings, who may have originated a system of transplanting to distant regions subject tribes of doubtful fidelity; or it may have been the voluntary self-expatriation of an increasing race, pressed for room and discontented with its condition. Again, it may have taken place by a single great movement, like that of the Tartar tribes, who transferred their allegiance from Russia to China in the reign of the Empress Catherine, and emigrated in a body from the banks of the Dun to the eastern limits of Mongolia or it may have been a gradual and protracted change, covering a long term of years, like most of the migrations whereof we read in history. On the whole, there is perhaps some reason to believe that a spirit of enterprise about this time possessed the Semitic inhabitants of Lower Mesopotamia, who voluntarily proceeded northwards in the hope of bettering their condition. Terah conducted one body from Ur to Harran: another removed itself from the shores of the Persian Gulf to those of the Mediterranean; while probably a third, larger than either of these two, ascended the course of the Tigris, occupied Adiabene, with the adjacent regions, and, giving its own tribal name of Asshur to its chief city and territory, became known to its neighbors first as a distinct, and then as an independent and powerful people.
The Assyrians for some time after their change of abode were probably governed by Babylonian rulers, who held their office under the Chaldaean Emperor. Bricks of a Babylonian character have been found at Kileh-Sherghat, the original Assyrian capital, which are thought to be of greater antiquity than any of the purely Assyrian remains, and which may have been stamped by these provincial governors. Ere long, however, the yoke was thrown off, and the Assyrians established a separate monarchy of their own in the upper country, while the Chaldaean Empire was still flourishing under native monarchs of the old ethnic type in the regions nearer to the sea. The special evidence which we possess of the co-existence side by side of these two kingdoms is furnished by a broken tablet of a considerably later date, which seems to have contained, when complete, a brief but continuous sketch of the synchronous history of Babylonia and Assyria, and of the various transactions in which the monarchs of the two countries had been engaged one with another, from the most ancient times. This tablet has preserved to its the names of three very early Assyrian kings—Asshur-bil-nisi-su, Buzur Asshur, and Asshur-upallit, of whom the two former are recorded to have made treaties of peace with the contemporary kings of Babylon; while the last-named intervened in the domestic affair's of the country, depriving an usurping monarch of the throne, and restoring it to the legitimate claimant, who was his own relation. Intermarriages, it appears, took place at this early date between the royal families of Assyria and Chaldaea; and Asshur-upallit, the third of the three kings, had united one of his daughters to Purna-puriyas, a Chaldaean monarch who has received notice in the preceding volume. On the death of Purna-puriyas, Kara-khar-das, the issue of this marriage, ascended the throne; but he had not reigned long before his subjects rebelled against his authority. A struggle ensued, in which he was slain, whereupon a certain Nazi-bugas, an usurper, became king, the line of Purna-puriyas being set aside. Asshur-upallit, upon this, interposed. Marching an army into Babylonia, he defeated and slew the usurper, after which he placed on the throne another son of Purna-puriyas, the Kurri-galzu already mentioned in the account of the king's of Chaldaea.
What is most remarkable in the glimpse of history which this tablet opens to us is the power of Assyria, and the apparent terms of equality on which she stands with her neighbor. Not only does she treat as an equal with the great Southern Empire—not only is her royal house deemed worthy of furnishing wives to its princes but when dynastic troubles arise there, she exercises a predominant influence over the fortunes of the contending parties, and secures victory to the side whose cause she espouses. Jealous as all nations are of foreign inter-position in their affairs, we may be sure that Babylonia would not have succumbed on this occasion to Assyria's influence, had not her weight been such that, added to one side in a civil struggle, it produced a preponderance which defied resistance.
After this one short lift, the curtain again drops over the history of Assyria for a space of about sixty years, during which our records tell us nothing but the mere names of the king's. It appears from the bricks of Kileh-Sherghat that Asshur-upallit was succeeded upon the throne by his son, Bel-lush, or Behiklhus (Belochush), who was in his turn followed by his son, Pudil, his grandson. Vul-lush, and his great-grandson, Shahmaneser, the first of the name. Of Bel-lush, Pudil, and Vul-lush I., we know only that they raised or repaired important buildings in their city of Asshur (now Kileh-Sherghat), which in their time, and for some centuries later, was the capital of the monarchy.
This place was not very favorably situated, being on the right bank of the Tigris, which is a far less fertile region than the left, and not being naturally a place of any great strength. The Assyrian territory did not at this time, it is probable, extend very far to the north: at any rate, no need was as yet felt for a second city higher up the Tigris valley, much less for a transfer of the seat of government in that direction. Calah was certainly, and Nineveh probably, not yet built; but still the kingdom had obtained a name among the nations; the term Assyria was applied geographically to the whole valley of the middle Tigris; and a prophetic eye could see in the hitherto quiescent power the nation fated to send expeditions into Palestine, and to bear off its inhabitants into captivity.
Shahnaneser I. (ab. B.C. 1320) is chiefly known in Assyrian history as the founder of Calah (Nimrud), the second, apparently, of those great cities which the Assyrian monarchs delighted to build and embellish. This foundation would of itself be sufficient to imply the growth of Assyria in his time towards the north, and would also mark its full establishment as the dominant power on the left as well as the right bank of the Tigris. Calah was very advantageously situated in a region of great fertility and of much natural strength, being protected on one side by the Tigris, and on the other by the Shor-Derreh torrent, while the Greater Zab further defended it at the distance of a few miles on the south and south-east, and the Khazr or Ghazr-Su on the north east. Its settlement must have secured to the Assyrians the undisturbed possession of the fruitful and important district between the Tigris and the mountains, the Aturia or Assyria Proper of later times, which ultimately became the great metropolitan region in which almost all the chief towns were situated.
It is quite in accordance with this erection of a sort of second capital, further to the north than the old one, to find, as we do, by the inscriptions of Asshur-izir-pal, that Shalmaneser undertook expeditions against the tribes on the upper Tigris, and even founded cities in those parts, which he colonized with settlers brought from a distance. We do not know what the exact bounds of Assyria towards the north were before his time, but there can be no doubt that he advanced them; and he is thus entitled to the distinction of being the first known Assyrian conqueror.
With Tiglathi-Nin, the son and successor of Shalmaneser I., the spirit of conquest displayed itself in a more signal and striking manner. The probable date of this monarch has already been shown to synchronize closely with the time assigned by Berosus to the connnencement of his sixth Babylonian dynasty, and by Herodotus to the beginning of his Assyrian Empire. Now Tiglathi-Nin appears in the Inscriptions as the prince who first aspired to transfer to Assyria the supremacy hitherto exercised, or at any rate claimed, by Babylon. He made war upon the southern kingdom, and with such success that he felt himself entitled to claim its conquuest, and to inscribe upon his signet-seal the proud title of "Conqueror of Babylonia." This signet-seal, left by him (as is probable) at Babylon, and recovered about six hundred years later by Sennacherib, shows to us that he reigned for some time in person at the southern capital, where it would seem that he afterwards established an Assyrian dynasty—a branch perhaps of his own family. This is probably the exact event of which Berosus spoke as occurring 526 years before Phul or Pul, and which Herodotus regarded as marking the commencement of the Assyrian "Empire." We must not, however, suppose that Babylonia was from this time really subject continuously to the Court of Nineveh. The subjection may have been maintained for a little less than a century; but about that time we find evidence that the yoke of Assyria had been shaken off, and that the Babylonian monarchs, who have Semitic names, and are probably Assyrians by descent, had become hostile to the Ninevite kings, and were engaged in frequent wars with them. No real permanent subjection of the Lower country to the Upper was effected till the time of Sargon; and even under the Sargonid dynasty revolts were frequent; nor were the Babylonians reconciled to the Assyrian sway till Esarhaddon united the two Crowns in his own person, and reigned alternately at the two capitals. Still, it is probable that, from the time of Tiglathi-Nin, the Upper country was recognized as the superior of the two: it had shown its might by a conquest and the imposition of a dynasty—proofs of power which were far from counterbalanced by a few retaliatory raids adventured upon under favorable circumstances by the Babylonian princes. Its influence was therefore felt, even while its yoke was refused; and the Semitizing of the Chaldaeans, commenced under Tiglathi-Nin, continued during the whole time of Assyrian preponderance; no effectual Turanian reaction ever set in; the Babylonian rulers, whether submissive to Assyria or engaged in hostilities against her, have equally Semitic names; and it does not appear that any effort was at any time made to recover to the Turanian element of the population its early supremacy.
The line of direct descent, which has been traced in uninterrupted succession through eight monarchs, beginning with Asshur-bel-nisi-su, here terminates; and an interval occurs which can only be roughly estimated as probably not exceeding fifty years. Another consecutive series of eight kings follows, known to us chiefly through the famous Tiglath-Pileser cylinder (which gives the succession of five of them), but completed from the combined evidence of several other documents. These monarchs, it is probable, reigned from about B.C. 1230 to B C. 1070.
Bel-kudur-uzur, the first monarch of this second series, is known to us wholly through his unfortunate war with the contemporary king of Babylon. It seems that the Semitic line of kings, which the Assyrians had established in Babylon, was not content to remain very long in a subject position. In the time of Bel-kudur-uzur, Vul-baladan, the Babylonian vassal monarch, revolted; and a war followed between him and his Assyrian suzerain, which terminated in the defeat and death of the latter, who fell in a great battle, about B.C. 1210.
Nin-pala-zira succeeded. It is uncertain whether he was any relation to his predecessor, but clear that he avenged him. He is called "the king who organized the country of Assyria, and established the troops of Assyria in authority." It appears that shortly after his accession, Vul-baladan of Babylon, elated by his previous successes, made an expedition against the Assyrian capital, and a battle was fought under the walls of Asshur in which Nin-pala-zira was completely successful. The Babylonians fled, and left Assyria in peace during the remainder of the reign of this monarch.
Asshur-dayan, the third king of the series, had a long and prosperous reign. He made a successful inroad into Babylonia, and returned into his own land with a rich and valuable booty. He likewise took down the temple which Shamas-Vul, the son of Ismi-Dagon, had erected to the gods Asshur and Vul at Asshur, the Assyrian capital, because it was in a ruinous condition, and required to be destroyed or rebuilt. Asshur-dayan seems to have shrunk from the task of restoring so great a work, and therefore demolished the structure which was not rebuilt for the space of sixty years from its demolition. He was succeeded upon the throne by his son Mutaggil-Nebo.
Mutaggil-Nebo reigned probably from about B.C. 1170 to B.C. 1150. We are informed that "Asshur, the great Lord, aided him according to the wishes of his heart, and established him in strength in the government of Assyria." Perhaps these expressions allude to internal troubles at the commencement of his reign, over which he was so fortunate as to triumph. We have no further particulars of this monarch.
Asshur-ris-ilim, the fourth king of the series, the son and successor of Mutaggil-Nebo, whose reign may be placed between B.C. 1150 and B.C. 1130, is a monarch of greater pretensions than most of his predecessors. In his son's Inscription he is called "the powerful king, the subduer of rebellious countries, he who has reduced all the accursed." These expressions are so broad, that we must conclude from them, not merely that Asshur-ris-ilim, unlike the previous kings of the line, engaged in foreign wars, but that his expeditions had a great success, and paved the way for the extensive conquests of his son and successor, Tiglath-Pileser. Probably he turned his arms in various directions, like that monarch. Certainly he carried them south-wards into Babylonia, where, as we learn from the synchronistic tablet of Babylonian and Assyrian history, he was engaged for some time in a war with Nebuchadnezzar (Nabuk-udor-uzur), the first known king of that name. It has been conjectured that he likewise carried them into Southern Syria and Palestine, and that, in fact, he is the monarch designated in the book of Judges by the name of Chushan-ris-athaim, who is called "the king of Mesopotamia (Aram-Naharaim)," and is said to have exercised dominion over the Israelites for eight years. This identification, however, is too uncertain to be assumed without further proof. The probable date of Chushan-ris-athaim is some two (or three) centuries earlier; and his title, "king of Mesopotamia," is one which is not elsewhere applied to Assyrians monarchs.
A few details have come clown to us with respect to the Babylonian war of Asshur-ris-ilim. It appears that Nebuchadnezzar was the assailant. He began the war by a march up the Diyalch and an advance on Assyria along the outlying Zegros hills, the route afterwards taken by the great Persian road described by Herodotus. Asshur-ris-ilim went out to meet him in person, engaged him in the mountain region, and repulsed his attack. Upon this the Babylonian monarch retired, and after an interval; the duration of which is unknown, advanced a second time against Assyria, but took now the direct line across the plain. Asshur-ris-ilim on this occasion was content to employ a general against the invader. He "sent" his chariots and his soldiers towards his southern border, and was again successful, gaining a second victory over his antagonist, who fled away, leaving in his hands forty chariots and a banner.
Tiglath-Pileser I., who succeeded Asshur-ris-ilim about B.C. 1130, is the first Assyrian monarch of whose history we possess copious details which can be set forth at some length. This is owing to the preservation and recovery of a lengthy document belonging to his reign in which are recorded the events of his first five years. As this document is the chief evidence we possess of the condition of Assyria, the character and tone of thought of the king, and indeed of the general state of the Eastern world, at the period in question—which synchronizes certainly with some portion of the dominion of the Judges over Israel, and probably with the early conquests of the Dorians in Greece—it is thought advisable to give in this place such an account of it, and such a number of extracts as shall enable the reader to form his own judgment on these several points.
The document opens with an enumeration and glorification of the "great gods" who "rule over heaven and earth," and are "the guardians of the kingdom of Tiglath-Pileser." These are "Asshur, the great Lord, ruling supreme over the gods; Bel, the lord, father of the gods, lord of the world; Sin, the leader(?) the lord of empire(?); Shamus, the establisher of heaven and earth; Vul, he who causes the tempest to rage over hostile lands; Nin, the champion who subdues evil spirits and enemies; and Ishtar, the source of the gods, the queen of victory, she who arranges battles." These deities, who (it is declared) have placed Tiglath-Pileser upon the throne, have "made him firm, have confided to him the supreme crown, have appointed him in might to the sovereignty of the people of Bel, and have granted him preeminence, exaltation, and warlike power," are invoked to make the "duration of his empire continue forever to his royal posterity, lasting as the great temple of Kharris-Matira."
In the next section the king glorifies himself, enumerating his royal titles as follows: "Tiglath-Pileser, the powerful king, king of the people of various tongues; king of the four regions; king of all kings; lord of lords; the supreme (?); monarch of monarchs; the illustrious chief, who, under the auspices of the Sun-god, being armed with the sceptre and girt with the girdle of power over mankind, rules over all the people of Bel; the mighty prince, whose praise is blazoned forth among the kings; the exalted sovereign, whose servants Asshur has appointed to the government of the four regions, and whose name he has made celebrated to posterity; the conqueror of many plains and mountains of the Upper and Lower country; the victorious hero, the terror of whose mane has overwhelmed all regions; the bright constellation who, as he wished, has warred against foreign countries, and under the auspices of Bel—there being no equal to him—has subdued the enemies of Asshur."
The royal historian, after this introduction, proceeds to narrate his actions first in general terms declaring that he has subdued all the lands and the peoples round about, and then proceeding to particularize the various campaigns which he had conducted during the first five years of his reign. The earliest of these was against the Muskai, or Moschians, who are probably identical with the Meshech of Holy Scripture—a people governed (it is said) by five kings, and inhabiting the countries of Alzi and Purukhuz, parts (apparently) of Taurus or Niphates. These Moschians are said to have neglected for fifty years to pay the tribute due from them to the Assyrians, from which it would appear that they had revolted during the reign of Asshur-dayan, having previously been subject to Assyria. At this time, with a force amounting to 20,000 men, they had invaded the neighboring district of Qummukh (Commagene), an Assyrian dependency, and had made themselves masters of it. Tiglath-Pileser attacked them in this newly-conquered country, and completely defeated their army. He then reduced Commagene, despite the assistance which the inhabitants received from some of their neighbors. He burnt the cities, plundered the temples, ravaged the open country, and carried off, either in the shape of plunder or of tribute, vast quantities of cattle and treasure.
The character of the warfare is indicated by such a passage as the following:
"The country of Kasiyara, a difficult region, I passed through. With their 20,000 men and their five kings, in the country of Qummukh I engaged. I defeated them. The ranks of their warriors in fighting the battle were beaten down as if by the tempest. Their carcasses covered the valleys and the tops of the mountains, I cut off their heads. Of the battlements of their cities I made heaps, like mounds of earth (?). Their moveables, their wealth, and their valuables I plundered to a countless amount. Six thousand of their common soldiers, who fled before my servants, and accepted my yoke, I took and gave over to the men of my own territory as slaves."
The second campaign was partly in the same region and with the same people. The Moschians, who were still loth to pay tribute, were again attacked and reduced. Commagene was completely overrun, and the territory was attached to the Assyrian empire. The neighboring tribes were assailed in their fastnesses, their cities burnt, and their territories ravaged. At the same time war was made upon several other peoples or nations. Among these the most remarkable are the Khatti (Hittites), two of whose tribes, the Kaskiaits and Urumians, had committed an aggression on the Assyrian territory: for this they were chastised by an invasion which they did not venture to resist, by the plundering of their valuables, and the carrying off of 120 of their chariots. In another direction the Lower Zab was crossed, and the Assyrian arms were carried into the mountain region of Zagros, where certain strongholds were reduced and a good deal of treasure taken.
The third campaign was against the numerous tribes of the Nairi, who seem to have dwelt at this time partly to the east of the Euphrates, but partly also in the mountain country west of the stream from Smmeisat to the Gulf of Iskenderun. These tribes, it is said, had never previously made their submission to the Assyrians. They were governed by a number of petty chiefs or "kings," of whom no fewer than twenty-three are particularized. The tribes east of the Euphrates seem to have been reduced with little resistance, while those who dwelt west of the river, on the contrary, collected their troops together, gave battle to the invaders, and made a prolonged and desperate defence. All, however, was in vain. The Assyrian monarch gained a great victory, taking 120 chariots, and then pursued the vanquished Nairi and their allies as far as "the Upper Sea,"—i.e., the Mediterranean. The usual ravage and destruction followed, with the peculiarity that the lives of the "kings" were spared, and that the country was put to a moderate tribute, viz., 1200 horses and 200 head of cattle.
In the fourth campaign the Aramaeans or Syrians were attacked by the ambitious monarch. They occupied at this time the valley of the Euphrates, from the borders of the Tsukhi, or Shuhites, who held the river from about Anah to Hit, as high up as Carchemish, the frontier town and chief stronghold of the Khatti or Hittites. Carchemish was not, as has commonly been supposed, Circesium, at the junction of the Khabour with the Euphrates, but was considerably higher up the stream, certainly near to, perhaps on the very site of, the later city of Mabog or Hierapolis. Thus the Aramaeans had a territory of no great width, but 230 miles long between its north-western and its south-eastern extremities. Tiglath-Pileser smote this region, as he tells us, "at one blow." First attacking and plundering the eastern or left bank of the river, he then crossed the stream in boats covered with skins, took and burned six cities on the right bank, and returned in safety with an immense plunder.
The fifth and last campaign was against the country of Musr or Muzr, by which some Orientalists have understood Lower Egypt. This, however, appears to be a mistake. The Assyrian Inscriptions designate two countries by the name of Musr or Muzr, one of them being Egypt, and the other a portion of Upper Kurdistan. The expedition of Tiglath-Pileser I., was against the eastern Musr, a highly mountainous country, consisting (apparently) of the outlying ranges of Zagros between the greater Zab and the Eastern Khabour. Notwithstanding its natural strength and the resistance of the inhabitants, this country was completely overrun in an incredibly short space. The armies which defended it were defeated, the cities burnt, the strongholds taken. Arin, the capital, submitted, and was spared, after which a set tribute was imposed on the entire region, the amount of which is not mentioned. The Assyrian arms were then turned against a neighboring district, the country of the Comani. The Comani, though Assyrian subjects, had lent assistance to the people of Musr, and it was to punish this insolence that Tiglath-Pileser resolved to invade their territory. Having defeated their main army, consisting of 20,000 men, he proceeded to the attack of the various castles and towns, some of which were stormed, while others surrendered at discretion. In both eases alike the fortifications were broken down and destroyed, the cities which surrendered being spared, while those taken by storm were burnt with fire. Ere long the whole of the "far-spreading country of the Comani" was reduced to subjection, and a tribute was imposed exceeding that which had previously been required from the people.
After this account of the fifth campaign, the whole result of the wars is thus briefly summed up:—"There fell into my hands altogether, between the commencement of my reign and my fifth year, forty-two countries with their kings, from the banks of the river Zab to the banks of the river Euphrates, the country of the Rhatti, and the upper ocean of the setting sun. I brought them under one government; I took hostages from them; and I imposed on them tribute and offerings."
From describing his military achievements, the monarch turns to an account of his exploits in the chase. In the country of the Hittites he boasts that he had slain "four wild bulls, strong and fierce," with his arrows; while in the neighborhood of Harran, on the banks of the river Khabour, he had killed ten large wild buffaloes (?), and taken four alive. These captured animals he had carried with him on his return to Asshur, his capital city, together with the horns and skins of the slain beasts. The lions which he had destroyed in his various journeys he estimates at 920. All these successes he ascribes to the powerful protection of Nin and Nergal.
The royal historiographer proceeds, after this, to give an account of his domestic administration, of the buildings which he had erected, and the various improvements which he had introduced. Among the former he mentions temples to Ishtar. Martu, Bel, Il or Ra, and the presiding deities of the city of Asshur, palaces for his own use, and castles for the protection of his territory. Among the latter he enumerates the construction of works of irrigation, the introduction into Assyria of foreign cattle and of numerous beasts of chase, the naturalization of foreign vegetable products, the multiplication of chariots, the extension of the territory, and the augmentation of the population of the country.
A more particular account is then given of the restoration by the monarch of two very ancient and venerable temples in the great city of Asshur. This account is preceded by a formal statement of the particulars of the monarch's descent from Ninpala-zira, the king who seems to be regarded as the founder of the dynasty—which breaks the thread of the narrative somewhat strangely and awkwardly. Perhaps the occasion of its introduction was, in the mind of the writer, the necessary mention, in connection with one of the two temples, of Asshur-dayan, the great-grandfather of the monarch. It appears that in the reign of Asshur-dayan, this temple, which, having stood for 641 years, was in a very ruinous condition, had been taken down, while no fresh building had been raised in its room. The site remained vacant for sixty years, till Tiglath-Pileser, having lately ascended the throne, determined to erect on the spot a new temple to the old gods, who were Anu and Vul, probably the tutelary deities of the city. His own account of the circumstances of the building and dedication is as follows:—
"In the beginning of my reign, Anu and Vul, the great gods, my lords, guardians of my steps, gave me a command to repair this their shrine. So I made bricks; I levelled the earth; I took its dimensions (?); I laid down its foundations upon a mass of strong rock. This place, throughout its whole extent, I paved with bricks in set order (?); fifty feet deep I prepared the ground; and upon this substructure I laid the lower foundations of the temple of Anu and Vul. From its foundations to its roof I built it up better than it was before. I also built two lofty towers (?) in honor of their noble godships, and the holy place, a spacious hall, I consecrated for the convenience of their worshippers, and to accommodate their votaries, who were numerous as the stars of heaven. I repaired, and built, and completed my work. Outside the temple I fashioned everything with the same care as inside. The mound of earth on which it was built I enlarged like the firmament of the rising stars (?), and I beautified the entire building. Its towers I raised up to heaven, and its roofs I built entirely of brick. An inviolable shrine(?) for their noble godships I laid down near at hand. Anu and Vul, the great gods, I glorified inside the shrine. I set them up in their honored purity, and the hearts of their noble godships I delighted."
The other restoration mentioned is that of a temple to Vul only, which, like that to Anu and Vul conjointly, had been originally built by Shamas-Vul, the son of Ismi-Dagon. This building had likewise fallen into decay, but had not been taken down like the other. Tiglath-Pileser states that he "levelled its site," and then rebuilt it "from its foundations to its roofs." enlarging it beyond its former limits, and adorning it. Inside of it he "sacrificed precious victims to his lord, Vul." He also deposited in the temple a number of rare stones or marbles, which he had obtained in the country of the Nairi in the course of his expeditions.
The inscription then terminates with the following long invocation:—
"Since a holy place, a noble hall, I have thus consecrated for the use of the Great Gods, my lords Anu and Vul, and have laid down an adytum for their special worship, and have finished it successfully, and have delighted the hearts of their noble godships, may Anu and Vul preserve me in power! May they support the men of my government! May they establish the authority of my officers! May they bring the rain, the joy of the year, on the cultivated land and the desert, during my time! In war and in battle may they preserve me victorious! Many foreign countries, turbulent nations, and hostile kings I have reduced under my yoke! to my children and my descendants, may they keep them in firm allegiance! I will lead my steps" (or, "may they establish my feet"), "firm as the mountains, to the last days, before Asshur and their noble godships!
"The list of my victories and the catalogue of my triumphs over foreigners hostile to Asshur, which Anu and Vul have granted to my arms, I have inscribed on my tablets and cylinders, and I have placed, [to remain] to the last days, in the temple of my lords, Ann and Vul. And I have made clean (?) the tablets of Shamas-Vul, my ancestor; I have made sacrifices, and sacrificed victims before them, and have set them up in their places. In after times, and in the latter days..., if the temple of the Great Gods, my lords Anu and Vul, and these shrines should become old and fall into decay, may the Prince who comes after me repair the ruins! May he raise altars and sacrifice victims before my tablets and cylinders, and may he set them up again in their places, and may he inscribe his name on them together with my name! As Anu and Vul, the Great Gods, have ordained, may he worship honestly with a good heart and full trust!
"Whoever shall abrade or injure my tablets and cylinders, or shall moisten them with water, or scorch them with fire, or expose them to the air, or in the holy place of God shall assign them a place where they cannot be seen or understood, or shall erase the writing and inscribe his own name, or shall divide the sculptures (?) and break them off from my tablets, may Anu and Vul, the Great Gods, my lords, consign his name to perdition! May they curse him with an irrevocable curse! May they cause his sovereignty to perish! May they pluck out the stability of the throne of his empire! Let not his offspring survive him in the kingdom! Let his servants be broken! Let his troops be defeated! Let him fly vanquished before his enemies! May Vul in his fury tear up the produce of his land! May a scarcity of food and of the necessaries of life afflict his country! For one day may he not be called happy! May his name and his race perish!"
The document is then dated—"In the month Kuzalla (Chisleu), on the 29th day, in the year presided over by Inailiya-pallik, the Rabbi-Turi."
Perhaps the most striking feature of this inscription, when it is compared with other historical documents of the same kind belonging to other ages and nations, is its intensely religious character. The long and solemn invocation of the Great Gods with which it opens, the distinct ascription to their assistance and guardianship of the whole series of royal successes, whether in war or in the chase; the pervading idea that the wars were undertaken for the chastisement of the enemies of Asshur, and that their result was the establishment in an ever-widening circle of the worship of Asshur; the careful account which is given of the erection and renovation of temples, and the dedication of offerings; and the striking final prayer—all these are so many proofs of the prominent place which religion held in the thoughts of the king who set up the inscription, and may fairly be accepted as indications of the general tone and temper of his people. It is evident that we have here displayed to us, not a decent lip-service, not a conventional piety, but a real, hearty earnest religious faith—a faith bordering on fanaticism—a spirit akin to that with which the Jews were possessed in their warfare with the nations of Canaan, or which the soldiers of Mahomet breathed forth when they fleshed their maiden swords upon the infidels. The king glorifies himself much; but he glorifies the gods more. He fights, in part, for his own credit, and for the extension of his territory; but he fights also for the honor of the gods, whom the surrounding nations reject, and for the diffusion of their worship far and wide throughout all known regions. His wars are religious wars, at least as much as wars of conquest; his buildings, or, at any rate, those on whose construction he dwells with most complacency, are religious buildings; the whole tone of his mind is deeply and sincerely religious; besides formal acknowledgments, he is continually letting drop little expressions which show that his gods are "in all his thoughts," and represent to him real powers governing and directing all the various circumstances of human life. The religious spirit displayed is, as might have been expected, in the highest degree exclusive and intolerant; but it is earnest, constant, and all-pervading.
In the next place, we cannot fail to be struck with the energetic character of the monarch, so different from the temper which Ctesias ascribes, in the broadest and most sweeping terms, to all the successors of Ninus. Within the first five years of his reign the indefatigable prince conducts in person expeditions into almost every country upon his borders; attacks and reduces six important nations, besides numerous petty tribes; receiving the submission of forty-two kings; traversing the most difficult mountain regions; defeating armies, besieging towns, destroying forts and strongholds, ravaging territories; never allowing himself a moment of repose; when he is not engaged in military operations, devoting himself to the chase, contending with the wild bull and the lion, proving himself (like the first Mesopotamian king) in very deed "a mighty hunter," since he counts his victims by hundreds; and all the while having regard also to the material welfare of his country, adorning it with buildings, enriching it with the products of other lands, both animal and vegetable, fertilizing it by means of works of irrigation, and in every way "improving the condition of the people, and obtaining for them abundance and security."
With respect to the general condition of Assyria, it may be noted, in the first place, that the capital is still Asshur, and that no mention is made of any other native city. The king calls himself "king of the four regions," which would seem to imply a division of the territory into districts, like that which certainly obtained in later times. The mention of "four" districts is curious, since the same number was from the first affected by the Chaldaeans, while we have also evidence that, at least after the time of Sargon, there was a pre-eminence of four great cities in Assyria. The limits of the territory at the time of the Inscription are not very dearly marked; but they do not seem to extend beyond the outer ranges of Zagros on the east, Niphates on the north, and the Euphrates upon the west. The southern boundary at the time was probably the commencement of the alluvium; but this cannot be gathered from the Inscription, which contains no notice of any expedition in the direction of Babylonia. The internal condition of Assyria is evidently flourishing. Wealth flows in from the plunder of the neighboring countries; labor is cheapened by the introduction of enslaved captives; irrigation is cared for; new fruits and animals are introduced; fortifications are repaired, palaces renovated, and temples beautified or rebuilt.
The countries adjoining upon Assyria at the west, the north, and the east, in which are carried on the wars of the period, present indications of great political weakness. They are divided up among a vast number of peoples, nations, and tribes, whereof the most powerful is only able to bring into the field a force of 20,000 men. The peoples and nations possess but little unity. Each consists of various separate communities, ruled by their own kings, who in war unite their troops against the common enemy; but are so jealous of each other, that they do not seem even to appoint a generalissimo. On the Euphrates, between Hit and Carchemish, are, first, the Tsukhi or Shuhites, of whom no particulars are given; and, next, the Aramaeans or Syrians, who occupy both banks of the river, and possess a number of cities, no one of which is of much strength. Above the Aramaeans are the Khatti or Hittites, whose chief city, Carchemish, is an important place; they are divided into tribes, and, like the Aramaeans, occupy both banks of the great stream. North and north-west of their country, probably beyond the mountain-range of Amanus, are the Muskai (Moschi), an aggressive people, who were seeking to extend their territory eastward into the land of the Qummukh or people of Commagene. These Qummukh hold the mountain country on both sides of the Upper Tigris, and have a number of strongholds, chiefly on the right bank. To the east they adjoin on the Kirkhi, who must have inhabited the skirts of Niphates, while to the south they touch the Nairi, who stretch from Lake Van, along the line of the Tigris, to the tract known as Commagene to the Romans. The Nairi have, at the least, twenty-three kings, each of whom governs his own tribe or city. South of the more eastern Nairi is the country of Muzra mountain tract well peopled and full of castles, probably the region about Amadiyeh and Rowandiz. Adjoining Muzr to the east or north-east, are the __Quwanu or Comani, who are among the most powerful of Assyria's neighbors, being able, like the Moschi, to bring into the field an army of 20,000 men. At this time they are close allies of the people of Muzr—finally, across the lower Zab, on the skirts of Zagros, are various petty tribes of small account, who offer but little resistance to the arms of the invader.
Such was the position of Assyria among her neighbors in the latter part of the twelfth century before Christ. She was a compact and powerful kingdom, centralized under a single monarch, and with a single great capital, in the midst of wild tribes which clung to a separate independence, each in its own valley or village. At the approach of a great danger, these tribes might consent to coalesce and to form alliances, or even confederations; but the federal tie, never one of much tenacity, and rarely capable of holding its ground in the presence of monarchic vigor, was here especially weak. After one defeat of their joint forces by the Assyrian troops, the confederates commonly dispersed, each flying to the defence of his own city or territory, with a short-sighted selfishness which deserved and ensured defeat. In one direction only was Assyria confronted by a rival state pomsessing a power and organization in character not unlike her own, though scarcely of equal strength. On her southern frontier, in the broad flat plain intervening between the Mesopotamian upland and the sea—the kingdom of Babylon was still existing; its Semitic kings, though originally established upon the throne by Assyrian influence, had dissolved all connection with their old protectors, and asserted their thorough independence. Here, then, was a considerable state, as much centralized as Assyria herself, and not greatly inferior either in extent of territory or in population, existing side by side with her, and constituting a species of check, whereby something like a balance of power was still maintained in Western Asia, and Assyria: was prevented from feeling herself the absolute mistress of the East, and the uncontrolled arbitress of the world's destinies.
Besides the great cylinder inscription of Tiglath-Pileser there exist five more years of his annals in fragments, from which we learn that he continued his aggressive expeditious during this space, chiefly towards the north west, subduing the Lulumi in Northern Syria, attacking and taking Carchemish, and pursuing the inhabitants across the Euphrates in boats.
No mention is made during this time of any collision between Assyria and her great rival. Babylon. The result of the wars waged by Asshur-ris-ilim against Nebuchadnezzar I., had, apparently, been to produce in the belligerents a feeling of mutual respect; and Tiglath-Pileser, in his earlier years, neither trespassed on the Babylonian territory in his aggressive raids, nor found himself called upon to meet and repel any invasion of his own dominions by his southern neighbors. Before the close of his reign, however, active hostilities broke out between the two powers. Either provoked by some border ravage or actuated simply by lust of conquest, Tiglath-Pileser marched his troops into Babylonia. For two consecutive years he wasted with fire and sword the "upper" or northern provinces, taking the cities of Kurri-Galzu—now Akkerkuf—Sippara of the Sun, and Sippara of Anunit (the Sepharvaim or "two Sipparas" of the Hebrews), and Hupa or Opis, on the Tigris; and finally capturing Babylon itself, which, strong as it was, proved unable to resist the invader. On his return be passed up the valley of the Euphrates, and took several cities from the Tsukhi. But here, it would seem that he suffered a reverse. Merodach-iddiu-akhi, his opponent, if he did not actually defeat his army, must, at any rate, have greatly harassed it on its retreat; for he captured an important part of its baggage. Indulging a superstition common in ancient times, Tiglath-Pileser had carried with him in his expedition certain images of gods, whose presence would, it was thought, secure victory to his arms. Merodach-iddiu akhi obtained possession of these idols, and succeeded in carrying them off to Babylon, where they were preserved for more than 400 years, and considered as mementoes of victory.
The latter days of this great Assyrian prince were thus, unhappily, clouded by disaster. Neither he, nor his descendants, nor any Assyrian monarch for four centuries succeeded in recovering the lost idols, and replacing them in the shrines from which they were taken. A hostile and jealous spirit appears henceforth in the relations between Assyria and Babylon; we find no more intermarriages of the one royal house with the other; wars are frequent—almost constant—nearly every Assyrian monarch, whose history is known to us in any detail, conducting at least one expedition into Babylonia.
A work still remains, belonging to the reign of this king, from which it appears that the peculiar character of Assyrian mimetic art was already fixed in his time, the style of representation being exactly such as prevailed at the most flourishing period, and the workmanship, apparently, not very inferior. In a cavern from which the Tsupnat river or eastern branch of the Tigris rises, close to a village called Korkhar, and about fifty or sixty miles north of Drarbekr, is a bas-relief sculptured on the natural rock, which has been smoothed for the purpose, consisting of a figure of the king in his sacerdotal dress with the right arm extended and the left hand grasping the sacrificial mace, accompanied by an inscription which is read as follows:—"By the grace of Asshur, Shamas, and Vul, the Great Gods, I., Tiglath-Pileser, king of Assyria, son of Asshurris-ilim, king of Assyria, who was the son of Mutaggil-Nebo, king of Assyria, marching from the great sea of Akhiri' (the Mediterranean) to the sea of Nairi" (Lake of Van) "for the third time have invaded the country of Nairi." [PLATE CXLIV Fig. 3.]
The fact of his having warred in Lower Mesopotamia is almost the whole that is known of Tiglath-Pileser's son and successor, Asshur-bil-kala. A contest in which he was engaged with the Babylonian prince, Merodach-shapik-ziri (who seems to have been the successor of Merodach-iddin-akhi), is recorded on the famous synchronistic tablet, in conjunction with the Babylonian wars of his father and grandfather; but the tablet is so injured in this place that no particulars can be gathered from it. From a monument of Asshur-bil-kala's own time—one of the earliest Assyrian sculptures that has cone down to us—we may perhaps further conclude that he inherited something of the religious spirit of his father, and gave a portion of his attention to the adornment of temples, and the setting up of images.
The probable date of the reign of Asshur-bil-kala is about B.C. 1110-1090. He appears to have been succeeded on the throne by his younger brother, Shamas-Vul, of whom nothing is known, but that he built, or repaired, a temple at Nineveh. His reign probably occupied the interval between B.. 1090 and 1070. He would thus seem to have been contemporary with Smendes in Egypt and with Samuel or Saul in Israel. So apparently insignificant an event as the establishment of a kingdom in Palestine was not likely to disturb the thoughts, even if it came to the knowledge, of an Assyrian monarch. Shamas-Vul would no doubt have regarded with utter contempt the petty sovereign of so small a territory as Palestine, and would have looked upon the new kingdom as scarcely more worthy of his notice than any other of the ten thousand little principalities which lay on or near his borders. Could he, however, have possessed for a few moments the prophetic foresight vouchsafed some centuries earlier to one who may almost be called his countryman, he would have been astonished to recognize in the humble kingdom just lifting its head in the far West, and struggling to hold its own against Philistine cruelty and oppression, a power which in little more than fifty years would stand forth before the world as the equal, if not the superior, of his own state. The imperial splendor of the kingdom of David and Solomon did, in fact, eclipse for awhile the more ancient glories of Assyria. It is a notable circumstance that, exactly at the time when a great and powerful monarchy grew up in the tract between Egypt and the Euphrates, Assyria passed under a cloud. The history of the country is almost a blank for two centuries between the reigns of Shamas-Vul and the second Tiglathi-Nin, whose accession is fixed by the Assyrian Canon to B.C. 889. During more than three-fourths of this time, from about B.C. 1070 to B.C. 930, the very names of the monarchs are almost wholly unknown to us. It seems as if there was not room in Western Asia for two first-class monarchies to exist and flourish at the same time; and so, although there was no contention, or even contact, between the two empires of Judaea and Assyria, yet the rise of the one to greatness could only take place under the condition of a coincident weakness of the other.
It is very remarkable that exactly in this interval of darkness, when Assyria would seem, from the failure both of buildings and records, to have been especially and exceptionally weak, occurs the first appearance of her having extended her influence beyond Syria into the great and ancient monarchy of Egypt. In the twenty-second Egyptian dynasty, which began with Sheshonk I., or Shishak, the contemporary of Solomon, about B.C. 900, Assyrian names appear for the first time in the Egyptian dynastic lists. It has been supposed from this circumstance that the entire twenty-second dynasty, together with that which succeeded it, was Assyrian; but the condition of Assyria at the time renders such a hypothesis most improbable. The true explanation would seem to be that the Egyptian kings of this period sometimes married. Assyrian wives, who naturally gave Assyrian names to some of their children. These wives were perhaps members of the Assyrian royal family; or perhaps they were the daughters of the Assyrian nobles who from time to time were appointed as viceroys of the towns and small states which the Ninevite monarchs conquered on the skirts of their empire. Either of these suppositions is more probable than the establishment in Egypt of a dynasty really Assyrian at a time of extraordinary weakness and depression.
When at the close of this long period of obscurity, Assyria once more comes into sight, we have at first only a dim and indistinct view of her through the mists which still enfold and shroud her form. We observe that her capital is still fixed at Kileh-Sherghat, where a new series of kings, bearing names which, for the most part, resemble those of the earlier period, are found employing themselves in the repair and enlargement of public buildings, in connection with which they obtain honorable mention in an inscription of a later monarch. Asshur-dayan, the first monarch of this group, probably ascended the throne about B.C. 930, shortly after the separation of the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah. He appears to have reigned from about B.C. 930 to B.C. 911. He was succeeded in B.C. 911 by his son Vul-lush II., who held the throne from B.C. 911 to B.C. 889. Nothing is known at present of the history of these two monarchs. No historical inscriptions belonging to their reigns have been recovered; no exploits are recorded of them in the inscriptions of later sovereigns. They stand up before us the mere "shadows of mighty names"—proofs of the, uncertainty of posthumous fame, which is almost as often the award of chance as the deserved recompense of superior merit.
Of Tiglathi-Nin, the second monarch of the name, and the third king of the group which we are considering, one important historical notice, contained in an inscription of his son, has come down to us. In the annals of the great Asshur-izirpal inscribed on the Nimrud monolith, that prince, while commemorating his war-like exploits, informs us that he set up his sculptures at the sources of the Tsupnat river alongside of sculptures previously set up by his ancestors Tiglath-Pileser and Tiglathi-Nin. That Tiglathi-Nin should have made so distant an expedition is the more remarkable from the brevity of his reign, which only lasted for six years. According to the Canon, he ascended the throne in the year B.C. 889; he was succeeded in B.C. 883 by his son Asshur-izir-pal.
With Asshur-izir-pal commences one of the most flourishing periods of the Empire. During the twenty-five years of his active and laborious reign. Assyria enlarged her bounds and increased her influence in almost every direction, while, at the same time, she advanced rapidly in wealth and in the arts; in the latter respect leaping suddenly to an eminence which (so far as we know) had not previously been reached by human genius. The size and magnificence of Asshur-izir-pal's buildings, the artistic excellence of their ornamentation, the pomp and splendor which they set before us as familiar to the king who raised them, the skill in various useful arts which they display or imply, have excited the admiration of Europe, which has seen with astonishment that many of its inventions were anticipated, and that its luxury was almost equalled, by an Asiatic people nine centuries before the Christian era. It will be our pleasing task at this point of the history, after briefly sketching Asshur-izir-pal's wars, to give such an account of the great works which he constructed as will convey to the reader at least a general idea of the civilization and refinement of the Assyrians at the period to which we are now come.
Asshur-izir-pal's first campaign was in north-western Kurdistan and in the adjoining parts of Armenia. It does not present any very remarkable features, though he claims to have penetrated to a region "never approached by the kings his fathers." His enemies are the Numi or Elami (i.e., the mountaineers) and the Kirkhi, who seem to have left their name in the modern Kurkh. Neither people appears to have been able to make much head against him: no battle was fought: the natives merely sought to defend their fortified places; but these were mostly taken and destroyed by the invader. One chief, who was made prisoner, received very barbarous treatment; he was carried to Arbela, and there flayed and hung up upon the town wall.
The second expedition of Asshur-izir-pal, which took place in the same year as his first, was directed against the regions to the west and north-west of Assyria. Traversing the country of Qummukh, and receiving its tribute, as well as that of Serki and Sidikan (Arban), he advanced against the Laki, who seem to have been at this time the chief people of Central Mesopotamia, extending from the vicinity of Hatra as far as, or even beyond, the middle Euphrates. Here the people of a city called Assura had rebelled, murdered their governor, and called in a foreigner to rule over them. Asshur-izir-pal marched hastily against the rebels, who submitted at his approach, delivering up to his mercy both their city and their new king. The latter he bound with fetters and carried with him to Nineveh; the former he treated with almost unexampled severity. Having first plundered the whole place, he gave up the houses of the chief men to his own officers, established an Assyrian governor in the palace, and then, selecting from the inhabitants the most guilty, he crucified some, burnt others, and punished the remainder by cutting off their ears or their noses. We can feel no surprise when we are informed that, while he was thus "arranging" these matters, the remaining kings of the Laki submissively sent in their tribute to the conqueror, paying it with apparent cheerfulness, though it was "a heavy and much increased burden."
In his third expedition, which was in his second year, Asshur-izir-pal turned his arms to the north, and marched towards the Upper Tigris, where he forced the kings of the Nairi, who had, it appears, regained their independence, to give in their submission, and appointed them an annual tribute in gold, silver, horses, cattle, and other commodities. It was in the course of this expedition that, having ascended to the sources of the Tsupnat river, or Eastern Tigris, Asshur-izir-pal set up his memorial side by side with monuments previously erected on the same site by Tiglath-Pileser and by the first or second Tiglathi-Nin.
Asshur-izir-pal's fourth campaign was towards the south-east. He crossed the Lesser Zab, and, entering the Zagros range, carried fire and sword through its fruitful valleys—pushing his arms further than any of his ancestors, capturing some scores of towns, and accepting or extorting tribute from a dozen petty kings. The furthest extent of his march was probably the district of Zohab across the Shirwan branch of the Diyaleh, to which he gives the name of Edisa. On his return he built, or rather rebuilt, a city, which a Babylonian king called Tsibir had destroyed at a remote period, and gave to his new foundation the name of Dur-Asshur, in grateful acknowledgment of the protection vouchsafed him by "the chief of the gods."
In his fifth campaign the warlike monarch once more directed his steps towards the north. Passing through the country of the Qummukh, and receiving their tribute, he proceeded to war in the eastern portion of the Mons Masius, where he took the cities of Matyat (now Mediyat) and Kapranisa. He then appears to have crossed the Tigris and warred on the flanks of Niphates, where his chief enemy was the people of Kasiyara. Returning thence, he entered the territory of the Nairi, where he declares that he overthrew and destroyed 250 strong walled cities, and put to death a considerable number of the princes.
The sixth campaign of Asshur-izir-pal was in a westerly direction. Starting from Calah or Nimrud, he crossed the Tigris, and, marching through the middle of Mesopotamia a little to the north of the Sinjar range, took tribute from a number of subject towns along the courses of the rivers Jerujer, Khabour, and Euphrates, among which the most important were Sidikan (now Arban), Sirki, and Anat (now Anah). From Anat, apparently his frontier-town in this direction, he invaded the country of the Tsukhi (Shuhites), captured their city Tsur, and forced them, notwithstanding the assistance which they received from their neighbors the Babylonians, to surrender the themselves. He then entered Chaldaea, and chastised the Chaldaeans, after which he returned in triumph to his own country.
His seventh campaign was also against the Shuhites. Released from the immediate pressure of his arms, they had rebelled, and had even ventured to invade the Assyrian Empire. The Laki, whose territory adjoined that of the Shuhites towards the north and east, assisted them. The combined army, which the allies were able to bring into the field amounted probably to 20,000 men, including a large number of warriors who fought in chariots. Asshur-izir-pal first attacked the cities on the left bank of the Euphrates, which had felt his might on the former occasion; and, having reduced these and punished their rebellion with great severity, he crossed the river on rafts, and fought a battle with the main army of the enemy. In this engagement he was completely victorious, defeating the Tsukhi and their allies with great slaughter, and driving their routed forces headlong into the Euphrates, where great numbers perished by drowning. Six thousand five hundred of the rebels fell in the battle; and the entire country on the right bank of the river, which had escaped invasion in the former campaign, was ravaged furiously with fire and sword by the incensed monarch. The cities and castles were burnt, the males put to the sword, the women, children, and cattle carried off. Two kings of the Laki are mentioned, of whom one escaped, while the other was made prisoner, and conveyed to Assyria by the conqueror. A rate of tribute was then imposed on the land considerably in advance of that to which it had previously been liable. Besides this, to strengthen his hold on the country, the conqueror built two new cities, one on either bank of the Euphrates, naming the city on the left bank after himself, and that on the right bank after the god Asshur. Both of these places were no doubt left well garrisoned with Assyrian soldiers, on whom the conqueror could place entire reliance.
Asshur-izir-pal's eighth campaign was nearly in the same quarter; but its exact scene lay, apparently, somewhat higher up the Euphrates. Hazilu, the king of the Laki, who escaped capture in the preceding expedition, had owed his safety to the refuge given him by the people of Beth-Adina. Asshur-izir-pal, who seems to have regarded their conduct on this occasion as an insult to himself, and was resolved to punish their presumption, made his eighth expedition solely against this bold but weak people. Unable to meet his forces in the field, they shut themselves up in their chief city, Kabrabi (?), which was immediately besieged, and soon taken and burnt by the Assyrians. The country of Beth-Adina, which lay on the left or east bank of the Euphrates, in the vicinity of the modern Balis, was overrun and added to the empire. Two thousand five hundred prisoners were carried off and settled at Calah.
The most interesting of Asshur-izir-pal's campaigns is the ninth, which was against Syria. Marching across Upper-Mesopotamia, and receiving various tributes upon his way, the Assyrian monarch passed the Euphrates on rafts, and, entering the city of Carchemish, received the submission of Sangara, the Hittite prince, who ruled in that town, and of various other chiefs, "who came reverently and kissed his sceptre." He then "gave command" to advance towards Lebanon. Entering the territory of the Patena, who adjoined upon the northern Hittites, and held the country about Antioch and Aleppo, he occupied the capital, Kinalua, which was between the Abri (or Afrin) and the Orontes; alarmed the rebel king, Lubarna, so that he submitted, and consented to pay a tribute; and then, crossing the Orontes and destroying certain cities of the Patena, passed along the northern flank of Lebanon, and reached the Mediterranean. Here he erected altars and offered sacrifices to the gods, after which he received the submission of the principal Phoenician states, among which Tyre, Sidon, Byblus, and Aradus may be distinctly recognized. He then proceeded inland, and visited the mountain range of Amanus, where he cut timber, set up a sculptured memorial, and offered sacrifice. After this he returned to Assyria, carrying with him, besides other plunder, a quantity of wooden beams, probably cedar, which he carefully conveyed to Nineveh, to be used in his public buildings.
The tenth campaign of Asshur-izir-pai, and the last which is recorded, was in the region of the Upper Tigris. The geographical details here are difficult to follow. We can only say that, as usual, the Assyrian monarch claims to have over-powered all resistance, to have defeated armies, burnt cities, and carried off vast numbers of prisoners. The "royal city" of the monarch chiefly attacked was Amidi, now Diarbekr, which sufficiently marks the main locality of the expedition.
While engaged in these important wars, which were all included within his first six years, Asshur-izir-pal, like his great predecessor, Tiglath-Pileser, occasionally so far unbent as to indulge in the recreation of hunting. He interrupts the account of his military achievements to record, for the benefit of posterity, that on one occasion he slew fifty large wild bulls on the left bank of the Euphrates, and captured eight of the same animals; while, on another, he killed twenty ostriches (?), and took captive the same number. We may conclude, from the example of Tiglath-Pileser, and from other inscriptions of Asshur-izir-pal himself, that the captured animals were convoyed to Assyria either as curiosities, or, more probably, as objects of chase. Asshur-izir-pal's sculptures show that the pursuit of the wild bull was one of his favorite occupations; and as the animals were scarce in Assyria, he may have found it expedient to import them.
Asshur-izir-pal appears, however, to have possessed a menagerie park in the neighborhood of Nineveh, in which were maintained a variety of strange and curious animals. Animals called paguts or pagats—perhaps elephants—were received as tribute from the Phoenicians during his reign, on at least one occasion, and placed in this enclosure, where (he tells us) they throve and bred. So well was his taste for such curiosities known, that even neighboring sovereigns sought to gratify it; and the king of Egypt, a Pharaoh probably of the twenty-second dynasty, sent him a present of strange animals when he was in Southern Syria, as a compliment likely to be appreciated. This love of the chase, which he no doubt indulged to some extent at home, found in Syria, and in the country on the Upper Tigris, its amplest and most varied exercise. In an obelisk inscription, designed especially to commemorate a great hunting expedition into these regions, he tells us that, besides antelopes of all sorts, which he took and sent to Asshur, he captured and destroyed the following animals:—lions, wild sheep, red deer, fallow-deer, wild goats or ibexes, leopards large and small, bears, wolves, jackals, wild boars, ostriches, foxes, hyaenas, wild asses, and a few kinds which have not been identified. From another inscription we learn that, in the course of another expedition, which seems to have been in the Mesopotamian desert, he destroyed 360 large lions, 257 large wild cattle, and thirty buffaloes, while he took and sent to Calah fifteen full-grown lions, fifty young lions, some leopards, several pairs of wild buffaloes and wild cattle, together with ostriches, wolves, red deer, bears, cheetas, and hyeenas. Thus in his peaceful hours he was still actively employed, and in the chase of many dangerous beasts was able to exercise the same qualities of courage, coolness, and skill in the use of weapons which procured him in his wars such frequent and such great successes.
Thus distinguished, both as a hunter and as a warrior, Asshur-izir-pal, nevertheless, excelled his predecessors most remarkably in the grandeur of his public buildings and the free use which he made of the mimetic and other arts in their ornamentation. The constructions of the earlier kings at Asshur (or Kileh-Sherghat), whatever merit they may have had, were beyond a doubt far inferior to those which, from the time of Asshur-izir-pal, were raised in rapid succession at Calah, Nineveh, and Beth-Sargina by that monarch and his successors upon the throne. The mounds of Kileh-Sherghat have yielded no bas-reliefs, nor do they show any traces of buildings on the scale of those which, at Nimrud, Koyunjik, and Khorsabad, provoke the admiration of the traveller. The great palace of Asshur-izir-pal was at Calah, which he first raised from a provincial town to be the metropolis of the empire. [PLATE CXLV., Fig. 1.] It was a building 360 feet long by 300 broad, consisting of seven or eight large halls, and a far greater number of small chambers, grouped round a central court 130 feet long and nearly 100 wide. The longest of the halls, which faced towards the north, and was the first room entered by one who approached from the town, was in length 154 and in breadth 33 feet. The others varied between a size little short of this, and a length of 65 with a breadth of less than 20 feet. The chambers were generally square, or nearly so, and in their greatest dimensions rarely exceeded ten yards. The whole palace was raised upon a lofty platform, made of sun-burnt brick, but externally cased on every side with hewn stone. There were two grand facades, one facing the north, on which side there was an ascent to the platform from the town: and the other facing the Tigris, which anciently flowed at the foot of the platform towards the west. On the northern front two or three gateways, flanked with andro-sphinxes, gave direct access to the principal hall or audience chamber, a noble apartment, but too narrow for its length, lined throughout with sculptured slabs representing the various actions of the king, and containing at the upper or eastern end a raised stone platform cut into steps, which, it is probable, was intended to support at a proper elevation the carved throne of the monarch. A grand portal in the southern wall of the chamber, guarded on either side by winged human-headed bulls in yellow limestone, conducted into a second hall considerably smaller than the first, and having less variety of ornament, which communicated with the central court by a handsome gateway towards the south; and, towards the east, was connected with a third hall, one of the most remarkable in the palace. This chamber was a better-proportioned room than most, being about ninety feet long by twenty-six wide; it ran along the eastern side of the great court, with which it communicated by two gateways, and, internally, it was adorned with sculptures of a more finished and elaborate character than any other room in the building. Behind this eastern hall was another opening into it, of somewhat greater length, but only twenty feet wide; and this led to five small chambers, which here bounded the palace. South of the Great Court were, again, two halls communicating with each other; but they were of inferior size to those on the north and west, and were far less richly ornamented. It is conjectured that there were also two or three halls on the west side of the court between it and the river; but of this there was no very clear evidence, and it may be doubted whether the court towards the west was not, at least partially, open to the river. Almost every hall had one or two small chambers attached to it, which were most usually at the ends of the halls, and connected with them by large doorways.
Such was the general plan of the palace of Asshur-izir-pal. Its great halls, so narrow for their length, were probably roofed with beams stretching across them from side to side, and lighted by small louvres in their roofs after the manner already described elsewhere. Its square chambers may have been domed, and perhaps were not lighted at all, or only by lamps and torches. They were generally without ornamentation. The grand halls, on the contrary, and some of the narrower chambers, were decorated on every side, first with sculptures to the height of nine or ten feet, and then with enamelled bricks, or patterns painted in fresco, to the height, probably, of seven or eight feet more. The entire height of the rooms was thus from sixteen to seventeen or eighteen feet.
The character of Asshur-izir-pal's sculptures has been sufficiently described in an earlier chapter. They have great spirit, boldness, and force; occasionally they show real merit in the design; but they are clumsy in the drawing and somewhat coarse in the execution. What chiefly surprises us in regard to them is the suddenness with which the art they manifest appears to have sprung up, without going through the usual stages of rudeness and imperfection. Setting aside one mutilated statue, of very poor execution, and a single rock tablet, we have no specimens remaining of Assyrian mimetic art more ancient than this monarch. That art almost seems to start in Assyria, like Minerva from the head of Jove, full-grown. Asshur-izir-pal had undoubtedly some constructions of former monarchs to copy from, both in his palatial and in his sacred edifices; the old palaces and temples at Kileh-Sherghat must have had a certain grandeur; and in his architecture this monarch may have merely amplified and improved upon the models left him by his predecessors; but his ornamentation, so far as appears, was his own. The mounds of Kileh-Sherghat have yielded bricks in abundance, but not a single fragment of a sculptured slab. We cannot prove that ornamental bas-reliefs did not exist before the time of Asshur-izir-pal; indeed the rock tablets which earlier monarchs set up were sculptures of this character; but to Asshur-izir-pal seems at any rate to belong the merit of having first adopted bas-reliefs on an extensive scale as an architectural ornament, and of having employed them so as to represent by their means all the public life of the monarch.
The other arts employed by this king in the adornment of his buildings were those of enamelling bricks and painting in fresco upon a plaster. Both involve considerable skill in the preparation of colors, and the former especially implies much dexterity in the management of several very delicate processes.
The sculptures of Asshur-izir-pal, besides proving directly the high condition of mimetic art in Assyria at this time, furnish indirect evidence of the wonderful progress which had been made in various important manufactures. The metallurgy which produced the swords, sword-sheaths, daggers, earrings, necklaces, armlets, and bracelets of this period, must have been of a very advanced description. The coach-building which constructed the chariots, the saddlery which made the harness of the horses, the embroidery which ornamented the robes, must, similarly, have been of a superior character. The evidence of the sculptures alone is quite sufficient to show that, in the time of Asshur-izir-pal, the Assyrians were already a great and luxurious people, that most of the useful arts not only existed among them, but were cultivated to a high pitch, and that in dress, furniture, jewelry, etc., they were not very much behind the moderns.
Besides the magnificent palace which he built at Calah, Asshur-izir-pal is known also to have erected a certain number of temples. The most important of these have been already described. They stood at the north-western corner of the Nimrud platform, and consisted of two edifices, one exactly at the angle, comprising the higher tower or ziggurat, which stood out as a sort of corner buttress from the great mound, and a shrine with chambers at the tower's base; the other, a little further to the east, consisting of a shrine and chambers without a tower. These temples were richly ornamented both within and without; and in front of the larger one was an erection which seems to show that the Assyrian monarchs, either during their lifetime, or at any rate after their decease, received divine honors from their subjects. On a plain square pedestal about two feet in height was raised a solid block of limestone cut into the shape of an arched frame, and within this frame was carved the monarch in his sacerdotal dress, and with the sacred collar round his neck, while the five principal divine emblems were represented above his head. In front of this figure, marking (apparently) the object of its erection, was a triangular altar with a circular top, very much resembling the tripod of the Greeks. Here we may presume were laid the offerings with which the credulous and the servile propitiated the new god,—many a gift, not improbably, being intercepted on its way to the deity of the temple. [PLATE CXLV., Fig. 2.]
Another temple built by this monarch was one dedicated to Beltis at Nineveh. It was perhaps for the ornamentation of this edifice that he cut "great trees" in Amanus and elsewhere during his Syrian expedition, and had them conveyed across Mesopotamia to Assyria. It is expressly stated that these beams were carried, not to Calah, where Asshur-izir-pal usually resided, but to Nineveh.
A remarkable work, probably erected by this monarch, and set up as a memorial of his reign at the same city, is an obelisk in white stone, now in the British Museum. On this monument, which was covered on all its four sides with sculptures and inscriptions, now nearly obliterated, Asshur-izir-pal commemorated his wars and hunting exploits in various countries. The obelisk is a monolith, about twelve or thirteen feet high, and two feet broad at the base. It tapers slightly, and, like the Black Obelisk erected by this monarch's son, is crowned at the summit by three steps or gradines. This thoroughly Assyrian ornamentation seems to show that the idea of the obelisk was not derived from Egypt, where the pyramidical apex was universally used, being regarded as essential to this class of ornaments. If we must seek a foreign origin for the invention, we may perhaps find it in the pillars [Greek —— ——] which the Phoenicians employed, as ornaments or memorials, from a remote antiquity, objects possibly seen by the monarch who took tribute from Tyre, Sidon, Aradus, Byblus, and most of the maritime Syrian cities.
Another most important work of this great monarch was the tunnel and canal already described at length, by which at a vast expenditure of money and labor he brought the water of the Greater Zab to Calah. Asshur-izir-pal mentions this great work as his in his annals; and he was likewise commemorated as its author in the tablet set up in the tunnel by Sennacherib, when, two centuries later, he repaired it and brought it once more into use.
It is evident that Asshur-izir-pal, though he adorned and beautified both the old capital, Asshur, and the now rising city of Nineveh, regarded the town of Calah with more favor than any other, making it the ordinary residence of his court, and bestowing on it his chief care and attention. It would seem that the Assyrian dominion had by this time spread so far to the north that the situation of Asshur (or Kileh-Sherghat) was no longer sufficiently central for the capital. The seat of government was consequently moved forty miles further up the river. At the same time it was transferred from the west bank to the east, and placed in the fertile region of Adiabene, near the junction of the Greater Zab with the Tigris. Here, in a strong and healthy position, on a low spur from the Jebel Maklub, protected on either side by a deep river, the new capital grew to greatness. Palace after palace rose on its lofty platform, rich with carved woodwork, gilding, painting, sculpture, and enamel, each aiming to outshine its predecessors; while stone lions, sphinxes, obelisks, shrines,and temple-towers embellished the scene, breaking its monotonous sameness by variety. The lofty ziggurat attached to the temple of Nin or Hercules, dominating over the whole, gave unity to the vast mass of palatial and sacred edifices. The Tigris, skirting the entire western base of the mound, glassed the whole in its waves, and, doubling the apparent height, rendered less observable the chief weakness of the architecture. When the setting sun lighted up the view with the gorgeous hues seen only under an eastern sky, Calah must have seemed to the traveller who beheld it for the first time like a vision from fairy-land.
After reigning gloriously for twenty-five years, from B.C. 883 to B.C. 858, this great prince—"the conqueror" (as he styles himself), "from the upper passage of the Tigris to Lebanon and the Great Sea, who has reduced under his authority all countries from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same"—died, probably at no very advanced age, and left his throne to his son, who bore the name of Shalmaneser.
Shalmaneser II., the son of Asshur-izir-pal, who may probably have been trained to arms under his father, seems to have inherited to the full his military spirit, and to have warred with at least as much success against his neighbors. His reign was extended to the unusual length of thirty-five years, during which time he conducted in person no fewer than twenty-three military expeditions, besides entrusting three or four others to a favorite general. It would be a wearisome task to follow out in detail these numerous and generally uninteresting campaigns, where invasion, battle, flight, siege, submission, and triumphant return succeeded one another with monotonous uniformity. The style of the court historians of Assyria does not improve as time goes on. Nothing can well be more dry and commonplace than the historical literature of this period, which recalls the early efforts of the Greeks in this department, and exhibits a decided inferiority to the compositions of Stowe and Holinshed. The historiographer of Tiglath-Pileser I., between two and three centuries earlier, is much superior, as a writer, to those of the period to which we are come, who eschew all graces of style, contenting themselves with the curtest and dryest of phrases, and with sentences modelled on a single unvarying type.
Instead, therefore, of following in the direct track of the annalist whom Shalmaneser employed to record his exploits, and proceeding to analyze his account of the twenty-seven campaigns belonging to this reign, I shall simply present the reader with the general result in a few words, and then draw his special attention to a few of the expeditions which are of more than common importance.
It appears, then, that Shalmaneser, during the first twenty-seven years of his reign, led in person twenty-three expeditions into the territories of his neighbors, attacking in the course of these inroads, besides petty tribes, the following nations and countries:—Babylonia, Chaldaea, Media, the Zimri, Armenia, Upper Mesopotamia, the country about the head-streams of the Tigris, the Hittites, the Patena, the Tibareni, the Hamathites, and the Syrians of Damascus. He took tribute during the same time from the Phoenieian cities of Tyre, Sidon, and Byblus, from the Tsukhi or Shuhites, from the people of Muzr, from the Bartsu or Partsu, who are almost certainly the Persians, and from the Israelites. He thus traversed in person the entire country between the Persian Gulf on the south and Mount Niphates upon the north, and between the Zagros range (or perhaps the Persian desert) eastward, and, westward, the shores of the Mediterranean. Over the whole of this region he made his power felt, and even beyond it the nations feared him and gladly placed themselves under his protection. During the later years of his reign, when he was becoming less fit for warlike toils, he seems in general to have deputed the command of his armies to a subject in whom he had great confidence, a noble named Dayan-Asshur. This chief, who held an important office as early as Shahnaneser's fifth year, was in his twenty-seventh, twenty-eighth, thirtieth, and thirty-first employed as commander-in-chief, and sent out, at the head of the main army of Assyria, to conduct campaigns against the Armenians, against the revolted Patena, and against the inhabitants of the modern Kurdistan. It is uncertain whether the king himself took any part in the campaigns of these years, the native record the first and third persons are continually interchanged, some of the actions related being ascribed to the monarch and others to the general; but on the whole the impression left by the narrative is that the king, in the spirit of a well-known legal maxim assumes as his own the acts which he has accomplished through his representative. In his twenty-ninth year, however, Shalmaneser seems to have led an expedition in person into Khirki (the Niphates country), where he "overturned, beat to pieces, and consumed with fire the towns, swept the country with his troops, and impressed on the inhabitants the fear of his presence."
The campaigns of Shalmaneser which have the greatest interest are those of his sixth, eighth, ninth, eleventh, fourteenth, eighteenth, and twenty-first years. Two of these were directed against Babylonia, three against Ben-hadad of Damascus, and two against Khazail (Hazael) of Damascus.
In his eighth year Shalmaneser took advantage of a civil war in Babylonia between King Merodach-sum-adin and a younger brother, Merodach-bel-usati (?), whose power was about evenly balanced, to interfere in the affairs of that country, and under pretence of helping the legitimate monarch, to make himself master of several towns. In the following year he was still more fortunate. Having engaged, defeated, and slain the pretender to the Babylonian crown, he marched on to Babylon itself, where he was probably welcomed as a deliverer, and from thence proceeded into Chaldaea, or the tract upon the coast, which was at this time independent of Babylon, and forced its kings to become his tributaries. "The power of his army," he tells us, "struck terror as far as the sea."
The wars of Shalmaneser in Southern Syria commenced as early as his ninth year. He had succeeded to a dominion in Northern Syria which extended over the Patena, and probably over most of the northern Hittites; and this made his territories conterminous with those of the Phoenicians, the Hamathites, the southern Hittites, and perhaps the Syrians of Damascus. At any rate the last named people felt themselves threatened by the growing power on or near their borders, and, convinced that they would soon be attacked, prepared for resistance by entering into a close league with their neighbors. The king of Damascus, who was the great Ben-hadad, Tsakhulena, king of Hamath, Ahab, king of Israel, the kings of the southern Hittites, those of the Phoenician cities on the coast, and others, formed an alliance, and, uniting their forces, went out boldly to meet Shalnaneser, offering him battle. Despite, however, of this confidence, or perhaps in consequence of it, the allies suffered a defeat. Twenty thousand men fell in the battle. Many chariots and much of the material of war were captured by the Assyrians. But still no conquest was effected. Shalmaneser does not assert that he either received submission or imposed a tribute; and the fact that he did not venture to renew the war for five years seems to show that the resistance which he had encountered made him hesitate about continuing the struggle.
Five years, however, having elapsed, and the power of Assyria being increased by her successes in Lower Mesopotamia, Shalmaneser, in the eleventh year of his reign, advanced a second time against Hamath and the southern Hittites. Entering their territories unexpectedly, he was at first unopposed, and succeeded in taking a large number of their towns. But the troops of Ben-hadad soon appeared in the field. Phoenicia, apparently, stood aloof, and Hamath was occupied with her own difficulties; but Ben-hadad, having joined the Hittites, again gave Shalmaneser battle; and though that monarch, as usual, claims the victory, it is evident that he gained no important advantage by his success. He had once more to return to his own land without having extended his sway, and this time (as it would seem) without even any trophies of conquest.
Three years later, he made another desperate effort. Collecting his people "in multitudes that were not to be counted," he crossed the Euphrates with above a hundred thousand men. Marching southwards, he soon encountered a large army of the allies, Damascenes, Hamathites, Hittites, and perhaps Phoenicians, the first-named still commanded by the undaunted Ben-hadad. This time the success of the Assyrians is beyond dispute. Not only were the allies put to flight, not only did they lose most of their chariots and implements of war, but they appear to have lost hope, and, formally or tacitly, to have forthwith dissolved their confederacy. The Hittites and Hamathites probably submitted to the conqueror; the Phoenicians withdrew to their own towns, and Damascus was left without allies, to defend herself as she best might, when the tide of conquest should once more flow in this direction.
In the fourth year the flow of the tide came. Shalmaneser, once more advancing southward, found the Syrians of Damascus strongly posted in the fastnesses of the Anti-Lebanon. Since his last invasion they had changed their ruler. The brave and experienced Ben-hadad had perished by the treachery of an ambitious subject, and his assassin, the infamous Hazael, held the throne. Left to his own resources by the dissolution of the old league, this monarch had exerted himself to the utmost in order to repel the attack which he knew was impending. He had collected a very large army, including above eleven hundred chariots, and, determined to leave nothing to chance, had carefully taken up a very strong position in the mountain range which separated his territory from the neighboring kingdom of Hamath, or valley of Coele-Syria. Here he was attacked by Shalmaneser, and completely defeated, with the loss of 16,000 of his troops, 1121 of his chariots, a quantity of his war material, and his camp. This blow apparently prostrated him; and when, three years later, Shalmaneser invaded his territory, Hazael brought no army into the field, but let his towns, one after another, be taken and plundered by the Assyrians.
It was probably upon this last occasion, when the spirit of Damascus was cowed, and the Phoenician cities, trembling at the thought of their own rashness in having assisted Hazael and Ben-hadad, hastened to make their submission and to resume the rank of Assyrian tributaries, that the sovereign of another Syrian country, taking warning from the fate of his neighbors, determined to anticipate the subjection which he could not avoid, and, making a virtue of necessity, to place himself under the Assyrian yoke. Jehu, "son of Omri," as he is termed in the Inscription—i.e., successor and supposed descendant of the great Omri who built Samaria, sent as tribute to Shalmaneser a quantity of gold and silver in bullion, together with a number of manufactured articles in the more precious of the two metals. In the sculptures which represent the Israelitish ambassadors presenting this tribute to the great king, these articles appear carried in the hands, or on the shoulders, of the envoys, but they are in general too indistinctly traced for us to pronounce with any confidence upon their character. [PLATE CXLVI., Fig. 1]
Shalmaneser had the same taste as his father for architecture and the other arts. He completed the ziggurat of the Great Temple of Nin at Calah, which his father had left unfinished, and not content with the palace of that monarch, built for himself a new and (probably) more magnificent residence on the same lofty platform, at the distance of about 150 yards. This edifice was found by Mr. Layard in so ruined a condition, through the violence which it had suffered, apparently at the hands of Esarhaddon, that it was impossible either to trace its plan or to form a clear notion of its ornamentation. Two gigantic winged bulls, partly destroyed, served to show that the grand portals of the chambers were similar in character and design to those of the earlier monarch, while from a number of sculptured fragments it was sufficiently plain that the walls had been adorned with bas-reliefs of the style used in Asshur-izir-pal's edifice. The only difference observable was in the size and subjects of the sculptures, which seemed to have been on a grander scale and more generally mythological than those of the North-West palace.
The monument of Shalmaneser which has attracted most attention in this country is an obelisk in black marble, similar in shape and general arrangement to that of Asshur-izir-pal, already described, but of a handsomer and better material. This work of art was discovered in a prostrate position under the debris which covered up Shalmaneser's palace. It contained bas-reliefs in twenty compartments, five on each of its four sides; the space above, between, and below then being covered with cuneiform writing, sharply inscribed in a minute character. The whole was in most excellent preservation.
The bas-reliefs represent the monarch, accompanied by his vizier and other chief officers, receiving the tribute of five nations, whose envoys are ushered into the royal presence by officers of the court, and prostrate themselves at the Great King's feet ere they present their offerings. The gifts brought are, in part, objects carried in the hand—gold, silver, copper in bars and cubes, goblets, elephants' tusks, tissues, and the like—in part, animals such as horses, camels, monkeys and baboons of different kinds, stags, lions, wild bulls, antelopes, and—strangest of all—the rhinoceros and the elephant. One of the nations, as already mentioned, is that of the Israelites. The others are, first, the people of Kirzan, a country bordering on Armenia, who present gold, silver, copper, horses, and camels, and fill the four highest compartments with a train of nine envoys: secondly, the Muzri, or people of Muzr, a country nearly in the same quarter, who are represented in the four central compartments, with six envoys conducting various wild animals; thirdly, the Tsukhi, or Shuhites, from the Euphrates, to whom belong the four compartments below the Muzri, which are filled by a train of thirteen envoys, bringing two lions, a stag, and various precious articles, among which bars of metal, elephants' tusks, and shawls or tissues are conspicuous; and lastly, the Patera, from the Orontes, who fill three of the lowest compartments with a train of twelve envoys bearing gifts like those of the Israelites.
Besides this interesting monument, there are very few remains of art which can be ascribed to Shalmaneser's time with any confidence. The sculptures found on the site of his palace belonged to a later monarch, who restored and embellished it. His own bas-reliefs were torn from their places by Esarhaddon, and by him defaced and used as materials in the construction of a new palace. We are thus left almost without materials for judging of the progress made by art during Shalmaneser's reign. Architecture, it may be conjectured, was modified to a certain extent, precious woods being employed more frequently and more largely than before; a fact of which we seem to have an indication in the frequent expeditions made by Shalmaneser into Syria, for the single purpose of cutting timber in its forests. Sculpture, to judge from the obelisk, made no advance. The same formality, the same heaviness of outline, the same rigid adherence to the profile in all representations both of man and beast, characterize the reliefs of both reigns equally, so far as we have any means of judging.
Shalmaneser seems to have held his court ordinarily at Calah, where he built his palace and set up his obelisk; but sometimes he would reside for a time at Nineveh or at Asshur. He does not appear to have built any important edifice at either of these two cities, but at the latter he left a monument which possesses some interest. This is the stone statue, now in a mutilated condition, representing a king seated, which was found by Mr. Layard at Kileh-Sherghat, and of which some notice has already been taken. Its proportions are better than those of the small statue of the monarch's father, standing in his sacrificial dress, which was found at Nimrud; and it is superior to that work of art, in being of the size of life; but either its execution was originally very rude, or it must have suffered grievously by exposure, for it is now wholly rough and unpolished.
The later years of Shahuaneser appear to have been troubled by a dangerous rebellion. The infirmities of age were probably creeping upon him. He had ceased to go out with his armies; and had handed over a portion of his authority to the favorite general who was entrusted with the command of his forces year after year. The favor thus shown may have provoked jealousy and even alarm. It may have been thought that the legitimate successor was imperilled by the exaltation of a subject whose position would enable him to in gratiate himself with the troops, and who might be expected, on the death of his patron, to make an effort to place the crown on his own head. Fears of this kind may very probably have so worked on the mind of the heir apparent as to determine him not to await his father's demise, but rather to raise the standard of revolt during his lifetime, and to endeavor, by an unexpected coup-de-main, to anticipate and ruin his rival. Or, possibly, Asshur-danin-pal, the eldest son of Shalmaneser, like too many royal youths, may have been impatient of the long life of his father, and have conceived the guilty desire, with which our fourth Henry is said to have taxed his first-born, a "hunger for the empty chair" of which the aged monarch, still held possession. At any rate, whatever may have been the motive that urged him on, it is certain that Asshur-danin-pal rebelled against his sire's authority, and, raising the standard of revolt, succeeded in carrying with him a great part of the kingdom. At Asshur, the old metropolis, which may have hoped to lure back the Court by its subservience, at Arbela in the Zab region, at Amidi on the Upper Tigris, at Tel-Apni near the site of Orfa, and at more than twenty other fortified places, Asshur-danin-pal was pro-claimed king, and accepted by the inhabitants for their sovereign. Shalmaneser must have felt himself in imminent peril of losing his crown. Under these circumstances he called to his assistance his second son Shamas-Vul, and placing him at the head of such of his troops as remained firm to their allegiance, invested him with full power to act as he thought best in the existing emergency. Shamas-Vul at once took the field, attacked and reduced the rebellious cities one after another, and in a little time completely crushed the revolt and reestablished peace throughout the empire. Asshur-danin-pal, the arch conspirator, was probably put to death; his life was justly forfeit; and neither Shamas-Vul nor his father is likely to have been withheld by any inconvenient tenderness from punishing treason in a near relative, as they would have punished it in any other person. The suppressor of the revolt became the heir of the kingdom; and when, shortly afterwards, Shalmaneser died, the piety or prudence if his faithful son was rewarded by the rich inheritance of the Assyrian Empire.
Shalmaneser reigned, in all, thirty-five years, from B.C. 858 to B.C. 823. His successor, Shamas-Vul, held the throne for thirteen years, from B.C. 823 to B.C. 810. Before entering upon the consideration of this latter monarch's reign, it will be well to cast your eyes once more over the Assyrian Empire, such as it has now become, and over the nations with which its growth had brought it into contact. Considerable changes had occurred since the time of Tiglath-Pileser I., the Assyrian boundaries having been advanced in several directions, while either this progress, or the movements of races beyond the frontier, had brought into view many new and some very important nations.
The chief advance which the "Terminus" of the Assyrians had made was towards the west and the north-west. Instead of their dominion in this quarter being bounded by the Euphrates, they had established their authority over the whole of Upper Syria, over Phoenicia, Hamath, and Samaria, or the kingdom of the Israelites. These countries were not indeed reduced to the form of provinces; on the contrary, they still retained their own laws, administration, and native princes; but they were henceforth really subject to Assyria, acknowledging her suzerainty, paying her an annual tribute, and giving a free passage to her armies through their territories. The limit of the Assyrian Empire towards the west was consequently at this time the Mediterranean, from the Gulf of Iskanderun to Cape Carmel, or perhaps we should say to Joppa. Their north-western boundary was the range of Taurus next beyond Amanus, the tract between the two belonging to the Tibareni (Tubal), who had submitted to become tributaries. Northwards, little if any progress had been made. The chain of Niphates—"the high grounds over the effluents of the Tigris and Euphrates"—where Shalmaneser set up "an image of his majesty," seems still to be the furthest limit. In other words, Armenia is unconquered, the strength of the region and the valor of its inhabitants still protecting it from the Assyrian arms. Towards the east some territory seems to have been gained, more especially in the central Zagros region, the district between the Lower Zab and Holwan, which at this period bore the name of Hupuska; but the tribes north and south of this tract were still for the most part unsubdued. The southern frontier may be regarded as wholly unchanged: for although Shalmaneser warred in Babylonia, and even took tribute on one occasion from the petty kings of the Chaldaean towns, he seems to have made no permanent impression in this quarter. The Tsukhi or Shuhites are still the most southern of his subjects.
The principal changes which time and conquest had made among the neighbors of Assyria were the following. Towards the west she was brought into contact with the kingdom of Damascus, and, through her tributary Samaria with Judea. On the north-west she had new enemies in the Quins (Coans?) who dwelt on the further side of Amanus, near the Tibareni, in a part of the country afterwards called Cilicia, and the Cilicians themselves, who are now first mentioned. The Moschi seem to have withdrawn a little from this neighborhood, since they no longer appear either among Assyria's enemies or her tributaries. On the north all minor powers had disappeared; and the Armenians (Urarda) were now Assyria's sole neighbors. Towards the east she had come into contact with the Mannai, or Minni, about Lake Urumiyeh, with the Harkhar in the Van region and in north-western Kurdistan, with the Bartsu or Persians and the Mada or Medes in the country east of Zagros, the modern province of Ardelan, and with the Tsimri, or Zimri, in Upper Luristan. Among all her fresh enemies, she had not, however, as yet found one calculated to inspire any serious fear. No new organized monarchy presented itself. The tribes and nations upon her borders were still either weak in numbers or powerless from their intestine divisions; and there was thus every reason to expect a long continuance of the success which had naturally attended a large centralized state in her contests with small kingdoms or loosely-united confederacies. Names celebrated in the after history of the world, as those of the Medes and Persians, are now indeed for the first time emerging into light from the complete obscurity which has shrouded there hitherto; and tinged as they are with the radiance of their later glories, they show brightly among the many insignificant tribes and nations with which Assyria has been warring for centuries; but it would be a mistake to suppose that these names have any present importance in the narrative or represent powers capable as yet of contending on equal terms with the Assyrian Empire, or even of seriously checking the progress of her successes. The Medes and Persians are at this period no more powerful than the Zimri, the Minni, the Urarda, or than half a dozen others of the border nations, whose appellations sound strange in the ears even of the advanced student. Neither of the two great Arian peoples had as yet a capital city, neither was united under a king: separated into numerous tribes, each under its chief, dispersed in scattered towns and villages, poorly fortified or not fortified at, all, they were in the same condition as the Nairi, the Qummukh, the Patena, the Hittites, and the other border races whose relative weakness Assyria had abundantly proved in a long course of wars wherein she had uniformly been the victor.
The short reign of Shamas-Vul II., presents but little that calls for remark. Like Shalmaneser II., he resided chiefly at Calah, where, following the example of his father and grandfather, he set up an obelisk (or rather a stele) in commemoration of his various exploits. This monument, which is covered on three sides with an inscription in the hieratic or cursive character, contains an opening invocation to Nin or Hercules, conceived in the ordinary terms, the genealogy and titles of the king, an account of the rebellion of Asshur-bani-pal, together with its suppression, and Shamas-Vul's own annals for the first four years of his reign. From these we learn that he displayed the same active spirit as his two predecessors, carrying his arms against the Nairi on the north, against Media and Arazias on the east, and against Babylonia on the south. The people of Hupuska, the Minni, and the Persians (Bartsu) paid him tribute. His principal success was that of his fourth campaign, which was against Babylon. He entered the country by a route often used, which skirted the Zagros mountain range for some distance, and then crossed the flat, probably along the course of the Diyaleh, to the southern capital. The Babylonians, alarmed at his advance, occupied a strongly fortified place on his line of route, which he besieged and took after a vigorous resistance, wherein the blood of the garrison was shed like water. Eighteen thousand were slain; three thousand were made prisoners; the city itself was plundered and burnt, and Shamas-Vul pressed forward against the flying enemy. Hereupon the Babylonian monarch, Merodach-belatzu-ikbi, collecting his own troops and those of his allies, the Chaldaeans, the Aramaeans or Syrians, and the Zimri—a vast host—met the invader on the river Daban—perhaps a branch of the Euphrates—and fought a great battle in defence of his city. He was, however, defeated by the Assyrians, with the loss of 5000 killed, 2000 prisoners, 100 chariots, 200 tents, and the royal standard and pavilion. What further military or political results the victory may have had is uncertain. Shamas-Vul's annals terminate abruptly at this point, and we are left to conjecture the consequences of the campaign and battle. It is possible that they were in the highest degree important; for we find, in the next reign, that Babylonia, which has so long been a separate and independent kingdom, is reduced to the condition of a tributary, while we have no account of its reduction by the succeeding monarch, whose relations with the Babylonians, so far as we know, were of a purely peaceful character.
The stele of Shamas-Vul contains one allusion to a hunting exploit, by which we learn that this monarch inherited his grandfather's partiality for the chase. He found wild bulls at the foot of Zagros when he was marching to invade Babylonia, and delaying his advance to hunt them, was so fortunate as to kill several.
We know nothing of Shamas-Vul as a builder, and but little of him as a patron of art. He seems to have been content with the palaces of his father and grandfather, and to have been devoid of any wish to outshine them by raising edifices which should throw theirs into the shade. In his stele he shows no originality; for it is the mere reproduction of a monument well known to his predecessors, and of which we have several specimens from the time of Asshur-izir-pal downwards. It consists of a single figure in relief—a figure representing the king dressed in his priestly robes, and wearing the sacred emblems round his neck, standing with the right arm upraised, and enclosed in the customary arched frame. This figure, which is somewhat larger than life, is cut on a single solid block of stone, and then placed on another broader block, which serves as a pedestal. It closely resembles the figure of Asshur-izir-pal, whereof a representation has been already given.
The successor of Shamas-Vul was his son Vul-lush, the third monarch of that name, who ascended the throne B.C. 810, and held it for twenty-nine years, from B.C. 810 to B.C. 781. The memorials which we possess of this king's reign are but scanty. They consist of one or two slabs found at Nimrod, of a short dedicatory inscription on duplicate statues of the god Nebo brought from the same place, of some brick inscriptions from the mound of Nebbi Vunus, and of the briefest possible notices of the quarters in which he carried on war, contained in one copy of the Canon. As none of these records are in the shape of annals except the last, and as only these and the slab notices are historical, it is impossible to give any detailed account of this long and apparently important reign. We can only say that Vul-lush III., was as warlike a monarch as any of his predecessors, and that his efforts seem to have extended the Assyrian dominion in almost every quarter. He made seven expeditions across the Zagros range into Media, two into the Van country, and three into Syria. He tells us that in one of these expeditions he succeeded in making himself master of the great city of Damascus, whose kings had defied (as we have seen) the repeated attacks of Shalmaneser. He reckons as his tributaries in these parts, besides Damascus, the cities of Tyre and Sidon, and the countries of Khumri or Samaria, of Palestine or Philistia, and of Hudum (Idumaea or Edom). On the north and east he received tokens of submission from the Nairi, the Minni, the Medes, and the Partsu, or Persians. On the south, he exercised a power, which seems like that of a sovereign, in Babylonia; where homage was paid him by the Chaldaeans, and where, in the great cities of Babylon, Borsippa, and Cutha (or Tiggaba), he was allowed'to offer sacrifice to the gods Bel, Nebo, and Nergal. There is, further, some reason to suspect that, before quitting Babylonia, he established one of his sons as viceroy over the country; since he seems to style himself in one place "the king to whose son Asshur, the chief of the gods, has granted the kingdom of Babylon."
It thus appears that by the time of Vul-lush III., or early in the eighth century u.e., Assyria had with one hand grasped Babylonia, while with the other she had laid hold of Philistia and Edom. She thus touched the Persian Gulf on the one side, while on the other she was brought into contact with Egypt. At the same time she had received the submission of at least some portion of the great nation of the Medes, who were now probably moving southwards from Azerbijan and gradually occupying the territory which was regarded as Media Proper by the Greeks and Romans. She held Southern Armenia, from Lake Van to the sources of the Tigris; she possessed all Upper Syria, including Commagene and Amanus she had tributaries even on the further side of that mountain range; she bore sway over the whole Syrian coast from Issus to Gaza; her authority was acknowledged, probably, by all the tribes and kingdoms between the coast and the desert, certainly by the Phoenicians, the Hamathites, the Patena, the Hittites, the Syrians of Damascus, the people of Israel, and the Idumaeans, or people of Edom. On the east she had reduced almost all the valleys of Zagros, and had tributaries in the great upland on the eastern side of the range. On the south, if she had not absorbed Babylonia, she had at least made her influence paramount there. The full height of her greatness was not indeed attained till a century later; but already the "tall cedar" was "exalted above all the trees of the field; his boughs were multiplied; his branches had become long; and under his shadow dwelt great nations."
Not much is known of Vul-lush III., as a builder, or as a patron of art. He calls himself the "restorer of noble buildings which had gone to decay," an expression which would seem to imply that he aimed rather at maintaining former edifices in repair than at constructing new ones. He seems, however, to have built some chambers on the mound of Nimrod, between the north-western and the south-western palaces, and also to have had a palace at Nineveh on the mound now called Nebbi Ynnus. The Nimrud chambers were of small size and poorly ornamented; they contained no sculptures; the walls were plastered and then painted in fresco with a variety of patterns. They may have been merely guard-rooms, since they appear to have formed a portion of a high tower. The palace at Nebbi Ynnus was probably a more important work; but the superstitious regard of the natives for the supposed tomb of Jonah has hitherto frustrated all attempts made by Europeans to explore that mass of ruins.
Among all the monuments recovered by recent researches, the only works of art assignable to the reign of Vul-lush are two rude statues of the god Nebo, almost exactly resembling one another. From the representation of one of them, given on a former page of this volume, the reader will see that the figures in question have scarcely any artistic merit. The head is disproportionately large, the features, so far as they can be traced, are coarse and heavy, the arms and hands are poorly modelled, and the lower part is more like a pillar than the figure of a man. We cannot suppose that Assyrian art was incapable, under the third Vul-lush, of a higher flight than these statues indicate; we must therefore regard them as conventional forms, reproduced from old models, which the artist was bound to follow. It would seem, indeed, that while in the representation of animals and of men of inferior rank, Assyrian artists were untrammelled by precedent, and might aim at the highest possible perfection, in religious subjects, and in the representation of kings and nobles, they were limited, by law or custom, to certain ancient forms and modes of expression, which we find repeated from the earliest to the latest times with monotonous uniformity.
If these statues, however, are valueless as works of art, they have yet a peculiar interest for the historian, as containing the only mention which the disentombed remains have furnished of one of the most celebrated names of antiquity—a name which for many ages vindicated to itself a leading place, not only in the history of Assyria, but in that of the world. To the Greeks and Romans Semiramis was the foremost of women, the greatest queen who had ever held a sceptre, the most extraordinary conqueror that the East had ever produced. Beautiful as Helen or Cleopatra, brave as Tomyris, lustful as Messalina, she had the virtues and vices of a man rather than a woman, and performed deeds scarcely inferior to those of Cyrus or Alexander the Great. It is an ungrateful task to dispel illusions, more especially such as are at once harmless and venerable for their antiquity; but truth requires the historian to obliterate from the pages of the past this well-known image, and to substitute in its place a very dull and prosaic figure—a Semiramis no longer decked with the prismatic hues of fancy, but clothed instead in the sober garments of fact. The Nebo idols are dedicated, by the Assyrian officer who had them executed, "to his lord Vul-lush and his lady Sammuramit" from whence it would appear to be certain, in the first place, that that monarch was married to a princess who bore this world-renowned name, and, secondly, that she held a position superior to that which is usually allowed in the East to a queen-consort. An inveterate Oriental prejudice requires the rigid seclusion of women; and the Assyrian monuments, thoroughly in accord with the predominant tone of Eastern manners, throw a veil in general over all that concerns the weaker sex, neither representing to us the forms of the Assyrian women in the sculptures, nor so much as mentioning their existence in the inscriptions. Very rarely is there an exception to this all but universal reticence. In the present instance, and in about two others, the silence usually kept is broken; and a native woman comes upon the scene to tantalize us by her momentary apparition. The glimpse that we here obtain does not reveal much. Beyond the fact that the principal queen of Vul-lush III., was named Semiramis, and the further fact, implied in her being mentioned at all, that she had a recognized position of authority in the country, we can only conclude, conjecturally, from the exact parallelism of the phrases used, that she bore sway conjointly with her husband, either over the whole or over a part of his dominions. Such a view explains, to some extent, the wonderful tale of the Ninian Semiramis, which was foisted into history by Ctesias; for it shows that he had a slight basis of fact to go upon. It also harmonizes, or may be made to harmonize, with the story of Semiramis as told by Herodotus, who says that she was a Babylonian queen, and reigned five generations before Nitocris, or about B.C. 755. For it is quite possible that the Sammuramit married to Vul-lush III., was a Babylonian princess, the last descendant of a long line of kings, whom the Assyrian monarch wedded to confirm through her his title to the southern provinces; in which case a portion of his subjects would regard her as their legitimate sovereign, and only recognize his authority as secondary and dependent upon hers. The exaggeration in which Orientals indulge, with a freedom that astonishes the sober nations of the West, would seize upon the unusual circumstance of a female having possessed a conjoint sovereignty, and would gradually group round the name a host of mythic details, which at last accumulated to such an extent that, to prevent the fiction from becoming glaring, the queen had to be thrown back into mythic times, with which such details were in harmony. The Babylonian wife of Vul-lush III., who gave him his title to the regions of the south, and reigned conjointly with him both in Babylonia and Assyria, became first a queen of Babylon, ruling independently and alone, and then an Assyrian empress, the conqueror of Egypt and Ethiopia, the invader of the distant India, the builder of Babylon, and the constructor of all the great works which were anywhere to be found in Western Asia. The grand figure thus produced imposed upon the uncritical ancients, and was accepted even by the moderns for many centuries. At length the school of Heeren and Niebuhr, calling common sense to their aid, pronounced the figure a myth. It remained for the patient explorers of the field of Assyrian antiquity in our own day to discover the slight basis of fact on which the myth was founded, and to substitute for the shadowy marvel of Ctesias a very prosaic and commonplace princess, who, like Atossa or Elizabeth of York, strengthened her husband's title to his crown, but who never really made herself conspicuous by either great works or by exploits.
With Vul-lush III., the glories of the Nimrud line of monarchs come to a close, and Assyrian history is once more shrouded in a partial darkness for a space of nearly forty years, from B.C. 781 to B.C. 745. The Assyrian Canon shows us that three monarchs bore sway during this interval—Shalmaneser III., who reigned from B.C. 78l to B.C. 771, Asshur-dayan III., who reigned from B. C. 771 to B.C. 753, and Asshur-lush, who held the throne from the last-mentioned date to B.C.. 745, when he was succeeded by the second Tiglatli-Pileser. The brevity of these reigns, which average only twelve years apiece, is indicative of troublous times, and of a disputed, or, at any rate, a disturbed succession. The fact that none of the three monarchs left buildings of any importance, or, so far as appears, memorials of any kind, marks a period of comparative decline, during which there was a pause in the magnificent course of Assyrian conquests, which had scarcely known a check for above a century. The causes of the temporary inaction and apparent decline of a power which had so long been steadily advancing, would form an interesting subject of speculation to the political philosopher; but they are too obscure to be investigated here, where our space only allows us to touch rapidly on the chief known facts of the Assyrian history.
One important difficulty presents itself at this point of the narrative, in an apparent contradiction between the native records of the Assyrians and the casual notices of their history contained in the Second Book of Kings. The Biblical Pul—"the king of Assyria" who came up against the land of Israel and received from Menahem a thousand talents of silver, "that his hand might be with him to confirm the kingdom in his hand," is unnoticed in the native inscriptions, and even seems to be excluded from the royal lists by the absence of any name at all resembling his in the proper place in the famous Canon. Pul appears in Scripture to be the immediate predecessor of Tiglath Pileser. At any rate, as his expedition against Menahem is followed within (at the utmost) thirty-two years by an expedition of Tiglath Pileser against Pekah, his last year (if he was indeed a king of Assyria) cannot have fallen earlier than thirty-two years before Tiglath-Pileser's first. In other words, if the Hebrew numbers are historical some portion of Pul's reign must necessarily fill into the interval assigned by the Canon to the kings for which it is the sole authority—Shalmaneser III., Asshur-dayan III., and Asshur-lush. But these names are so wholly unlike the name of Pul that no one of them can possibly be regarded as its equivalent, or even as the original from which it was corrupted. Thus the Assyrian records do not merely omit Pul, but exclude him: and we have to inquire how this can be accounted for, and who the Biblical Pul is, if he is not a regular and recognized Assyrian monarch.
Various explanations of the difficulty have been suggested. Some would regard Pul as a general of Tiglath-Pileser (or of some earlier Assyrian king), mistaken by the Jews for the actual monarch. Others would identify him with Tiglath-Pileser himself. But perhaps the most probable supposition is, that he was a pretender to the Assyrian crown, never acknowledged at Nineveh, but established in the western (and southern) provinces so firmly, that he could venture to conduct an expedition into Lower Syria, and to claim there the fealty of Assyrians vassals. Or possibly he may have been a Babylonian monarch, who in the troublous times that had now evidently come upon the northern empire, possessed himself of the Euphrates valley, and thence descended upon Syria and Palestine. Berosus, it must be remembered, represented Pul as a Chaldaean king; and the name itself, which is wholly alien to the ordinary Assyrian type, has at least one counterpart among known Babylonian namies.
The time of Pul's invasion may be fixed by combining the Assyrian and the Hebrew chronologies within very narrow limits. Tiglath-Pileser relates that he took tribute from Menahem in a war which lasted from his fourth to his eighth year, or from B.C. 742 to B.C. 738. As Menahem only reigned ten years, the earliest date that can be assigned to Puls expedition will be B.C. 752, while the latest possible date will be B.C. 746, the year before the accession of Tiglath-Pileser. In any case the expedition fells within the eight years assigned by the Assyrian Canon to the reign of Asshur-lush, Tiglath-Pileser's immediate predecessor.
It is remarkable that into this interval falls also the famous era of Nabonassar, which must have marked some important change, dynastic or other, at Babylon. The nature of the change will be considered at length in the Babylonia a section. At present it is sufficient to observe that, in the declining condition of Assyria under the kings who followed Vul-lush III., there was naturally a growth of power and independence among the border countries. Babylon, repenting of the submission which she had made either to Vul-lush III., or to his father, Shamas-Vul II., once more vindicated her right to freedom, and resumed the position of a separate and hostile monarchy. Samaria, Damascus, Judaea, ceased to pay tribute. Enterprising kings, like Jeroboam II., and Menahem, taking advantage of Assyria's weakness, did not content themselves with merely throwing off her yoke, but proceeded to enlarge their dominions at the expense of her feudatories. Judging of the unknown from the known, we may assume that on the north and east there were similar defections to those on the west and south—that the tribes of Armenia and of the Zagros range rose in revolt, and that the Assyrian boundaries were thus contracted in every quarter.
At the same time, within the limits of what was regarded as the settled Empire, revolts began to occur. In the reign of Asshur-dayan III. (B.C. 771-753), no fewer than three important insurrections are recorded—one at a city called Libzu, another at Arapkha, the chief town of Arrapachitis, and a third at Gozan, the chief city of Gauzanitis or Mygdonia. Attempts were made to suppress these revolts; but it may be doubted whether they were successful. The military spirit had declined; the monarchs had ceased to lead out their armies regularly year by year, preferring to pass their time in inglorious ease at their rich and luxurious capitals. Asshur-dayan III., during nine years of his eighteen, remained at home, under-taking no warlike enterprise. Asshur-lush, his successor, displayed even less of military vigor. During the eight years of his reign he took the field twice only, passing six years in complete inaction. At the end of this time, Calah, the second city in the kingdom, revolted; and the revolution was brought about which ushered in the splendid period of the Lower Empire.
It was probably during the continuance of the time of depression, when an unwarlike monarch was living in inglorious ease amid the luxuries and refinements of Nineveh, and the people, sunk in repose, gave the themselves up to vicious indulgences more hateful in the eye of God than even the pride and cruelty which they were want to exhibit in war, that the great capital was suddenly startled by a voice of warning in the streets—a voice which sounded everywhere, through corridor, and lane, and square, bazaar and caravanserai, one shrill monotonous cry—"Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown." A strange wild man, clothed in a rough garment of skin, moving from place to place, announced to the inhabitants their doom. None knew who he was or whence he had come; none had ever beheld him before; pale, haggard, travel-stained, he moved before then like a visitant from another sphere; and his lips still framed the fearful words—"Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown." Had the cry fallen on them in the prosperous time, when each year brought its tale of victories, and every nation upon their borders trembled at the approach of their arms, it would probably have been heard with apathy or ridicule, and would have failed to move the heart of the nation. But coming, as it did, when their glory had declined; when their enemies, having been allowed a breathing space, had taken courage and were acting on the offensive in many quarters; when it was thus perhaps quite within the range of probability that some one of their numerous foes might shortly appear in arms before the place, it struck them with fear and consternation. The alarm communicated itself from the city to the palace; and his trembling attendants "came and told the king of Nineveh," who was seated on his royal throne in the great audience-chamber, surrounded by all the pomp and magnificence of his court. No sooner did he hear, than the heart of the king was touched, like that of his people; and he "arose from his throne, and laid aside his robe from him, and covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes." Hastily summoning his nobles, he had a decree framed, and "caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh, by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; let them not feed, nor drink water: but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands." Then the fast was proclaimed, and the people of Nineveh, fearful of God's wrath, put on sackcloth "from the greatest of them even to the least of them." The joy and merriment, the revelry and feasting of that great city were changed into mourning and lamentation; the sins that had provoked the anger of the Most High ceased; the people humbled themselves; they "turned from their evil way," and by a repentance, which, if not deep and enduring, was still real and unfeigned, they appeased for the present the Divine wrath. Vainly the prophet sat without the city, on its eastern side, under his booth woven of boughs, watching, waiting, hoping (apparently) that the doom which he had announced would come, in spite of the people's repentance. God was more merciful than man. He had pity on the "great city," with its "six score thousand persons that could not discern between their right hand and their left," and, sparing the penitents, left their town to stand unharmed for more than another century.
The circumstances under which Tiglath-Pileser II., ascended the throne in the year B.C. 745 are unknown to us. No confidence can be placed in the statement of Bion and Polyhistor which seems to have been intended to refer to this monarch, whom they called Beletaras—a corruption perhaps of the latter half of the name—that he was, previously to his elevation to the royal dignity, a mere vine-dresser, whose occupation was to keep in order the gardens of the king. Similar tales of the low origin of self-raised and usurping monarchs are too common in the East, and are too often contradicted by the facts, when they come known to us, for much credit to attach to the story told by these late writers, the earlier of whom, must have written five or six hundred years after Tiglath-Pileser's time. We aught, however, conclude, without much chance of mistake, from such a story being told, that the king-intended acquired the throne irregularly; that either he was not of the blood royal, or that, being so, he was at any rate not the legitimate heir. And the conclusion at which we should thus arrive is confirmed by the monarch's inscriptions; for though he speaks repeatedly of "the kings his fathers." and even calls the royal buildings at Galati. "the palaces of his fathers," yet he never mentions his actual father's name in any record that has come down to us. Such a silence is so contrary to the ordinary practice of Assyrian monarchs, who glory in their descent and parade it on every possible occasion, that, where it occurs, we are justified in concluding the monarch to have been an usurper, deriving his title to the crown, not from his ancestry or from any law of succession, but from a successful revolution, in which he played the principal part. It matters little that such a monarch, when he is settled upon the throne, claims, in a vague and general way, connection with the kings of former times. The claim may often have a basis of truth; for in monarchies where polygamy prevails, and the kings have numerous daughters to dispose of, almost all the nobility can boast that they are of the blood royal. Where the claim is in no sense true, it will still be made; for it flatters the vanity of the monarch, and there is no one to gainsay it.
Only in such cases we are sure to find a prudent vagueness—an assertion of the fact of the connection, expressed in general terms, without any specification of the particulars on which the supposed fact rests.
On obtaining the crown whatever the circumstances under which he obtained it—Tiglath-Pileser immediately proceeded to attempt the restoration of the Empire by engaging in a series of wars, now upon one, now upon another frontier, seeking by his unwearied activity and energy to recover the losses suffered through the weakness of his predecessors, and to compensate for their laches by a vigorous discharge of all the duties of the kingly office. The order of these wars, which formerly it was impossible to determine, is now fixed by means of the Assyrian Canon, and we may follow the course of the expeditions conducted by Tiglath-Pileser II., with as much confidence and certainty as those of Tiglath-Pileser I., Asshur-izir-pal, or the second Shalmaneser. It is scarcely necessary, however, to detain the reader by going through the entire series. The interest of Tiglath-Pileser's military operations attaches especially to his campaigns in Babylonia and in Syria, where he is brought into contact with persons otherwise known to us. His other wars are comparatively unimportant. Under these circumstances it is proposed to consider in detail only the Babylonian and Syrian expeditions, and to dismiss the others with a few general remarks on the results which were accomplished by them.
Tiglath-Pileser's expeditions against Babylon were in his first and in his fifteenth years, B.C. 745 and 731. No sooner did he find himself settled upon the throne, than he levied an army, and marched against Southern Mesopotamia, which appears to have been in a divided and unsettled condition. According to the Canon of Ptolemy, Nabonassar then ruled in Babylon. Tiglath-Pileser's annals confuse the accounts of his two campaigns; but the general impression which we gather from them is that, even in B.C. 745, the country was divided up into a number of small principalities, the sea-coast being under the dominion of Merodach-Baladan, who held his court in his father's city of Bit-Yakin; while in the upper region there were a number of petty princes, apparently independent, among whom may be recognized names which seem to occur later in Ptolemy's list, among the kings of Babylon to whom he assigns short reigns in the interval between Nabonassar and Mardocempalus (Merodach-Baladan). Tiglath-Pileser attacked and defeated several of these princes, taking the towns of Kur-Galzu (now Akkerkuf), and Sippara or Sepharvaim, together with many other places of less consequence in the lower portion of the country, after which he received the submission of Merodach-Baladan, who acknowledged him for suzerain, and consented to pay an annual tribute. Tiglath-Pileser upon this assumed the title of "King of Babylon" (B.C. 729), and offered sacrifice to the Babylonian gods in all the principal cities.
The first Syrian war of Tiglath-Pileser was undertaken in his third year (B.C. 743), and lasted from that year to his eighth. In the course of it he reduced to subjection Damascus, which had regained its independence, and was under the government of Rezin; Samaria, where Menahem, the adversary of Pul, was still reigning; Tyre, which was under a monarch bearing the familiar name of Hiram; Hamath, Gebal, and the Arabs bordering upon Egypt, who were ruled by a queen called Khabiba. He likewise met and defeated a vast army under Azariah (or Uzziah), king of Judah, but did not succeed in inducing him to make his submission. It would appear by this that Tiglath-Pileser at this time penetrated deep into Palestine, probably to a point which no Assyrian king but Vul-lush III., had reached previously. But it would seem, at the same time, that his conquests were very incomplete; they did not include Judaea or Philistia, Idumaea, or the tribes of the Hauran; and they left untouched the greater number of the Phoenician cities. It causes us, therefore, no surprise to find that in a short time, B.C. 734, he renewed his efforts in this quarter, commencing by an attack on Samaria, where Pekah was now king, and taking Ijon, and Abel-beth-maachah, and Jamoah, and Kedesh, and Hazor, and Gilead, and Galilee, and all the land of Naphtali, and carrying them captive to Assyria, thus "lightly afflicting, the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali," or the more northern portion of the Holy Land, about Lake Merom, and from that to the Sea of Gennesareth.
This attack was-followed, shortly (B.C. 733) by the most important of Tiglath-Pileser's Syrian wars. It appears that the common danger, which had formerly united the Hittites, Hamathites, and Damascenes in a close alliance, now caused a league to be formed between Damascus and Samaria, the sovereigns of which—Pekah and Rezin—made an attempt to add Judaea to their confederation, by declaring war against Ahaz, attacking his territory, and threatening to substitute in his place as king of Jerusalem a creature of their own, "the son of Tabeal." Hard pressed by his enemies, Ahaz applied to Assyria, offering to become Tiglath-Pileser's "servant"—i.e, his vassal and tributary—if he would send troops to his assistance, and save him from the impending danger. Tiglath-Pileser was not slow to obey this call. Entering Syria at the head of an army, he fell first upon Rezin, who was defeated, and fled to Damascus, where Tiglath-Pileser besieged him for two years, at the end of which time he was taken and slain. Next he attacked Pekah, entering his country on the north-east, where it bordered upon the Damascene territory, and overrunning the whole of the Trans-Jordanic provinces, together (apparently) with some portion of the Cis-Jordanic region. The tribes of Reuben and Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, who had possessed the country between the Jordan and the desert from the time of Moses, were seized and carried away captive by the conqueror, who placed them in Upper Mesopotamia, on the affluents of the Bilikh and the Khabour, from about Harran to Nisibis. Some cities situated on the right bank of the Jordan, in the territory of Issachar, but belonging to Manasseh, were at the same time seized and occupied. Among these, Megiddo in the great plain of Esdraelon, and Dur or Dor upon the coast, some way below Tyre, were the most important. Dur was even thought of sufficient consequence to receive an Assyrian governor at the same time with the other principal cities of Southern Syria.
After thus chastising Samaria, Tiglath-Pileser appears to have passed on to the south, where he reduced the Philistines and the Arab tribes, who inhabited the Sinaitic desert as far as the borders of Egypt. Over these last he set, in lieu of their native queen, an Assyrian governor. He then returned towards Damascus, where he held a court, and invited the neighboring states and tribes to send in their submission. The states and tribes responded to his invitation. Tiglath-Pileser, before quitting Syria, received submission and tribute not only from Ahaz, king of Judah, but also from Mit'enna, king of Tyre; Pekah, king of Samaria; Khanun, king of Gaza; and Mitinti, king of Ascalon: from the Moabites, the Ammonites, the people of Arvad or Aradus, and the Idumaeans. He thus completely re-established the power of Assyria in this quarter, once more recovering to the Empire the entire tract between the coast and the desert from Mount Amanus on the north to the Red Sea and the confines of Egypt.
One further expedition was led or sent by Tiglath-Pileser into Syria, probably in his last year. Disturbances having occurred from the revolt of Mit'enna of Tyre and the murder of Pekah of Israel by Hoshea, an Assyrian army marched westward, in B.C. 725, to put them down. The Tyrian monarch at once submitted; and Hoshea, having entered into negotiations, agreed to receive investiture into his kingdom at the hands of the Assyrians, and to hold it as an Assyrian territory. On these terns peace was re-established, and the army of Tiglath-Pileser retired and recrossed the Euphrates.
Besides conducting these various campaigns, Tiglath-Pileser employed himself in the construction of some important works at Calah, which was his usual and favorite residence. He repaired and adorned the palace of Shalmaneser II., in the centre of the Nimrud mound; and he built a new edifice at the south-eastern corner of the platform, which seems to have been the most magnificent of his erections. Unfortunately, in neither case were his works allowed to remain as he left them. The sculptures with which he adorned Shalmaneser's palace were violently torn from their places by Esar-haddon, and, after barbarous ill-usage, were applied to the embellishment of his own residence by that monarch. The palace which he built at the south-eastern corner of the Nimrud mound was first ruined by some invader, and then built upon by the last Assyrian king. Thus the monuments of Tiglath-Pileser II., come to us in a defaced and unsatisfactory condition, rendering it difficult for us to do full justice either to his architectural conceptions or to his taste in ornamentation. We can see, however, by the ground plan of the building which Mr. Loftus uncovered beneath the ruins of Mr. Layard's south-east palaces that the great edifice of Tiglath-Pileser was on a scale of grandeur little inferior to that of the ancient palaces, and on a plan very nearly similar. The same arrangement of courts and halls and chambers, the same absence of curved lines or angles other than right angles, the same narrowness of rooms in comparison with their length, which have been noted in the earlier buildings, prevailed also in those of this king. With regard to the sculptures with which, after the example of the former monarchs, he ornamented their walls, we can only say they seem to have been characterized by simplicity of treatment—the absence of all ornamentation, except fringes, from the dresses, the total omission of backgrounds, and (with few exceptions) the limitation of the markings to the mere outlines of forms. The drawing is rather freer and more spirited than that of the sculptures of Asshur-izir-pal; animal forms, as camels, oxen, sheep, and goats, are more largely introduced, and there is somewhat less formality in the handling. But the change is in no respect very decided, or such as to indicate an era in the progress of art.
Tiglath-Pileser appears, by the Assyrian Canon, to have had a reign of eighteen years. He ascended the throne in B.C. 747, and was succeeded in B.C. 727 by Shalmaneser, the fourth monarch who had borne that appellation.
It is uncertain whether Shalmaneser IV, was related to Tiglath-Pileser or not. As, however, there is no trace of the succession having been irregular or disputed, it is most probable that he was his son. He ascended the throne in B.C. 727, and ceased to reign in B.C. 722, thus holding the royal power for less than six years. It was probably very soon after his accession, that, suspecting the fidelity of Samaria, he "came up" against Hoshea, king of Israel, and, threatening him with condign punishment, so terrified him that he made immediate submission. The arrears of tribute were rendered, and the homage due from a vassal to his lord was paid; and Shalmaneser either returned into his own country or turned his attention to other enterprises. But shortly afterwards he learnt that Hoshea, in spite of his submission and engagements, was again contemplating defection; and, conscious of his own weakness, was endeavoring to obtain a promise of support from an enterprising monarch who ruled in the neighboring country of Egypt. The Assyrian conquests in this quarter had long been tending to bring them into collision with the great power of Eastern Africa, which had once held, and always coveted, the dominion of Syria. Hitherto such relations as they had had with the Egyptians appear to have been friendly. The weak and unwarlike Pharaohs who about this time bore sway in Egypt had sought the favor of the neighboring Asiatic power by demanding Assyrian princesses in marriage and affecting Assyrian names for their offspring. But recently an important change had occurred. A brave Ethiopian prince had descended the valley of the Nile at the head of a swarthy host, had defeated the Egyptian levies, had driven the reigning monarch into the marshes of the Delta, or put him to a cruel death, and had established his own dominion firmly, at any rate over the upper country. Shebek the First bore sway in Memphis in lieu of the blind Bocchoris; and Hoshea, seeing in this bold and enterprising king the natural foe of the Assyrians, and therefore his own natural ally and friend, "sent messengers" with proposals, which appear to have been accepted; for on their return Hoshea revolted openly, withheld his tribute, and declared himself independent. Shalmaneser, upon this, came up against Samaria for the second time, determined now to punish his vassal's perfidy with due severity. Apparently, he was unresisted; at any rate, Hoshea fell into his power, and was seized, bound, and shut up in prison. A year or two later Shalmaneser made his third and last expedition into Syria. What was the provocation given him, we are not told; but this time, he came up throughout all the land and being met with resistance, he laid formal siege to the capital. The siege commenced in Shahnaneser's fourth year, B.C. 724, and was protracted to his sixth, either by the efforts of the Egyptians, or by the stubborn resistance of the inhabitants. At last, in B.C. 722, the town surrendered, or was taken by storm; but before this consummation had been reached, Shalmaneser's reign would seem to have come to an end in consequence of a successful revolution.
While he was conducting these operations against Samaria, either in person or by means of his generals, Shalmaneser appears to have been also engaged in hostilities with the Phoenician towns. Like Samaria, they had revolted at the death of Tiglath-Pileser; and Shalmaneser, consequently, marched into Phoenecia at the beginning of his reign, probably in his first year, overran the entire country, and forced all the cities to resume their position of dependence. The island Tyre, however, shortly afterwards shook off the yoke. Hereupon Shalmaneser "returned" into these parts, and collecting a fleet from Sidon, Paleo-Tyrus, and Akko, the three most important of the Phoenician towns after Tyre, proceeded to the attack of the revolted place. His vessels were sixty in number, and were manned by eight hundred Phoenician rowers, co-operating with probably, a smaller number of unskilled Assyrians. Against this fleet the Tyrians, confiding in their maritime skill, sent out a force of twelve vessels only, which proved, however, quite equal to the occasion; for the assailants were dispersed and driven off, with the loss of 500 prisoners.
Shalmaneser, upon this defeat, retired, and gave up all active operations, contenting himself with leaving a body of troops on the mainland, over against the city, to cut off the Tyrians from the supplies of water which they were in the habit of drawing from the river Litany, and from certain aqueducts which conducted the precious fluid from springs in the mountains. The Tyrians, it is said, held out against this pressure for five years, satisfying their thirst with rain water, which they collected in reservoirs. Whether they then submitted, or whether the attempt to subdue them was given up, is uncertain, since the quotation from Menander, which is our sole authority for this passage of history, here breaks off abruptly.
The short reign of Shalmaneser IV, was, it is evident, sufficiently occupied by the two enterprises of which accounts have now been given—the complete subjugation of Samaria, and the attempt to reduce the island Tyre. Indeed, it is probable that neither enterprise had been conducted when a dynastic revolution, caused by the ambition of a subject, brought the unhappy monarch's reign to an untimely end. The conquest of Samaria is claimed by Sargon as an event of his first year; and the resistance of the Tyrians, if it really continued during the full space assigned to it by Menander, must have extended beyond the terns of Shalmaneser's reign, into the first or second year of his successor. It was probably the prolonged absence of the Assyrian monarch from his capital, caused by the obstinacy of the two cities which he was attacking, that encouraged a rival to come forward and seize the throne; just as in the Persian history we shall find the prolonged absence of Canbyses in Egypt produce a revolution and change of dynasty at Susa. In the East, where the monarch is not merely the chief but the sole power in the state, the moving spring whose action must be continually exerted to prevent the machinery of government from standing still, it is always dangerous for the reigning prince to be long away from his metropolis. The Orientals do not use the language of mere unmeaning compliment when they compare their sovereigns with the sun, and speak of them as imparting light and life to the country and people over which they rule. In the king's absence all languishes; the course of justice is suspended; public works are stopped; the expenditure of the Court, on which the prosperity of the capital mainly depends, being withdrawn, trade stagnates, the highest branches suffering most; artists are left without employment; work-men are discharged; wages fall; every industry is more or less deranged, and those engaged in it suffer accordingly; nor is there any hope of a return of prosperity until the king comes home. Under these circumstances a general discontent prevails; and the people, anxious for better times, are ready to welcome any pretender who will come forward, and, on any pretext whatever, declare the throne vacant, and claim to be its proper occupant. If Shalmaneser continued to direct in person the siege of Samaria during the three years of its continuance, we cannot be surprised that the patience of the Ninevites was exhausted, and that in the third year they accepted the rule of the usurper who boldly proclaimed himself king.
What right the new monarch put forward, what position he had previously held, what special circumstances, beyond the mere absence of the rightful king, facilitated his attempts, are matters on which the monuments throw no light, and on which we must therefore be content to be ignorant. All that we can see is, that either personal merit or official rank and position must have enabled him to establish himself; for he certainly did not derive any assistance from his birth, which must have been mediocre, if not actually obscure. It is the custom of the Babylonian and Assyrian kings to glory in their ancestry, and when the father has occupied a decently high position, the son declares his sire's name and rank at the commencement of each inscription, but Sargon never, in any record, names his father, nor makes the slightest allusion to his birth and descent, unless it be in vague phrases, wherein he calls the former kings of Assyria, and even those of Babylonia, his ancestors. Such expressions seem to be mere words of course, having no historical value: and it would be a mistake even to conclude from them that the new king intended seriously to claim the connection of kindred with the monarchs of former times.
It has been thought indeed, that Sargon, instead of cloaking his usurpation under some decent plea of right, took a pride in boldly avowing it. The name Sargon has been supposed to be one which he adopted as his royal title at the time of his establishment upon the throne, intending by the adoption to make it generally known that he had acquired the crown, not by birth or just claim, but by his own will and the consent of the people. Sargon, or Sar-gina, as the native name is read, means "the firm" or "well-established king," and (it has been argued) "shows the usurper." The name is certainly unlike the general run of Assyria royal titles; but still, as it is one which is found to have been previously borne by at least one private person in Assyria, it is perhaps best to suppose that it was the monarch's real original appellation, and not assumed when he came to the throne; in which case no argument can be founded upon it.
Military success is the best means of confirming a doubtful title to the leadership of a warlike nation. No sooner, therefore, was Sargon accepted by the Ninevites as king than he commenced a series of expeditions, which at once furnished employment to unquiet spirits, and gave the prestige of military glory to his own name. He warred successively in Susiana, in Syria, on the borders of Egypt, in the tract beyond Amanus, in Melitene and southern Armenia, in Kurdistan, in Media, and in Babylonia. During the first fifteen years of his reign, the space which his annals cover, he kept his subjects employed in a continual series of important expeditions, never giving himself, nor allowing them, a single year of repose. Immediately upon his accession he marched into Susiana, where he defeated Hum-banigas, the Elamitie king, and Merodach-Baladan, the old adversary of Tiglath-Pileser, who had revolted and established himself as king over Babylonia. Neither monarch was, however, reduced to subjection, though an important victory was gained, and many captives taken, who were transported into the country of the Hittites, In the same year, B.C. 722, he received the submission of Samaria, which surrendered, probably, to his generals, after it had been besieged two full years. He punished the city by depriving it of the qualified independence which it had enjoyed hitherto, appointing instead of a native king an Assyrian officer to be its governor, and further carrying off as slaves 27,280 of the inhabitants. On the remainder, however, he contented himself with re-imposing the rate of tribute to which the town had been liable before its revolt.—The next year, B.C. 721, he was forced to march in person into Syria in order to meet and quell a dangerous revolt. Yahu-bid (or Ilu-bid), king of Hamath—a usurper like Sargon himself—had rebelled, and had persuaded the cities of Arpad Zimira, Damascus, and Samaria to cast in their lot with his, and to form a confederacy, by which it was imagined that effectual resistance might be offered to the Assyrian arms. Not content merely to stand on the defensive in their several towns, the allies took to the field; and a battle was fought at Kar-kar or Garrrar (perhaps one of the many Aroers), where the superiority of the Assyrian troops was once more proved, and Sargon gained a complete victory over his enemies. Yahu-bid himself was taken and beheaded; and the chiefs of the revolt in the other towns were also put to death.
Having thus crushed the rebellion and re-established tranquillity throughout Syria, Sargon turned his arms towards the extreme south, and attacked Gaza, which was a dependency of Egypt. The exact condition of Egypt at this time is open to some doubt. According to Manetho's numbers, the twenty-fifth or Ethiopian dynasty had not yet begun to reign. Bocchoris the Saite occupied the throne, a humane but weak prince, of a contemptible presence, and perhaps afflicted with blindness. No doubt such a prince would tempt the attack of a powerful neighbor; and, so for, probability might seem to be in favor of the Manethonian dates. But, on the other hand, it must be remembered that Egypt had lately taken an aggressive attitude, incompatible with a time of weakness: she had intermeddled between the Assyrian crown and its vassals, by entering into a league with Hoshea: and she had extended her dominion over a portion of Philistia, thereby provoking a collision with the Great Power of the East. Again, it is worthy of note that the name of the Pharaoh who had dealings with Hoshea, if it does not seen at first sight very closely to resemble the Egyptian Shebek, is, at any rate, a possible representative of that word, while no etymological skill can force it into agreement with any other name in this portion of the Egyptian lists. Further, it is to be remarked that at this point of the Assyrian annals, a Shebek appears in them, holding a position of great authority in Egypt, though not dignified with the title of king. These facts furnish strong grounds for believing that the Manethonian chronology, which can be proved to be in many points incorrect, has placed the accession of the Ethiopians somewhat too late, and that that event occurred really as early as B.C. 725 or B.C. 730.
At the same time, it must be allowed that all difficulty is not removed by this supposition. The Shebek Sibahe (or Sibaki) of the Assyrian record bears an inferior title, and not that of king. He is also, apparently, contemporary with another authority in Egypt, who is recognized by Sargon as the true "Pharaoh," or native ruler. Further, it is not till eight or nine years later that any mention is made of Ethiopia as having an authority over Egypt or as in any way brought into contact with Sargon. The proper conclusion from these facts seems to be that the Ethiopians established themselves gradually; that in B.C. 720, Shebek or Sabaco, though master of a portion of Egypt, had not assumed the royal title, which was still borne by a native prince of little power—Bocchoris, or Scthos—who held his court somewhere in the Delta; and that it was not till about the year B.C. 712 that this shadowy kingdom passed away, that the Ethiopian rule was extended over the whole of Egypt, and that Sabaco assumed the full rank of an independent monarch.
If this be the true solution of the difficulty which has here presented itself, we must conclude that the first actual collision between the powers of Egypt and Assyria took place at a time very unfavorable to the former. Egypt was, in fact, divided against itself, the fertile tract of the Delta being under one king, the long valley of the Nile under another. If war was not actually going on, jealousy and suspicion, at any rate, must have held the two sovereigns apart; and the Assyrian monarch, coming at such a time of intestine feud, must have found it comparatively easy to gain a triumph in this quarter.
The armies of the two great powers met at the city of Rapikh, which seems to be the Raphia of the Greeks and Romans, and consequently the modern Refah a position upon the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, about half-way between Gaza and the Wady-el-Arish, or "River of Egypt." Here the forces of the Philistines, under Khanun, king of Gaza, and those of Shebek, the Tar-dan (or perhaps the Sultan) of Egypt, had effected a junction, and awaited the approach of the invader. Sargon, having arrived, immediately engaged the allied army, and succeeded in defeating it completely, capturing Khanun, and forcing Shebek to seek safety in flight. Khanun was deprived of his crown and carried off to Assyria by the conqueror.
Such was the result of the first combat between the two great powers of Asia and Africa. It was an omen of the future, though it was scarcely a fair trial of strength. The battle of Raphia foreshadowed truly enough the position which Egypt would hold among the nations from the time that she ceased to be isolated, and was forced to enter into the struggle for preeminence, and even for existence, with the great kingdoms of the neighboring continent. With rare and brief exceptions, Egypt has from the time of Sargon succumbed to the superior might of whatever power has been dominant in Western Asia, owning it for lord, and submitting, with a good or bad grace, to a position involving a greater or less degree of dependence. Tributary to the later Assyrian princes, and again, probably, to Nebuchadnezzar, she had scarcely recovered her independence when she fell under the dominion of Persia. Never successful, notwithstanding all her struggles, in thoroughly shaking off this hated yoke, she did but exchange her Persian for Greek masters, when the empire of Cyrus perished. Since then, Greeks, Romans, Saracens, and Turks have, each in their turn, been masters of the Egyptian race, which has paid the usual penalty of precocity in the early exhaustion of its powers.
After the victories of Aroer and Raphia, the Assyrian monarch appears to have been engaged for some years in wars of comparatively slight interest towards the north and the north-east. It was not till B.C. 715, five years after his first fight with the Egyptians, that he again made an expedition towards the south-west, and so came once more into contact with nations to whose fortunes we are not wholly indifferent. His chief efforts on this occasion were directed against the peninsula of Arabia. The wandering tribes of the desert, tempted by the weak condition to which the Assyrian conquest had reduced Samaria, made raids, it appears, into the territory at their pleasure, and carried off plunder. Sargon determined to chastise these predatory bands, and made an expedition into the interior, where "he subdued the uncultivated plains of the remote Arabia, which had never before given tribute to Assyria," and brought under subjection the Thamudites, and several other Arab tribes, carrying off a certain number and settling them in Samaria itself, which thenceforth contained an Arab element in its population. Such an effect was produced on the surrounding nations by the success of this inroad, that their princes hastened to propitiate Sargon's favor by sending embassies, and excepting the position of Assyrian tributaries. The reigning Pharaoh, whoever he may have been, It-hamar, king of the Sabaeans, and Tsamsi, queen of the Arabs, thus humbled themselves, sending presents, and probably entering into engagements which bound them for the future.
Four years later (B.C. 711) Sargon led a third expedition into these parts, regarding it as important to punish the misconduct of the people of Ashdod. Ashdod had probably submitted after the battle of Raphia, and had been allowed to retain its native prince, Azuri. This prince, after awhile, revolted, withheld his tribute, and proceeded to foment rebellion against Assyria among the neighboring monarchs; whereupon Sargon deposed him, and made his brother Akhimit king in his place. The people of Ashdod, however, rejected the authority of Akhimit, and chose a certain Yaman, or Yavan, to rule over them, who strengthened himself by alliances with the other Philistine cities, with Judaea, and with Edom. Immediately upon learning this. Sargon assembled his army, and proceeded to Ashdod to punish the rebels; but, before his arrival, Yaman had fled away, and "escaped to the dependencies of Egypt, which" (it is said) "were under the rule of Ethiopia." Ashdod itself, trusting in the strength from which it derived its name, resisted; but Sargon laid siege to it and in a little time forced it to surrender. Yaman fled to Egypt, but his wife and children were captured and, together with the bulk of the inhabitants, were transported into Assyria, while their place was supplied by a number of persons who had been made prisoners in Sargon's eastern wars. An Assyrian governor was set over the town.
The submission of Ethiopia followed. Ashdod, like Samaria, had probably been encouraged to revolt by promises of foreign aid. Sargon's old antagonist, Shebek, had recently brought the whole of Egypt under his authority, and perhaps thought the time had come when he might venture once more to measure his strength against the Assyrians. But Sargon's rapid movements and easy capture of the strong Ashdod terrified him, and produced a change of his intentions. Instead of marching into Philistia and fighting a battle, he sent a suppliant embassy, surrendered Yaman, and deprecated Sargon's wrath. The Assyrian monarch boasts that the king of Meroe, who dwelt in the desert, and had never sent ambassadors to any of the kings his predecessors, was led by the fear of his majesty to direct his steps towards Assyria and humbly bow down before him.
At the opposite extremity of his empire, Sargon soon after-wards gained victories which were of equal or greater importance. Having completely reduced Syria, humiliated Egypt, and struck terror into the tribes of the north and east, he determined on a great expedition against Babylon. Merodach-Baladan had now been twelve years in quiet possession of the kingdom. He had established his court at Babylon, and, suspecting that the ambition of Sargon would lead him to attempt the conquest of the south he had made preparations for resistance by entering into close alliance with the Susianians under Sutruk-Nakhunta on the one hand, and with the Aramaean tribes above Babylonia on the other. Still, when Sargon advanced against him, instead of giving him battle, or even awaiting him behind the walls of the capital, he at once took to flight. Leaving garrisons in the more important of the inland towns, and committing their defence to his generals, he himself hastened down to his own city of Beth-lakin, which was on the Euphrates, near its mouth, and, summoning the Aramaeans to his assistance, prepared for a vigorous resistance in the immediate vicinity of his native place. Posting himself in the plain in front of the city, and protecting his front and left flank with a deep ditch, which he filled with water from the Euphrates, he awaited the advance of Sargon, who soon appeared at the head of his troops, and lost no time in beginning the attack. We cannot follow with any precision the exact operations of the battle, but it appears that Sargon fell upon the Babylonian troops, defeated them, and drove them into their own dyke, in which many of therm were drowned, at the same time separating them from their allies, who, on seeing the disaster, took to flight, and succeeded in making their escape. Merodach-Baladan, abandoning his camp, threw himself with the poor remains of his army into Beth-Yakin, which Saigon then besieged and took. The Babylonian monarch fell into the hands of his rival, who plundered his palace and burnt his city, but generously spared his life. He was not, however, allowed to retain his kingdom, the government of which was assumed by Sargon himself, who is the Arceanus of Ptolemy's Canon.
The submission of Babylonia was followed by the reduction of the Aramaeans, and the conquest of at least a portion of Susiana. To the Susianin territory Sargon transported the Comnumkha from the Upper Tigris, placing the mixed population under a governor, whom he made dependent on the viceroy of Babylon.
The Assyrian dominion was thus firmly established on the shores of the Persian Gulf. The power of Babylon was broken. Henceforth the Assyrian rule is maintained over the whole of Chaldaea and Babylonia, with few and brief interruptions, to the close of the Empire. The reluctant victim struggles in his captor's grasp, and now and then for a short space shakes it off; but only to be seized again with a fiercer gripe, until at length his struggles cease, and he resigns himself to a fate which he has come to regard as inevitable. During the last fifty years of the Empire, from B.C. 650 to B.C. 625, the province of Babylon was almost as tranquil as any other.
The pride of Sargon received at this time a gratification which he is not able to conceal, in the homage which was paid to him by sovereigns who had only heard of his fame, and who were safe from the attacks of his armies. While he held his court at Babylon, in the year B.C. 708 or 707, he gave audience to two embassies from two opposite quarters, both sent by islanders dwelling (as he expresses it) "in the middle of the seas" that washed the outer skirts of his dominions. Upir, king of Asmun, who ruled over an island in the Persian Gulf,—Khareg, perhaps, or Bahrein,—sent messengers, who bore to the Great King the tribute of the far East. Seven Cyprian monarchs, chiefs of a country which lay "at the distance of seven days from the coast, in the sea of the setting sun," offered him by their envoys the treasures of the West. The very act of bringing presents implied submission; and the Cypriots not only thus admitted his suzerainty, but consented to receive at his hands and to bear back to their country a more evident token of subjection. This was an effigy of the Great King carved in the usual form, and accompanied with an inscription recording his name and titles, which was set up at Idalium, nearly in the centre of the island, and made known to the Cypriots the form and appearance of the sovereign whom it was not likely that they would ever see.
The expeditions of Sargon to the north and north-east had results less splendid than those which he undertook to the south-west and the south; but it may be doubted whether they did not more severely try his military skill and the valor of his soldiers. The mountain tribes of Zagros, Taurus, and Niphates,—Medes, Armaenians, Tibarini, Moschi, etc.,—were probably far braver men and far better soldiers than the levies of Egypt, Susiana, and Babylon. Experience, moreover, had by this time taught the tribes the wisdom of uniting against the common foe, and we find Ambris the Tibareni in in alliance with Mita the Moschian, and Urza the Armenian, when he ventures to revolt against Sargon. The submission of the northern tribes was with difficulty obtained by a long and fierce struggle, which—so far as one belligerent was concerned —terminated in a compromise. Ambris was deposed, and his country placed under an Assyrian governor; Mita consented, after many years of resistance, to pay a tribute; Urza was defeated, and committed suicide, but the general pacification of the north was not effected until a treaty was made with the king of Van, and his good-will purchased by the cession to him of a considerable tract of country which the Assyrians had previously taken from Urza.
On the side of Media the resistance offered to the arms of Sargon seems to have been slighter, and he was consequently able to obtain a far more complete success. Having rapidly overrun the country, he seized a number of the towns and "annexed them to Assyria," or, in other words, reduced a great portion of Media into the form of a province. He also built in one part of the country a number of fortified posts. He then imposed a tribute on the natives, consisting entirely of horses, which were perhaps required to be of the famous Nisaean breed.
After his fourteenth year, B.C. 708, Sargon ceased to lead out his troops in person, employing instead the services of his generals. In the year B.C. 707 a disputed succession gave him an opportunity of interference in Illib, a small country bordering on Susiana. Nibi, one of the two pretenders to the throne, had applied for aid to Sutruk-Nakhunta, king of Elam, who held his court at Susa, and had received the promise of his favor and protection. Upon this, the other claimant, who was named Ispabara, made application to Sargon, and was readily received into alliance, Sargon sent to his assistance "seven captains with seven armies," who engaged the troops of Sutruk-Naklnurta, defeated them, and established Ispabara on the throne? In the following year, however, Sutruk-Nakhunta recovered his laurels, invading Assyria in his turn, and capturing cities which he added to the kingdom of Susiana.
In all his wars Sargon largely employed the system of whole-sale deportation. The Israelites were removed from Samaria, and planted partly in Gozan or Mygdonia, and partly in the cities recently taken from the Medes. Hamath and Damascus were peopled with captives from Armenia and other regions of the north. A portion of the Tibareni were carried captive to Assyria, and Assyrians were established in the Tibarenian country. Vast numbers of the inhabitants of the Zagros range were also transported to Assyria; Babylonians, Cuthaeans, Sepharvites, Arabians, and others, were placed in Samaria; men from the extreme east (perhaps Media) in Ashdod. The Commukha were removed from the extreme north to Susiana; and Chaldaeans were brought from the extreme south to supply their place. Everywhere Sargon changed the abodes of his subjects, his aim being, as it would seem, to weaken the stronger races by dispersion, and to destroy the spirit of the weaker ones by severing at a blow all the links which attach a patriotic people to the country it has long inhabited. The practice had not been unknown to previous monarchs, but it had never been employed by any so generally or on so grand a scale as it was by this king.
From this sketch of Sargon's wars, we may now proceed to a brief consideration of his great works. The magnificent palace which he erected at Khorsabad was by far the most important of his constructions. Compared with the later, and even with the earlier buildings of a similar kind erected by other kings, it was not remarkable for its size. But its ornamentation was unsurpassed by that of any Assyrian edifice, with the single exception of the great palace of Asshur-bani-pal at Koyunjik. Covered with sculptures, both internally and externally, generally in two lines, one over the other, and, above this, adorned with enamelled bricks, arranged in elegant and tasteful patterns; approached by noble flights of steps and through splendid propylaea; having the advantage, moreover, of standing by itself, and of not being interfered with by any other edifice, it had peculiar beauties of its own, and may be pronounced in many respects the most interesting of the Assyrian building's. United to this palace was a town enclosed by strong walls, which formed a square two thousand yards each way. Allowing fifty square yards to each individual, this space would have been capable of accommodating 80,000 persons. The town, like the palace, seems to have been entirely built by Sargon, who imposed on it his own name, an appellation which it retained beyond the time of the Arab conquest.
It is not easy to understand the exact object of Sargon in building himself this new residence. Dur-Sargina was not the Windsor or Versailles of Assyria—a place to which the sovereign could retire for country air and amusements from the bustle and heat of the metropolis. It was: as we have said, a town, and a town of considerable size, being very little lees than half as large as Nineveh itself. It is true that it possessed the advantage of a nearer vicinity to the mountains than Nineveh: and had Sargon been, like several of his predecessors, a mighty hunter, we might have supposed that the greater facility of obtaining sport in the woods and valleys of the Zagros chain formed the attraction which led him to prefer the region where he built his town to the banks of the Tigris. But all the evidence that we possess seems to show that this monarch was destitute of any love for the chase; and seemingly we must attribute his change of abode either to mere caprice, or to a desire to be near the mountains for the sake of cooler water, purer air, and more varied scenery. It is no doubt true, as M. Oppert observes, that the royal palace at Nineveh was at this time in a ruinous state; but it could not have been more difficult or more expensive to repair it than to construct a new palace, a new mound, and a new town, on a fresh site.
Previously to the construction of the Khorsabad palace, Sargon resided at Caleb. He there repaired and renovated the great palace of Asshur-izir-pal, which had been allowed to fall to decay. At Nineveh he repaired the walls of the town, which were ruined in many places, and built a temple to Nebo and Merodach; while in Babylonia he improved the condition of the embankments, by which the distribution of the waters was directed and controlled. He appears to have been to a certain extent a patron of science, since a large number of the Assyrian scientific tablets are proved by the dates upon then: to have been written in his day.
The progress of mimetic art under Sargon is not striking but there are indications of an advance in several branches of industry, and of an improved taste in design and in ornamentation. Transparent glass seems now to have been first brought into used and intaglios to have been first cut upon hard stones. The furniture of the period is greatly superior in design to any previously represented, and the modelling of sword-hilts, maces, armlets, and other ornaments is peculiarly good. The enamelling of bricks was carried under Sargon to its greatest perfection: and the shape of vases, goblets, and boats shows a marked improvement upon the works of former times. The advance in animal forms, traceable in the sculptures of Tiglath-Pileser II., continues: and the drawing of horses' heads, in particular, leaves little to desire.
After reigning gloriously over Assyria for seventeen years, and for the last five of them over Babylonia also, Sargon died, leaving his crown to the most celebrated of all the Assyrian Monarchs, his son Sennacherib, who began to reign B.C. 705. The long notices which we possess of this monarch in the books of the Old Testament, his intimate connection with the Jews, the fact that he was the object of a preternatural exhibition of the Divine displeasure, and the remarkable circumstance that this miraculous interposition appears under a thin disguise in the records of the Greeks, have always attached an interest to his name which the kings of this remote period and distant region very rarely awaken. It has also happened, curiously enough, that the recent Mesopotamian researches have tended to give to Sennacherib a special prominence over other Assyrian monarchs, more particularly in this country, our great excavator having devoted his chief efforts to the disinterment of a palace of this king's construction, which has supplied to our National Collection almost one-half of its treasures. The result is, that while the other sovereigns who bore sway in Assyria are generally either wholly unknown, or float before the mind's eye as dim and shadowy forms, Sennacherib stands out to our apprehension as a living and breathing man, the impersonation of all that pride and greatness which we assign to the Ninevite kings, the living embodiment of Assyrian haughtiness, Assyrian violence, and Assyrian power. The task of setting forth the life and actions of this prince, which the course of the history now imposes on its compiler, if increased in interest, is augmented also in difficulty, by the grandeur of the ideal figure which has possession of men's minds.
The reign of Sennacherib lasted twenty-four years, from B.C. 705 to B.C. 681. The materials which we possess for his history consist of a record written in his fifteenth year, describing his military expeditions and his buildings up to that time; of the Scriptural notices to which reference has already been made; of some fragments of Polyhistor preserved by Eusebius; and of the well-known passage of Herodotus which contains a mention of his name. From these documents we shall be able to make out in some detail the chief actions of the earlier portion of his reign, but they fail to supply any account of his later years, unless we may assign to that portion of his life some facts mentioned by Polyhistor, to which there is no allusion in the native records.
It seems probable that troubles both abroad and at home greeted the new reign. The Canon of Ptolemy shows a two years' interregnum at Babylon (from B.C. 704 to B.C. 702) exactly coinciding with the first two years of Sennacherib. This would imply a revolt of Babylon from Assyria soon after his accession, and either a period of anarchy or rapid succession of pretenders, none of whom held the throne for so long a time as a twelvemonth. Polyhistor gives us certain details,from which we gather that there were at least three monarchs in the interval left blank by the Canon—first, a brother of Sennacherib, whose name is not given; secondly, a certain Hagisa, who wore the crown only a month; and, thirdly, Merodach-Baladan, who had escaped from captivity, and, having murdered Hagisa, resumed the throne of which Sargon had deprived him six or seven years before. Sennacherib must apparently have been so much engaged with his domestic affairs that he could not devote his attention to these Babylonian matters till the second year after his accession. In B.C. 703 he descended on the lower country and engaged the troops of Merodach-Baladan, which consisted in part of native Babylonians, in part of Susianians, sent to his assistance by the king of Elam. Over this army Sennacherib gained a complete victory near the city of Ibis, after which he took Babylon, and overran the whole of Chaldaea, plundering (according to his own account) seventy-six large towns and 420 villages. Merodach-Baladan once more made his escape, flying probably to Susiana, where we afterwards find his sons living as refugees. Sennacherib, before quitting Babylon, appointed as tributary king an Assyrian named Belipni, who seems to be the Belibus of Ptolemy's Canon, and the Elibus of Polyhistor. On his return from Babylonia he invaded and ravaged the territory of the Aramaean tribes on the middle Euphrates—the Tumuna, Ruhua, Gambulu, Khindaru, and Pukudu (Pekod), the Nabatu or Nabathaeans, the Hagaranu or Hagarenes, and others, carrying into captivity more than 200,000 of the inhabitants, besides great numbers of horses, camels, asses, oxen, and sheep.
In the following year, B.C. 702, Sennacherib made war on the tribes in Zagros, forcing Ispabara, whom Sargon had established in power, to fly from his country, and conquering many cities and districts, which he attached to Assyria, and placed under the government of Assyrian officers.
The most important of all the expeditions contained in Sennacherib's records is that of his fourth year, B.C. 701, in which he attacked Luliya king of Sidon, and made his first expedition against Hezekiah king of Judah. Invading Syria with a great host, he made Phoenicia the first object of his attack. There Luliya—who seems to be the Mullins of Menander, though certainly not the Elulaeus of Ptolemy's Canon, had evidently raised the standard of revolt, probably during the early years of Sennacherib, when domestic troubles seem to have occupied his attention. Luliya had, apparently, established his dominion over the greater part of Phoenicia, being lord not only of Sidon, or, as it is expressed in the inscription, of Sidon the greater and Sidon the less, but also of Tyre, Ecdippa, Akko, Sarepta, and other cities. However, he did not venture to await Sennacherib's attack, but, as soon as he found the expedition was directed against himself, he took to flight, quitting the continent and retiring to an island in the middle of the sea—perhaps the island Tyre, or more probably Cyprus. Sennacherib did not attempt any pursuit, but was content to receive the submission of the various cities over which Luliya had ruled, and to establish in his place, as tributary monarch, a prince named Tubal. He then received the tributes of the other petty monarchs of these parts, among whom are mentioned Abdilihat king of Avrad. Hurus-milki king of Byblus. Mitinti king of Ashdod, Puduel king of Beth-Ammon, a king of Moab, a king of Edom, and (according to some writers) a "Menahem king of Samaria." After this Sennacherib marched southwards to Ascalon, where the king, Sidka, resisted him, but was captured, together with his city, his wife, his children, his brothers, and the other members of his family. Here again a fresh prince was established in power, while the rebel monarch was kept prisoner and transported into Assyria. Four towns dependent upon Ascalon, viz., Razor, Joppa, Beneberak, and Beth Dagon, were soon afterwards taken and plundered.
Sennacherib now pressed on against Egypt. The Philistine city of Ekron had not only revolted from Assyria, expelling its king, Path, who wwas opposed to the rebellion, but had entered into negotiations with Ethiopia and Egypt, and had obtained a promise of support from them. The king of Ethiopia was probably the second Shebek (or Sabaco) who is called Sevechus by Manetho, and is said to have reigned either twelve or fourteen yeats. The condition of Egypt at the time was peculiar. The Ethiopian monarch seems to have exercised the real sovereign power: but native princes were established under him who were allowed the title of king, and exercised a real though delegated authority over their several cities and districts. On the call of Ekron both princes and sovereign had hastened to its assistance, bringing with them an army consisting of chariots, horsemen, and archers, so numerous that Sennacherib calls it "a host that could not be numbered." The second great battle between the Assyrians and the Egyptians took place near a place called Altaku, which is no doubt the Eltekeh of the Jews, a small town in the vicinity of Ekron. Again the might of Africa yielded to that of Asia. The Egyptians and Ethiopians were defeated with great slaughter. Many chariots, with their drivers, both Egyptian and Ethiopian, fell into the hands of the conqueror, who also took alive several "sons" of the principal Egyptian monarch. The immediate fruit of the victory was the fall of Altaku, which was followed by the capture of Tamna, a neighboring town. Sennacherib then "went on" to Ekron, which made no resistance, but opened its gates to the victor. The princes and chiefs who had been concerned in the revolt he took alive and slew, exposing their bodies on stakes round the whole circuit of the city walls. Great numbers of inferior persons who were regarded as guilty of rebellion, were sold as slaves. Padi, the expelled king, the friend to Assyria, was brought back, reinstated in his sovereignty, and required to pay a small tribute as a token of dependence.
The restoration of Padi involved a war with Hezekiah, king of Judah. When the Ekronites determined to get rid of a king whose Assyrian proclivities were distasteful to them, instead of putting him to death, they arrested him, loaded him with chains, and sent him to Hezekiah for safe keeping. By accepting this charge the Jewish monarch made himself a partner in their revolt; and it was in part to punish this complicity, in part to compel him to give up Padi, that Sennacherib, when he had sufficiently chastised the Ekronite rebels, proceeded to invade Judaea, Then it was—in the fourteenth year of Hezekiah, according to the present Hebrew text—that "Sennacherib, king of Assyria, came up against all the fenced cities of Judah and took them. And Hezekiah, king of Judah, sent to the king of Assyria to Lshish, saying, I have offended; return from me; that which thou puttest on me will I bear. And the king of Assyria appointed unto Hezekiah, king of Judah, three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. And Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of the Lord, and in the treasures of the king's house. At that time did Hezekiah cut off [the gold from] the doors of the house of the Lord, and [from] the pillars which Hezekiah, king of Judah, had overlaid, and gave it to the king of Assyria."
Such is the brief account of this expedition and its consequences which is given us by the author of the Second Book of Kings, who writes from a religious point of view, and is chiefly concerned at the desecration of holy things to which the imminent peril of his city and people forced the Jewish monarch to submit. It is interesting to compare with this account the narrative of Sennacherib himself, who records the features of the expedition most important in his eyes, the number of the towns taken and of the prisoners carried into captivity, the measures employed to compel submission, and the nature and amount of the spoil which he took with him to Nineveh.
"Because Hezekiah, king of Judah," says the Assyrian monarch, "would not submit to my yoke, I came up against him, and by force of arms and by the might of my power I took forty-six of his strong fenced cities; and of the smaller towns which were scattered about I took and plundered a countless number. And from these places I captured and carried off as spoil 200,150 people, old and young, male and female, together with horses and mares, asses and camels, oxen and sheep, a countless multitude. And Hezekiah himself I shut up in Jerusalem, his capital city, like a bird in a cage, building towers round the city to hem him in, and raising banks of earth against the gates, so as to prevent escape.... Then upon this Hezekiah there fell the fear of the power of my arms and he sent out to me the chiefs and the elders of Jerusalem with thirty talents of gold and eight hundred talents of silver, and divers treasures, a rich and immense booty.... All these things were brought to me at Nineveh, the seat of my government, Hezekiah having sent them by way of tribute, and as a token of his submission to my power."
It appears then that Sennacherib, after punishing the people of Ekron, broke up from before that city, and entering Judaea proceeded towards Jerusalem, spreading his army over a wide space, and capturing on his way a vast number of small towns and villages, whose inhabitants he enslaved and carried off to the number of 200,000. Having reached Jerusalem, he commenced the siege in the usual way, erecting towers around the city, from which stones and arrows were discharged against the defenders of the fortifications, and "casting banks" against the walls and gates. Jerusalem seems to have been at this time very imperfectly fortified. The "breaches of the city of David" had recently been "many;" and the inhabitants had hastily pulled down the houses in the vicinity of the wall to fortify it. It was felt that the holy place was in the greatest danger. We may learn from the conduct of the people, as described by one of themselves, what were the feelings generally of the cities threatened with destruction by the Assyrian armies. Jerusalem was at first "full of stirs and tumult;" the people rushed to the housetops to see if they were indeed invested, and beheld "the choicest valleys full of chariots, and the horsemen set in array at the gates." Then came "a day of trouble, and of treading down, and of perplexity"—a day of "breaking down the walls and of crying to the mountains." Amidst this general alarm and mourning there were, however, found some whom a wild despair made reckless, and drove to a ghastly and ill-timed merriment. When God by His judgments gave an evident "call to weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth—behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen and killing sheep, eating flesh and drinking wine"—"Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we shall die." Hezekiah after a time came to the conclusion that resistance would be vain, and offered to surrender upon terms, an offer which Sennacherib, seeing the great strength of the place, and perhaps distressed for water, readily granted. It was agreed that Hezekiah should undertake the payment of an annual tribute, to consist of thirty talents of gold and three hundred talents of silver, and that he should further yield up the chief treasures of the place as a "present" to the Great King. Hezekiah, in order to obtain at once a sufficient supply of gold, was forced to strip the walls and pillars of the Temple, which were overlaid in parts with this precious metal. He yielded up all the silver from the royal treasury and from the treasury of the Temple; and this amounted to five hundred talents more than the fixed rate of tribute. In addition to these sacrifices, the Jewish monarch was required to surrender Padi, his Ekronite prisoner, and was mulcted in certain portions of his dominions, which were attached by the conqueror to the territories of neighboring kings.
Sennacherib, after this triumph, returned to Nineveh, but did not remain long in repose. The course of events summoned him in the ensuing year B.C. 700—to Babylonia, where Merodach-Baladan, assisted by a certain Susub, a Chaldaean prince, was again in arms against his authority. Sennacherib first defeated Susub, and then, directing his march upon Beth-Yakin, forced Merodach-Baladan once more to quit the country and betake himself to one of the islands of the Persian Gulf, abandoning to Sennacherib's mercy his brothers and his other partisans. It would appear that the Babylonian viceroy Belibus, who three years previously had been set over the country by Sennacherib, was either actively implicated in this revolt, or was regarded as having contributed towards it by a neglect of proper precautions. Sennacherib, on his return from the sea-coast, superseded him, placing upon the throne his own eldest son, Asshur-inadi-su, who appears to be the Asordanes of Polyhistor, and the Aparanadius or Assaranadius of Ptolemy's Canon.
The remaining events of Sennacherib's reign may be arranged in chronological order without much difficulty, but few of them can be dated with exactness. We lose at this point the invaluable aid of Ptolemy's Canon, which contains no notice of any event recorded in Sennacherib's inscriptions of later date than the appointment of Assaranadius.
It is probable in that in the year B.C. 699 Sennacherib conducted his second expedition into Palestine. Hezekiah, after his enforced submission two years earlier, had entered into negotiations with the Egyptians, and looking to receive important succors from this quarter, had again thrown off his allegiance. Sennacherib, understanding that the real enemy whom he had to fear on his south-western frontier was not Judaea, but Egypt, marched his army through Palestine—probably by the coast route—and without stopping to chastise Jerusalem, pressed southwards to Libnah and Lachish, which were at the extreme verge of the Holy Land, and were probably at this tune subject to Egypt. He first commenced the siege of Lachish with all his power; and while engaged in this operation, finding that Hezekiah was not alarmed by his proximity, and did not send in his submission, he detached a body of troops from Ins main force, and sent it under a Tartan or general, supported by two high officers of the court—the Rabshakeh or Chief Cupbearer, and the Rob-saris or Chief Eunuch—to summon the rebellious city to surrender. Hezekiah was willing to treat, and sent out to the Assyrian camp, which was pitched just outside the walls, three high officials of his own to open negotiations. But the Assyrian envoys had not cone to debate or even to offer terms, but to require the unconditional submission of both king and people. The Rabshakeh or cupbearer, who was familiar with the Hebrew language, took the word and delivered his message in insulting phrase, laughing at the simplicity which could trust in Egypt, and the superstitious folly which could expect a divine deliverance, and defying Hezekiah to produce so many as two thousand trained soldiers capable of serving as cavalry. When requested to use a foreign rather than the native dialect, lest the people who were upon the walls should hear, the bold envoy, with an entire disregard of diplomatic forms, raised his voice and made a direct appeal to the popular fears and hopes thinking to produce a tumultuary surrender of the place, or at least an outbreak of which his troops might have taken advantage. His expectations, however, were disappointed; the people made no response to his appeal, but listened in profound silence; and the ambassadors, finding that they could obtain nothing from the fears of either king or people, and regarding the force that they had brought with them as insufficient for a siege, returned to their master with the intelligence of their ill-success. The Assyrian monarch had either taken Lachish or raised its siege, and was gone on to Libnah, where the envoys found him. On receiving their report, he determined to make still another effort to overcome Hezckiah's obstinacy and accordingly he despatched fresh messengers with a letter to the Jewish king, in which he was reminded of the fate of various other kingdoms and peoples which had resisted the Assyrians, and once more urged to submit himself. It was this letter perhaps a royal autograph—which Hezekiah took into the temple and there "spread it before the Lord," praying God to "bow down his ear and hear; to open his eyes and see, and hear the words of Sennacherib, which had sent to reproach the living God." Upon this Isaiah was commissioned to declare to his afflicted sovereign that the kings of Assyria were mere instruments in God's hands to destroy such, nations as He pleased, and that none of Sennacherib's threats against Jerusalem should be accomplished. God, Isaiah told him would "put his hook in Sennacherib's nose, and his bridle in his lips, and turn him back by the way by which he came." The Lord had said, concerning the king of Assyria, "He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor cast a bank against it. By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city. For I will defend this city, to save it, for my own sake, and for my servant David's sake."
Meanwhile it is probable that Sennacherib, having received the submission of Libnah, had advanced upon Egypt. It was important to crush an Egyptian army which had been collected against him by a certain Sethos, one of the many native princes who at this time ruled in the Lower country before the great Ethiopian monarch Tehrak or Tirhakah, who was known to be on his march, should effect a junction with the troops of this minor potentate. Sethos, with his army, was at Pelusium; and Sennacherib, advancing to attack him, had arrived within sight of the Egyptian host, and pitched his camp over against the camp of the enemy, just at the time to when Hezekiah received his letter and made the prayer to which Isaiah was instructed to respond. The two hosts lay down at night in their respective stations, the Egyptians and their king full of anxious alarm, Sennacherib and his Assyrians proudly confident, intending on the morrow to advance to the combat and repeat the lesson taught at Raphia and Altaku. But no morrow was to break on the great mass of those who took their rest in the tents of the Assyrians. The divine fiat had gone forth. In the night, as they slept, destruction fell upon them. "The angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand; and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses." A miracle, like the destruction of the first-born, had been wrought, but this time on the enemies of the Egyptians, who naturally ascribed their deliverance to the interposition of their own gods; and seeing the enemy in confusion and retreat, pressed hastily after him, distressed his flying columns, and cut off his stragglers. The Assyrian king returned home to Nineveh, shorn of his glory, with the shattered remains of his great host, and cast that proud capital into a state of despair and grief, which the genius of an AEschylus might have rejoiced to depict, but which no less powerful pen could adequately portray.
It is difficult to say how soon Assyria recovered from this terrible blow. The annals of Sennacherib, as might have been expected, omit it altogether, and represent the Assyrian monarch as engaged in a continuous series of successful campaigns, which seem to extend uninterruptedly from his third to his tenth year. It is possible that while the Assyrian expedition was in progress, under the eye of Sennacherib himself, a successful war was being conducted by one of his generals in the mountains of Armenia, and that Sennacherib was thus enabled, without absolutely falsifying history, to parade as his own certain victories gained by this leader in the very year of his own reverse. It is even conceivable that the power of Assyria was not so injured by the loss of a single great army, as to make it necessary for her to stop even for one year in the course of her aggressive warfare; and thus the expeditions of Sennacherib may form an uninterrupted series, the eight campaigns which are assigned to him occupying eight consecutive years. But on the other hand it is quite as probable that there are gaps in the history, some years having been omitted altogether. The Taylor Cylinder records but eight campaigns, yet it was certainly written as late as Sennacherib's fifteenth year. It contains no notice of any events in Sennacherib's first or second year; and it may consequently make other omissions covering equal or larger intervals. Thus the destruction of the Assyrian army at Pelusium may have been followed by a pause of some years' duration in the usual aggressive expeditions; and it may very probably have encouraged the Babylonians in the attempt to shake off the Assyrian yoke, which they certainly made towards the middle of Sennacherib's reign.
But while it appears to be probable that consequences of some importance followed on the Pelusiac calamity, it is tolerably certain that no such tremendous results flowed from it as some writers have imagined. The murder of the disgraced Sennacherib "within fifty-five days" of his return to Nineveh, seems to be an invention of the Alexandrian Jew who wrote the Book of Tobit. The total destruction of the empire in consequence of the blow, is an exaggeration of Josephus, rashly credited by some moderns. Sennacherib did not die till B.C. 681, seventeen years after his misfortune; and the Empire suffered so little that we find Esar-haddon, a few years later, in full possession of all the territory that any king before him had over held, ruling from Babylonia to Egypt, or (as he himself expresses it) "from the rising up of the sun to the going down of the same." Even Sennacherib himself was not prevented by his calamity from undertaking important wars during the latter part of his reign. We shall see shortly that he recovered Babylon, chastised Susiana, and invaded Cilicia, in the course of the seventeen years which intervened between his flight from Pelusium and his decease. Moreover, there is evidence that he employed himself during this part of his reign in the consolidation of the Western provinces, which first appear about his twelfth year as integral portions of the Empire, furnishing eponyms in their turn, and thus taking equal rank with the ancient provinces of Assyria Proper, Adiabene, and Mesopotamia.
The fifth campaign of Sennacherib, according to his own annals, was partly in a mountainous country which he calls Nipur or Nibur—probably the most northern portion of the Zagros range where it abuts on Ararat. He there took a number of small towns, after which he proceeded westward and contended with a certain Maniya king of Dayan, which was a part of Taurus bordering on Cilicia. He boasts that he penetrated further into this region than any king before him; and the boast is confirmed by the fact that the geographical names which appear are almost entirely new to us. The expedition was a plundering raid, not an attempt at conquest. Sennacherib ravaged the country, burnt the towns, and carried away with him all the valuables, the flocks and herds, and the inhabitants.
After this it appears that for at least three years he was engaged in a fierce struggle with the combined Babylonians and Susianians. The troubles recommenced by an attempt of the Chaldaeans of Beth-Yakin to withdraw themselves from the Assyrian territory, and to transfer their allegiance to the Elymaean king. Carrying with them their gods and their treasures, they embarked in their ships, and crossing "the Great Sea of the Rising Sun"—i.e., the Persian Gulf—landed on the Elamitic coast, where they were kindly received and allowed to take up their abode. Such voluntary removals are not uncommon in the East; and they constantly give rise to complaints and reclamations, which not unfrequently terminate in an appeal to the arbitrament of the sword. Sennacherib does not inform us whether he made any attempt to recover his lost subjects by diplomatic representations at the court of Susa. If he did, they were unsuccessful; and in order to obtain redress, he was compelled to resort to force, and to undertake an expedition into the Elamitie territory. It is remarkable that he determined to make his invasion by sea. Their frequent wars on the Syrian coasts had by this time familiarized the Assyrians with the idea, if not with the practice, of navigation; and as their suzerainty over Phoenicia placed at their disposal a large body of skilled shipwrights, and a number of the best sailors in the world, it was natural that they should resolve to employ naval as well as military force to advance their dominion. We have seen that, as early as the time of Shalmaneser, the Assyrians ventured themselves in ships, and, in conjunction with the Phoenicians of the mainland, engaged the vessels of the Island Tyre. It is probable that the precedent thus set was followed by later kings, and that both Sargon and Sennacherib had had the permanent, or occasional services of a fleet on the Mediterranean. But there was a wide difference between such an employment of the navies belonging to their subjects on the sea, to which they were accustomed, and the transfer to the opposite extremity of the empire of the naval strength hitherto confined to the Mediterranean. This thought—certainly not an obvious one—seems to have first occurred to Sennacherib. He conceived the idea of having a navy on both the seas that washed his dominions; and, possessing on his western coast only an adequate supply of skilled shipwrights and sailors he resolved on transporting from his western to his eastern shores such a body of Phoenicians as would enable him to accomplish his purpose. The shipwrights of Tyre and Sidon were carried across Mesopotamia to the Tigris, where they constructed for the Assyrian monarch a fleet of ships like their own galleys, which descended the river to its mouth, and astonished the populations bordering on the Persian Gulf with spectacle never before seen in those waters. Though the Chaldaeans had for centuries navigated this inland sea, and may have occasionally ventured beyond its limits, yet neither as sailors nor as ship-builders was their skill to compare with that of the Phoenicians. The masts and sails, the double tiers of oars, the sharp beaks of the Phoenician ships, were (it is probable) novelties to the nations of these parts, who saw now, for the first time, a fleet debouche from the Tigris, with which their own vessels were quite incapable of contending.
When his fleet was ready Sennacherib put to sea, and crossed in his Phoenician ships from the mouth of the Tigris to the tract occupied by the emigrant Chaldaeans, where he landed and destroyed the newly-built city, captured the inhabitants, ravaged the neighborhood, and burnt a number of Susianian towns, finally reembarking with his captives. Chaldaean and Susianian whom he transported across the gulf to the Chaldaean coast, and then took with him into Assyria. This whole expedition seems to have taken the Susianians by surprise. They had probably expected an invasion by land, and had collected their forces towards the north-western frontier, so that when the troops of Sennacherib landed far in their rear, there were no forces in the neighborhood to resist them. However, the departure of the Assyrians on an expedition regarded as extremely perilous, was the signal for a general revolt of the Babylonians, who once more set up a native king in the person of Susub, and collected an army with which they made ready to give the Assyrians battle on their return. Perhaps they cherished the hope that the fleet which had tempted the dangers of an unknown sea would be seen no more, or expected that, at the best, it would bring back the shattered remnants of a defeated army. If so, they were disappointed. The Assyrian troops landed on their coast flushed with success, and finding the Babylonians in revolt, proceeded to chastise them; defeated their forces in a great battle; captured their king, Susub; and when the Susianians came, somewhat tardily, to their succor, attacked and routed their army. A vast number of prisoners, and among them Susub himself, were carried off by the victors and conveyed to Nineveh.
Shortly after this successful campaign, possibly in the very next year, Sennacherib resolved to break the power of Susiana by a great expedition directed solely against that country. The Susianians had, as already related, been strong enough in the reign of Sargon to deprive Assyria of a portion of her territory; and Kudur-Nakhunta, the Elymaean king, still held two cities, Beth-Kahiri and Raza, which were regarded by Sennacherib as a part of his paternal inheritance. The first object of the war was the recovery of these two towns, which were taken without any difficulty and reattached to the Assyrian Empire. Sennacherib then pressed on into the heart of Susiana, taking and destroying thirty-four large cities, whose names he mentions, together with a still greater number of villages, all of which he gave to the flames. Wasting and destroying in this way he drew near to Vadakat or Badaca, the second city of the kingdom, where Kudur-Nakhunta had for the time fixed his residence. The Elamitic king, hearing of his rapid approach, took fright, and, hastily quitting Badaca, fled away to a city called Khidala, at the foot of the mountains, where alone he could feel himself in safety. Sennacherib then advanced to Badaca, besieged it, and took it by assault; after which affairs seem to have required his presence at Nineveh, and, leaving his conquest incomplete, he returned home with a large booty.
A third campaign in these parts, the most important of all, followed. Susub, the Chaldaean prince whom Sennacherib had carried off to Assyria, in the year of his naval expedition escaped from his confinement, and, returning to Babylon, was once more hailed as king by the inhabitants. Aware of his inability to maintain himself on the throne against the will of the Assyrians, unless he were assisted by the arms of a powerful ally, he resolved to obtain, if possible, the immediate aid of the neighboring Elamitic monarch. Kolar-Nakhunta, the late antagonist of Sennacherib, was dead, having survived his disgraceful flight from Badaca only three months; and Ummanminan, his younger brother, held the throne. Susub, bent on contracting an alliance with this prince, did not scruple at an act of sacrilege to obtain his end. He broke open the treasury of the great temple of Bel at Babylon, and seizing the gold and silver belonging to the god, sent it as a present to Ummanminan, with an urgent entreaty that he would instantly collect his troops and march to his aid. The Elamitic monarch, yielding to a request thus powerfully backed, and perhaps sufficiently wise to see that the interests of Susiana required an independent Babylon, set his troops in motion without any delay, and advanced to the banks of the Tigris. At the same time a number of the Aramaean tribes on the middle Euphrates, which Sennacherib had reduced in his third year, revolted, and sent their forces to swell the army of Susub. A great battle was fought at Khaluli, a town on the lower Tigris, between the troops of Sennacherib and this allied host; the combat was long and bloody, but at last the Assyrians conquered. Susub and his Elamitic ally took to flight and made their escape. Nebosumiskun, a son of Merodach-Baladan, and many other chiefs of high rank, were captured. The army was completely routed and broken up. Babylon submitted, and was severely punished; the fortifications were destroyed, the temples plundered and burnt, and the images of the gods broken to pieces. Perhaps the rebel city now received for viceroy Regibelus or Mesesimordachus, whom the Canon of Ptolemy, which is silent about Susub, makes contemporary with the middle portion of Sennacherib's reign.
The only other expedition which can be assigned, on important evidence, to the reign of Sennacherib, is one against Cilicia, in which he is said to have been opposed by Greeks. According to Abydenus, a Greek fleet guarded the Cilician shore, which the vessels of Sennacherib engaged and defeated. Polyhistor seems to say that the Greeks also suffered a defeat by land in Cilicia itself, after which Sennacherib took possession of the country, and built Tarsus there on the model of Babylon. The prominence here given to Greeks by Greek writers is undoubtedly remarkable, and it throws a certain amount of suspicion over the whole story. Still, as the Greek element in Cyprus was certainly important at this time, and as the occupation of Cilicis, by the Assyrians may have appeared to the Cyprian Greeks to endanger their independence, it is conceivable that they lent some assistance to the natives of the country, who were a hardy race, fond of freedom, and never very easily brought into subjection. The admission af a double defeat makes it evident that the tale is not the invention of Greek national vanity. Abydenus and Polyhistor probably derive it from Berosus, who must also have made the statement that Tarsus was now founded by Sennacherib, and constructed, after the pattern of Babylon. The occupation of newly conquered countries, by the establishnient in them of large cities in which foreign colonists were placed by the conquerors, was practice commenced by Sargon, which his son is not unlikely to have followed. Tarsus was always regarded by the Greeks as an Assyrian town; and although they gave different accounts of the time of its foundation, their disagreement in this respect does not invalidate their evidence as to the main fact itself, which is intrinsically probable. The evidence of Polyhistor and Abydenus as to the date of the foundation, representing, as it must, the testimony of Berosus upon the point, is to be preferred; and we may accept it as a fact, beyond all reasonable doubt, that the native city of St. Paul derived, if not its origin, yet, at any rate, its later splendor and magnificence, from the antagonist of Hezekiah.
That this Cilician war occurred late in the reign of Sennacherib, appears to follow from the absence of any account of it from his general annals. These, it is probable, extend no further than his sixteenth year, B.C. 689, thus leaving blank his last eight years, from B.C. 689 to 681. The defeat of the Greeks, the occupation of Cilicia, and the founding of Tarsus, may well have fallen into this interval. To the same time may have belonged Sennacherib's conquest of Edom.
There is reason to suspect that these successes of Sennacherib on the western limits of his empire were more than counterbalanced by a contemporaneous loss at the extreme south-east. The Canon of Ptolemy marks the year B.C. 688 as the first of an interregnum at Babylon which continues from that date till the accession of Esar-haddon in B.C. 680. Interregna in this document—[—Greek—] as they are termed—indicate periods of extreme disturbance, when pretender succeeded to pretender, or when the country was split up into a number of petty kingdoms. The Assyrian yoke, in either case, must have been rejected; and Babylonia must have succeeded at this time in maintaining, for the space of eight years, a separate and independent existence, albeit troubled and precarious. The fact that she continued free so long, while she again succumbed at the very commencement of the reign of Esar-haddon, may lead us to suspect that she owed this spell of liberty to the increasing years of the Assyrian monarch, who, as the infirmities of age crept upon him, felt a disinclination towards distant expeditions.
The military glory of Sennacherib was thus in some degree tarnished; first, by the terrible disaster which befell his host on the borders of Egypt; and, secondly, by his failure to maintain the authority which, in the earlier part of his reign, he had estaldished over Babylon. Still, notwithstanding these misfortunes, he must be pronounced one of the most successful of Assyria's warrior kings, and altogether one of the greatest princes that ever sat on the Assyrian throne. His victories of Eltekeh and Khaluli seem to leave been among the most important battles that Assyria ever gained. By the one Egypt and Ethiopia, by the other Susiana and Babylon, were taught that, even united, they were no match for the Assyrian hosts. Sennacherib thus wholesomely impressed his most formidable enemies with the dread of his arms, while at the same time he enlarged, in various directions, the limits of his dominions. He warred in regions to which no earlier Assyrian monarch had ever penetrated; and he adopted modes of warfare on which none of them had previously ventured. His defeat of a Greek fleet in the Eastern Mediterranean, and his employment of Phoenicians in the Persian Gulf, show an enterprise and versatility which we observe in few Orientals. His selection of Tarsus for the site of a great city indicates a keen appreciation of the merits of a locality, if he was proud, haughty, and self-confident, beyond all former Assyrian kings, it would seem to have been because he felt that he had resources within himself—that he possessed a firm will, a bold heart, and a fertile invention. Most men would have laid aside the sword and given themselves wholly to peaceful pursuits, after such a disaster as that of Pelusium. Sennacherib accepted the judgment as a warning to attempt no further conquests in those parts, but did not allow the calamity to reduce him to inaction. He wisely turned his sword against other enemies, and was rewarded by important successes upon all his other frontiers.
But if, as a warrior, Sennacherib deserves to be placed in the foremost rank of the Assyrian kings, as a builder and a patron of art he is still more eminent. The great palace which he raised at Nineveh surpassed in size and splendor all earlier edifices, and was never excelled in any respect except by one later building. The palace of Asshur-bani-pal, built on the same platform by the grandson of Sennacherib, was, it must be allowed, more exquisite in its ornamentation; but even this edifice did not equal the great work of Sennacherib in the number of its apartments, or the grandeur of its dimensions. Sennacherib's palace covered an area of above eight acres. It consisted of a number of grand halls and smaller chambers, arranged round at least three courts or quadrangles. These courts were respectively 154 feet by 125, 124 feet by 90, and probably a square of about 90 feet. Round the smallest of the courts were grouped apartments of no great size, which, it may be suspected, belonged to the seraglio of the king. The seraglio seems to have been reached through a single narrow passage, leading out of a long gallery—218 feet by 25—which was approached only through two other passages, one leading from each of the two main courts. The principal halls were immediately within the two chief entrances one on the north-east, the other on the opposite or south-west front of the palace. Neither of these two rooms has been completely explored: but the one appears to have been more than 150 and the other was probably 180 feet in length, while the width of each was a little more than 40 feet. Besides these two great halls and the grand gallery already described, the palace contained about twenty rooms of a considerable size, and at least forty or fifty smaller chambers, mostly square, or nearly so, opening out of some hall or large apartment. The actual number of the rooms explored is about sixty; but as in many parts the examination of the building is still incomplete, we may fairly conjecture that the entire number was not less than seventy or eighty.
The palace of Sennacherib preserved all the main features of Assyrian architecture. It was elevated on a platform, eighty or ninety feet above the plain, artificially constructed, and covered with a pavement of bricks. It had probably three grand facades—one on the north-east, where it was ordinarily approached from the town, and the two others on the south-east and the south-west, where it was carried nearly to the edge of the platform, and overhung the two streams of the Khosr-su and the Tigris. Its principal apartment was that which was first entered by the visitor. All the walls ran in straight lines, and all the angles of the rooms and passages were right angles. There were more passages in the building than usual but still the apartments very frequently opened into one another; and almost one-half of the rooms were passage-rooms. The doorways were mostly placed without any regard to regularity, seldom opposite one another, and generally towards the corners of the apartments. There was the curious feature, common in Assyrian edifices, of a room being entered from a court, or from another room, by two or three doorways, which is best explained by supposing that the rank of the person determined the door by which he might enter. Squared recesses in the sides of the rooms were common. The thickness of the walls was great. The apartments, though wider than in other palaces, were still narrow for their length, never much exceeding forty feet; while the courts were much better proportioned.
It was in the size and the number of his rooms, in his use of passages, and in certain features of his ornamentation, that Sennacherib chiefly differed from former builders. He increased the width of the principal state apartments by one-third, which seems to imply the employment of some new mode or material for roofing. In their length he made less alteration, only advancing from 150 to 180 feet, evidently because he aimed, not merely at increasing the size of his rooms, but at improving their proportions. In one instance alone—that of a gallery or passage-room, leading (apparently) from the more public part of the palace to the hareem or private apartments—did he exceed this length, uniting the two portions of the palace by a noble corridor, 218 feet long by 25 feet wide. Into this corridor he brought passages from the two public courts, which he also united together by a third passage, thus greatly facilitating communication between the various blocks of buildings which composed his vast palatial edifice.
The most striking characteristic of Sennacherib's ornamentation is its strong and marked realism. It was under Sennacherib that the practice first obtained of completing each scene by a background, such as actually existed as the time and place of its occurrence. Mountains, rocks, trees, roads, rivers, lakes, were regularly portrayed, an attempt being made to represent the locality, whatever it might be, as truthfully as the artist's skill and the character of his material rendered possible. Nor was this endeavor limited to the broad and general features of the scene only. The wish evidently was to include all the little accessories which the observant eye of an artist might have noted if he had made his drawing with the scene before him. The species of trees is distinguished, in Sennacherib's bas-reliefs; gardens, fields, ponds, reeds, are carefully represented; wild animals are introduced, as stags, boars, and antelopes; birds fly from tree to tree, or stand over their nests feeding the young who stretch up to them; fish disport themselves in the waters; fishermen ply their craft; boatmen and agricultural laborers pursue their avocations; the scene is, as it were, photographed, with all its features—the least and the most important—equally marked, and without any attempt at selection, or any effort after artistic unity.
In the same spirit of realism Sennacherib chooses for artistic representation scenes of a commonplace and everyday character. The trains of attendants who daily enter his palace with game and locusts for his dinner, and cakes and fruit for his dessert, appear on the walls of his passages, exactly as they walked through his courts, bearing the delicacies in which he delighted. Elsewhere he puts before us the entire process of carving and transporting a colossal bull, from the first removal of the huge stone in its rough state from the quarry, to its final elevation on a palace mound as part of the great gateway of a royal residence. We see the trackers dragging the rough block, supported on a low flat-bottomed boat, along the course of a river, disposed in gangs, and working under taskmasters who use their rods upon the slightest provocation. The whole scene must be represented, and so the trackers are all there, to the number of three hundred, costumed according to their nations, and each delineated with as much care as it he were not the exact image of ninety-nine others. We then observe the block transferred to land, and carved into the rough semblance of a bull, in which form it is placed on a rude sledge and conveyed along level ground by gangs of laborers, arranged nearly as before, to the foot of the mound at whose top it has to be placed. The construction of the mound is most elaborately represented. Brickmakers are seen moulding the bricks at its base, while workmen, with baskets at their backs, full of earth, bricks, stones, or rubbish, toil up the ascent—for the mound is already half raised—and empty their burdens out upon the summit. The bull, still lying on its sledge, is then drawn up an inclined plane to the top by four gangs of laborers, in the presence of the monarch and his attendants. After this the carving is completed, and the colossus, having been raised into an upright position, is conveyed along the surface of the platform to the exact site which it is to occupy. This portion of the operation has been represented in one of the illustrations in an earlier part of this volume. From the representation there given the reader may form a notion of the minuteness and elaboration of this entire series of bas-reliefs.
Besides constructing this new palace at Nineveh, Sennacherib seems also to have restored the ancient residence of the kings at the sane place, a building which will probably be found whenever the mound of Nebbi-Yunus is submitted to careful examination. He confined the Tigris to its channel by an embankment of bricks. He constructed a number of canals or aqueducts for the purpose of bringing good water to the capital. He improved the defences of Nineveh, erecting towers of a vast size at some of the gates. And, finally, he built a temple to the god Nergal at Tarbisi (now Sherif khan), about three miles from Nineveh up the Tigris.
In the construction of these great works he made use chiefly, of the forced labor with which his triumphant expeditions into foreign countries had so abundantly supplied him. Chaldaeans, Aramaeans, Armenians, Cilicianns and probably also Egyptians, Ethiopians, Elamites, and Jews, were employed by thousands in the formation of the vast mounds, in the transport and elevation of the colossal bulls, in the moulding of the bricks, and the erection of the walls of the various edifices, in the excavation of the canals, and the construction of the embankments. They wrought in gangs, each gang having a costume peculiar to it, which probably marked its nation. Over each was placed a number of taskmasters, armed with staves, who urged on the work with blows, and severely punished any neglect or remissness. Assyrian foremen had the general direction of the works, and were entrusted with all such portions as required skill or judgment. The forced laborers often worked in fetters, which were sometimes supported by a bar fastened to the waist, while sometimes they consisted merely of shackles round the ankles. The king himself often witnessed the labors, standing in his chariot, which on these occasions was drawn by some of his attendants.
The Assyrian monuments throw but little light on the circumstances which led to the assassination of Sennacherib; and we are reduced to conjecture the causes of so strange an event. Our various sources of information make it clear that he had a large family of sons. The eldest of them, Asshurinadi-su, had been entrusted by Sennacherib with the government of Babylon and might reasonably have expected to succeed him on the throne of Assyria; but it is probable that he died before his father, either by a natural death, or by violence, during one of the many Babylonian revolts. It may be suspected that Sennacherib had a second son, of whose name Nergal was the first element; and it is certain that he had three others, Adrammelech (or Ardumuzanes), Sharezer, and Esar-haddon. Perhaps, upon the death of Asshur-inadi-su, disputes arose about the succession. Adrammelech and Sharezer, anxious to obtain the throne for themselves, plotted against the life of their father, and having slain him in a temple as he was worshipping, proceeded further to remove their brother Nergilus, who claimed the crown and wore it for a brief space after Sennacherib's death. Having murdered him, they expected to obtain the throne without further difficulty; but Esar-haddon, who at the time commanded the army which watched the Armenian frontier, now came forward, assumed the title of King, and prepared to march upon Nineveh. It was winter, and the inclemency of the weather precluded immediate movement. For some months probably the two assassins were recognized as monarchs at the capital, while the northern army regarded Esar-haddon as the rightful successor of his father. Thus died the great Sennacherib, a victim to the ambition of his sons.
It was a sad end to a reign which, on the whole, had been so glorious; and it was a sign that the empire was now verging on that decline which sooner or later overtakes all kingdoms, and indeed all things sublunary. Against plots without, arising from the ambition of subjects who see, or think they see, at any particular juncture an opportunity of seizing the great prize of supreme dominion, it is impossible, even in the most vigorous empire, to provide any complete security. But during the period of vigor, harmony within the palace, and confidence in each other inspires and unites all the members of the royal house. When discord has once entered inside the gates, when the family no longer holds together, when suspicion and jealousy have replaced the trust and affection of a happier time, the empire has passed into the declining stage, and has already begun the descent which conducts, by quick or slow degrees, to destruction. The murder of Sennacherib, if it was, as perhaps it was, a judgment on the individual, was, at least equally, a judgment on the nation. When, in an absolute monarchy, the palace becomes the scene of the worst crimes, the doom of the kingdom is sealed—it totters to its fall—and requires but a touch from without to collapse into a heap of ruins.
Esar-haddon, the son and successor of Sennacherib, is proved by the Assyrian Canon, to have ascended the throne of Assyria in B.C. 681—the year immediately previous to that which the Canon of Ptolemy makes his first year in Babylon, viz., B.C. 680. He was succeeded by his son Asshur-bani-pal, or Sardanapalus, in B.C. 668, and thus held the crown no more than thirteen years. Esar-haddon's inscriptions show that he was engaged for some time after his accession in a war with his half-brothers, who, at the head of a large body of troops, disputed his right to the crown. Esar-haddon marched from the Armenian frontier, where (as already observed) he was stationed at the time of his father's death, against this army, defeated it in the country of Khanirabbat (north-west of Nineveh), and proceeding to the capital, was universally acknowledged king. According to Abydenus, Adrammelech fell in the battle; but better authorities state that both he and his brother, Sharezer, escaped into Armenia, where they were kindly treated by the reigning monarch, who gave them lands, which long continued in the possession of their posterity.
The chief record which we possess of Esar-haddon is a cylinder inscription, existing in duplicate, which describes about nine campaigns, and may probably have been composed in or about his tenth year. A memorial which he set up at the mouth of the Nahr-el-Kolb, and a cylinder of his son's, add some important information with respect to the latter part of his reign. One or two notices in the Old Testament connect him with the history of the Jews. And Abydenus, besides the passage already quoted, has an allusion to some of his foreign conquests. Such are the chief materials from which the modern inquirer has to reconstruct the history of this great king.
It appears that the first expedition of Esar-haddon was into Phoenicia. Abdi-Milkut king of Sidon, and Sandu-arra king of the adjoining part of Lebanon, had formed an alliance and revolted from the Assyrians, probably during the troubles which ensued on Sennacherib's death. Esar-haddon attacked Sidon first, and soon took the city; but Aladi-Milkut made his escape to an island—Aradus or Cyprus—where, perhaps, he thought himself secure. Esar-haddon, however, determined on pursuit. He traversed the sea "like a fish," and made Abdi-Milkut prisoner; after which he turned his arms against Sandu-arra, attacked him in the fastnesses of his mountains, defeated his troops, and possessed himself of his person. The rebellion of the two captive kings was punished by their execution; the walls of Sidon were destroyed; its inhabitants, and those of the whole tract of coast in the neighborhood, were carried off into Assyria, and thence scattered among the provinces; a new town was built, which was named after Esarhaddon, and was intended to take the place of Sidon as the chief city of these parts; and colonists were brought from Chaldaea and Susiana to occupy the new capital and the adjoining region. An Assyrian governor was appointed to administer the conquered province.
Esar-haddon's next campaign seems to have been in Armenia. He took a city called Arza**, which, he says, was in the neighborhood of Muzr, and carried off the inhabitants, together with a number of mountain animals, placing the former in a position "beyond the eastern gate of Nineveh." At the same time he received the submission of Tiuspa the Cimmerian.
His third campaign was in Cilicia and the adjoining regions. The Cilicians, whom Sennacherib had so recently subdued, reasserted their independence at his death, and allied themselves with the Tibareni, or people of Tubal, who possess at the high mountain tract about the junction of Amaans and Taurus. Esar-haddon inflicted a defeat on the Cilicians, and then invaded the mountain region, where he took twenty-one towns and a larger number of villages, all of which he plundered and burnt. The inhabitants he carried away captive, as usual but he made no attempt to hold the ravaged districts by means of new cities or fresh colonists.
This expedition was followed by one or two petty wars in the north-west and the north-east after which Esar-haddon, probably about his sixth year B.C. 675, made an expedition into Chaldaea. It appears that a son of Merodach-Baladan, Nebo-zirzi-sidi by name, had re-established himself on the Chaldaean coast, by the help of the Susianians; while his brother, Nahid-Marduk, had thought it more prudent to court the favor of the great Assyrian monarch, and had quitted his refuge in Susiana to present himself before Esar-haddon's foot-stool at Nineveh. This judicious step had all the success that he could have expected or desired. Esar-haddon, having conquered the ill-judging Nebo-zirzi-sidi, made over to the more clear-sighted Nahid-Marduk the whole of the maritime region that had been ruled by his brother. At the same time the Assyrian monarch deposed a Chaldaean prince who had established his authority over a small town in the neighborhood of Babylon, and set up another in his place, thus pursuing the same system of division in Babylonia which we shall hereafter find that he pursued in Egypt.
Esar-haddon after this was engaged in a war with Edom. He there took a city which bore the same name as the country—a city previously, he tells us, taken by his father—and transported the inhabitants into Assyria, at the same time carrying off certain images of the Edomite gods. Hereupon the king, who was named Hazael, sent an embassy to Nineveh, to make submission and offer presents, while at the same time he supplicated Isar-haddon to restore his gods and allow them to be conveyed back to their own proper country. Esarhaddon granted the request, and restored the images to the envoy; but as a compensation for this boon, he demanded an increase of the annual tribute, which was augmented in consequence by sixty-five camels. He also nominated to the Edomite throne, either in succession or in joint sovereignty, a female named Tabua, who had been born and brought up in his own palace.
The expedition next mentioned on Esar-haddon's principal cylinder is one presenting some difficulty. The scene of it is a country called Bazu, which is said to be "remote, on the extreme confines of the earth, on the other side of the desert." It was reached by traversing it hundred and forty farsakhs (490 miles) of sandy desert, then twenty farsakhs (70 miles) of fertile land, and beyond that a stony region. None of the kings of Assyria, down to the time of Esar-haddon, had ever penetrated so far. Bazu lay beyond Khazu, which was the name of the stony tract, and Bazu had for its chief town a city called Yedih, which was under the rule of a king named Laile. It is thought, from the combinaqon of these names, and from the general description of the region—of its remoteness and of the way in which it was reached—that it was probably the district of Arabia beyond Nedjif which lies along the Jebel Shammer, and corresponds closely with the modern Arab kingdom of Hira. Esar-haddon boasts that he marched into the middle of the territory, that he slew eight of its sovereigns, and carried into Assyria their gods, their treasures, and their subjects; and that, though Laile escaped him, he too lost his gods, which were seized and conveyed to Nineveh. Then Laile, like the Idumaean monarch above mentioned, felt it necessary to humble himself. He went in person to the Assyrian capital, prostrated himself before the royal footstool, and entreated for the restoration of his gods; which Esar-haddon consented to give back, but solely on the condition that Laile became thenceforth one of his tributaries.
If this expedition was really carried into the quarter here supposed, Esar-haddon performed a feat never paralleled in history, excepting by Augustus and Nushirvan. He led an army across the deserts which everywhere guard Arabia on the land side, and penetrated to the more fertile tracts beyond them, a region of settled inhabitants and of cities. He there took and spoiled several towns; and he returned to his own country without suffering disaster. Considering the physical perils of the desert itself, and the warlike character of its inhabitants, whom no conqueror has ever really subdued, this was a most remarkable success. The dangers of the simoom may have been exaggerated, and the total aridity of the northern region may have been overstated by many writers; but the difficulty of carrying water and provisions for a large army, and the peril of a plunge into the wilderness with a small one, can scarcely be stated in too strong terms, and have proved sufficient to deter most Eastern conquerors from even the thoughts of an Arabian expedition. Alexander would, perhaps, had he lived, have attempted an invasion from the side of the Persian Gulf; and Trajan actually succeeded in bringing under the Roman yoke an outlying portion of the country—the district between Damascus and the Red Sea; but Arabia has been deeply penetrated thrice only in the history of the world; and Esar-haddon is the sole monarch who ever ventured to conduct in person such an attack.
From the arid regions of the great peninsula Esar-haddon proceeded, probably in another year, to the invasion of the marsh-country on the Euphrates, where the Aramaean tribe of the Gambulu had their habitations, dwelling (he tells us) "like fish, in the midst of the waters"—doubtless much after the fashion of the modern Khuzeyl and Affej Arabs, the latter of whom inhabit nearly the same tract. The sheikh of this tribe had revolted; but on the approach of the Assyrians he submitted himself, bringing in person the arrears of his tribute and a present of buffaloes, whereby he sought to propitiate the wrath of his suzerain. Esar-haddon states that he forgave him; that he strengthened his capital with fresh works, placed a garrison in it, and made it a stronghold to protect the territory against the attacks of the Susianians.
The last expedition mentioned on the cylinder, which seems not to have been conducted by the king in person, was against the country of Bikni, or Bikan, one of the more remote regions of Media—perhaps Azerbijan. No Assyrian monarch before Esar-haddon had ever invaded this region. It was under the government of a number of chiefs—the Arian character of whose names is unmistakable—each of whom ruled over his own town and the adjacent district. Esar-haddon seized two of the chiefs and carried them off to Assyria, whereupon several others made their submission, consenting to pay a tribute and to divide their authority with Assyrian officers.
It is probable that these various expeditions occupied Esarhaddon from B.C. 681, the year of his accession, to B.C. 671, when it is likely that they were recorded on the existing cylinder. The expeditions are ten in number, directed against countries remote from one another; and each may well have occupied an entire year. There would thus remain only three more years of the king's reign, after the termination of the chief native record, during which his history has to be learnt from other sources. Into this space falls, almost certainly, the greatest of Esar-haddon's exploits the conquest of Egypt; and, probably, one of the most interesting episodes of his reign—the punishment and pardon of Manasseh. With the consideration of these two events the military history of his reign will terminate.
The conquest of Egypt by Esar-haddon, though concealed from Herodotus, and not known even to Diodorus, was no secret to the more learned Greeks, who probably found an account of the expedition in the great work of Berosus. All that we know of its circumstances is derived from an imperfect transcript of the Nahr-el-Kelb tablet, and a short notice in the annals of Esar-haddon's son and successor, Asshur-bani-pal, who finds it necessary to make an allusion to the former doings of his father in Egypt, in order to render intelligible the state of affairs when he himself invades the country. According to these notices, it would appear that Esar-haddon, having entered Egypt with a large army, probably in B.C. 670, gained a great battle over the forces of Tirhakah in the lower country, and took Memphis, the city where the Ethiopian held his court, after which he proceeded southwards, and conquered the whole of the Nile valley as far as the southern boundary of the Theban district. Thebes itself was taken and Tirhakah retreated into Ethiopia. Esar-haddon thus became master of all Egypt, at least as far as Thebes or Diospolis, the No or No-Amon of scripture. He then broke up the country into twenty governments, appointing in each town a ruler who bore the title of king, but placing all the others to a certain extent under the authority of the prince who reigned at Memphis. This was Neco, the father of Psammetichus (Psamatik I.)—a native Egyptian of whom we have some mention both in Herodotus and in the fragments of Manetho. The remaining rulers were likewise, for the most part, native Egyptians: though in two or three instances the governments appear to have been committed to Assyrian officers. Esar-haddon, having made these arrangements, and having set up his tablet at the mouth of the Nahr-el-Kelb side by side with that of Rameses II., returned to his own country, and proceeded to introduce sphinxes into the ornamentation of his palaces, while, at the same time, he attached to his former titles an additional clause, in which he declared himself to be "king of the kings of Egypt, and conqueror of Ethiopia."
The revolt of Manasseh king of Judah may have happened shortly before or shortly after the conquest of Egypt. It was not regarded as of sufficient importance to call for the personal intervention of the Assyrian monarch. The "captains of the host of the king of Assyria" were entrusted with the task of Manasseh's subjection; and, proceeding into Judaea, they "took him, and bound him with chains, and carried him to Babylon," where Esar-haddon had built himself a palace, and often held his court. The Great king at first treated his prisoner severely; and the "affliction" which he thus suffered is said to have broken his pride and caused him to humble himself before God, and to repent of all the cruelties and idolatries which had brought this judgment upon him. Then God "was entreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him back again to Jerusalem into his kingdom." The crime of defection was overlooked by the Assyrian monarch, Manasseh was pardoned, and sent back to Jerusalem: where he was allowed to resume the reins of government, but on the condition, if we may judge by the usual practice of the Assyrians in such cases, of paying an increased tribute.
It may have been in connection with this restoration of Manasseh to his throne—an act of doubtful policy from an Assyrian point of view—that Esar-haddon determined on a project by which the hold of Assyria upon Palestine was considerably strengthened. Sargon, as has been already observed when he removed the Israelites from Sumaria, supplied their place by colonists from Babylon, Cutha, Sippara, Ava, Hamath, and Arabia; this planting a foreign garrison in the region which would be likely to preserve its fidelity. Esar-haddon resolved to strengthen this element. He gathered men from Babylon, Orchoe, Susa, Elymais, Persia, and other neighboring regions, and entrusting them to an officer of high rank—"the great and noble Asnapper"—had them conveyed to Palestine and settled over the whole country, which until this time must have been somewhat thinly peopled. The restoration of Manasseh, and the augmentation of this foreign element in Palestine, are thus portions, but counterbalancing portions, of one scheme—a scheme, the sole object of which was the pacification of the empire by whatever means, gentle or severe, seemed best calculated to effect the purpose.
The last years of Esar-haddon were, to some extent, clouded with disaster. He appears to have fallen ill in B.C. 669: and the knowledge of this fact at once produced revolution in Egypt. Tirhakah issued from his Ethiopian fastnesses, descended the valley of the Nile, expelled the kings set up by Esar-haddon, and re-established his authority over the whole country. Esar-haddon, unable to take the field, resolved to resign the cares of the empire to his eldest son, Asshur-bani-pal, and to retire into a secondary position. Relinquishing the crown of Assyria, and retaining that of Babylon only, he had Asshur-bani-pal proclaimed king of Assyria, and retired to the southern capital. There he appears to have died in B.C. 668, or early in B.C. 667, leaving Asshur-bani-pal sole sovereign of the entire empire.
Of the architecture of Esar-haddon, and of the state of the arts generally in his time, it is difficult to speak positively. Though he appears to have been one of the most indefatigable constructors of great works that Assyria produced, having erected during the short period over which his reign extended no fewer than four palaces and above thirty temples, yet it happens unfortunately that we are not as yet in a condition to pronounce a decisive judgment either on the plan of his buildings or on the merits of their ornamentation of his three great palaces, which were situated at Babylon, Calah, and Nineveh, one only—that at Calah or Nimrud has been to any large extent explored. Even in this case the exploration was far from complete, and the ground plan of his palace is still very defective. But this is not the worst. The palace itself had never been finished; its ornamentation had scarcely been begun; and the little of this that was original had been so damaged by a furious conflagration, that it perished almost at the moment of discovery. We are thus reduced to judge of the sculptures of Esar-haddon by the reports of those who saw them ere they fell to pieces, and by one or two drawings, while we have to form our conception of his buildings from a half-explored fragment of a half-finished palace, which was moreover destroyed by fire before completion.
The palace of Esar-haddon at Calah was built at the south-western corner of the Nimrud mound, abutting towards the west on the Tigris, and towards the south on the valley formed by the Shor-Derreh torrent. It faced northwards, and was entered on this side from the open space of the platform, through a portal guarded by two winged bulls of the ordinary character. The visitor on entering found himself in a large court, 280 feet by 100, bounded on the north side by a mere wall, but on the other three sides surrounded by buildings. The main building was opposite to him, and was entered from the court by two portals, one directly facing the great northern gate of the court, and the other a little to the left hand, the former guarded by colossal bulls, the latter merely reveted with slabs. These portals both led into the same room—the room already described in an earlier page of this work—which was designed on the most magnificent scale of all the Assyrian apartments, but was so broken up through the inability of the architect to roof in a wide space without abundant support, that, practically, it formed rather a suite of four moderate-sized chambers than a single grand hall. The plan of this apartment will be seen by referring to [PLATE XLIII., Fig. 2.] Viewed as a single apartment, the room was 165 feet in length by 62 feet in width, and thus contained an area of 10,230 square feet, a space nearly half as large again as that covered by the greatest of the halls of Sennacherib, which was 7200 feet. Viewed as a suite of chambers, the rooms may be described as two long and narrow halls running parallel to one another, and communicating by a grand doorway in the middle, with two smaller chambers placed at the two ends, running at right angles to the principal ones. The small chambers were 62 feet long, and respectively 19 feet and 23 feet wide; the larger ones were 110 feet long, with a width respectively of 20 feet and 28 feet. The inner of the two long parallel chambers communicated by a grand doorway, guarded by sphinxes and colossal lions, either with a small court or with a large chamber extending to the southern edge of the mound; and the two end rooms communicated with smaller apartments in the same direction. The buildings to the right and left of the great court seem to have been entirely separate from those at its southern end: to the left they were wholly unexamined; on the right some explorations were conducted which gave the usual result of several long narrow apartments, with perhaps one or two passages. The extent of the palace westward, southward, and eastward is uncertain: eastward it was unexplored; southward and westward the mound had been eaten into by the Tigris and the Shor-Derreh torrent.
The walls of Esar-haddon's palace were composed, in the usual way, of sun-dried bricks, reveted with slabs of alabaster. Instead, however, of quarrying fresh alabaster slabs for the purpose, the king preferred to make use of those which were already on the summit of the mound, covering the walls of the north-western and central palaces, which, no doubt, had fallen into decay. His workmen tore down these sculptured monuments from their original position, and transferring them to the site of the new palace, arranged them so as to cover the freshly-raised walls, generally placing the carved side against the crude brick, and leaving the back exposed to receive fresh sculptures, but sometimes exposing the old sculpture, which, however, in such cases, it was probably intended to remove by the chisel. This process was still going on, when either Esarhaddon died and the works were stopped, or the palace was destroyed by fire. Scarcely any of the new sculptures had been executed. The only exceptions were the bulls and lions at the various portals, a few reliefs in close proximity to them, and some complete figures of crouching sphinxes, which had been placed as ornaments, and possibly also as the bases of supports, within the span of the two widest doorways. There was nothing very remarkable about the bulls; the lions were spirited, and more true to nature than usual; the sphinxes were curious, being Egyptian in idea, but thoroughly Assyrianized, having the horned cap common on bulls, the Assyrian arrangement of hair, Assyrian earrings, and wings nearly like those of the ordinary winged bull or lion. [PLATE CXLVI., Fig. 2.] The figures near the lions were mythic, and exhibited somewhat more than usual grotesqueness, as we learn from the representations of them given by Mr. Layard.
While the evidence of the actual monuments as to the character of Esar-haddon's buildings and their ornamentation is thus scanty, it happens, curiously, that the Inscriptions furnish a particularly elaborate and detailed account of them. It appears, from the principal record of the time, that the temples which Esar-haddon built in Assyria and Babylonia—thirty-six in number—were richly adorned with plates of silver and gold, which made then (in the words of the Inscription) "as splendid as the day." His palace at Nineveh, a building situated on the mound called Nebbi Yunus, was, we are told, erected upon the site of a former palace of the kings of Assyria. Preparations for its construction were made, as for the great buildings of Solomon by the collection of materials, iii wood, stone, and metal, beforehand: these were furnished by the Phoenician, Syrian, and Cyprian monarchs, who sent to Nineveh for the purpose great beams of cedar, cypress, and ebony, stone statues, and various works in metals of different kinds. The palace itself is said to have exceeded in size all buildings of former kings. It was roofed with carved beams of cedar-wood; it was in part supported by columns of cypress wood, ornamented and strengthened with rings of silver and of iron; the portals were guarded by stone bulls and lions; and the gates were made of ebony and cypress ornamented with iron, silver, and ivory. There was, of course, the usual adornment of the walls by means of sculptured slabs and enamelled bricks. If the prejudices of the Mahometans against the possible disturbance of their dead, and against the violation by infidel hands of the supposed tomb of Jonah, should hereafter be dispelled, and excavations be freely allowed in the Nebbi Yunus mound, we may look to obtain very precious relics of Assyrian art from the palace of Esar-haddon, now lying buried beneath the village or the tombs which share between them this most important site.
Of Esar-haddon's Babylonian palace nothing is at present known, beyond the mere fact of its existence; but if the mounds at Hillah should ever be thoroughly explored, we may expect to recover at least its ground-plan, if not its sculptures and other ornaments. The Sherif Khan palace has been examined pretty completely. It was very much inferior to the ordinary palatial edifices of the Assyrians, being in fact only a house which Esar-haddon built as a dwelling for his eldest son during his own lifetime. Like the more imposing buildings of this king, it was probably unfinished at his decease. At any rate its remains add nothing to our knowledge of the state of art in Esar-haddon's time, or to our estimate of that monarch's genius as a builder.
After a reign of thirteen years, Esar-haddon, "king of Assyria, Babylon, Egypt, Meroe, and Ethiopia," as he styles himself in his later inscriptions, died, leaving his crown to his eldest son, Asshur-bani-pal, whom he had already associated in the government. Asshur-bani-pal ascended the throne in B.C. 668, or very early in B.C. 667; and his first act seems to have been to appoint as viceroy of Babylon his younger brother Saul-Mugina, who appears as Sam-mughes in Polyhistor, and as Saosduchinus in the Canon of Ptolemy.
The first war in which Asshur-bani-pal engaged was most probably with Egypt. Late in the reign of Esar-haddon, Tirhakah (as already stated 619) had descended from the upper country, had recovered Thebes, Memphis, and most of the other Egyptian cities, and expelled from them the princes and governors appointed by Esar-haddon upon his conquest. Asshur-bani-pal, shortly after his accession, collected his forces, and marched through Syria into Egypt, where he defeated the army sent against him by Tirhakah in a great battle near the city of Kar-banit. Tirhakah, who was at Memphis, hearing of the disaster that had befallen his army, abandoned Lower Egypt, and sailed up the Nile to Thebes, whither the forces of Asshur-bani-pal followed him; but the nimble Ethiopian retreated still further up the Nile valley, leaving all Egypt from Thebes downwards to his adversary. Asshur-bani-pal, upon this, reinstated in their former governments the various princes and rulers whom his lather had originally appointed, and whom Tirhakah had expelled; and then, having rested and refreshed his army by a short stay in Thebes, returned victoriously by way of Syria to Nineveh.
Scarcely was he departed when intrigues began for the restoration of the Ethiopian power. Neco and some of the other Egyptian governors, whom Asshur-bani-pal had just reinstated in their posts, deserted the Assyrian side and went over to the Ethiopians. Attempts were made to suppress the incipient revolt by the governors who continued faithful; Neco and one or two of his copartners in guilt were seized and sent in chains to Assyria; and some of the cities chiefly implicated, as Sais, Mendes, and Tanis (Zoan), were punished. But the efforts at suppression failed. Tirliakah entered Upper Egypt, and having established himself at Thebes, threatened to extend his authority once more over the whole of the Nilotic valley. Thereupon Asshur-bani-pal, having forgiven Neco, sent him, accompanied by a strong force, into Egypt; and Tirhakah was again compelled to quit the lower country and retire to Upper Egypt, where he soon after died. His crown fell to his step-son, Urdamane, who is perhaps the Rud-Amun of the Hieroglyphics. This prince was at first very successful. He descended the Nile valley in force, defeated the Assyrians near Memphis, drove them to take refuge within its walls, besieged and took the city, and recovered Lower Egypt. Upon this Asshur-bani-pal, who was in the city of Asshur when he heard the news, went in person against his new adversary, who retreated as he advanced, flying from Memphis to Thebes, and from Thebes to a city called Kipkip, far up the course of the Nile. Asshur-bani-pal and his army now entered Thebes, and sacked it. The plunder which was taken, consisting of gold, silver, precious stones, dyed garments, captives male and female, ivory, ebony, tame animals (such as monkeys and elephants) brought up in the palace, obelisks, etc., was carried off and conveyed to Nineveh. Governors were once more set up in the several cities, Psammetichus being probably among them; and, hostages having been taken to secure their fidelity, the Assyrian monarch returned home with his booty.
Between his first and second expedition into Egypt, Asshur-bani-pal was engaged in warlike operations on the Syrian coast, and in transactions of a different character with Cilicia. Returning from Egypt, he made an attack on Tyre, whose king, Baal, had offended him, and having compelled him to submit, exacted from him a large tribute, which he sent away to Nineveh. About the same time Asshur-bani-pal entered into communication with the Cilician monarch, whose name is not given, and took to wife a daughter of that princely house, which was already connected with the royal race of the Sargonids.
Shortly after his second Egyptian expedition, Asshur-bani-pal seems to have invaded Asia Minor. Crossing the Taurus range, he penetrated to a region never before visited by any Assyrian monarch; and, having reduced various towns in these parts and returned to Nineveh, he received an embassy of a very unusual character. "Gyges, king of Lydia," he tells us, "a country on the sea-coast, a remote place, of which the kings his ancestors had never even heard the name, had formerly learnt in a dream the fame of his empire, and had sent officers to his presence to perform homage on his behalf." He now sent a second time to Asshur-bani-pal, and told him that since his submission he had been able to defeat the Cimmerians, who had formerly ravaged his land with impunity; and he begged his acceptance of two Cimmerian chiefs, whom he had taken in battle, together with other presents, which Asshur-bani-pal regarded as a "tribute." About the same time the Assyrian monarch repulsed the attack of the "king of Kharbat," on a district of Babylonia, and, having taken Kharbat, transported its inhabitants to Egypt.
After thus displaying his power and extending his dominions towards the south-west, the north-west, and the south-east, Asshur-bani-pal turned his arms towards the north-east, and invaded Minni, or Persarmenia—the mountain-country about Lakes Van and Urumiyeh. Akhsheri, the king, having lost his capital, Izirtu, and several other cities, was murdered by his subjects; and his son, Vahalli, found himself compelled to make submission, and sent an embassy to Nineveh to do homage, with tribute, presents, and hostages. Asshur-bani-pal received the envoys graciously, pardoned Vahalli, and maintained him upon the throne, but forced him to pay a heavy tribute. He also in this expedition conquered a tract called Paddiri, which former kings of Assyria had severed from Minni and made independent, but which Asshur-bani-pal now attached to his own empire, and placed under an Assyrian governor.
A war of some duration followed with Elam, or Susiana, the flames of which at one time extended over almost the whole empire. This war was caused by a transfer of allegiance. Certain tribes, pressed by a famine, had passed from Susiana into the territories of Asshur-bani-pal, and were allowed to settle there; but when, the famine being over, they wished to return to their former country, Asshur-bani-pal would not consent to their withdrawal. Urtaki, the Susianian king, took umbrage at this refusal, and, determining to revenge himself, commenced hostilities by an invasion of Babylonia. Belubager, king of the important Aramaean tribe of the Gambulu, assisted him and Saul-Mugina, in alarm, sent to his brother for protection. An Assyrian army was dispatched to his aid, before which Urtaki fled. He was, however, pursued, caught and defeated. With some difficulty he escaped and returned to Susa, where within a year he died, without having made any fresh effort to injure or annoy his antagonist.
His death was a signal for a domestic revolution which proved very advantageous to the Assyrians. Urtaki had driven his older brother, Umman-aldas, from the throne, and, passing over the rights of his sons, had assumed the supreme authority. At his death, his younger brother, Temin-Umman, seized the crown, disregarding not only the rights of the sons of Umman-aldas, but likewise those of the sons of Urtaki. As the pretensions of those princes were dangerous, Temin-Umman endeavored to seize their persons with the intention of putting them to death; but they, having timely warning of their danger, fled; and, escaping to Nineveh with their relations and adherents, put themselves under the protection of Asshur-bani-pal. It thus happened that in the expedition which now followed, Asshur-bani-pal had a party which favored him in Elam itself. Temin-Umman, however, aware of this internal weakness, made great efforts to compensate for it by the number of his foreign allies. Two descendants of Merodach-Baladan, who had principalities upon the coast of the Persian Gulf, two mountain chiefs, one of them a blood-connection of the Assyrian crown, two sons of Belu-bagar, sheikh of the Gambulu, and several other inferior chieftains, are mentioned as bringing their troops to his assistance, and fighting in his cause against the Assyrians. All, however, was in vain. Asshur-bani-pal defeated the allies in several engagements, and finally took Temin-Umman prisoner, executed him, and exposed his head over one of the gates of Nineveh. He then divided Elam between two of the sons of Urrtaki, Umman-ibi and Tammarit, establishing the former in Susa, and the latter at a town called Khidal in Eastern Susiana. Great severities were exercised upon the various princes and nobles who had been captured. A son of Temin-Umman was executed with his father. Several grand-sons of Merodach-Baladin suffered mutilation, A Chaldaean prince and one of the chieftains of the Clambulu had their tongues torn out by the roots. Another of the Gambulu chiefs was decapitated. Two of the Temin-Umman's principal officers were chained and flayed. Palaya, a grandson of Merodach-Baladan, was mutilated. Asshur-bani-pal evidently hoped to strike terror into his enemies by these cruel, and now unusual, punishments, which, being inflicted for the most part upon royal personages, must have made a profound impression on the king-reverencing Asiatics.
The impression made was, however, one of horror rather than of alarm. Scarcely had the Assyrians returned to Nineveh, when fresh troubles broke out. Saul-Mugina, discontented with his position, which was one of complete dependence upon his brother, rebelled, and, declaring himself king of Babylon in his own right, sought and obtained a number of important allies among his neighbors. Umman-ibi, though he had received his crown from Asshur-bani-pal, joined him, seduced by a gift of treasure from the various Babylonian temples. Vaiteha, a powerful Arabian prince, and Nebo-belsumi, a surviving grandson of Merodach-Baladan, came into the confederacy; and Saul-Mugina had fair grounds for expecting that he would be able to maintain his independence. But civil discord—the curse of Elam at this period—once more showed itself, and blighted all these fair prospects. Tammarit, the brother of Ummman-ibi, finding that the latter had sent the flower of his army into Babylonia, marched against him, defeated and slew him, and became king of all Elam. Maintaining, however, the policy of his brother, he entered into alliance with Saul-Mugina, and proceeded to put himself at the head of the Elamitic contingent, which was serving in Babylonia. Here a just Nemesis overtook him. Taking advantage of his absence, a certain Inda-bibi (or Inda-bigas), a mountain-chief from the fastnesses of Luristan, raised a revolt in Elam, and succeeded in seating himself upon the throne. The army in Babylonia declining to maintain the cause of Tammarit, he was forced to fly and conceal himself, while the Elamitic troops returned home. Saul-Mugina then lost the most important of his allies at the moment of his greatest danger for his brother had at length marched against him at the head of an immense army, and was overrunning his northern provinces. Without the Elamites it was impossible for Babylon to contend with Assyria in the Open field.
All that Saul-Mugina could do was to defend his towns, which Asshur-bani-pal besieged and took, one after another. The rebel fell into his brother's hands, and suffered a punishment more terrible than any that the relentless conqueror had as yet inflicted on his captured enemies. Others had been mutilated, or beheaded; Saul-Mugina was burnt. The tie of blood, which was held to have aggravated the guilt of his rebellion, was not allowed to be pleaded in mitigation of his sentence.
A pause of some years' duration now occurred. The relations between Assyria and Susiana were unfriendly, but not actually hostile. Inda-bibi had given refuge to Nebo-bel-sumi at the time of Saul Mugina's discomfiture, and Asshur-bani-pal repeatedly but vainly demanded the surrender of the refugee. He did not, however, attempt to enforce his demand by an appeal to arms; and Inda-bibi might have retained his kingdom in peace, had not domestic troubles arisen to disturb him. He was conspired against by the commander of his archers, a second Umman-aldas, who killed him and occupied his throne. Many pretenders, at the same time, arose in different parts of the country; and Asshur-bani-pal, learning how Elam was distracted, determined on a fresh effort to conquer it. He renewed his demand for the surrender of Nebo-bel-sumi, who would have been given up had he not committed suicide. Not content with this success, he (ab. B.C. 645) invaded Elam, besieged and took Bit-Inibi, which had been strongly fortified, and drove Umunan-aldas out of the plain country into the mountains. Susa and Badaca, together with twenty-four other cities, fell into his power; and Western Elam being thus at his disposal, he placed it under the government of Tammarit, who, after his flight from Babylonia, had become a refugee at the Assyrian court. Umman-aldas retained the sovereignty of Eastern Elam.
But it was not long before fresh changes occurred. Tammarit, finding himself little more than puppet-king in the hands of the Assyrians, formed a plot to massacre all the foreign troops left to garrison this country, and so to make himself an independent monarch. His intentions, however, were discovered, and the plot failed. The Assyrians seized him, put him in bonds, and sent him to Nineveh. Western Elam passed under purely military rule, and suffered, it is probable, extreme severities. Under these circumstances, Umman-aldas took heart, and made ready, in the fastnesses to which he had fled, for another and a final effort. Having levied a vast army, he, in the spring of the next year, made himself once more master of Bit-Imbi, and, establishing himself there, prepared to resist the Assyrians. Their forces shortly appeared; and, unable to hold the place against their assaults, Umman-aldas evacuated it with his troops, and fought a retreating fight all the way back to Susa, holding the various strong towns and rivers in succession. Gallant, however, as was his resistance it proved ineffectual. The lines of defence which he chose were forced, one after another; and finally both Susa and Badaca were taken, and the country once more lay at Asshur-bani-pal's mercy. All the towns made their submission. Asshur-bani-pal, burning with anger at their revolt, plundered the capital of its treasures, and gave the other cities up to be spoiled by his soldiers for the space of a month and twenty-three days. He then formally abolished Susianian independence, and attached the country as a province to the Assyrian empire. Thus ended the Susianian war, after it had lasted, with brief interruptions, for the space of (probably) twelve years.
The full occupation given to the Assyrian arms by this long struggle encouraged revolt in other quarters. It was probably about the time when Asshur-bani-pal was engaged in the thick of the contest with Umman-ibi and Saul-Mugina that Psammetichus declared himself independent in Egypt, and commenced a war against the princes who remained faithful to their Assyrian suzerain. Gyges, too, in the far north-west, took the opportunity to break with the formidable power with which he had recently thought it prudent to curry favor, and sent aid to the Egyptian rebel, which rendered him effective service. Egypt freed herself from the Assyrian yoke, and entered on the prosperous period which is known as that of the twenty-sixth (Saite) dynasty. Gyges was less fortunate. Assailed shortly by a terrible enemy, which swept with resistless force over his whole land, he lost his life in the struggle. Assyria was well and quickly avenged; and Ardys, the new monarch, hastened to resume the deferential attitude toward Asshur-bani-pal which his father had unwisely relinquished.
Asshur-bani-pal's next important war was against the Arabs. Some of the desert tribes had, as already mentioned, lent assistance to Saul-Mugina during his revolt against his suzerain, and it was to punish this audacity that Asshur-bani-pal undertook his expedition. His principal enemy was a certain Vaiteha, who had for allies Natun, or Nathan, king of the Nabathivans, and Ammu-ladin, king of Kedar. The fighting seems to have extended along the whole country bordering the Euphrates valley from the Persian Gulf to Syria, and thence southwards by Damascus to Petra. Petra itself, Muhab (or Moab), Hudumimtukrab (Edom), Zaharri (perhaps Zoar), and several other cities were taken by the Assyrians. The final battle was fought at a place called Kutkhuruna, in he mountains near Damascus, where the Arabians were defeated with great slaughter, and the two chief, who had led the Arab contingent to the assistance of Saul-Mugina were made prisoners by the Assyrians. Asshur-bani-pal had them conducted to Nineveh, and there publicly executed.
The annals of Asshur-bani-pal here terminate. They exhibit him to us as a warrior more enterprising and more powerful than any of his predecessors, and as one who enlarged in almost every direction the previous limits of the empire. In Egypt he completed the work which his father Esar-haddon had begun, and established the Assyrian dominion for some years, not only at Sais and at Memphis, but at Thebes. In Asia Minor he carried the Assyrian arms far beyond any former king, conquering large tracts which had never before been invaded, and extending the reputation of his greatness to the extreme western limits of the continent. Against his northern neighbors he contended with unusual success, and towards the close of his reign he reckoned, not only the Minni, but the Urarda, or true Armenians, among his tributaries. Towards the south, he added to the empire the great country of Susiana, never subdued until his reign: and on the west, he signally chastised if he did not actually conquer, the Arabs.
To his military ardor Asshur-bani-pal added a passionate addiction to the pleasure of the chase. Lion-hunting was his especial delight. Sometimes along the banks of reedy streams, sometimes borne mid-channel in his pleasure galley, he sought the king of beasts in his native haunts, roused him by means of hounds and beaters from his lair, and despatched him with his unerring arrows. Sometimes he enjoyed the sport in his own park of paradise. Large and fierce beasts, brought from a distance, were placed in traps about the grounds, and on his approach were set free from their confinement, while he drove among them in his chariot, letting fly his shafts at each with a strong and steady hand, which rarely failed to attain the mark it aimed at. Aided only by two or three attendants armed with spears, he would encounter the terrific spring of the bolder beasts, who rushed frantically at the royal marksman and endeavored to tear him from the chariot-board. Sometimes he would even voluntarily quit this vantage-ground, and, engaging with the brutes on the same level, without the protection of armor, in his everyday dress, with a mere fillet upon his head, he would dare a close combat, and smite them with sword or spear through the heart.
When the supply of lions fell short, or when he was satiated with this kind of sport. Asshur-bani-pal would vary his occupation, and content himself with game of an inferior description. Wild bulls were probably no longer found in Assyria or the adjacent countries, so that he was precluded from the sport which, next to the chase of the lion occupied and delighted the earlier monarchs. He could indulge, however, freely in the chase of the wild ass still to this day a habitant of the Mesopotamian region; and he would hunt the stag, the hind, and the ibex or wild goat. In these tamer kinds of sport he seems, however, to have indulged only occasionally—as a light relaxation scarcely worthy of a great king.
Asshur-bani-pal is the only one of the Assyrian monarchs to whom we can ascribe a real taste for learning and literature. The other kings were content to leave behind them some records of the events of their reigns, inscribed on cylinders, slabs, bulls, or lions, and a few dedicatory inscriptions, addresses to the gods whom they especially worshipped. Asshur-bani-pal's literary tastes were far more varied—indeed they were all-embracing. It seems to have been under his direction that the vast collection of clay tablets—a sort of Royal Library—was made at Nineveh, from which the British Museum has derived perhaps the most valuable of its treasures. Comparative vocabularies, lists of deities and their epithets, chronological lists of kings and eponyms, records of astronomical observations, grammars, histories, scientific works of various kinds, seems to have been composed in the reign, and probably at the bidding of this prince, who devoted to their preservation certain chambers in the palace of his grandfather, where they were found by Mr. Layard. The clay tablets on which they were inscribed lay here in such multitudes in some instances entire, but more commonly broken into fragments—that they filled the chambers to the height of a foot or more from the floor. Mr. Layard observes with justice that "the documents thus discovered at Nineveh probably exceed [in amount of writing] all that has yet been afforded by the monuments of Egypt." They have yielded of late years some most interesting results, and will probably long continue to be a mine of almost inexhaustible wealth to the cuneiform scholar.
As a builder, Asshur-bani-pal aspired to rival, if not even to excel, the greatest of the monarchs who had preceded him. His palace was built on the mound of Koyunjik, within a few hundred yards of the magnificent erection of his grandfather, with which he was evidently not afraid to challenge comparison. It was built on a plan unlike any adopted by former kings. The main building consisted of three arms branching from at common centre, and thus in its general shape resembled a gigantic T. The central point was reached by a long ascending gallery lined with sculptures, which led from a gateway, with rooms attached, at a corner of the great court, first a distance of 190 feet in a direction parallel to the top bar of the T, and then a distance of 80 feet in a direction at right angles to this, which brought it down exactly to the central point whence the arms branched. The entire building was thus a sort of cross, with one long arm projecting from the top towards the left or west. The principal apartments were in the lower limb of the cross. Here was a grand hall, running nearly the whole length of the limb, at least 145 feet long by 28 feet broad, opening towards the east on a great court, paved chiefly with the exquisite patterned slabs of which a specimen has already been given, and communicating towards the west with a number of smaller rooms, and through them with a second court, which looked towards the south-west and the south. The next largest apartment was in the right or eastern arm of the cross. It was a hall 108 feet long by 24 feet wide, divided by a broad doorway in which were two pillar-bases, into a square antechamber of 24 feet each way, and an inner apartment about 80 feet in length. Neither of the two arms of the cross was completely explored; and it is uncertain whether they extended to the extreme edge of the eastern and western courts, thus dividing each of there into two; or whether they only reached into the courts a certain distance. Assuming the latter view as the more probable, the two courts would have measured respectively 310 and 330 feet from the north-west to the south-east, while they must have been from 230 to 250 feet in the opposite direction. From the comparative privacy of the buildings, and from the character of the sculptures, it appears probable that the left or western arm of the cross formed the hareem of the monarch.
The most remarkable feature in the great palace of Asshur-bani-pal was the beauty and elaborate character of the ornamentation. The courts were paved with large slabs elegantly patterned. The doorways had sometimes arched tops beautifully adorned with rosettes, lotuses, etc. The chambers and passages were throughout lined with alabaster slabs, bearing reliefs designed with wonderful spirit, and executed with the most extraordinary minuteness and delicacy. It was here that were found all those exquisite hunting scenes which have furnished its most interesting illustrations to the present history. Here, too, were the representations of the private life of the monarch, of the trees and flowers of the palace garden, of the royal galley with its two banks of oars, of the libation over four dead lions, of the temple with pillars supported on lions, and of various bands of musicians, some of which have been already given. Combined with these peaceful scenes and others of a similar character, as particularly a long train, with game, nets, and dogs, returning from the chase, which formed the adornment of a portion of the ascending passage, were a number of views of sieges and battles, representing the wars of the monarch in Susiana and elsewhere. Reliefs of a character very similar to these last were found by Mr. Layard in certain chambers of the palace of Sennacherib, which had received their ornamentation from Asshur-bani-pal. They were remarkable for the unusual number and small size of the figures, for the variety and spirit of the attitudes, and for the careful finish of all the little details of the scenes represented upon them. Deficient in grouping, and altogether destitute of any artistic unity, they yet give probably the best representation that has come down to us of the confused melee of an Assyrian battle, showing us at one view, as they do, all the various phases of the flight and pursuit, the capture and treatment of the prisoners, the gathering of the spoil, and the cutting off the heads of the slain. These reliefs form now a portion of our National Collection. A good idea may be formed of them from Mr. Layard's Second Series of Monuments, where they form the subject of five elaborate engravings.
Besides his own great palace at Koyun-jik, and his additions to the palace of his grandfather at the same place, Asshur-bani-pal certainly constructed some building, or buildings, at Nebbi Yunus, where slabs inscribed with his name and an account of his wars have been found. If we may regard him as the real monarch whom the Greeks generally intended by their Sardanapalus, we may say that, according to some classical authors, he was the builder of the city of Tarsus in Cilicia, and likewise of the neighboring city of Anchialus; though writers of more authority tells us that Tarsus, at any rate, was built by Sennacherib. It seems further to have been very generally believed by the Greeks that the tomb of Sardanapalus was in this neighborhood. They describe it as a monument of some height, crowned by a statue of the monarch, who appeared to be in the act of snapping his fingers. On the stone base was an inscription in Assyrian characters, of which they believed the sense to run as follows:—"Sardanapalus, son of Anacyndaraxes, built Tarsus and Anchialus in one day. Do thou, O stranger, eat, and drink, and amuse thyself; for all the rest of human life is not worth so much as this"—"this" meaning the sound which the king was supposed to be making with his fingers. It appears probable that there was some figure of this kind, with an Assyrian inscription below it, near Anchialus; but, as we can scarcely suppose that the Greeks could read the cuneiform writing, the presumed translation of the inscription would seem to be valueless. Indeed, the very different versions of the legend which are given by different writers sufficiently indicate that they had no real knowledge of its purport. We may conjecture that the monument was in reality a stele containing the king in an arched frame, with the right hand raised above the left, which is the ordinary attitude, and an inscription below commemorating the occasion of its erection. Whether it was really set up by this king or by one of his predecessors, we cannot say. The Greeks, who seem to have known more of Asshur-bani-pal than of any other Assyrian monarch, in consequence of his war in Asia Minor and his relations with Gyges and Ardys, are not unlikely to have given his name to any Assyrian monument which they found in these parts, whether in the local tradition it was regarded as his work or no.
Such, then, are the traditions of the Greeks with respect to this monarch. The stories told by Ctesias of a king, to whom he gives the same name, and repeated from him by later writers, are probably not intended to have any reference to Asshur-bani-pal, the son of Esar-haddon, but rather refer to his successor, the last king. Even Ctesias could scarcely have ventured to depict to his countrymen the great Asshur-bani-pal, the vanquisher of Tirhakah, the subduer of the tribes beyond the Taurus, the powerful and warlike monarch whose friendship was courted by the rich and prosperous Gyges, king of Lydia, as a mere voluptuary, who never put his foot outside the palace gates, but dwelt in the seraglio, doing woman's work, and often dressed as a woman. The character of Asshur-bani-pal stands really in the strongest contrast to the description—be it a portrait, or be it a mere sketch from fancy—which Ctesias gives of his Sardanapalus. Asshur-bani-pal, was beyond a doubt one of Assyria's greatest kings. He subdued Egypt and Susiana; he held quiet possession of the kingdom of Babylon; he carried his arms deep into Armenia; he led his troops across the Taurus, and subdued the barbarous tribes of Asia Minor. When he was not engaged in important wars, he chiefly occupied himself in the chase of the lion, and in the construction and ornamentation of temples and palaces. His glory was well known to the Greeks. He was no doubt one of the "two kings called Sardanapalus," celebrated by Hellanicus; he must have been "the warlike Sardanapalus" of Cailisthenes; Herodotus spoke of his great wealth; and Aristophanes used his name as a by-word for magnificence. In his reign the Assyrian dominions reached their greatest extent, Assyrian art culminated, and the empire seemed likely to extend itself over the whole of the East. It was then, indeed, that Assyria most completely answered the description of the Prophet—"The Assyrian was a cedar in Lebanon, with fair branches, and with a shadowing shroud, and of high stature; and his top was among the thick boughs. The waters made him great; the deep set him up on high with her rivers running about his plants, and sent out her little rivers unto all the trees of the field. Therefore his height was exalted above all the trees of the field, and his boughs were multiplied, and his branches became long, because of the multitude of waters, when he shot forth. All the fowls of the heaven made their nests in his boughs, and under his branches did all the beasts of the field bring forth their young, and under his shadow dwelt all great nations. Thus was he fair in his greatness, in the length of his branches for his root was by great waters. The cedars in the garden of God could not hide him; the fir-trees were not like his boughs; and the chestnut-trees were not like his branches; nor any tree in the garden of God was like unto him in his beauty."
In one respect, however, Assyria, it is to be feared, had made but little advance beyond the spirit of a comparatively barbarous time. The "lion" still "tore in pieces for his whelps, and strangled for his lionesses, and filled his holes with prey, and his dens with ravin." Advancing civilization, more abundant literature, improved art, had not softened the tempers of the Assyrians, nor rendered them more tender and compassionate in their treatment of captured enemies. Sennacherib and Esar-haddon show, indeed, in this respect, some superiority to former kings. They frequently spared their prisoners, even when rebels, and seem seldom to have had recourse to extreme punishments. But Asshur-bani-pal reverted to the antique system of executions, mutilations, and tortures. We see on his bas-reliefs the unresisting enemy thrust through with the spear, the tongue torn from the mouth of the captive accused of blasphemy, the rebel king beheaded on the field of battle, and the prisoner brought to execution with the head of a friend or brother hung round his neck. We see the scourgcrs preceding the king as his regular attendants, with their whips passed through their girdles; we behold the operation of flaying performed either upon living or dead men; we observe those who are about to be executed first struck on the face by the executioner's fist. Altogether we seem to have evidence, not of mere severity, which may sometimes be a necessary or even a merciful policy, but of a barbarous cruelty, such as could not fail to harden and brutalize alike those who witnessed and those who inflicted it. Nineveh, it is plain, still deserved the epithet of "a bloody city," or "a city of bloods." Asshur-bani-pal was harsh, vindictive, unsparing, careless of human suffering—nay, glorying in his shame, he not merely practised cruelties, but handed the record of them down to posterity by representing them in all their horrors upon his palace walls.
It has been generally supposed that Asshur-bani-pal died about B.C. 648 or 647, in which case he would have continued to the end of his life a prosperous and mighty king. But recent discoveries render it probable that his reign was extended to a much greater length—that, in fact, he is to be identified with the Cinneladanus of Ptolemy's Canon, who held the throne of Babylon from B.C. 647 to 626. If this be so, we must place in the later years of the reign of Asshur-bani-pal the commencement of Assyria's decline—the change whereby she passed from the assailer to the assailed, from the undisputed primacy of Western Asia to a doubtful and precarious position.
This change was owing, in the first instance, to the rise upon her borders of an important military power in the centralized monarchy, established, about B.C. 640, in the neighboring territory of Media.
The Medes had, it is probable, been for some time growing in strength, owing to the recent arrival in their country of fresh immigrants from the far East. Discarding the old system of separate government and village autonomy, they had joined together and placed themselves under a single monarch; and about the year B.C. 634, when Asshur-bani-pal had been king for thirty-four years, they felt themselves sufficiently strong to undertake an expedition against Nineveh. Their first attack, however, failed utterly. Phraortes, or whoever may have been the real leader of the invading army, was completely defeated by the Assyrians; his forces were cut to pieces, and he himself was among the slain. Still, the very fact that the Medes could now take the offensive and attack Assyria was novel and alarming; it showed a new condition of things in these parts, and foreboded no good to the power which was evidently on the decline and in danger of losing its preponderance. An enterprising warrior would doubtless have followed up the defeat of the invader by attacking him in his own country before he could recover from the severe blow dealt him; but the aged Assyrian monarch appears to have been content with repelling his foe, and made no effort to retaliate. Cgaxares, the successor of the slain Median king, effected at his leisure such arrangements as he thought necessary before repeating his predecessor's attempt. When they were completed—perhaps in B.C. 632—he led his troops into Assyria, defeated the Assyrian forces in the field, and, following up his advantage, appeared before Nineveh and closely invested the town. Nineveh would perhaps have fallen in this year; but suddenly and unexpectedly a strange event recalled the Median monarch to his own country, where a danger threatened him previously unknown in Western Asia.
When at the present day we take a general survey of the world's past history, we see that, by a species of fatality—by a law, that is, whose workings we cannot trace—there issue from time to time out of the frozen bosons of the North vast hordes of uncouth savages—brave, hungry, countless—who swarm into the fairer southern regions determinedly, irresistibly; like locusts winging their flight into a green land. How such multitudes come to be propagated in countries where life is with difficulty sustained, we do not know; why the impulse suddenly seizes them to quit their old haunts and move steadily in a given direction, we cannot say: but we see that the phenomenon is one of constant recurrence, and we therefore now scarcely regard it as being curious or strange at all. In Asia. Cimmerians, Scythians, Parthians, Mongols, Turks; in Europe, Gauls, Goths, Huns, Avars, Vandals, Burgundians, Lombards, Bulgarians, have successively illustrated the law, and made us familiar with its operation. But there was a time in history before the law had come into force; and its very existence must have been then unsuspected. Even since it began to operate, it has so often undergone prolonged suspension, that the wisest may be excused if, under such circumstances, they cease to bear it in mind, and are as much startled when a fresh illustration of it occurs, as if the like had never happened before. Probably there is seldom an occasion of its coming into play which does not take men more or less by surprise, and rivet their attention by its seeming strangeness and real unexpectedness.
If Western Asia had ever, in the remote ages before the Assyrian monarchy was established, been subject to invasions of this character—which is not improbable—at any rate so long a period had elapsed since the latest of them, that in the reigns of Asshur-pani-pal and Cyaxares they were wholly forgotten and the South reposed in happy unconsciousness of a danger which might at any time have burst upon it, had the Providence which governs the world so willed. The Asiatic steppes had long teemed with a nomadic population, of a war-like temper, and but slightly attached to its homes, which ignorance of its own strength and of the weakness and wealth of its neighbors had alone prevented from troubling the great empires of the South. Geographic difficulties had at once prolonged the period of Ignorance, and acted as obstructions, if ever the idea arose of pushing exploring parties into the southern regions; the Caucasus, the Caspian, the sandy deserts of Khiva and Kharesm, and the great central Asiatic mountain-chains, forming barriers which naturally restrained the northern hordes from progressing in this direction. But a time had now arrived when these causes were no longer to operate; the line of demarcation which had so long separated North and South was to be crossed; the flood-gates were to be opened, and the stream of northern emigration was to pour itself in a resistless torrent over the fair and fertile regions from which it had hitherto been barred out. Perhaps population had increased beyond all former precedent; perhaps a spirit of enterprise had arisen; possibly some slight accident—the exploration of a hunter hard pressed for food, the chattering tongue of a merchant, the invitation of a traitor—may have dispelled the ignorance of earlier times, and brought to the knowledge of the hardy North the fact that beyond the mountains and the seas, which they had always regarded as the extreme limit of the world, there lay a rich prey inviting the coming of the spoiler.
The condition of the northern barbarians, less than two hundred years after this time, has been graphically portrayed by two of the most observant of the Greeks, who themselves visited the Steppe country to learn the character and customs of the people. Where civilization is unknown, changes are so slow and slight, that we may reasonably regard the descriptions of Herodotus and Hippocrates, though drawn in the fifth century before our era, as applying, in all their main points, to the same race two hundred years earlier. These writers describe the Scythians as a people coarse and gross in their habits, with large fleshy bodies, loose joints, soft swollen bellies, and scanty hair. They never washed themselves; their nearest approach to ablution was a vapor-bath, or the application of a paste to their bodies which left them glossy on its removal. They lived either in wagons, or in felt tents of a simple and rude construction; and subsisted on mare's milk and cheese, to which the boiled flesh of horses and cattle was added, as a rare delicacy, occasionally. In war their customs were very barbarous. The Scythian who slew an enemy in battle immediately proceeded to drink his blood. He then cut off the head, which he exhibited to his king in order to obtain his share of the spoil; after which he stripped the scalp from the skull and hung it on his bridle-rein as a trophy. Sometimes he flayed his dead enemy's right arm and hand, and used the skin as a covering for his quiver. The upper portion of the skull he commonly made into a drinking-cup. The greater part of each day he spent on horseback, in attendance on the huge herds of cattle which he pastured. His favorite weapon was the bow, which he used as he rode, shooting his arrows with great precision. He generally carried, besides his bow and arrows, a short spear or javelin, and sometimes bore also a short sword or a battleaxe. [PLATE CXLVI., Fig. 3.]
The nation of the Scythians comprised within it a number of distinct tribes. At the head of all was a royal tribe, corresponding to the "Golden Horde" of the Mongols, which was braver and more numerous than any other, and regarded all the remaining tribes in the light of slaves. To this belonged the families of the kings, who ruled by hereditary right, and seem to have exercised a very considerable authority. We often hear of several kings as bearing rule at the same time; but there is generally some indication of disparity, from which we gather that—in times of danger at any rate—the supreme power was really always lodged in the hands of a single man.
The religion of the Scythians was remarkable, and partook of the barbarity which characterized most of their customs. They worshipped the Sun and Moon, Fire, Air, Earth, Water, and a god whom Herodotus calls Hercules. But their principal religious observance was the worship of the naked sword. The country was parcelled out into districts, and in every district was a huge pile of brushwood, serving as a temple to the neighborhood, at the top of which was planted an antique sword or scimitar. On a stated day in each year solemn sacrifices, human and animal, were offered at these shrines; and the warm blood of the victims was carried up from below and poured upon the weapon. The human victims—prisoners taken in war—were hewn to pieces at the foot of the mound, and their limbs wildly tossed on high by the votaries, who then retired, leaving the bloody fragments where they chanced to fall. The Scythians seem to have had no priest caste; but they believed in divination; and the diviners formed a distinct class which possessed important powers. They were sent for whenever the king was ill, to declare the cause of his illness, which they usually attributed to the fact that an individual, whom they named, had sworn falsely by the Royal Hearth. Those accused in this way, if found guilty by several bodies of diviners, were beheaded for the offence, and their original accusers received their property. It must have been important to keep on good terms with persons who wielded such a power as this.
Such were the most striking customs of the Scythian people, or at any rate of the Scythians of Herodotus, who were the dominant race over a large portion of the Steppe country. Coarse and repulsive in their appearance, fierce in their tempers, savage in their habits, not individually very brave, but powerful by their numbers, and by a mode of warfare which was difficult to meet, and in which long use had given them great expertness, they were an enemy who might well strike alarm even into a nation so strong and warlike as the Medes. Pouring through the passes of the Caucasus—whence coming or what intending none knew—horde after horde of Scythians blackened the rich plains of the South. On they came, as before observed, like a flight of locusts, countless, irresistible—swarming into Iberia and Upper Media—finding the land before them a garden, and leaving it behind them a howling wilderness. Neither age nor sex would be spared. The inhabitants of the open country and of the villages, if they did not make their escape to high mountain tops or other strongholds, would be ruthlessly massacred by the invaders, or at best, forced to become their slaves. The crops would be consumed, the herds swept off or destroyed, the villages and homesteads burnt, the whole country made a scene of desolation. Their ravages would resemble those of the Huns when they poured into Italy, or of the Bulgarians when they overran the fairest provinces of the Byzantine Empire. In most instances the strongly fortified towns would resist them, unless they had patience to sit down before their walls and by a prolonged blockade to starve them into submission. Sometimes, before things reached this point, they might consent to receive a tribute and to retire. At other times, convinced that by perseverance they would reap a rich reward, they may have remained till the besieged city fell, when there must have ensued an indescribable scene of havoc, rapine, and bloodshed. According to the broad expression of Herodotus, the Scythians were masters of the whole of Western Asia from the Caucasus to the borders of Egypt for the space of twenty-eight years. This statement is doubtless an exaggeration; but still it would seem to be certain that the great invasion of which he speaks was not confined to Media, but extended to the adjacent countries of Armenia and Assyria, whence it spread to Syria and Palestine. The hordes probably swarmed down from Media through the Zagros passes into the richest portion of Assyria, the flat country between the mountains and the Tigris. Many of the old cities, rich with the accumulated stores of ages, were besieged, and perhaps taken, and their palaces wantonly burnt, by the barbarous invaders. The tide then swept on. Wandering from district to district, plundering everywhere, settling nowhere, the clouds of horse passed over Mesopotamia, the force of the invasion becoming weaker as it spread itself, until in Syria it reached its term through the policy of the Egyptian king, Psammetichus. This monarch, who was engaged in the siege of Ashdod, no sooner heard of the approach of a great Scythian host, which threatened to overrun Egypt, and had advanced as far as Ascalon, than he sent ambassadors to their leader and prevailed on him by rich gifts to abstain from his enterprise. From this time the power of the invaders seems to have declined. Their strength could not but suffer by the long series of battles, sieges, and skirmishes in which they were engaged year after year against enemies in nowise contemptible; it would likewise deteriorate through their excesses; and it may even have received some injury from intestine quarrels. After awhile, the nations whom they had overrun, whose armies they had defeated, and whose cities they had given to the flames, began to recover themselves. Cyaxares, it is probable, commenced an aggressive war against such of the invaders as had remained within the limits of his dominions, and soon drove them beyond his borders. Other kings may have followed his example. In a little while long, probably, before the twenty-eight years of Herodotus had expired—the Scythian power was completely broken. Many bands may have returned across the Caucasus into the Steppe country. Others submitted, and took service under the native rulers of Asia. Great numbers were slain and except in a province of Armenia which henceforward became known as Sacasene, and perhaps in one Syrian town, which we find called Scythopolis, the invaders left no trace of their brief but terrible inroad.
If we have been right in supposing that the Scythian attack fell with as much severity on the Assyrians as on any other Asiatic people, we can scarcely be in error if we ascribe to this cause the rapid and sudden decline of the empire at this period. The country had been ravaged and depopulated, the provinces had been plundered, many of the great towns had been taken and sacked, the palaces of the old kings had been burnt, and all the gold and silver that was not hid away had been carried off. Assyria, when the Scythians quitted her, was but the shadow of her former self. Weak and exhausted, she seemed to invite a permanent conqueror. If her limits had not much shrunk, if the provinces still acknowledged her authority, it was from habit rather than from fear, or because they too had suffered greatly from the northern barbarians. We find Babylon subject to Assyria to the very last; and we seem to see that Judaea passed from the rule of the Assyrians under that of the Babylonians, without any interval of independence or any need of re-conquest. But if these two powers at the south-eastern and the south-western extremities of the empire continued faithful, the less distant nations could scarcely have thrown off the yoke.
Asshur-bani-pal, then, on the withdrawal of the barbarians, had still an empire to rule, and he may be supposed to have commenced some attempts at re-organizing and re-invigorating the governmental system to which the domination of the Scythe must have given a rude shock. But he had not time to effect much. In B.C. 626 he died, after a reign of forty-two years, and was succeeded by his son, Asshur-emid-ilin, whom the Greeks called Saracus. Of this prince we possess but few native records; and, unless it should be thought that the picture which Ctesias gave of the character and conduct of his last Assyrian king deserves to be regarded as authentic history, and to be attached to this monarch, we must confess to an almost equal dearth of classical notices of his life and actions. Scarcely anything has come down to us from his time but a few legends on bricks, from which it appears that he was the builder of the south-east edifice at Nimrud, a construction presenting some remarkable but no very interesting features. The classical notices, apart from the tales which Ctesias originated, are limited to a few sentences in Abydenus, and a word or two in Polyhistor. Thus nearly the same obscurity which enfolds the earlier portion of the history gathers about the monarch in whose person the empire terminated; and instead of the ample details which have crowded upon us now for many consecutive reigns, we shall be reduced to a meagre outline, partly resting upon conjecture, in our portraiture of this last king.
Saracus, as the monarch may be termed after Abydenus, ascended the throne at a most difficult and dangerous crisis in his country's history. Assyria was exhausted; and perhaps half depopulated by the Scythic ravages. The bands which united the provinces to the sovereign state, though not broken, had been weakened, and rebellion threatened to break out in various quarters. Ruin had overtaken many of the provincial towns; and it would require a vast outlay to restore their public buildings. But the treasury was wellnigh empty, and did not allow the new monarch to adopt in his buildings the grand and magnificent style of former kings. Still Saracus attempted something. At Calah he began the construction of a building which apparently was intended for a palace, but which contrasts most painfully with the palatial erections of former kings. The waning glory of the monarchy was made patent both to the nation and to strangers by an edifice where coarse slabs of common limestone, unsculptured and uninscribed, replaced the alabaster bas-reliefs of former times; and where a simple plaster above the slabs was the substitute for the richly-patterned enamelled bricks of Sargon, Sennacherib, and Asshur-bani-pal. A set of small chambers, of which no one exceeded forty-five feet in length and twenty-five feet in its greatest breadth, sufficed for the last Assyrian king, whose shrunken Court could no longer have filled the vast halls of his ancestors. The Nimrud palace of Saracus seems to have covered less than one-half of the space occupied by any former palace upon the mound; it had no grand facade, no magnificent gateway; the rooms, curiously misshapen, as if taste had declined with power and wealth, were mostly small and inconvenient, running in suites which opened into one another without any approaches from courts or passages, roughly paved with limestone flags, and composed of sun-dried bricks faced with limestone and plaster. That Saracus should have been reduced even to contemplate residing in this poor and mean dwelling is the strongest possible proof of Assyria's decline and decay at a period preceding the great war which led to her destruction.
It is possible that this edifice may not have been completed at the time of Saracus's death, and in that case we may suppose that its extreme rudeness would have received certain embellishments had he lived to finish the structure. While it was being erected, he must have resided elsewhere. Apparently, he held his court at Nineveh during this period; and was certainly there that he made his last arrangements for defence, and his final stand against the enemy, who took advantage of his weak condition to press forward the conquest of the empire.
The Medes, in their strong upland country, abounding in rocky hills, and running up in places into mountain-chains, had probably suffered much less from the ravages of the Scyths than the Assyrians in their comparatively defenceless plains. Of all the nations exposed to the scourge of the invasion they were evidently the first to recover themselves, partly from the local causes here noticed, partly perhaps from their inherent vigor and strength. If Herodotus's date for the original inroad of the Scythians is correct, not many years can have elapsed before the tide of war turned, and the Medes began to make head against their assailants, recovering possession of most parts of their country, and expelling or overpowering the hordes at whose insolent domination they had chafed from the first hour of the invasion. It was probably as early as B.C. 627, five years after the Scyths crossed the Caucasus, according to Herodotus, that Cyaxares, having sufficiently re-established his power in Media, began once more to aspire after foreign conquests. Casting his eyes around upon the neighboring countries, he became aware of the exhaustion of Assyria, and perceived that she was not likely to offer an effectual resistance to a sudden and vigorous attack. He therefore collected a large army and invaded Assyria from the east, while it would seem that the Susianians, with whom he had perhaps made an alliance, attacked her from the south.
To meet this double danger. Saracus, the Assyrian king, determined on dividing his forces: and, while he entrusted a portion of them to a general, Nabopolassar, who had orders to proceed to Babylon and engage the enemy advancing from the sea, he himself with the remainder made ready to receive the Medes. In idea this was probably a judicious disposition of the troops at his disposal; it was politic to prevent a junction of the two assailing powers, and, as the greater danger was that which threatened from the Medes, it was well for the king to reserve himself with the bulk of his forces to meet this enemy. But the most prudent arrangements may be disconcerted by the treachery of those who are entrusted with their execution; and so it was in the present instance. The faithless Nabopolassar saw in his sovereign's difficulty his own opportunity and, instead of marching against Assyria's enemies, as his duty required him, he secretly negotiated an arrangement with Cyaxares, agreed to become his ally against the Assyrians, and obtained the Median king's daughter as a bride for Nebuchadnezzar, his eldest son. Cyaxares and Nabopolassar then joined their efforts against Nineveh; and Saracus, unable to resist them, took counsel of his despair, and, after all means of resistance were exhausted, burned himself in his palace. It is uncertain whether we possess any further historical details of the siege. The narrative of Ctesias may embody a certain number of the facts, as it certainly represented with truth the strange yet not incredible termination. But on the other hand, we cannot feel sure, with regard to any statement made solely by that writer, that it has any other source than his imagination. Hence the description of the last siege of Nineveh, as given by Diodorus on the authority of Ctesias, seems undeserving of a place in history, though the attention of the curious may properly be directed to it.
The empire of the Assyrians thus fell, not so much from any inherent weakness, or from the effect of gradual decay, as by an unfortunate combination of circumstances—the occurrence of a terrible inroad of northern barbarians just at the time when a warlike nation, long settled on the borders of Assyria, and within a short distance of her capital, was increasing, partly by natural and regular causes, partly by accidental and abnormal ones, in greatness and strength. It will be proper, in treating of the history of Media, to trace out, as far as our materials allow, these various causes, and to examine the mode and extent of their operation. But such an inquiry is not suited for this place, since, if fully made, it would lead us too far away from our present subject, which is the history of Assyria; while, if made partially, it would be unsatisfactory. It is therefore deferred to another place. The sketch here attempted of Assyrian history will now be brought to a close by a few observations on the general nature of the monarchy, or its extent in the most flourishing period, and on the character of its civilization.
The independent kingdom of Assyria covered a space of at least a thousand years; but the empire can, at the utmost, be considered to have lasted a period short of seven centuries, from B.C. 1300 to B.C. 625 or 624—the date of the conquest of Cyaxares. In reality, the period of extensive domination seems to have commenced with Asshur-ris-ilim, about B.C. 1150, so that the duration of the true empire did not much exceed five centuries. The limits of the dominion varied considerably within this period, the empire expanding or contracting according to the circumstances of the time and the personal character of the prince by whom the throne was occupied. The extreme extent appears not to have been reached until almost immediately before the last rapid decline set in, the widest dominion belonging to the time of Asshur-bani-pal, the conqueror of Egypt, of Susiana, and of the Armenians. In the middle part of this prince's reign Assyria was paramount over the portion of Western Asia included between the Mediterranean and the Halys on the one hand, the Caspian Sea and the great Persian desert on the other. Southwards the boundary was formed by Arabia and the Persian Gulf; northwards it seems at no time to have advanced to the Euxine or to the Caucasus, but to have been formed by a fluctuating line, which did not in the most flourishing period extend so far as the northern frontier of Armenia. Besides her Asiatic dominions, Assyria possessed also at this time a portion of Africa, her authority being acknowledged by Egypt as far as the latitude of Thebes. The countries included within the limits thus indicated, and subject during the period in question to Assyrian influence, were chiefly the following: Susiana, Chaldaea, Babylonia, Media, Matiene or the Zagros range, Mesopotamia; parts of Armenia, Cappadocia, and Cilicia; Syria, Phoenicia, Palestine. Idummaea, a portion of Arabia, and almost the whole of Egypt. The island of Cyprus was also, it is probable, a dependency. On the other hand, Persia Proper, Bactria, and Sogdiana, even Hyrcania, were beyond the eastern limit of the Assyrian sway, which towards the north did not on this side reach further than about the neighborhood of Kasvin, and towards the south was confined within the barrier of Zagros. Similarly on the west, Phrygia, Lydia, Lycia, even Pamphylia, were independent, the Assyrian arms having never, so far as appears, penetrated westward beyond Cilicia or crossed the river Halys.
The nature of the dominion established by the great Mesopotamian monarchy over the countries included within the limits above indicated, will perhaps be best understood if we compare it with the empire of Solomon. Solomon reigned over all the kingdoms from the river (Euphrates) unto the land of the Philistines and unto the border of Egypt: they brought presents and served Solomon all the days of his life. The first and most striking feature of the earliest empires is that they are a mere congeries of kingdoms: the countries over which the dominant state acquires an influence, not only retain their distinct individuality, as is the case in some modern empires, but remain in all respects such as they were before, with the simple addition of certain obligations contracted towards the paramount authority. They keep their old laws, their old religion, their line of kings, their law of succession, their whole internal organization and machinery; they only acknowledge an external suzerainty which binds them to the performance of certain duties towards the Head of the Empire. These duties, as understood in the earliest times, may be summed up in the two words "homage" and "tribute;" the subject kings "serve" and "bring presents." They are bound to acts of submission; must attend the court of their suzerain when summoned, unless they have a reasonable excuse; must there salute him as a superior, and otherwise acknowledge his rank; above all, they must pay him regularly the fixed tribute which has been imposed upon them at the time of their submission or subjection, the unauthorized withholding of which is open and avowed rebellion. Finally, they must allow his troops free passage through their dominions, and must oppose any attempt at invasion by way of their country on the part of his enemies. Such are the earliest and most essential obligations on the part of the subject states in an empire of the primitive type like that of Assyria; and these obligations, with the corresponding one on the part of the dominant power of the protection of its dependants against foreign foes, appear to have constituted the sole links which joined together in one the heterogeneous materials of which that empire consisted.
It is evident that a government of the character here described contains within it elements of constant disunion and disorder. Under favorable circumstances, with an active and energetic prince upon the throne, there is an appearance of strength, and a realization of much magnificence and grandeur. The subject monarchs pay annually their due share of "the regulated tribute of the empire;" and the better to secure the favor of their common sovereign, add to it presents, consisting of the choicest productions of their respective kingdoms. The material resources of the different countries are placed at the disposal of the dominant power; and skilled workmen are readily lent for the service of the court, who adorn or build the temples and the royal residences, and transplant the luxuries and refinements of their several states to the imperial capital. But no sooner does any untoward event occur, as a disastrous expedition, a foreign attack, a domestic conspiracy, or even an untimely and unexpected death of the reigning prince, than the inherent weakness of this sort of government at once displays itself—the whole fabric of the empire falls asunder—each kingdom re-asserts its independence—tribute ceases to be paid—and the mistress of a hundred states suddenly finds herself thrust back into her primitive condition, stripped of the dominion which has been her strength, and thrown entirely upon her own resources. Then the whole task of reconstruction has to be commenced anew—one by one the rebel countries are overrun, and the rebel monarchs chastised—tribute is re-imposed, submission enforced, and in fifteen or twenty years the empire has perhaps recovered itself. Progress is of course slow and uncertain, where the empire has continually to be built up again from its foundations, and where at any time a day may undo the work which it has taken centuries to accomplish.
To discourage and check the chronic disease of rebellion, re-course is had to severe remedies, which diminish the danger to the central power, at the cost of extreme misery and often almost entire ruin to the subject kingdoms. Not only are the lands wasted, the flocks and herds carried off, the towns pillaged and burnt, or in some cases razed to the ground, the rebel king deposed and his crown transferred to another, the people punished by the execution of hundreds or thousands as well as by an augmentation of the tribute money; but sometimes wholesale deportation of the inhabitants is practised, tens or hundreds of thousands being carried away captive by the conquerors, and either employed in servile labor at the capital or settled as colonists in a distant province. With this practice the history of the Jews, in which it forms so prominent a feature, has made us familiar. It seems to have been known to the Assyrians from very early times, and to have become by degrees a sort of settled principle in their government. In the most flourishing period of their dominion—the reigns of Sargon, Sennacherib, and Esar-haddon—it prevailed most widely, and was carried to the greatest extent. Chaldaeans were transported into Armenia, Jews and Israelites into Assyria and Media, Arabians, Babylonians, Susianians, and Persians into Palestine—the most distant portions of the empire changed inhabitants, and no sooner did a people become troublesome from its patriotism and love of independence, than it was weakened by dispersion, and its spirit subdued by a severance of all its local associations. Thus rebellion was in some measure kept down, and the position of the central or sovereign state was rendered so far more secure; but this comparative security was gained by a great sacrifice of strength, and when foreign invasion came, the subject kingdoms, weakened at once and alienated by the treatment which they had received, were found to have neither the will nor the power to give any effectual aid to their enslaver.
Such, in its broad and general outlines, was the empire of the Assyrians. It embodied the earliest, simplest, and most crude conception which the human mind forms of a widely extended dominion. It was a "kingdom-empire," like the empires of Solomon, of Nebuchadnezzar, of Chedor-laomer, and probably of Cyaxares, and it the best specimen of its class, being the largest, the longest in duration, and the best known of all such governments that has existed. It exhibits in a marked way both the strength and weakness of this class of monarchies—their strength in the extraordinary magnificence, grandeur, wealth, and refinement of the capital; their weakness in the impoverishment, the exhaustion, and the consequent disaffection of the subject states. Ever falling to pieces, it was perpetually reconstructed by the genius and prowess of a long succession of warrior princes, seconded by the skill and bravery of the people. Fortunate in possessing for a longtime no very powerful neighbor, it found little difficulty in extending itself throughout regions divided and subdivided among hundreds of petty chiefs incapable of union, and singly quite unable to contend with the forces of a large and populous country. Frequently endangered by revolts, yet always triumphing over them, it maintained itself for five centuries gradually advancing its influence, and was only overthrown after a fierce struggle by a new kingdom formed upon its borders, which, taking advantage of a time of exhaustion, and leagued with the most powerful of the subject states, was enabled to accomplish the destruction of the long-dominant people.
In the curt and dry records of the Assyrian monarchs, while the broad outlines of the government are well marked, it is difficult to distinguish those nicer shades of system and treatment which no doubt existed, and in which the empire of the Assyrians differed probably from others of the same type. One or two such points, however, may perhaps be made out. In the first place, though religious uniformity is certainly not the law of the empire, yet a religious character appears in many of the wars, and attempts at any rate seem to be made to diffuse everywhere a knowledge and recognition of the gods of Assyria. Nothing is more universal than the practice of setting up in the subject countries the laws of Asshur or "altars to the Great Gods." In some instances not only altars but temples are erected, and priests are left to superintend the worship and secure its being properly conducted. The history of Judaea is, however, enough to show that the continuance of the national worship was at least tolerated, though some formal acknowledgment of the presiding deities of Assyria on the part of the subject nations may not improbably have been required in most cases.
Secondly, there is an indication that in certain countries immediately bordering on Assyria endeavors were made from time to time to centralize and consolidate the empire, by substituting, on fit occasions, for the native chiefs, Assyrian officers as governors. The persons appointed are of two classes—"collectors" and "treasurers." Their special business is, of course, as their names imply, to gather in the tribute due to the Great King, and secure its safe transmission to the capital; but they seem to have been, at least in some instances, entrusted with the civil government of their respective districts. It does not appear that this system was ever extended very far, Lebanon on the west, and Mount Zagros on the east, may be regarded as the extreme limits of the centralized Assyria. Armenia, Media, Babylonia, Susiana, most of Phoenicia, Palestine, Philistia, retained to the last their native monarchs; and thus Assyria, despite the feature here noticed, kept upon the whole her character of a "kingdom-empire."
The civilization of the Assyrians is a large subject, on which former chapters of this work have, it is hoped, thrown some light, and upon which only a very few remarks will be here offered by way of recapitulation. Deriving originally letters and the elements of learning from Babylonia, the Assyrians appear to have been content with the knowledge thus obtained, and neither in literature nor in science to have progressed much beyond their instructors. The heavy incubus of a dead language lay upon all those who desired to devote themselves to scientific pursuits; and, owing to this, knowledge tended to become the exclusive possession of a learned or perhaps a priest class, which did not aim at progress, but was satisfied to hand on the traditions of former ages. To understand the genius of the Assyrian people we must look to their art and their manufactures. These are in the main probably of native growth; and from them we may best gather an impression of the national character. They show us a patient, laborious, pains-taking people, with more appreciation of the useful than the ornamental, and of the actual than the ideal. Architecture, the only one of the fine arts which is essentially useful, forms their chief glory; sculpture, and still more painting, are subsidiary to it. Again, it is the most useful edifice—the palace or house—whereon attention is concentrated—the temple and the tomb, the interest attaching to which is ideal and spiritual, are secondary, and appear (so far as they appear at all) simply as appendages of the palace. In the sculpture it is the actual the historically true—which the artist strives to represent. Unless in the case of a few mythic figures connected with the religion of the country, there is nothing in the Assyrian bas-reliefs which is not imitated from nature. The imitation is always laborious, and often most accurate and exact. The laws of representation, as we understand them, are sometimes departed from, but it is always to impress the spectator with ideas in accordance with truth. Thus the colossal bulls and lions have five legs, but in order that they may be seen from every point of view with four; the ladders are placed edgewise against the walls of besieged towns, but it is to show that they are ladders, and not mere poles; walls of cities are made disproportionately small, but it is done, like Raphael's boat, to bring them within the picture, which would otherwise be a less complete representation of the actual fact. The careful finish, the minute detail, the elaboration of every hair in a beard, and every stitch in the embroidery of a dress, reminds us of the Dutch school of painting, and illustrates strongly the spirit of faithfulness and honesty which pervades the sculptures, and gives them so great a portion of their value. In conception, in grace, in freedom and correctness of outline, they fall undoubtedly far behind the inimitable productions of the Greeks; but they have a grandeur and a dignity, a boldness, a strength, and an appearance of life, which render them even intrinsically valuable as works of art, and, considering the time at which they were produced, must excite our surprise and admiration. Art, so far as we know, had existed previously only in the stiff and lifeless conventionalism of the Egyptians. It belonged to Assyria to confine the conventional to religion, and to apply art to the vivid representation of the highest scenes of human life. War in all its forms—the-march, the battle, the pursuit, the siege of towns, the passage of rivers and marshes, the submission and treatment of captives, and the "mimic war" of hunting the chase of the lion, the stag, the antelope, the wild bull, and the wild ass, are the chief subjects treated by the Assyrian sculptors; and in these the conventional is discarded; fresh scenes, new groupings, bold and strange attitudes perpetually appear, and in the animal representations especially there is a continual advance, the latest being the most spirited, the most varied, and the most true to nature, though perhaps lacking somewhat of the majesty and grandeur of the earlier. With no attempt to idealize or go beyond nature, there is a growing power of depicting things as they are—an increased grace and delicacy of execution, showing that Assyrian art was progressive, not stationary, and giving a promise of still higher excellence, had circumstances permitted its development.
The art of Assyria has every appearance of thorough and entire nationality; but it is impossible to feel sure that her manufactures were in the same sense absolutely her own. The practice of borrowing skilled workmen from the conquered states would introduce into Nineveh and the other royal cities the fabrics of every region which acknowledged the Assyrian sway; and plunder, tribute, and commerce would unite to enrich them with the choicest products of all civilized countries. Still, judging by the analogy of modern times, it seems most reasonable to suppose that the bulk of the manufactured goods consumed in the country would be of home growth. Hence we may fairly assume that the vases, jars, bronzes, glass bottles, carved ornaments in ivory and mother-of-pearl, engraved gems, bells, dishes, earrings, arms, working implements, etc., which have been found at Nimrud, Khorsabad, and Koyunjik, are mainly the handiwork of the Assyrians. It has been conjectured that the rich garments represented as worn by the kings and others were the product of Babylon, always famous for its tissues; but even this is uncertain; and they are perhaps as likely to have been of home manufacture. At any rate the bulk of the ornaments, utensils, etc'., may be regarded as native products. They are almost invariably of elegant form, and indicate a considerable knowledge of metallurgy and other arts as well as a refined taste. Among them are some which anticipate inventions believed till lately to have been modern. Transparent glass (which, however, was known also in ancient Egypt) is one of these; but the most remarkable of all is the lens discovered at Nimrud, of the use of which as a magnifying agent there is abundant proof. If it be borne in mind, in addition to all this, that the buildings of the Assyrians show them to have been well acquainted with the principle of the arch, that they constructed tunnels, aqueducts, and drains, that they knew the use of the pulley, the lever, and the roller, that they understood the arts of inlaying, enamelling, and overlaying with metals, and that they cut gems with the greatest skill and finish, it will be apparent that their civilization equalled that of almost any ancient country, and that it did not fall immeasurably behind the boasted achievements of the moderns. With much that was barbaric still attaching to them, with a rude and inartificial government, savage passions, a debasing religion, and a general tendency to materialism, they were, towards the close of their empire, in all the ordinary arts and appliances of life, very nearly on a par with ourselves; and thus their history furnishes a warning—which the records of nations constantly repeat—that the greatest material prosperity may co-exist with the decline—and herald the downfall—of a kingdom.