THE FALL OF NINEVEH AND THE RISE OF THE CHALDAEAN AND MEDIAN EMPIRES -- THE XXVIth EGYPTIAN DYNASTY: CYAXARES, ALYATTES, AND NEBUCHADREZZAR.
The legendary history of the kings of Media and the first contact of the Medes with the Assyrians: the alleged Iranian migrations of the Avesta -- Media-proper, its fauna and flora; Phraortes and the beginning of the Median empire -- Persia proper and the Persians; conquest of Persia by the Medes -- The last monuments of Assur-bani-pal: the library of Kouyunjik -- Phraortes defeated and slain by the Assyrians.
Cyaxares and his first attach on Nineveh -- The Assyrian triangle and the defence of Nineveh: Assur-bani-pal summons the Scythians to his aid -- The Scythian invasion -- Judah under Manasseh and Amon: development in the conceptions of the prophets -- The Scythians in Syria and on the borders of Egypt: they are defeated and driven back by Cyaxares -- The last kings of Nineveh and Naliopolassar -- Taking and, destruction of Nineveh: division of the Assyrian empire between the Chaldaeans and the Medes (608 B.C.).
The XXVIth Egyptian dynasty -- Psammetichus I. and the Ionian and Carian mercenaries; final retreat of the Ethiopians and the annexation of the Theban principality; the end of Egypt as a great power -- First Greek settlements in the Delta; flight of the Mashauasha and the reorganisation of the army -- Resumption of important works and the renaissance of art in Egypt -- The occupation of Ashdod, and the Syrian policy of Psammetichus I.
Josiah, King of Judah: the discovery and public reading of the Book of the Covenant; the religious reform -- Necho II. invades Syria: Josiah slain at Megiddo, the battle of Carchemish -- Nebuchadrezzar II.: his policy with regard to Media -- The conquests of Cyaxares and the struggles of the Mermnadae against the Greek colonies -- The war between Alyattes and Cyaxares: the battle of the Halys and the peace of 585 B.C. -- Necho reorganises his army and his fleet: the circumnavigation of Africa -- Jeremiah and the Egyptian party in Jerusalem: the revolt of Jehoiakim and the captivity of Jehoiachin.
Psammetichus I. and Zedekiah -- Apries and the revolt of Tyre and of Judah: the siege and destruction of Jerusalem -- The last convulsions of Judah and the submission of Tyre; the successes of Aprics in Phoenicia -- The Greeks in Libya and the founding of Cyrene: the defeat of Irasa and the fall of Apries -- Amasis and the campaign of Nebuchadrezzar against Egypt -- Relations between Nebuchadrezzar and Astyages -- The fortifications of Babylon and the rebuilding of the Great Ziggurat -- The successors of Nebuchadrezzar: Nabonidus.
[Illustration: 263.jpg PAGE IMAGE]
The fall of Nineveh and the rise of the Chaldaean and Median empires -- The XXVIth Egyptian dynasty: Cyaxares, Alyattes, and Nebuchadrezzar.
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the silver vase of
Tchertomlitsk, now in the museum of the Hermitage. The vignette is also drawn by Faucher-Gudin, and represents an Egyptian torso in the Turin museum; the cartouche which is seen upon the arm is that of Psammetichus I.
The East was ever a land of kaleidoscopic changes and startling dramatic incidents. An Oriental empire, even when built up by strong hands and watched over with constant vigilance, scarcely ever falls to pieces in the slow and gradual process of decay arising from the ties that bind it together becoming relaxed or its constituent elements growing antiquated. It perishes, as a rule, in a cataclysm; its ruin comes like a bolt from the blue, and is consummated before the commencement of it is realised. One day it stands proud and stately in the splendour of its glory; there is no report abroad but that which tells of its riches, its industry, its valour, the good government of its princes and the irresistible might of its gods, and the world, filled with envy or with fear, deeming its good fortune immutable, never once applies to it, even in thought, the usual commonplaces on the instability of human things. Suddenly an ill wind, blowing up from the distant horizon, bursts upon it in destructive squalls, and it is overthrown in the twinkling of an eye, amid the glare of lightning, the resounding crash of thunder, whirlwinds of dust and rain: when the storm has passed away as quickly as it came, its mutterings heralding the desolation which it bears to other climes, the brightening sky no longer reveals the old contours and familiar outlines, but the sun of history rises on a new empire, emerging, as if by the touch of a magic wand, from the ruins which the tempest has wrought. There is nothing apparently lacking of all that, in the eyes of the many, invested its predecessor with glory; it seems in no wise inferior in national vigour, in the number of its soldiers, in the military renown of its chiefs, in the proud prosperity of its people, or in the majesty of its gods; the present fabric is as spacious and magnificent, it would seem, as that which has but just vanished into the limbo of the past. No kingdom ever shone with brighter splendour, or gave a greater impression of prosperity, than the kingdom of Assyria in the days succeeding its triumphs over Blam and Arabia: precisely at this point the monuments and other witnesses of its activity fail us, just as if one of the acts of the piece in which it had played a chief part having come to an end, the drop-curtain must be lowered, amid a flourish of trumpets and the illuminations of an apotheosis, to allow the actors a little breathing-space. Half a century rolls by, during which we have a dim perception of the subdued crash of falling empires, and of the trampling of armies in fierce fight; then the curtain rises on an utterly different drama, of which the plot has been woven behind the scenes, and the exciting motif has just come into play. We no longer hear of Assyria and its kings; their palaces are in ruins; their last faithful warriors sleep in unhonoured graves beneath the ashes of their cities, their prowess is credited to the account of half a dozen fabulous heroes such as Ninus, Sardanapalus, and Semiramis -- heroes whose names call up in the memory of succeeding generations only vague but terrible images, such as the phantasies of a dream, which, although but dimly remembered in the morning, makes the hair to stand on end with terror. The nations which erewhile disputed the supremacy with Assyria have either suffered a like eclipse -- such as the Khati, Urartu, the Cossaeans, and Elam -- or have fallen like Egypt and Southern Syria into the rank of second-rate powers. It is Chaldaea which is now in the van of the nations, in company with Lydia and with Media, whose advent to imperial power no one would have ventured to predict forty or fifty years before.
The principality founded by Deiokes about the beginning of the seventh century B.C., seemed at first destined to play but a modest part; it shared the fortune of the semi-barbarous states with which the Ninevite conquerors came in contact on the western boundary of the Iranian plateau, and from which the governors of Arrapkha or of Kharkhar had extorted tribute to the utmost as often as occasion offered. According to one tradition, it had only three kings in an entire century: Deiokes up till 655 B.C., Phraortes from 655 to 633, and after the latter year Cyaxares, the hero of his race.* Another tradition claimed an earlier foundation for the monarchy, and doubled both the number of the kings and the age of the kingdom.**
* This is the tradition gleaned by Herodotus, probably at Sardes, from the mouths of Persians residing in that city.
** This is the tradition derived from the court of
Artaxerxes by Ctesias of Cnidus. Volney discovered the principle upon which the chronology of his Median dynasty was based by Ctesias. If we place his list side by side with that of Herodotus --
[Illustration: 268.jpg and 269.jpg TABLE OF MEDIAN DYNASTY]
We see that, while rejecting the names given by Herodotus, Ctesias repeats twice over the number of years assigned by the latter to the reigns of his kings, at least for the four last generations --
At the beginning Herodotus gives before Deiokes an
interregnum of uncertain duration. Ctesias substituted the round number of fifty years for the fifty-three assigned to Deiokes, and replaced the interregnum by a reign which he estimated at the mean duration of a human generation, thirty years; he then applied to this new pair of numbers the process of doubling he had employed for the couple mentioned above --
The number twenty-eight has been attributed to the reign of Arbakes, instead of the number thirty, to give an air of truthfulness to the whole catalogue.
This tradition ignored the monarchs who had rendered the second Assyrian empire illustrious, and substituted for them a line of inactive sovereigns, reputed to be the descendants of Ninus and Semiramis. The last of them, Sardanapalus, had, according to this account, lived a life of self-indulgence in his harem, surrounded by women, dressing himself in their garb, and adopting feminine occupations and amusements. The satrap of Media, Arbakes, saw him at his toilet, and his heart turned against yielding obedience to such a painted doll: he rebelled in concert with Belesys the Babylonian. The imminence of the danger thus occasioned roused Sardanapalus from his torpor, and revived in him the warlike qualities of his ancestors; he placed himself at the head of his troops, overcame the rebels, and was about to exterminate them, when his hand was stayed by the defection of some Bactrian auxiliaries. He shut himself up in Nineveh, and for two whole years heroically repulsed all assaults; in the third year, the Tigris, swollen by the rains, overflowed its banks and broke down the city walls for a distance of twenty stadia. The king thereupon called to mind an oracle which had promised him victory until the day when the river should betray him. Judging that the prediction was about to be accomplished, he resolved not to yield himself alive to the besieger, and setting fire to his palace, perished therein, together with his children and his treasures, about 788 B.C. Arbakes, thus rendered an independent sovereign, handed down the monarchy to his son Mandaukas, and he in his turn was followed successively by Sosarmos, Artykas, Arbianes, Artaios, Artynes, and Astibaras.* These names are not the work of pure invention; they are met with in more than one Assyrian text: among the petty kings who paid tribute to Sargon are enumerated some which bear such names as Mashdaku,** Ashpanda,*** Arbaku, and Khartukka,*** and many others, of whom traces ought to be found some day among the archives of princely families of later times.
* Oppert thought that the names given by Herodotus
represented |Aryanised forms of Turanian names, of which Otesias has given the Persian translation.|
** Mashdaku is identified by Post with the Mandaukas or Maydaukas of Ctesias, which would then be a copyist's error for Masdaukas. The identification with Vashd[t]aku, Vashtak, the name of a fabulous king of Armenia, is rejected by Rost; Mashdaku would be the Iranian Mazdaka, preserved in the Mazakes of Arrian.
*** Ashpanda is the Aspandas or Aspadas which Ctesias gives instead of the Astyages of Herodotus.
**** The name of Artykas is also found in the secondary form Kardikoas, which is nearer the Khartukka of the Assyrian texts.
There were in these archives, at the disposal of scribes and strangers inclined to reconstruct the history of Asia, a supply of materials of varying value -- authentic documents inscribed on brick tablets, legends of fabulous exploits, epic poems and records of real victories and conquests, exaggerated in accordance with the vanity or the interest of the composer: from these elements it was easy to compile lists of Median kings which had no real connection with each other as far as their names, order of succession, or duration of reign were concerned. The Assyrian chronicles have handed down to us, in place of these dynasties which were alleged to have exercised authority over the whole territory, a considerable number of noble houses scattered over the country, each of them autonomous, and a rival of its neighbour, and only brought into agreement with one another at rare intervals by their common hatred of the invader. Some of them were representatives of ancient races akin to the Susians, and perhaps to the first inhabitants of Chaldaea; others belonged to tribes of a fresh stock, that of the Aryans, and more particularly to the Iranian branch of the Aryan family. We catch glimpses of them in the reign of Shalmaneser III., who calls them the Amadai; then, after this first brush with Assyria, intercourse and conflict between the two nations became more and more frequent every year, until the |distant Medes| soon began to figure among the regular adversaries of the Ninevite armies, and even the haughtiest monarchs refer with pride to victories gained over them. Ramman-nirari waged ceaseless war against them, Tiglath-pileser III. twice drove them before him from the south-west to the north-east as far as the foot of Demavend, while Sargon, Sennacherib, and Esarhaddon, during their respective reigns, kept anxious watch upon them, and endeavoured to maintain some sort of authority over the tribes which lay nearest to them. Both in the personal names and names of objects which have come down to us in the records of these campaigns, we detect Iranian characteristics, in spite of the Semitic garb with which the inscriptions have invested them: among the names of countries we find Partukka, Diristanu, Patusharra, Nishaia, Urivzan, Abiruz, and Ariarma, while the men bear such names as Ishpabarra, Eparna, Shitirparna, Uarzan, and Dayaukku. As we read through the lists, faint resemblances in sound awaken dormant classical memories, and the ear detects familiar echoes in the names of those Persians whose destinies were for a time linked with those of Athens and Sparta in the days of Darius and of Xerxes: it is like the first breath of Greek influence, faint and almost imperceptible as yet, wafted to us across the denser atmosphere of the East.
The Iranians had a vague remembrance of a bygone epoch, during which they had wandered, in company with other nations of the same origin as themselves, in that cradle of the Aryan peoples, Aryanem-Vaejo. Modern historians at first placed their mythical birthplace in the wilder regions of Central Asia, near the Oxus and the Jaxartes, and not far from the so-called table-land of Pamir, which they regarded as the original point of departure of the Indo-European races. They believed that a large body of these primitive Aryans must have descended southwards into the basin of the Indus and its affluents, and that other detachments had installed themselves in the oases of Margiana and Khorasmia, while the Iranians would have made their way up to the plateau which separates the Caspian Sea from the Persian Gulf, where they sought to win for themselves a territory sufficient for their wants. The compilers of the sacred books of the Iranians claimed to be able to trace each stage of their peregrinations, and to describe the various accidents which befell them during this heroic period of their history. According to these records, it was no mere chance or love of adventure which had led them to wander for years from clime to clime, but rather a divine decree. While Ahuromazdao, the beneficent deity whom they worshipped, had provided them with agreeable resting-places, a perverse spirit, named Angromainyus, had on every occasion rendered their sojourn there impossible, by the plagues which he inflicted on them. Bitter cold, for instance, had compelled them to forsake Aryanem-Vaejo and seek shelter in Sughdha and Muru.* Locusts had driven them from Sughdha; the incursions of the nomad tribes, coupled with their immorality, had forced them to retire from Muru to Bakhdhi, |the country of lofty banners,|** and subsequently to Nisaya, which lies to the south-east, between Muru and Bakhdhi. From thence they made their way into the narrow valleys of the Haroyu, and overran Vaekereta, the land of noxious shadows.***
* Sughdha is Sogdiana; Muru, in ancient Persian Margush, is the modern Merv, the Margiana of classical geographers.
** Bakhdhi is identical with Bactriana, but, as Spiegel points out, this Avestic form is comparatively recent, and readily suggests the modern Balkh, in which the consonants have become weakened.
*** The Avesta places Nisaya between Muru and Bakhdhi to distinguish it from other districts of the same name to be found in this part of Asia: Eugene Burnouf is probably correct in identifying it with the Nessea of Strabo and of Ptolemy, which lay to the south of Margiana, at the junction of the roads leading to Hyrcania in one direction and Bactriana in the other.
From this point forwards, the countries mentioned by their chroniclers are divided into two groups, lying in opposite directions: Arahvaiti, Haetumant, and Haptahindu* on the east; and on the west, Urva,** Haroyu or Haraeva is the Greek Aria, the modern province of Herat.
* Arahvaiti, the Harauvatish of the Achsemenian
inscriptions, is the Greek Arachosia, and Haetumant the basin of their Etymander, the modern Helmend; in other words, the present province of Seistan. Hapta-Hindu is the western part of the Indian continent, i.e. the Punjaub.
** The Pehlevi commentators identify Urva with Mesone, mentioned by classical writers, at the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates, or perhaps the plain around Ispahan which bore the name of Masan in the Sassanid period. Fr. Lenormant had connected it with the name Urivzan, which is applied in the Assyrian inscriptions to a district of Media in the time of Tiglath-pileser III.
[Illustration: 274.jpg MAP OF THE LANDS CREATED BY AHURA-MAZDA]
The Pehlevi commentators identify Vaekereta with Kabulistan, and also volunteer the following interpretation of the title which accompanies the name: |The shadow of the trees there is injurious to the body, or as some say, the shadow of the mountains,| and it produces fever there. Arguing from passages of similar construction, Lassen was led to recognise in the epithet duzhako-shayanem a place-name, |inhabitant of Duzhako,| which he identified with a ruined city in this neighbourhood called Dushak; Haug believed he had found a confirmation of this hypothesis in the fact that the Pairika Khnathaiti created there by Angro-mainyus recalls in sound, at any rate, the name of the people Parikani mentioned by classical writers, as inhabiting these regions. Khnenta-Vehrkana,* Bhaga,** and Chakhra,*** as far as the districts of Varena**** and the basin of the Upper Tigris.^ This legend was composed long after the event, in order to explain in the first place the relationship between the two great families into which the Oriental Aryans were divided, viz. the Indian and Iranian, and in the second to account for the peopling by the Iranians of a certain number of provinces between the Indus and the Euphrates. As a matter of fact, it is more likely that the Iranians came originally from Europe, and that they migrated from the steppes of Southern Russia into the plains of the Kur and the Araxes by way of Mount Caucasus.^^
* The name Khnenta seems to have been Hellenised into that of Kharindas, borne by a river which formed the frontier between Hyrcania and Media; according to the Pehlevi version it was really a river of Hyrcania, the Djordjan. The epithet Vehrkana, which qualifies the name Khnenta, has been identified by Burnouf with the Hyrcania of classical geographers.
** Ragha is identified with Azerbaijan in the Pehlevi version of the Vendidad, but is, more probably, the Rhago of classical geographers, the capital of Eastern Media.
*** Chakhra seems to be identical with the country of Karkh, at the northwestern extremity of Khorassan.
**** Varena is identified by the Pehlevi commentators with Patishkhvargar, i.e. probably the Patusharra of the Assyrian inscriptions.
^ Haug proposed to identify this last station with the regions situated on the shores of the Caspian, near the south-western corner of that sea. But, as Garrez points out, the Pehlevi commentators prove that it must be the countries on the Upper Tigris.
^^ Spiegel has argued that Aryanem-Vaojo is probably Arran, the modern Kazabadagh, the mountainous district between the Kur and the Aras, and his opinion is now gaining acceptance. The settlement of the Iranians in Russia, and their entrance into Asia by way of the Caucasus, have been admitted by Rost. Classical writers reversed this order of things, and derived the Sauromato and other Scythian tribes from Media.
It is possible that some of their hordes may have endeavoured to wedge themselves in between the Halys and the Euphrates as far as the centre of Asia Minor. Their presence in this quarter would explain why we encounter Iranian personal names in the Sargonide epoch on the two spurs of Mount Taurus, such as that of the Kushtashpi, King of Kummukh, in the time of Tiglath-pileser III., and of the Kundashpi mentioned in the Annals of Shalmaneser III. in the ninth century B.C.*
* The name Kushtashpi has been compared with that of Vistaspa or Gushtasp by Fr. Lenormant, the name Kundashpi with that of Vindaspa by Gutschmid, and, later on, Ball has added to these a long list of names in Egyptian and Assyrian inscriptions which he looks upon as Iranian. Kundashpi recalls at first sight Gundobunas, a name of the Sassanid epoch, if this latter form be authentic. Tiele adopts the identification of Kushtashpi with Vistaspa, and Justi has nothing to say against it, nor against the identification of Kundashpi with Vindaspa.
The main body, finding its expansion southwards checked by Urartu, diverged in a south-easterly direction, and sweeping before it all the non-Aryan or Turanian tribes who were too weak to stem its progress, gradually occupied the western edge of the great plateau, where it soon became mainly represented by the two compact groups, the Persians to the south on the farthest confines of Elam, and the Medes between the Greater Zab, the Turnat, and the Caspian. It is probable that the kingdom founded by Deiokes originally included what was afterwards termed Media Magna by the Graeco-Roman geographers. This sovereignty was formed by the amalgamation under a single monarch of six important tribes -- the Buzo, Paraatakeni, Struchatas, Arizanti, Budii, and Magi. It extended north-westwards as far as the Kiziluzon, which formed the frontier between the Persians and the Mannai on this side. Northwards, it reached as far as Demavend; the salt desert that rendered Central Iran a barren region, furnished a natural boundary on the east; on both the south and west, the Assyrian border-lands of Ellipi, Kharkhar, and Arrapkha prevented it from extending to the chief ranges of the Zagros and Cordioan mountains. The soil, though less fertile than that of Chaldaea or of Egypt, was by no means deficient in resources. The mountains contained copper, iron, lead, some gold and silver,* several kinds of white or coloured marble,** and precious stones, such as topaz, garnets, emeralds, sapphires, cornelian, and lapis-lazuli, the latter being a substance held in the highest esteem by Eastern jewellers from time immemorial; Mount Bikni was specially celebrated for the fine specimens of this stone which were obtained there.*** Its mountains were in those days clothed with dense forests, in which the pine, the oak, and the poplar grew side by side with the eastern plane tree, the cedar, lime, elm, ash, hazel, and terebinth.****
* Rawlinson has collected traditions in reference to gold and silver mining among the mountains in the neighbourhood of Takht-i-Suleiman; one of these is still called Zerreh- Shardn, the mount of the gold-washers.
** The best known was the so-called Tauris marble quarried from the hills in the neighbourhood of Lake Urumiyah.
*** The list of precious stones which Pliny tells us were found in Media, contains several kinds which we are unable to identify, e.g. the Zathene, the gassinades and narcissitis. Pliny calls lapis-lazuli sapphirus, and declares that the bright specks of pyrites it contained rendered it unsuitable for engraving. In the Assyrian inscriptions Mount Bikni, the modern Demavend, is described as a mountain of Uknu, or lapis-lazuli.
**** A large part of the mountains and plains is now treeless, but it is manifest, both from the evidence of the inscriptions and from the observations of travellers, that the whole of Media was formerly well wooded.
The intermediate valleys were veritable orchards, in which the vegetation of the temperate zones mingled with tropical growths. The ancients believed that the lemon tree came originally from Persia.* To this day the peach, pear, apple, quince, cherry, apricot, almond, filbert, chestnut, fig, pistachio-nut, and pomegranate still flourish there: the olive is easily acclimatised, and the vine produces grapes equally suitable for the table or the winepress.** The plateau presents a poorer and less promising appearance -- not that the soil is less genial, but the rivers become lost further inland, and the barrenness of the country increases as they come to an end one after another. Where artificial irrigation has been introduced, the fertility of the country is quite as great as in the neighbourhood of the mountains;*** outside this irrigated region no trees are to be seen, except a few on the banks of rivers or ponds, but wheat, barley, rye, oats, and an abundance of excellent vegetables grow readily in places where water is present.
* The apple obtained from Media was known as the Modicum malum, and was credited with the property of being a powerful antidote to poison: it was supposed that it would not grow anywhere outside Media.
** In some places, as, for instance, at Kirmanshahan, the vine stocks have to be buried during the winter to protect them from the frost.
*** Irrigation was effected formerly, as now, by means of subterranean canals with openings at intervals, known as kanat.
The fauna include, besides wild beasts of the more formidable kinds, such as lions, tigers, leopards, and bears, many domestic animals, or animals capable of being turned to domestic use, such as the ass, buffalo, sheep, goat, dog, and dromedary, and the camel with two humps, whose gait caused so much merriment among the Ninevite idlers when they beheld it in the triumphal processions of their kings; there were, moreover, several breeds of horses, amongst which the Nisasan steed was greatly prized on account of its size, strength, and agility.* In short, Media was large enough and rich enough to maintain a numerous population, and offered a stable foundation to a monarch ambitious of building up a new empire.**
* In the time of the Seleucides, Media supplied nearly the whole of Asia with these animals, and the grazing-lands of Bagistana, the modern Behistun, are said to have supported 160,000 of them. Under the Parthian kings Media paid a yearly tribute of 3000 horses, and the Nisaean breed was still celebrated at the beginning of the Byzantine era. Horses are mentioned among the tribute paid by the Medic chiefs to the kings of Assyria.
** The history of the Medes remains shrouded in greater obscurity than that of any other Asiatic race. We possess no original documents which owe their existence to this nation, and the whole of our information concerning its history is borrowed from Assyrian and Babylonian inscriptions, and from the various legends collected by the Greeks, especially by Herodotus and Ctesias, from Persian magnates in Asia Minor or at the court of the Achaemenian kings, or from fragments of vanished works such as the writings of Borosus. And yet modern archaeologists and philologists have, during the last thirty years, allowed their critical faculties, and often their imagination as well, to run riot when dealing with this very period. After carefully examining, one after another, most of the theories put forward, I have adopted those hypotheses which, while most nearly approximating to the classical legends, harmonise best with the chronological framework -- far too imperfect as yet -- furnished by the inscriptions dealing with the closing years of Nineveh; I do not consider them all to be equally probable, but though they may be mere stop-gap solutions, they have at least the merit of reproducing in many cases the ideas current among those races of antiquity who had been in direct
communication with the Medes and with the last of their sovereigns.
[Illustration: 269.jpg NISAEAN HOUSES HARNESSED TO A ROYAL CHARIOT]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph of the bas-relief from Persepolis now in the British Museum.
The first person to conceive the idea of establishing one was, perhaps, a certain Fravartish, the Phraortes of the Greeks, whom Herodotus declares to have been the son and successor of Deiokes.*
* The ancient form of the name, Fravartish or Frawarti, has been handed down to us by a passage in the great inscription of Behistun; it means the man who proclaims faith in Ahura- mazda, the believer.
[Illustration: 280.jpg THE PERSIAN REALM]
He came to the throne about 655 B.C. at a time when the styar of Assur-bani-pal was still in the ascendant, and at first does not seem to have thought of trying to shake off the incubus of Assyrian rule. He began very wisely by annexing such of the petty neighbouring states as had hitherto remained independent, and then set himself to attack the one other nation of Iranian blood which, by virtue of the number and warlike qualities of its clans, was in a position to enter into rivalry with his own people. The Persians, originally concentrated in the interior, among the steep valleys which divide the plateau on the south, had probably taken advantage of the misfortunes of Elam to extend their own influence at its expense. Their kings were chosen from among the descendants of a certain Akhamanish, the Achaemenes of the Greeks, who at the time of the Iranian invasion had been chief of the Pasargadae, one of the Persian clans. Achaemenes is a mythical hero rather than a real person; he was, we are told, fed during infancy by an eagle -- that mighty eagle whose shadow, according to a Persian belief in mediaeval times, assured the sovereignty to him on whom it chanced to fall. Achaemenes would seem to have been followed by a certain Chaispi -- or Teispes -- a less fabulous personage, described in the legends as his son. It was, doubtless, during his reign that Assur-bani-pal, in hot pursuit of Tiumman and Khumban-khaldash, completed the downfall of Susa; Chaispi claimed the eastern half of Elam as his share of the spoil, and on the strength of his victory styled himself King of Anshan -- a title on which his descendants still prided themselves a hundred years after his death.*
* The fact that Teispes was the immediate successor of Achaemenes, indicated by Herodotus, is affirmed by Darius himself in the Behistun inscription. According to Billet- beck, the Anzan (Anshan) of the early Achaemenidae was merely a very small part of the ancient Anzan (Anshan), viz. the district on the east and south-east of Kuh-i-Dena, which includes the modern towns of Yezdeshast, Abadeh, Yoklid, and Kushkiserd.
Persia, as then constituted, extended from the mouths of the Oroatis -- the modern Tab -- as far as the entrance to the Straits of Ormuzd.* The coast-line, which has in several places been greatly modified since ancient times by the formation of alluvial deposits, consists of banks of clay and sand, which lie parallel with the shore, and extend a considerable distance inland; in some places the country is marshy, in others parched and rocky, and almost everywhere barren and unhealthy. The central region is intersected throughout its whole length by several chains of hills, which rise terrace-like, one behind the other, from the sea to the plateau; some regions are sterile, more especially in the north and east, but for the most part the country is well wooded, and produces excellent crops of cereals. Only a few rivers, such as the Oroatis, which forms the boundary between Persia and Susiana,** the Araxes, and the Bagradas succeed in breaking through the barriers that beset their course, and reach the Persian Gulf;*** most of the others find no outlet, and their waters accumulate at the bottom of the valleys, in lakes whose areas vary at the different seasons.
* Herodotus imagined Carmania and Persia Proper to be one and the same province; from the Alexandrine period onwards historians and geographers drew a distinction between the two.
** The form of the name varies in different writers. Strabo calls it the Oroatis, Nearchus the Arosis; in Pliny it appears as Oratis and Zarotis, and in Ammianus Marcellinus as Oroates.
*** The Araxes is the modern Bendamir. The Kyros, which flowed past Persepolis, is now the Pulwar, an affluent of the Bendamir. The Bagradas of Ptolemy, called the Hyperis by Juba, is the modern Nabend.
[Illustration: 282.jpg SCENE IN THE MOUNTAINS OF PERSIA.]
Drawn by Boudier, from Costs and Flandin, Voyage en Perse, vol. i. pl. xcvi.
[Illustration: 285.jpg HEAD OF A PERSIAN ARCHER]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph of the Naksh-i-Rustem bas-relief taken by Dieulafoy.
The mountainous district is furrowed in all directions by deep ravines, with almost vertical sides, at the bottom of which streams and torrents follow a headlong course. The landscape wears a certain air of savage grandeur; giant peaks rise in needle-like points perpendicularly to the sky; mountain paths wind upward, cut into the sides of the steep precipices; the chasms are spanned by single-arched bridges, so frail and narrow that they seem likely to be swept away in the first gail that blows. No country could present greater difficulties to the movements of a regular army or lend itself more readily to a system of guerrilla warfare. It was unequally divided between some ten or twelve tribes:* chief among these were the Pasargadaa, from which the royal family took its origin; after them came the Maraphii and Maspii.
* Herodotus only mentions ten Persian tribes; Xenophon speaks of twelve.
The chiefs of these two tribes were elected from among the members of seven families, who, at first taking equal rank with that of the Pasargadaae, had afterwards been reduced to subjection by the Achaemenidae, forming a privileged class at the court of the latter, the members of which shared the royal prerogatives and took a part in the work of government. Of the remaining tribes, the Panthialad, Derusiaei, and Carmenians lived a sedentary life, while the Dai, Mardians, Dropici, and Sagartians were nomadic in their habits. Each one of these tribes occupied its own allotted territory, the limits of which were not always accurately defined; we know that Sagartia, Parseta-kone, and Mardia lay towards the north, on the confines of Media and the salt desert,* Taokene extended along the seaboard, and Carmania lay to the east. The tribes had constructed large villages, such as Armuza, Sisidona, Apostana, Gogana, and Taoke, on the sea-coast (the last named possessing a palace which was one of the three chief residences of the Achaemenian kings),** and Carmana, Persepolis, Pasargadae, and Gabae in the interior.***
* Parsetakene, which has already been identified with the Partukkanu (or Partakkanu) of the Assyrian inscriptions, is placed by Ptolemy in Persia; Mardia corresponds to the mountainous district of Bebahan and Kazrun.
** The position of most of these towns is still somewhat doubtful. Armuza is probably Ormuz (or Hormuz) on the mainland, the forerunner of the insular Hormuz of the Portuguese, as the French scholar d'Anville has pointed out; Sisidona has been identified with the modern village of Mogu, near Ras-Jerd, Apostana with the town of Shewar, the name seeming to be perpetuated in that of the Jebel Asban which rises not far from there. Gogana is probably Bender Kongun, and Taoko, at the mouth of the Granis, is either Khor Gasseir or Rohilla at the mouth of the Bishawer. The palace, which was one of the three principal residences of the Achaemenian kings, is probably mentioned by Strabo, and possibly in Dionysius Periegetes.
*** Carmana is the modern Kerman; the exact position of Gabae, which also possesses a palace, is not known.
[Illustration: 287.jpg A PERSIAN]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph of one of the bas- reliefs at Persepolis, in Dieulafoy.
The Persians were a keen-witted and observant race, inured to all kinds of hardships in their occupation as mountain shepherds, and they were born warriors. The type preserved on the monuments differs but little from that which still exists at the present day in the more remote districts. It was marked by a tall and slender figure, with sturdy shoulders and loins, a small head, with a thick shock of hair and curling beard, a straight nose, a determined mouth, and an eye steady and alert. Yet, in spite of their valour, Phraortes overpowered them, and was henceforward able to reckon the princes of Anshan among his vassals; strengthened by the addition of their forces to his own, he directed his efforts to the subjection of the other races of the plateau. If we may believe the tradition of the Hellenic epoch, he reduced them to submission, and, intoxicated by his success, ventured at last to take up arms against the Assyrians, who for centuries past had held rule over Upper Asia.
This was about 635 B.C., or less than ten years after the downfall of Elam, and it does not seem likely that the vital forces of Assyria can have suffered any serious diminution within so short a space of time.*
* The date is indicated by the figures given by Herodotus in regard to the Medic kings, based on the calculations of himself or his authorities. Phraortes died in 634 B.C., after a reign of twenty-two years, and as the last year of his reign coincides with the war against Assyria, the preparations for it cannot have been much earlier than 635 or 636 B.C., a year or two before the catastrophe.
Assur-bani-pal, weary of fighting, even though he no longer directed operations in person, had apparently determined to remain entirely on the defensive, and not to take the field, unless absolutely compelled to do so by rebellion at home or an attack from outside. In view of the growing need of rest for the Assyrian nation, he could not have arrived at a wiser decision, provided always that circumstances allowed of its being carried into effect, and that the tributary races and frontier nations were willing to fall in with his intentions. They did so at first, for the fate of Elam had filled even the most unruly among them with consternation, and peace reigned supreme from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean. Assur-bani-pal took advantage of this unexpected lull to push forward the construction of public works in the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates. The palace of Sennacherib, though it had been built scarcely fifty years before, was already beginning to totter on its foundations; Assur-bani-pal entirely remodeled and restored it -- a proceeding which gave universal satisfaction. The common people had, as usual, to make the bricks with their own hands and convey them to the spot, but as the chariots employed for this purpose formed part of the booty recently brought back from Elam, the privilege of using these trophies did something to lighten the burden of the tasks imposed on them. Moreover, they had the satisfaction of seeing at work among the squads of labourers several real kings, the Arabian chiefs who had been pursued and captured in the heart of the desert by Assur-bani-pal's generals; they plodded along under their heavy baskets, stimulated by the crack of the whip, amid insults and jeers. This palace was one of the largest and most ornate ever built by the rulers of Assyria. True, the decoration does not reveal any novel process or theme; we find therein merely the usual scenes of battle or of the chase, but they are designed and executed with a skill to which the sculptor of Nineveh had never before attained. The animals, in particular, are portrayed with a light and delicate touch -- the wild asses pursued by hounds, or checked while galloping at full speed by a cast of the lasso; the herds of goats and gazelles hurrying across the desert; the wounded lioness, which raises herself with a last dying effort to roar at the beaters. We are conscious of Egyptian influence underlying the Asiatic work, and the skilful arrangement of the scenes from the Elamite campaigns also reminds us of Egypt. The picture of the battle of Tulliz recalls, in the variety of its episodes and the arrangement of the perspective, the famous engagement at Qodshu, of which Ramses II. has left such numerous presentments on the Theban pylons. The Assyrians, led by the vicissitudes of invasion to Luxor and the Ramesseum, had, doubtless, seen these masterpieces of Egyptian art in a less mutilated state than that in which we now possess them, and profited by the remembrance when called upon to depict the private life of their king and the victories gained by his armies.
[Illustration: 290.jpg A HERD OF WILD GOATS -- A BAS-RELIEF OF THE TIME OF ASSUR-BANI-PAL]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the sketch by Place.
It was in this magnificent residence that Assur-bani-pal led an existence of indolent splendour, such as the chroniclers of a later age were wont to ascribe to all the Assyrian monarchs from the time of Semiramis onwards.*
* Stories of the effeminacy of Sardanapalus had been collected by Ctesias of Cnidus; they soon grew under the hands of historians in the time of Alexander, and were passed on by them to writers of the Roman and Byzantine epochs.
[Illustration: 290b ILLUSTRATED MANUSCRIPT IN HEIROGLYPHICS]
We would gladly believe that he varied the monotony of his hunting expeditions, his banquets, and entertainments in the gardens in company with the women of the harem, by pleasures of a more refined nature, and that he took an unusual interest in the history and literature of the races who had become subject to his rule. As a matter of fact, there have been discovered in several of the ruined chambers of his palaces the remains of a regular library, which must originally have contained thousands of clay tablets, all methodically arranged and catalogued for his use. A portion of them furnish us at first-hand with the records of his reign, and include letters exchanged with provincial governors, augural predictions, consultation of oracles, observations made by the royal astrologers, standing orders, accounts of income and expenditure, even the reports of physicians in regard to the health of members of the royal family or of the royal household: these documents reveal to us the whole machinery of government in actual operation, and we almost seem to witness the secret mechanism by which the kingdom was maintained in activity. Other tablets contain authentic copies of works which were looked upon as classics in the sanctuaries of the Euphrates. Probably, when Babylon was sacked, Sennacherib had ordered the books which lay piled up in E-Sagilla and the other buildings of the city to be collected and carried away to Nineveh along with the statues and property of the gods. They had been placed in the treasury, and there they remained until Esarhaddon re-established the kingdom of Karduniash, and Assur-bani-pal was forced to deliver up the statue of Marduk and restore to the sanctuaries, now rebuilt, all the wealth of which his grandfather had robbed them: but before sending back the tablets, he ordered copies to be made of them, and his secretaries set to work to transcribe for his use such of these works as they considered worthy of reproduction. The majority of them were treatises compiled by the most celebrated adepts in the sciences for which Chaldaea had been famous from time immemorial; they included collections of omens, celestial and terrestrial, in which the mystical meaning of each phenomenon and its influence on the destinies of the world was explained by examples borrowed from the Annals of world-renowned conquerors, such as Naramsin and Sargon of Agade; then there were formulae for exorcising evil spirits from the bodies of the possessed, and against phantoms, vampires, and ghosts, the recognised causes of all disease; prayers and psalms, which had to be repeated before the gods in order to obtain pardon for sin; and histories of divinities and kings from the time of the creation down to the latest date. Among these latter were several versions of the epic of Grilgames, the story of Etana, of Adapa, and many others; and we may hope to possess all that the Assyrians knew of the old Chaldaean literature in the seventh century B.C., as soon as the excavators have unearthed from the mound at Kouyunjik all the tablets, complete or fragmentary, which still lie hidden there. Even from the shreds of information which they have already yielded to us, we are able to piece together so varied a picture that we can readily imagine Assur-bani-pal to have been a learned and studious monarch, a patron of literature and antiquarian knowledge. Very possibly he either read himself, or had read to him, many of the authors whose works found a place in his library: the kings of Nineveh, like the Pharaohs, desired now and then to be amused by tales of the marvellous, and they were doubtless keenly alive to the delightful rhythm and beautiful language employed by the poets of the past in singing the praises of their divine or heroic ancestors. But the mere fact that his palace contained the most important literary collection which the ancient East has so far bequeathed to us, in no way proves that Assur-bani-pal displayed a more pronounced taste for literature than his predecessors; it indicates merely the zeal and activity of his librarians, their intelligence, and their respect and admiration for the great works of the past. Once he had issued his edict ordering new editions of the old masters to be prepared, Assur-bani-pal may have dismissed the matter from his mind, and the work would go on automatically without need for any further interference on his part. The scribes enriched his library for him, in much the same way as the generals won his battles, or the architects built his monuments: they were nothing more than nameless agents, whose individuality was eclipsed by that of their master, their skill and talent being all placed to his credit. Babylonia shared equally with Assyria in the benefits of his government. He associated himself with his brother Shamash-shumukin in the task of completing the temple of E-Sagilla; afterwards, when sole monarch, he continued the work of restoration, not only in Babylon, but in the lesser cities as well, especially those which had suffered most during the war, such as Uru, Uruk, Borsippa, and Cutha.*
He refers to the works at Borsippa and Kuta towards the end of the account of his campaign against Shamash-shumukin, and to those at Uruk in describing the war against Khumban- khaldash.
He remodelled the temple of Bel at Nippur, the walls built there by him being even now distinguishable from the rest by the size of the bricks and the careful dressing of the masonry. From the shores of the Persian Gulf to the mountains of Armenia, Assyria and Karduniash were covered with building-yards just as they had been in the most peaceful days of the monarchy.
[Illustration: 294.jpg REMAINS OF ASSUR-BANI-PAL's WALL AT NIPPUR]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the photograph published by Peters.
It was at this unique juncture of apparent grandeur and prosperity that Phraortes resolved to attack Assur-bani-pal. There is nothing to indicate that his action took place simultaneously with some movement on the part of other peoples, or with a serious insurrection in any of the Assyrian provinces. For my part, I prefer to set it down to one of those sudden impulses, those irresistible outbursts of self-confidence, which from time to time actuated the princes tributary to Nineveh or the kings on its frontier. The period of inactivity to which some previous defeat inflicted on them or on their predecessors had condemned them, allowed them to regain their strength, and one or two victories over less powerful neighbours served to obliterate the memory of former humiliation and disaster; they flew to arms full of hope in the result, and once more drew down defeat upon their heads, being lucky indeed if their abortive rising led to nothing worse than the slaughter of their armies, the execution of their generals, and an increase in the amount of their former tribute. This was the fate that overtook Phraortes; the conqueror of the Persians, when confronted by the veteran troops of Assyria, failed before their superior discipline, and was left dead upon the field of battle with the greater part of his army. So far the affair presented no unusual features; it was merely one more commonplace repetition of a score of similar episodes which had already taken place in the same region, under Tiglath-pileser III. or the early Sargonides; but Huvakshatara, the son of Phraortes, known to the Greeks as Cyaxares,* instead of pleading for mercy, continued to offer a stubborn resistance. Cyaxares belongs to history, and there can be no doubt that he exercised a decisive influence over the destinies of the Oriental world, but precise details of his exploits are wanting, and his personality is involved in such obscuring mists that we can scarcely seize it; the little we have so far been able to glean concerning him shows us, not so much the man himself, as a vague shadow of him seen dimly through the haze.
* The original form of the name is furnished by passages in the Behistun inscription, where Chitrantakhma of Sagartia and Fravartish of Media, two of the claimants for the throne who rose against Darius, are represented as tracing their descent from Huvakshatara.
His achievements prove him to have been one of those perfect rulers of men, such as Asia produces every now and then, who knew how to govern as well as how to win battles -- a born general and lawgiver, who could carry his people with him, and shone no less in peace than in war.*
* G. Rawlinson takes a somewhat different view of Cyaxares' character; he admits that Cyaxares knew how to win
victories, but refuses to credit him with the capacity for organisation required in order to reap the full benefits of conquest, giving as his reason for this view the brief duration of the Medic empire. The test applied by him does not seem to me a conclusive one, for the existence of the second Chaldaean empire was almost as short, and yet it would be decidedly unfair to draw similar inferences touching the character of Nabopolassar or Nebuchadrezzar from this fact.
[Illustration: 297.jpg MEDIC AND PERSIAN FOOT-SOLDIERS]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, after Coste and Flandin. The first and third figures are Medes, the second and fourth Persians.
The armies at the disposal of his predecessors had been little more than heterogeneous assemblies of feudal militia; each clan furnished its own contingent of cavalry, archers, and pikemen, but instead of all these being combined into a common whole, with kindred elements contributed by the other tribes, each one acted separately, thus forming a number of small independent armies within the larger one. Cyaxares saw that defeat was certain so long as he had nothing but these ill-assorted masses to match against the regular forces of Assyria: he therefore broke up the tribal contingents and rearranged the units of which they were composed according to their natural affinities, grouping horsemen with horsemen, archers with archers, and pikemen with pikemen, taking the Assyrian cavalry and infantry as his models.*
* Herodotus tells us that Cyaxares was |the first to divide the Asiatics into different regiments, separating the pikemen from the archers and horsemen; before his time, these troops were all mixed up haphazard together.| I have interpreted his evidence in the sense which seems most in harmony with what we know of Assyrian military tactics. It seems incredible that the Medic armies can have fought pell-mell, as Herodotus declares, seeing that for two hundred years past the Medes had been frequently engaged against such well-drilled troops as those of Assyria: if the statement be authentic, it merely means that Cyaxares converted all the small feudal armies which had hitherto fought side by side on behalf of the king into a single royal army in which the different kinds of troops were kept separate.
The foot-soldiers wore a high felt cap known as a tiara; they had long tunics with wide sleeves, tied in at the waist by a belt, and sometimes reinforced by iron plates or scales, as well as gaiters, buskins of soft leather, and large wickerwork shields covered with ox-hide, which they bore in front of them like a movable bulwark; their weapons consisted of a short sword, which depended from the belt and lay along the thigh, one or two light javelins, a bow with a strongly pronounced curve, and a quiver full of arrows made from reeds.* Their horsemen, like those of other warlike nations II of the East, used neither saddle nor stirrups, and though they could make skilful use of lance and sword, their favourite weapon was the bow.**
* Herodotus describes the equipment of the Persians in much the same terms as I have used above, and then adds in the following chapter that |the Medes had the same equipment, for it is the equipment of the Medes and not that of the Persians.|
** Herodotus says that the Medic horsemen were armed in the same manner as the infantry.
[Illustration: 298.jpg A MEDIC HORSEMAN]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a cast of the Medic intaglio in the Cabinet des Medailles.
Accustomed from their earliest childhood to all kinds of equestrian exercises, they seemed to sit their horses as though they actually formed part of the animal. They seldom fought in line, but, from the very beginning of an action, hung like a dense cloud on the front and flanks of the enemy, and riddled them with missiles, without, however, coming to close quarters. Like the Parthians of a later epoch, they waited until they had bewildered and reduced the foe by their ceaseless evolutions before giving the final charge which was to rout them completely. No greater danger could threaten the Assyrians than the establishment of a systematically organised military power within the borders of Media. An invader starting from Egypt or Asia Minor, even if he succeeded in overthrowing the forces sent out to meet him, had still a long way to go before he could penetrate to the heart of the empire. Even if Cilicia and Syria should be conquered, nothing was easier than to oppose a further advance at the barrier of the Euphrates; and should the Euphrates be crossed, the Khabur still remained, and behind it the desert of Singar, which offered the last obstacle between Nineveh and the invaders. The distances were less considerable in the case of an army setting out from Urartu and proceeding along the basin of the Tigris or its affluents; but here, too, the difficulties of transit were so serious that the invader ran a great risk of gradually losing the best part of his forces on the road. On the north-east and east, however, the ancient heritage of Assur lay open to direct and swift attack. An enemy who succeeded in destroying or driving back the garrisons stationed as outposts on the rim of the plateau, from Kharkhar to Parsua, if he ventured to pursue his advantage and descended into the plain of the Tigris, had no less than three routes to choose from -- the Kirind road on the south, the Baneh road on the north, and the Suleimanych road between the two. The last was the easiest of all, and led almost straight to the fords of Altun-Keupri and the banks of the Lesser Zab, on the confines of Assyria proper, close under the walls of Arbela, the holy city of Ishtar.
[Illustration: 300.jpg THE ASSYRIAN TRIANGLE]
He needed but to win two victories, one upon leaving the mountains, the other at the passage of the Zab, and two or three weeks' steady marching would bring him from Hamadan right up to the ramparts of Nineveh. Cyaxares won a victory over Assur-bani-pal's generals, and for the first time in over a hundred years Assyria proper suffered the ignominy of foreign invasion. The various works constructed by twenty generations of kings had gradually transformed the triangle enclosed between the Upper Zab, the Tigris, and the Jebel-Makhlub into a regular fortified camp. The southern point of this triangle was defended by Calah from the attacks of Chaldoa or from foes coming down from Media by Iiolwan and Suleimanyeh, while Nineveh guarded it on the northeast, and several lines of walled cities -- among which Dur-Sharrukin and Imgur-Bel can still be identified -- protected it on the north and east, extending from the Tigris as far as the G-hazir and Zab. It was necessary for an enemy to break through this complex defensive zone, and even after this had been successfully accomplished and the walls of the capital had been reached, the sight which would meet the eye was well calculated to dismay even the most resolute invader. Viewed as a whole, Nineveh appeared as an irregular quadrilateral figure, no two sides of which were parallel, lying on the left bank of the Tigris.
[Illustration: 301.jpg MAP OF NINEVEH]
The river came right up to the walls on the west, and the two mounds of Kouyunjik and Nebi-Yunus, on which stood the palaces of the Sargonides, were so skilfully fortified that a single wall connecting the two sufficed to ward off all danger of attack on this side. The south wall, which was the shortest of the four, being only about 870 yards in length, was rendered inaccessible by a muddy stream, while the north wall, some 2150 yards long, was protected by a wide moat which could be filled from the waters of the Khuzur.
[Illustration: 302.jpg PART OF THE FOSSE AT NINEVEH]
Drawn by Boudier, from a sketch in Layard.
The eastern front had for a long time depended for its safety on a single wall reinforced by a moat, but Sennacherib, deeming it insufficiently protected against a sudden attack, had piled up obstacles in front of it, so that it now presented a truly formidable appearance. It was skirted throughout its whole length by a main rampart, 5400 yards long, which described a gentle curve from north to south, and rose to a height of about 50 feet, being protected by two small forts placed close to the main gates. The fosse did not run along the foot of the wall, but at a distance of about fifty yards in front of it, and was at least some 20 feet deep and over 150 feet in width. It was divided into two unequal segments by the Khuzur: three large sluice-gates built on a level with the wall and the two escarpments allowed the river to be dammed back, so that its waters could be diverted into the fosse and thus keep it full in case of siege. In front of each segment was a kind of demi-lune, and -- as though this was not precaution enough -- two walls, each over 4300 yards long, were built in front of the demi-lunes, the ditch which separated them being connected at one end with the Khuzur, and allowed to empty itself into a stream on the south. The number of inhabitants sheltered behind these defences was perhaps 300,000 souls;* each separate quarter of the city was enclosed by ramparts, thus forming, as it were, a small independent town, which had to be besieged and captured after a passage had been cut through the outer lines of defence.
* Jones and G. Rawlinson credit Nineveh with a population of not more than 175,000.
Cyaxares might well have lost heart in the face of so many difficulties, but his cupidity, inflamed by reports of the almost fabulous wealth of the city, impelled him to attack it with extraordinary determination: the spoils of Susa, Babylon, and Thebes, in fact, of the whole of Western Asia and Ethiopia, were, he felt, almost within his reach, and would inevitably fall into his hands provided his courage and perseverance did not fail him. After shutting up the remnant of the Assyrian army inside Nineveh he laid patient siege to the city, and the fame of his victories being noised abroad on all sides, it awoke among the subject races that longing for revenge which at one time appeared to have been sent to sleep for ever. It almost seemed as though the moment was approaching when the city of blood should bleed in its turn, when its kings should at length undergo the fate which they had so long imposed on other monarchs. Nahum the Elkoshite,* a Hebrew born in the Assyrian province of Samaria, but at that time an exile in Judah, lifted up his voice, and the echo of his words still resounds in our ears, telling us of the joy and hope felt by Judah, and with Judah, by the whole of Asia, at the prospect. Speaking as the prophet of Jahveh, it was to Jahveh that he attributed the impending downfall of the oppressor: |Jahveh is a jealous God and avengeth; Jahveh avengeth and is full of wrath; Jahveh taketh vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserveth wrath for His enemies. Jahveh is slow to anger and great in power, and will by no means clear the guilty; Jahveh hath His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet. He rebuketh the sea and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers: Bashan languisheth, and Carmel, and the flower of Lebanon languisheth.|* And, |Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings.| Then he goes on to unfold before the eyes of his hearers a picture of Nineveh, humiliated and in the last extremity.
* Elkosh is identified by Eusebius with Elkese, which St. Jerome declares to have been in Galileo, the modern el- Kauzeh, two and a half hours' walk south of Tibnin. The prophecy of Nahum has been taken by some as referring to the campaign of Phraortes against Assyria, but more frequently to the destruction of Nineveh by the Medes and Chaldaeans. It undoubtedly refers to the siege interrupted by the Scythian invasion.
There she lies, behind her bastions of brick, anxiously listening for the approach of the victorious Medes. |The noise of the whip, and the noise of the rattling of wheels; and prancing horses and jumping chariots; the horsemen mounting, and the flashing sword, and the glittering spear; and a multitude of slain and a great heap of carcases: and there is no end of the corpses; they stumble upon their corpses: because of the multitude of the whoredoms of the well-favoured harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts, that selleth nations through her whoredoms, and families through her witchcrafts. Behold, I am against thee, saith Jahveh of hosts, and I will discover thy skirts upon they face; and I will show the nations thy nakedness, and the kingdoms thy shame. And I will cast abominable filth upon thee, and make thee vile, and will set thee as a gazing-stock. And it shall come to pass that all they that look upon thee shall flee from thee, and say, Nineveh is laid waste: who will bemoan her? Whence shall I seek comforters for thee?| Thebes, the city of Amon, did not escape captivity; why then should Nineveh prove more fortunate? |All thy fortresses shall be like fig trees with the firstripe figs: if they be shaken they fall into the mouth of the eater. Behold, thy people in the midst of thee are women; the gates of thy land are set wide open unto thine enemies: the fire hath devoured thy bars. Draw thee water for the siege, strengthen thy fortresses: go into the clay and tread the mortar, make strong the brick-kiln. There shall the fire devour thee; the sword shall cut thee off,... make thyself many as the cankerworm, make thyself many as the locusts. Thou hast multiplied thy merchants as the stars of heaven: the cankerworm spoileth and flieth away. Thy crowned are as the locusts and thy marshals as the swarms of grasshoppers, which camp in the hedges in the cold day, but when the sun ariseth they flee away, and their place is not known where they are. Thy shepherds slumber, O King of Assyria: thy worthies are at rest: thy people are scattered upon the mountains, and there is none to gather them. There is no assuaging of thy hurt; thy wound is grievous: all that hear the bruit of thee clap the hands over thee; for upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually?|
On this occasion Nineveh escaped the fate with which the prophet had threatened it, but its safety was dearly bought. According to the tradition accepted in Asia Minor two hundred years later, a horde of Scythians under King Madyes, son of Protothyes, setting out from the Bussian steppes in pursuit of the Cimmerians, made their appearance on the scene in the nick of time. We are told that they flung themselves through the Caspian Gates into the basin of the Kur, and came into contact with the Medes at the foot of Mount Caucasus. The defeat of the Medes here would necessarily compel them to raise the siege of Nineveh. This crisis in the history of Asia was certainly not determined by chance. For eighty years Assyria had been in contact with the Scythians, and the Assyrian kings had never ceased to keep an eye upon their movements, or lose sight of the advantage to which their bellicose temper might be turned in circumstances like the present. They had pitted them against the Cimmerians, then against the Medes, and probably against the kings of Urartu as well, and the intimacy between the two peoples came to be so close that the Scythian king Bartatua did not hesitate to demand one of the daughters of Bsarhaddon in marriage. From the very beginning of his reign Assur-bani-pal had shown them the utmost consideration, and when King Madyes, son of his ally Bartatua, intervened thus opportunely in the struggle, he did so, not by mere chance, as tradition would have us believe, but at the urgent request of Assyria. He attacked Media in the rear, and Cyaxares, compelled to raise the siege of Nineveh, hastened to join battle with him. The engagement probably took place on the banks of the Lower Araxes or to the north of Lake Urumiah, in the region formerly inhabited by the Mannai; but after defeating his foe and dictating to him the terms of submission, Madyes, carried away by the lust of conquest, did not hesitate to turn his arms against his ally. Exhausted by her recent struggle, Assyria lay at his mercy, her fortresses alone being able to offer any serious resistance: he overran the country from end to end, and though the walled cities withstood the fury of his attack, the rural districts were plundered right and left, and laid desolate for many a year to come. The Scythians of this epoch probably resembled those whom we find represented on the monuments of Greek art two centuries later. Tall fierce-looking men, with unkempt beards, their long and straggling locks surmounted by the kyrbasis, or pointed national cap of felt; they wore breeches and a blouse of embroidered leather, and were armed with lances, bows, and battle-axes. They rode bareback on untrained horses, herds of which followed their tribes about on their wanderings; each man caught the animal he required with the help of a lasso, put bit and bridle on him, and vaulting on to his back at a single bound, reduced him to a state of semi-obedience. No troops could stand their ground before the frantic charge of these wild horsemen; like the Huns of Roman times, the Scythians made a clean sweep of everything they found in their path. They ruined the crops, carried off or slaughtered the herds, and set fire to the villages from sheer love of destruction, or in order to inspire terror; every one who failed to fly to the mountains or take refuge in some fortress, was either massacred on the spot or led away into slavery.
[Illustration: 308.jpg SCYTHIANS TENDING THEIR WOUNDED]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the reliefs on a silver vase from Kul-Oba.
Too ignorant of the arts of war to undertake a siege in the regular way, they usually contented themselves with levying ransoms on fortified towns; occasionally, however, when the wealth accumulated behind the walls held out a prospect of ample booty, they blockaded the place until famine compelled it to surrender. More than one ancient city which, thanks to the good government of its rulers and the industry of its citizens, had amassed treasure of inestimable value, was put to fire and sword, and more than one fertile and populous region left unfilled and deserted.* Most of the states which for the last three centuries had fought so stubbornly against the Assyrians for independence, went down before the storm, including the kingdoms of Urartu, of the Mushku, and of the Tabal,** the miserable end furnishing the Hebrew prophets full fifty years later with a theme of sombre rejoicing. |There is Meshech, Tubal, and all her multitude; her graves are round about her: all of them uncircumcised, slain by the sword; for they caused their terror in the land of the living. And they shall not lie with the mighty that are fallen of the uncircumcised, which are gone down to hell with their weapons of war, and have laid their swords under their heads,*** and their iniquities are upon their bones; for they were the terror of the mighty in the land of the living.|****
* This may be deduced from the passage in Herodotus, where he says that | the Scythians were masters of Asia for twenty-eight years, and overturned everything by their brutality and stupidity: for, in addition to tribute, they exacted from every one whatever they chose, and, moreover, they prowled here and there, plundering as they thought good.|
** Strabo refers in general terms to the presence of Scythians (or, as he calls them, Sacae) in Armenia, Cappadocia, and on the shores of the Black Sea.
*** This, doubtless, means that the Mushku and Tabal had been so utterly defeated that they could not procure honourable burial for their dead, i.e. with their swords beneath their heads and their weapons on their bodies.
**** 1 Ezek. xxxii.26, 27.
The Cimmerians, who, since their reverses in Lydia and on Mount Taurus, had concentrated practically the whole of their tribes in Cappadocia and in the regions watered by the Halys and Thermodon, shared the good fortune of their former adversaries. At that time they lived under the rule of a certain Kobos, who seems to have left a terrible reputation behind him; tradition gives him a place beside Sesostris among the conquerors of the heroic age, and no doubt, like his predecessor Dugdamis, he owed this distinction to some expedition or other against the peoples who dwelt on the shores of the AEgean Sea, but our knowledge of his career is confined to the final catastrophe which overtook him. After some partial successes, such as that near Zela, for instance, he was defeated and made prisoner by Madyes. His subjects, as vassals of the Scythians, joined them in their acts of brigandage,* and together they marched from province to province, plundering as they went; they overran the western regions of the Assyrian kingdom from Melitene and Mesopotamia to Northern Syria, from Northern Syria to Phoenicia, Damascus, and Palestine,** and at length made their appearance on the Judaean frontier.
* It seems probable that this was so, when we consider the confusion between the Scythians or Sakse, and the Cimmerians in the Babylonian and Persian inscriptions of the
** Their migration from Media into Syria and Palestine is expressly mentioned by Herodotus.
Since the day when Sennacherib had been compelled to return to Assyria without having succeeded in destroying Jerusalem, or even carrying it by storm, Judah had taken little or no part in external politics. Divided at first by a conflict between the party of prudence, who advised submission to Nineveh, and the more warlike spirits who advocated an alliance with Egypt, it had ended by accepting its secondary position, and had on the whole remained fairly loyal to the dynasty of Sargon.
[Illustration: 311.jpg IRANIAN SOLDIER FIGHTING AGAINST THE SCYTHIANS]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the cast of a cylinder given by Cunningham. The cylinder is usually described as Persian, but the dress is that of the Medes as well as of the Persians.
On the death of Hezekiah, his successor, Manasseh, had, as we know, been tempted to intervene in the revolutions of the hour, but the prompt punishment which followed his first attempt put an end for ever to his desire for independence. His successor, Amon, during his brief reign of two years,* had no time to desert the ways of his father, and Josiah,** who came to the throne in 638 B.C., at the age of eight, had so far manifested no hostility towards Assyria.
* 2 Kings xxi.18-26; cf.2 Chron. xxxiii.20-25. The reign of fifty-five years attributed to Manasseh by the Jewish annalists cannot be fitted into the chronology of the period; we must either take off ten years, thus reducing the duration of the reign to forty-five years, or else we must assume the first ten of Manasseh to be synchronous with the last ten of Hezekiah.
** 2 Kings xxii.1; cf.2 Chron. xxxiv.1.
Thus, for more than fifty years, Judah enjoyed almost unbroken peace, and led as happy and prosperous an existence as the barrenness of its soil and the unruly spirit of its inhabitants would permit.
But though its political activity had been almost nothing during this interval, its spiritual life had seldom been developed with a greater intensity. The reverse sustained by Sennacherib had undoubtedly been a triumph for Isaiah, and for the religious party of which we are accustomed to regard him as the sole representative. It had served to demonstrate the power of Jahveh, and His aversion for all idolatrous worship and for all foreign alliances. In vain did the partisans of Egypt talk loudly of Pharaoh and of all those principalities of this world which were drawn round in Pharaoh's orbit; Egypt had shown herself incapable of safeguarding her friends, and things had gone steadily from bad to worse so long as these latter held the reins of government; their removal from office had been, as it were, the signal for a welcome change in the fortunes of the Jews. Jahveh had delivered His city the moment when, ceasing to rely upon itself, it had surrendered its guidance into His hands, and the means of avoiding disaster in the future was clearly pointed out to it. Judah must be content to follow the counsels which Isaiah had urged upon it in the name of the Most High, and submissively obey the voice of its prophets. |Thine eyes shall see thy teachers: and thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. And ye shall defile the over-laying of thy graven images of silver, and the plating of thy molten images of gold: thou shalt cast them away as an unclean thing; thou shalt say unto it, Get thee hence.| Isaiah seems to disappear after his triumph, and none of his later prophecies have come down to us: yet the influence of his teaching lasted throughout the reign of Hezekiah, and the court, supported by the more religious section of the people, not only abjured the worship of false gods, but forsook the high places and discontinued the practices which he had so strenuously denounced. The great bulk of the nation, however, soon returned to their idolatrous practices, if, indeed, they had ever given them up, and many of the royal advisers grew weary of the rigid observances which it was sought to impose upon them; rites abhorrent to Jahveh found favour even among members of the king's own family, and on Hezekiah's death, about 686 B.C., a reaction promptly set in against both his religious views and the material reforms he had introduced.*
* 2 Kings xxi.2-7 (cf.2 Chron. xxxiii.2-7), where, in spite of manifest recensions of the text, the facts themselves seem to have been correctly set forth.
Manasseh was only thirteen years old when he came to the throne, and his youth naturally inclined him towards the less austere forms of divine worship: from the very first he tolerated much that his father had forbidden, and the spirit of eclecticism which prevailed among his associates rendered him, later on, an object of special detestation to the orthodox historians of Jerusalem. Worshippers again began openly to frequent the high places; they set up again the prostrate idols, replanted the sacred groves, and even |built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of Jahveh.| The chariots and horses of the sun reappeared within the precincts of the temple, together with the sacred courtesans. Baal and the Phoenician Astarte were worshipped on Mount Sion. The valley of Hinnom, where Ahaz had already burnt one of his children during a desperate crisis in the Syrian wars, was again lighted up by the flames of the sacred pyre. We are told that Manasseh himself set the example by passing his son through the flames; he also had recourse to astrologers, soothsayers, fortune-tellers, and sorcerers of the lowest type. The example of Assyria in matters of this kind exercised a preponderant influence on Jewish customs, and certainly it would have been a miracle if Jerusalem had succeeded in escaping it; did not Nineveh owe the lofty place it occupied to these occult sciences and to the mysterious powers of its gods? In thus imitating its conqueror, Judah was merely borrowing the weapons which had helped him to subdue the world. The partisans of the ancient religions who were responsible for these innovations must have regarded them as perfectly legitimate reforms, and their action was received with favour in the provinces: before long the latter contained as many sanctuaries as there were towns,* and by thus multiplying the centres of worship, they hoped that, in accordance with ancient belief, the ties which existed between Jahveh and His chosen people would also be increased.
* Jer. ii.26-30. For the quotation see also Jer. xi.13: |For according to the number of thy cities are thy gods, O Judah; and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem have ye set up altars to the shameful thing, even altars to burn incense unto Baal.|
The fact that the provinces had been ravaged from end to end in the days of Sennacherib, while Jerusalem had been spared, was attributed to the circumstance that Hezekiah had destroyed the provincial sanctuaries, leaving the temple on Mount Sion alone standing. Wherever Jahveh possessed altars, He kept guard over His people, but His protection was not extended to those places where sacrifices were no longer offered to Him. The reaction was not allowed to take place without opposition on the part of the prophets and their followers. We are told that Manasseh |shed innocent blood very much till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another;| there is even a Kabbinic tradition to the effect that, weary of the admonitions of the aged Isaiah, he put him to death by shutting him up in the hollow trunk of a tree, and causing him to be sawn in two.*
* 2 Kings xxi.16. The tradition in regard to the fate of Isaiah took its foundation in this text, and it is perhaps indirectly referred to in Heb. xi.37.
For a long time after this no instance can be found of a prophet administering public affairs or directing the actions of the king himself; the priests and reformers, finding no outlet for their energy in this direction, fell back on private preaching and literary propaganda. And, above all, they applied themselves to the task of rewriting the history of Israel, which, as told by the chroniclers of the previous century, presented the national Deity in too material a light, and one which failed to harmonise with the ideals then obtaining. So long as there were two separate Hebrew kingdoms, the existence of the two parallel versions of the Elohist and Jahvist gave rise to but little difficulty: each version had its own supporters and readers, whose consciences were readily satisfied by the interpolation of a few new facts into the text as occasion arose. But now that Samaria had fallen, and the whole political and religious life of the Hebrew race was centred in Judah alone, the necessity for a double and often contradictory narrative had ceased to exist, and the idea occurred of combining the two in a single work. This task, which was begun in the reign of Hezekiah and continued under Manasseh, resulted in the production of a literature of which fragments have been incorporated into the historical books of our Bible.*
The reign of Amon witnessed no alteration in the policy initiated by his predecessor Manasseh; but when, after less than two years' rule, he was suddenly struck down by the knife of an assassin, the party of reform carried the day, and the views of Hezekiah and Isaiah regained their ascendency. Josiah had been king, in name at any rate, for twelve years,** and was learning to act on his own responsibility, when the Scythian danger appeared on the horizon.
* The scheme of the present work prevents me from doing more than allude in passing to these preliminary stages in the composition of the Priestly Code. I shall have occasion to return briefly to the subject at the close of Volume IX.
** The date is supplied by the opening passage of the prophecy of Jeremiah, |to whom the word of Jehovah came in the days of Josiah, the son of Amon, King of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign| (i.2). Volney recognised that chaps, i., iv., v., and vi. of Jeremiah refer to the Scythian invasion, and since his time it has been admitted that, with the exception of certain interpolations in chaps, i. and iii., the whole of the first six chapters date from this period, but that they underwent slight modifications in the recension which was made in the fourth year of
Jehoiachin in order to make them applicable to the
threatened Chaldaean invasion. The date is important, since by using it as a basis we can approximately restore the chronology of the whole period. If we assume the thirteenth year of Josiah to have been 627-626 B.C., we are compelled to place all the early Medic wars in the reign of Assur- bani-pal, as I have done.
This barbarian invasion, which burst upon the peace of Assyria like a thunderbolt from a cloudless sky, restored to the faithful that confidence in the omnipotence of their God which had seemed about to fail them; when they beheld the downfall of states, the sack of provinces innumerable, whole provinces in flames and whole peoples irresistibly swept away to death or slavery, they began to ask themselves whether these were not signs of the divine wrath, indicating that the day of Jahveh was at hand. Prophets arose to announce the approaching judgment, among the rest a certain Zephaniah, a great-grandson of Hezekiah:* |I will utterly consume all things from off the face of the ground, saith Jahveh. I will consume man and beast; I will consume the fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea, and the stumbling-blocks with the wicked; and I will cut off man from the face of the earth, saith Jahveh. And I will stretch out My hand upon Judah, and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will cut off the remnant of Baal from this place, and the name of the Chemarim with the priests; and them that worship the host of heaven upon the housetops; and them that worship, which swear to Jahveh and swear by Malcham; and them that are turned back from following Jahveh; and those that have not sought Jahveh nor inquired after Him. Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord Jahveh; for the day of Jahveh is at hand; for Jahveh hath prepared a sacrifice, He hath sanctified His guests.|
* Zephaniah gives his own genealogy at the beginning of his prophecy (i.1), though, it is true, he does not add the title |King of Judah| after the name of his ancestor Hezekiah.
|That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of the trumpet and alarm, against the fenced cities, and against the high battlements. And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against Jahveh: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as dung. Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of Jahveh's wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of His jealousy; for He shall make an end, yea, a terrible end, of all them that dwell in the land.| During this same period of stress and terror, there came forward another prophet, one of the greatest among the prophets of Israel -- Jeremiah, son of Hilkiah. He was born in the village of Anathoth, near Jerusalem, being descended from one of those priestly families in which the faith had been handed down from generation to generation in all its original purity.*
* The descent and birthplace of Jeremiah are given at the beginning of his prophecies (i.1). He must have been quite young in the thirteenth year of Josiah, as is evident from the statement in i.6. We are told in chap, xxxvi. that in the fourth year of Jehoiakim he dictated a summary of all the prophecies delivered by him from the thirteenth year of Josiah up to the date indicated to his servant Baruch, and that later on he added a number of others of the same kind.
When Jahveh called him, he cried out in amazement, |Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.| But Jahveh reassured him, and touching his lips, said unto him, |Behold, I have put My words in thy mouth: see, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, and to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.| Then the prophet perceived a seething cauldron, the face of which appeared from the north, for the Eternal declared to him that |Out of the north evil shall break out upon all the inhabitants of the land.| Already the enemy is hastening: |Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as the whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles. Woe unto us! for we are spoiled. O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved. How long shall thine evil thoughts lodge within thee? For a voice declareth from Dan, and publisheth evil from the hills of Ephraim: make ye mention to the nations; behold, publish against Jerusalem!| The Scythians had hardly been mentioned before they were already beneath the walls, and the prophet almost swoons with horror at the sound of their approach. |My bowels, my bowels! I am pained at my very heart: my heart is disquieted in me; I cannot hold my peace; because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war. Destruction upon destruction is cried; for the whole land is spoiled, and my curtains in a moment. How long shall I see the standard and hear the sound of the trumpet?| It would seem that the torrent of invasion turned aside from the mountains of Judah; it flowed over Galilee, Samaria, and the Philistine Shephelah, its last eddies dying away on the frontiers of Egypt. Psammetiehus is said to have bribed the barbarians to retire. As they fell back they plundered the temple of Derketo, near Ashkelon: we are told that in order to punish them for this act of sacrilege, the goddess visited them with a disease which caused serious ravages amongst them, and which the survivors carried back with them to their own country.*
* Herodotus calls the goddess Aphrodite Urania, by which we must understand Derketo or Atargatis, who is mentioned by several other classical authors, e.g. Xanthus of Lydia, Diodorus Siculus, Strabo, Pliny. According to Justin, the Scythians were stopped only by the marshes of the Delta. The disease by which the Scythians were attacked is described by Hippocrates; but in spite of what he tells us about it, its precise nature has not yet been determined.
There was, however, no need to introduce a supernatural agency in order to account for their rapid disappearance. The main body of invaders had never quitted Media or the northern part of the Assyrian empire, and only the southern regions of Syria were in all probability exposed to the attacks of isolated bands. These stragglers, who year after year embarked in one desperate adventure after another, must have found great difficulty in filling up the gaps which even victories made in their ranks; enervated by the relaxing nature of the climate, they could offer little resistance to disease, and excess completed what the climate had begun, the result being that most of them died on the way, and only a few survived to rejoin the main body with their booty. For several months the tide of invasion continued to rise, then it ebbed as quickly as it had risen, till soon nothing was left to mark where it had passed save a pathway of ruins, not easily made good, and a feeling of terror which it took many a year to efface. It was long before Judah forgot the |mighty nation, the ancient nation, the nation whose language thou knowest not, neither understandest thou what they say.|* Men could still picture in imagination their squadrons marauding over the plains, robbing the fellah of his crops, his bread, his daughters, his sheep and oxen, his vines and fig trees, for |they lay hold on bow and spear; they are cruel and have no mercy; their voice roareth like the sea, and they ride upon horses; every one set in array as a man to the battle,** against thee, O daughter of Sion. We have heard the fame thereof; our hands wax feeble; anguish hath taken hold of us, and pangs as of a woman in travail.|*** The supremacy of the Scythians was of short duration. It was said in after-times that they had kept the whole of Asia in a state of terror for twenty-eight years, dating from their defeat of Cyaxares; but the length of this period is exaggerated.****
* Jer. v.15; it seems curious that the Hebrew prophet should use the epithet |ancient,| when we remember that the Scythians claimed to be the oldest nation in the world, older than even the Egyptians themselves.
** An obvious allusion to the regular formation adopted by the Scythian squadrons.
*** Jer. v.17; vi.23, 24.
**** The authenticity of the number of years given in Herodotus has been energetically defended by some modern historians, and not less forcibly denied by others, who reduce it, for example, in accordance with a doubtful passage of Justin, to eight years. By assigning all the events relating to the Scythian invaders to the mean period of twenty years, we should obtain the length of time which best corresponds to what is actually known of the general history of this epoch.
The Medes soon recovered from their disaster, but before engaging their foes in open conflict, they desired to rid themselves of the prince who had conquered them, and on whom the fortunes of the whole Scythian nation depended. Cyaxares, therefore, invited Madyes and his officers to a banquet, and after plying them to excess with meat and drink, he caused them all to be slain.*
* This episode is regarded as legendary by many modern historians. Winckler even goes so far as to deny the defeat of the Scythians: according to his view, they held
possession of Media till their chief, Astyages, was overthrown by Cyrus; Rost has gone even further, deeming even Cyaxares himself to have been a Scythian. For my part, I see no reason to reject the tradition of the fatal banquet. Without referring to more ancient illustrations, Noldeke recalls the fact that in a period of only ten years, from 1030 to 1040 a.d., the princes reigning over the Iranian lands rid themselves by similar methods of the Turcoman bands which harassed them. Such a proceeding has never been repugnant to Oriental morality, and it is of a kind to fix itself in the popular mind: far from wishing to suppress it, I should be inclined to see in it the nucleus of the whole tradition.
The barbarians made a brave resistance, in spite of the treason which had deprived them of their leaders: they yielded only after a long and bloody campaign, the details of which are unknown to us. Iranian legends wove into the theme of their expulsion all kinds of fantastic or romantic incidents. They related, for instance, how, in combination with the Parthians, the Scythians, under the leadership of their queen Zarinsea, several times defeated the Medes: she consented at last to conclude a treaty on equal terms, and peace having been signed, she retired to her capital of Boxanake, there to end her days. One body of the survivors re-entered Europe through the Caspian Gates, another wandered for some time between the Araxes and the Halys, seeking a country adapted to their native instincts and customs.* Cyaxares, relieved from the pressure put upon him by the Scythians, immediately resumed his efforts against Assyria, and was henceforward able to carry his plans to completion without encountering any serious obstacle. It would be incorrect to say that the Scythian invasion had overthrown the empire of the Sargonids: it had swept over it like a whirlwind, but had not torn from it one province, nor, indeed, even a single city. The nations, already exhausted by their struggles for independence, were incapable of displaying any energy when the barbarians had withdrawn, and continued to bow beneath the Ninevite yoke as much from familiarity with habitual servitude as from inability to shake themselves free. Assur-bani-pal had died about the year 625 B.C., after a reign of forty-two years, and his son Assur-etililani had assumed the double crown of Assyria and Babylon without opposition.**
* Herodotus speaks of these Scythians as having lived at first on good terms with Cyaxares.
** The date of Assur-bani-pal's death is not furnished by any Assyrian monument, but is inferred from the Canon of Ptolemy, where Saosduchin or Shamash-shumukin and Chinaladan or Assur-bani-pal each reigns forty-two years, from 668 or 667 to 626 or 625 B.C. The order of succession of the last Assyrian kings was for a long time doubtful, and Sin-shar- ishkun was placed before Assur-etililani; the inverse order seems to be now conclusively proved. The documents which seemed at one time to prove the existence of a last king of Assyria named Esarhaddon, identical with the Saracos of classical writers, really belong to Esarhaddon, the father of Assur-bani-pal. [Another king, Sin-sum-lisir, is mentioned in a contract dated at Nippur in his accession year. He may have been the immediate predecessor of Sarakos. -- ? Ed.]
Nineveh had been saved from pillage by the strength of her ramparts, but the other fortresses, Assur, Calah, and Dur-Sharrukin, had been destroyed during the late troubles; the enemy, whether Medes or Scythians, had taken them by storm or reduced them by famine, and they were now mere heaps of ruin, deserted save for a few wretched remnants of their population. Assur-etililani made some feeble attempts to restore to them a semblance of their ancient splendour. He erected at Calah, on the site of the palaces which had been destroyed by fire, a kind of castle rudely built, and still more rudely decorated, the rooms of which were small and low, and the walls of sun-dried brick were panelled only to the height of about a yard with slabs of limestone roughly squared, and without sculpture or inscription: the upper part of the walls was covered with a coating of uneven plaster. We do not know how long the inglorious reign of Assur-etililani lasted, nor whether he was assassinated or died a natural death. His brother, Sin-shar-ishkun,* who succeeded him about 620 B.C., at first exercised authority, as he had done, over Babylon as well as Nineveh,** and laboured, like his predecessor, to repair the edifices which had suffered by the invasion, making war on his neighbours, perhaps even on the Medes, without incurring serious losses.
* The name of this king was discovered by G. Smith on the fragments of a cylinder brought from Kouyunjik, where he read it as Bel-zakir-iskun. The real reading is Sin-shar- ishkun, and the similarity of this name with that of Saracos, the last king of Assyria according to Greek tradition, strikes one immediately. The relationship of this king to Assur-etililani was pointed out by Father Scheil from the fragment of a tablet on which Sin-shar-ishkun is declared to be the son of Assur-bani-pal, king of Assyria.
** This may be deduced from a passage of Abydenus, where Saracos or Sin-shar-ishkun sends Bussalossoros (that is, Nabopolassar) to defend Chaldae against the invasion of the peoples of the sea; so according to Abydenus, or rather Berosus, from whom Abydenus indirectly obtained his information, Saracos was King of Babylon as well as of Nineveh at the beginning of his reign.
The Chaldaeans, however, merely yielded him obedience from force of habit, and the moment was not far distant when they would endeavour to throw off his yoke. Babylon was at that time under the rule of a certain Nabu-bal-uzur, known to us as Nabopolassar, a Kaldu of ancient lineage, raised possibly by Assur-bani-pal to the dignity of governor, but who, in any case, had assumed the title of king on the accession of Assur-etililani.*
* The Canon of Ptolemy makes Nabopolassar the direct successor of Chinaladan, and his testimony is justified by the series of Babylonian contracts which exist in fairly regular succession from the second to the twenty-first years of Nabopolassar. The account given by Berosus makes him a general of Saracos, but the contradiction which this offers to the testimony of the Canon can be explained if he is considered as a vassal-king; the kings of Egypt and of Media were likewise only satraps, according to Babylonian tradition.
His was but a local sovereignty, restricted probably to the city and its environs; and for twelve or thirteen years he had rested content with this secondary position, when an unforeseen incident presented him with the opportunity of rising to the first rank. Tradition asserted that an immense army suddenly landed at the mouths of the Euphrates and the Tigris; probably under this story is concealed the memory of one of those revolts of the Bit-Yakin and the tribes dwelling on the shores of the Nar-Marratum, such as had often produced consternation in the minds of the Sargonid kings.* Sin-shar-ishkun, distracted doubtless by other anxieties, acted as his ancestors had done in similar circumstances, and enjoined on his vassal to march against the aggressors and drive them into the sea; but Nabopolassar, instead of obeying his suzerain, joined forces with the rebels, and declared his independence. Assur-etililani and his younger brother had possibly neglected to take the hands of Bel, and were therefore looked upon as illegitimate sovereigns. The annalists of later times erased their names from the Royal Canon, and placed Nabopolassar immediately after Assur-bani-pal, whom they called Kandalanu. But however feeble Assyria had become, the cities on the Lower Euphrates feared her still, and refused to ally themselves with the pretender. Nabopolassar might perhaps have succumbed, as so many before him had done, had he been forced to rely entirely on his own resources, and he might have shared the sad fate of Merodach-baladan or of Shamash-shumukin; but Marduk, who never failed to show favour to his faithful devotees, |raised up help for him and secured him an ally.| The eyes of all who were oppressed by the cruel yoke of Nineveh were now turned on Cyaxares, and from the time that he had dispersed the Scythian hordes it was to him that they looked for salvation. Nabopolassar besought his assistance, which the Median king graciously promised;** it is even affirmed that a marriage concluded between one of his daughters, Amyfcis, and Nebuchadrezzar, the heir to the throne of Babylon, cemented the alliance.***
* Formerly these barbarians were identified with the remains of the Scythian hordes, and this hypothesis has been recently revived by Prashek. G. Rawlinson long ago
recognised that the reference must be to the Chaldaeans, who were perhaps joined by the Susians.
** The Cylinder of Nabonichs, the only original document in which allusion is made to the destruction of Nineveh, speaks of the Umman-Manda and their king, whom it does not name, and it has been agreed to recognise Cyaxares in this sovereign. On the other hand, the name of Umman-Manda certainly designates in the Assyrian texts the wandering Iranian tribes to whom the Greeks gave the name of Sakse or Scythians; the result, in the opinions of several
Assyriologists of the present day, is that neither Astyages nor Cyaxares were Medes in the sense in which we have hitherto accepted them as such on the evidence of Herodotus, but that they were Scythians, the Scythians of the great invasion. This conclusion does not seem to me at present justified. The Babylonians, who up till then had not had any direct intercourse either with the Madai or the Umman-Manda, did as the Egyptians had done whether in Saite or Ptolemaic times, continuing to designate as Khari, Kafiti, Lotanu, and Khati the nations subject to the Persians or Macedonians; they applied a traditional name of olden days to present circumstances, and I see, at present, no decisive reason to change, on the mere authority of this one word, all that the classical writers have handed down concerning the history of the epoch according to the tradition current in their days.
*** The name of the princess is written Amuhia, Amyitis. The classical sources, the only ones which mention her, make her the daughter of Astyages, and this has given rise to various hypotheses. According to some, the notice of this princess has no historical value. According to others, the Astyages mentioned as her father is not Cyaxares the Mede, but a Scythian prince who came to the succour of Nabopolassar, perhaps a predecessor of Cyaxares on the Median throne, and in this case Phraortes himself under another name. The most prudent course is still to admit that Abydenus, or one of the compilers of extracts to whom we owe the information, has substituted the name of the last king of Media for that of his predecessor, either by mistake, or by reason of some chronological combinations. Amyitis, transported into the harem of the Chaldaean monarch, served, like all princesses married out of their own countries, as a pledge for the faithful observance by her relatives of the treaty which had been concluded.
The western provinces of the empire did not permit themselves to be drawn into the movement, and Judah, for example, remained faithful to its suzerain till the last moment,* but Sin-shar-ishkun received no help from them, and was obliged to fight his last battles single-handed. He shut himself up in Nineveh, and held out as long as he could; but when all his resources were exhausted -- ammunitions of war, men and food supplies -- he met his fate as a king, and burnt himself alive in his palace with his children and his wives, rather than fall alive into the hands of his conquerors (608 B.C.). The Babylonians would take no part in pillaging the temples, out of respect for the gods, who were practically identical with their own, but the Medes felt no such scruples. |Their king, the intrepid one, entirely destroyed the sanctuaries of the gods of Assur, and the cities of Accad which had shown themselves hostile to the lord of Accad, and had not rendered him assistance. He destroyed their holy places, and left not one remaining; he devastated their cities, and laid them waste as it were with a hurricane.| Nineveh laid low, Assyria no longer existed. After the lapse of a few years, she was named only among the legends of mythical days: two centuries later, her very site was forgotten, and a Greek army passed almost under the shadow of her dismantled towers, without a suspicion that there lay before it all that remained of the city where Semiramis had reigned in her glory.**
* It was to oppose the march of Necho against the King of Assyria that Josiah fought the battle of Megiddo (2 Kings xxiii.29, 30; cf.2 Chron. xxxv.20-24, where the mention of the King of Assyria is suppressed).
** This is what the Ten Thousand did when they passed before Larissa and Mespila. The name remained famous, and later on the town which bore it attained a relative importance.
It is true that Egypt, Chaldaea, and the other military nations of the East, had never, in their hours of prosperity, shown the slightest consideration for their vanquished foes; the Theban Pharaohs had mercilessly crushed Africa and Asia beneath their feet, and had led into slavery the entire population of the countries they had subdued. But the Egyptians and Chaldaeans had, at least, accomplished a work of civilization whose splendour redeemed the brutalities of their acts of reprisal. It was from Egypt and Chaldaea that the knowledge and the arts of antiquity -- astronomy, medicine, geometry, physical and natural sciences -- spread to the ancestors of the classic races; and though Chaldaea yields up to us unwillingly, with niggard hand, the monuments of her most ancient kings, the temples and tombs of Egypt still exist to prove what signal advances the earliest civilised races made in the arts of the sculptor and the architect. But on turning to Assyria, if, after patiently studying the successive centuries during which she held supreme sway over the Eastern world, we look for other results besides her conquests, we shall find she possessed nothing that was not borrowed from extraneous sources. She received all her inspirations from Chaldaea -- her civilisation, her manners, the implements of her industries and of agriculture, besides her scientific and religious literature: one thing alone is of native growth, the military tactics of her generals and the excellence of her soldiery. From the day when Assyria first realised her own strength, she lived only for war and rapine; and as soon as the exhaustion of her population rendered success on the field of battle an impossibility, the reason for her very existence vanished, and she passed away.
Two great kingdoms rose simultaneously from her ruins. Cyaxares claimed Assyria proper and its dependencies on the Upper Tigris, but he specially reserved for himself the yet unconquered lands on the northern and eastern frontiers, whose inhabitants had only recently taken part in the political life of the times. Nabopolassar retained the suzerainty over the lowlands of Elam, the districts of Mesopotamia lying along the Euphrates, Syria, Palestine, and most of the countries which had hitherto played a part in history;* he claimed to exert his supremacy beyond the Isthmus, and the Chaldaean government looked upon the Egyptian kings as its feudatories because for some few years they had owned the suzerainty of Nineveh.**
* There was no actual division of the empire, as has been often asserted, but each of the allies kept the portion which fell into his power at the moment of their joint effort. The two new states gradually increased in power by successive conquests, each annexing by degrees the ancient provinces of Assyria nearest to its own frontier.
** This seems to be implied by the terms in which Berosus speaks of Necho: he considers him as a rebel satrap over the provinces of Egypt, Coele-Syria, and Phoenicia, and enumerates Egypt in conjunction with Syria, Phoenicia, and Arabia among the dependencies of Nabopolassar and
Nebuchadrezzar. Just as the Egyptian state documents never mentioned the Lotanu or the Kharu without entitling them Children of Rebellion, so the Chaldaean government, the heir of Assyria, could only look upon the kings of Syria, Arabia, and Egypt as rebellious vassals.
[Illustration: 330. MAP OF THE EASTERN WORLD IN THE TIME OF NEBUCHADNEZZAR]
The Pharaoh, however, did not long tolerate this pretension, and far from looking forward to bend the knee before a Chaldaean monarch, he believed himself strong enough to reassert his ancestral claims to the possession of Asia. Egypt had experienced many changes since the day when Tanuatamanu, returning to Ethiopia, had abandoned her to the ambition of the petty dynasties of the Delta. One of the romances current among the people of Sais in the fifth century B.C. related that at that time the whole land was divided between twelve princes. They lived peaceably side by side in friendly relations with each other, until an oracle predicted that the whole valley would finally belong to that prince among them who should pour a libation to Phtah into a brazen cup, and thenceforward they jealously watched each other each time they assembled to officiate in the temple of Memphis. One day, when they had met together in state, and the high priest presented to them the golden cups they were wont to use, he found he had mistaken their number, and had only prepared eleven. Psammetichus was therefore left without one, and in order not to disarrange the ceremonial he took off his brazen helmet and used it to make his libation; when the rest perceived this, the words of the oracle came to their remembrance, and they exiled the imprudent prince to the marshes along the sea-coast, and forbade him ever to quit them. He secretly consulted the oracle of Isis of Buto to know what he might expect from the gods, and she replied that the means of revenge would reach him from the sea, on the day when brazen soldiers should issue from its waters. He thought at first that the priests were mocking him, but shortly afterwards Ionian and Carian pirates, clad in their coats of mail, landed not far from his abode. The messenger who brought tidings of their advent had never before seen a soldier fully armed, and reported that brazen men had issued from the waves and were pillaging the country. Psammetichus, realising at once that the prediction was being fulfilled, ran to meet the strangers, enrolled them in his service, and with their aid overthrew successively his eleven rivals.*
* The account given by Diodorus of these events is in general derived from that of Herodotus, with additional details borrowed directly or indirectly from some historian of the same epoch, perhaps Hellanicus of Mitylene: the reason of the persecution endured by Psammetichus is, according to him, not the fear of seeing the prediction fulfilled, but jealousy of the wealth the Saite prince had acquired by his commerce with the Greeks. I have separated the narrative of Herodotus from his account of the Labyrinth which did not originally belong to it, but was connected with a different cycle of legends. The original romance was part of the cycle which grew up around the oracle of Buto, so celebrated in Egypt at the Persian epoch, several other fragments of which are preserved in Herodotus; it had been mixed up with one of the versions of the stories relating to the Labyrinth, probably by some dragoman of the Fayyum. The number twelve does not correspond with the information furnished by the Assyrian texts, which enumerate more than twenty Egyptian princes; it is perhaps of Greek origin, like the twelve great gods which the informants of Herodotus tried to make out in Egypt, and was introduced into the Egyptian version by a Greek interpreter.
A brazen helmet and an oracle had dethroned him; another oracle and brazen men had replaced him on his throne. A shorter version of these events made no mention of the twelve kings, but related instead that a certain Pharaoh named Tementhes had been warned by the oracle of Amon to beware of cocks. Now Psammetichus had as a companion in exile a Carian named Pigres, and in conversing with him one day, he learned by chance that the Carians had been the first people to wear crested helmets; he recalled at once the words of the oracle, and hired from Asia a number of these |cocks,| with whose assistance he revolted and overthrew his suzerain in battle under the walls of Memphis, close to the temple of Isis. Such is the legendary account of the Saite renaissance; its true history is not yet clearly and precisely known. Egypt was in a state of complete disintegration when Psammetichus at length revived the ambitious projects of his family, but the dissolution of the various component parts had not everywhere taken place in the same manner.
[Illustration: 335.jpg THREE HOPLITES IN ACTION]
Drawn by faucher-Gudin, from an archaic vase-painting in the collection of Salzmann.
In the north, the Delta and the Nile valley, as far as Siut, were in the power of a military aristocracy, supported by irregular native troops and bands of mercenaries, for the most part of Libyan extraction, who were always designated by the generic name of Mashauasha. Most of these nobles were in possession of not more than two or three cities apiece: they had barely a sufficient number of supporters to maintain their precarious existence in their restricted domains, and would soon have succumbed to the attacks of their stronger neighbours, had they not found a powerful protector to assist them. They had finally separated themselves into two groups, divided roughly by the central arm of the Nile. One group comprised the districts that might be designated as the Asiatic zone of the country -- Heliopolis, Bubastis, Mendes, Tanis, Busiris, and Seben-nytos -- and it recognised as chief the lord of one or other of those wealthy cities, now the ruler of Bubastis, now of Tanis, and lastly Pakruru of Pisaptit. The second group centred in the lords of Sais, to whom the possession of Memphis had secured a preponderating voice in the counsels of the state for more than a century.*
* This grouping, which might already have been suspected from the manner in which the Assyrian and Egyptian monuments of the period show us the feudal princes rallying round Necho I. and Pakruru, is indicated by the details in the demotic romance published by Krall, where the foundation of the story is the state of Egypt in the time of the |twelve kings.|
The fiefs and kingdoms of Middle Egypt wavered between the two groups, playing, however, a merely passive part in affairs: abandoning themselves to the stream of events rather than attempting to direct it, they owed allegiance to Sais and Tanis alternately as each prevailed over its rival. On passing thence into the Thebaid a different world appeared to be entered. There Amon reigned, ever increasingly supreme, and the steady advance of his influence had transformed his whole domain into a regular theocracy, where the women occupied the highest position and could alone transmit authority. At first, as we have seen, it was passed on to their husbands and their children, but latterly the rapidity with which the valley had changed masters had modified this law of succession in a remarkable way. Each time the principality shifted its allegiance from one king to another, the new sovereign naturally hastened to install beside the divine female worshipper a man devoted to his interests, who should administer the fief to the best advantage of the suzerain. It is impossible to say whether he actually imposed this minister on her as a husband, or whether the time came when she was obliged to submit to as many espousals as there occurred revolutions in the destinies of Egypt.* However this may be, we know that from the first half of the seventh century B.C. the custom arose of placing beside |the divine worshipper| a princess of the dominant family, whom she adopted, and who thus became her heiress-designate. Taharqa had in this way associated one of his sisters, Shapenuapit II., with the queen Amenertas when the latter had lost her husband, Pionkhi; and Shapenuapit, succeeding her adopted mother, had reigned over Thebes in the Ethiopian interest during many years. There is nothing to show that she was married, and perhaps she was compensated for her official celibacy by being authorised to live the free life of an ordinary Pallacide;** her minister Montumihait directed her affairs for her so completely that the Assyrian conquerors looked upon him as petty king of Thebes. Tanuatamanu confirmed him in his office when the Assyrians evacuated the Said, and the few years which had elapsed since that event had in no way modified the regime established immediately on their departure.
* They would have been, in fact, in the same condition as the Hova queens of our century, who married the ministers who reigned in their names.
** It is perhaps these last female descendants of the high priests that are intended in a passage where Strabo speaks of the Pallacides who were chosen from among the most noble families of the city. Diodorus mentions their tombs, quoting from Hecatous of Abdera, but he does not appear to know the nature of their life; but the name of Pallacides which he applies to them proves that their manner of life was really that which Strabo describes.
It is uncertain how long Assur-bani-pal in the north, and Tanuatamanu in the south, respectively maintained a precarious sovereignty over the portions of Egypt nearest to their own capitals.
[Illustration: 338.jpg STATUE OF A THEBAN QUEEN]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by M. de Bissing. The statue, whose feet are missing, represents either Amenertas I. or Mutertas; it was never completely finished, and several of the parts have never received their final polish.
The opening of the reign of Psammetichus seems to have been fraught with difficulties, and the tradition which represents him as proscribed by his peers, and confined to the marshes of the sea-coast, has probably a certain basis of truth. Pakruru, who had brought all the western part of the Delta under his own influence, and who, incessantly oscillating between Assyria and Ethiopia, had yet been able to preserve his power and his life, had certainly not of his own free will renounced the hope of some day wearing the double crown. It was against him or his successor that Psammetichus must have undertaken his first wars, and it was perhaps with the help of Assyrian governors that the federal coalition drove him back to the coast. He extricated himself from this untoward situation by the help of Greek and Asiatic mercenaries, his Ionians and Carians. Some historians stated that the decisive battle was fought near Memphis, in sight of the temple of Isis; others affirmed that it took place at Momemphis, that several of the princes perished in the conflict, and that the rest escaped into Libya, whence they never returned; others, again, spoke of an encounter on the Nile, when the fleet of the Saite king dispersed that of his rivals. It is, in fact, probable that a single campaign sufficed for Psammetichus, as formerly for the Ethiopian pretenders, to get the upper hand, and that the Egyptian feudal lords submitted after one or two defeats at most, hoping that, as in days gone by, when the first dash made by the new Pharaoh was over, his authority would decline, and their own would regain the ascendency. Events showed that they were deceived. Psammetichus, better served by his Hellenes than Tafnakhti or Bocchoris had been by their Libyans, or Pionkhi and Tanuatamanu by their Ethiopians, soon consolidated his rule over the country he had conquered. From 660 or 659 B.C. he so effectively governed Egypt that foreigners, and even the Assyrians themselves commonly accorded him the title of king. The fall of the Ninevite rule had been involved in that of the feudal lords, but it was generally believed that Assur-bani-pal would leave no means untried to recall the countries of the Nile to their obedience: Psammetichus knew this, and knew also that, as soon as they were no longer detained by wars or rebellions elsewhere, the Assyrian armies would reappear in Egypt. He therefore entered into an alliance with Gyges,* and subsequently, perhaps, with Shamash-shumukin also; then, while his former suzerain was waging war in Elam and Chaldaea, he turned southwards, in 658 B.C., and took possession of the Thebaid without encountering any opposition from the Ethiopians, as his ancestor Tafnakhti had from Pionkhi-Miamun. Mon-tumihait** negotiated this capitulation of Thebes, as he had already negotiated so many others; in recompense for this service, he was confirmed in his office, and his queen retained her high rank.
* The annexation of the Thebaid and the consequent
pacification of Egypt was an accomplished fact in the year IX. of Psammetichus I. The analogy of similar documents, e.g. the stele of the high priest Menkhopirri, shows that the ceremony of adoption which consecrated the reunion of Upper and Lower Egypt cannot have been separated by a long interval from the completion of the reunion itself: in placing this at the end of the year VIII., we should have for the two events the respective dates of 658-657 and 657- 656 B.C.
** The part played by Montumihait in this affair is easily deduced: (1) from our knowledge of his conduct some years previously under Taharqa and Tanuatamanu; (2) from the position he occupied at Thebes, in the year IX., with regard to Shapenuapit, according to the stele of Legrain.
A century or two earlier Psammetichus would have married one of the princesses of sacerdotal lineage, and this union would have sufficed to legalise his position; perhaps he actually associated Shapenuapit with himself by a show of marriage, but in any case he provided her with an adopted daughter according to the custom instituted by the Ethiopian Pharaohs. She already had one daughter by adoption, whom she had received at the hands of Taharqa, and who, in changing her family, had assumed the name of Amenertas in honour of the queen who had preceded Shapenuapit: Psammetichus forced her to replace the Ethiopian princess by one of his own daughters, who was henceforth called Shapenuapit, after her new mother. A deputation of the nobles and priests of Thebes came to escort the princess from Memphis, in the month of Tybi, in the ninth year of the reign: Psammetichus formally presented her to them, and the ambassadors, having listened to his address, expatiated in the customary eulogies on his splendour and generosity. |They shall endure as long as the world lasteth; all that thou ordainest shall endure. How beautiful is that which God hath done for thee, how glorious that which thy divine father hath done for thee? He is pleased that thy double should be commemorated, he rejoices in the pronouncing of thy name, for our lord Psammetichus has made a gift to his father Amon, he has given him his eldest daughter, his beloved Mtauqrit Shapenuapit, to be his divine spouse, that she may shake the sistrum before him!| On the 28th of Tybi the princess left the harem, clothed in fine linen and adorned with ornaments of malachite, and descended to the quay, accompanied by an immense throng, to set out for her new home. Relays stationed along the river at intervals made the voyage so expeditious that at the end of sixteen days the princess came in sight of Thebes. She disembarked on the 14th of Khoiak, amid the acclamations of the people: |She comes, the daughter of the King of the South, Nitauqrit, to the dwelling of Amon, that he may possess her and unite her to himself; she comes, the daughter of the King of the North, Shapenuapit, to the temple of Karnak, that the gods may there chant her praises.| As soon as the aged Shapenuapit had seen her coadjutor, |she loved her more than all things,| and assigned her a dowry, the same as that which she had received from her own parents, and which she had granted to her first adopted daughter Amenertas. The magnates of Thebes -- the aged Montumihait, his son Nsiphtah, and the prophets of Amon -- vied with each other in their gifts of welcome: Psammetichus, on his side, had acted most generously, and the temples of Egypt assigned to the princess an annual income out of their revenues, or bestowed upon her grants of houses and lands, in all constituting a considerable inheritance, which somewhat consoled the Thebans for their subjection to a dynasty emanating from the cities of the north. The rest of the principality imitated the example of Thebes and the whole of Egypt, from the shores of the Mediterranean to the rocks of the first cataract, once more found itself reunited under the sceptre of an Egyptian king. A small part of Nubia, the portion nearest to Elephantine, followed this movement, but the greater part refused to cut itself off from the Ethiopians. These latter were henceforth confined to the regions along the middle course of the Nile, isolated from the rest of the world by the deserts, the Red Sea, and Egypt. It is probable that they did not give up without a struggle the hope of regaining the ground they had lost, and that their armies made more than one expedition in a northerly direction. The inhabitants of the Thebaid could hardly fail to remain faithful to them at heart, and to recognise in them the legitimate representatives of the posterity of Amon; it is possible that now and again they succeeded in penetrating as far as the ancient capital, but if so, their success was always ephemeral, and their sojourn left no permanent traces. The same causes, however, which had broken up the constituent elements, and destroyed the unity of Greater Egypt at the end of the Theban period, were still at work in Saite times to prevent the building up again of the empire. The preservation of the balance of power in this long and narrow strip of country depended on the centre of attraction and on the seat of government being nearly equidistant from the two extremities. This condition had been fulfilled as long as the court resided at Thebes; but as the removal of the seat of government to the Delta caused the loss and separation of the southern provinces, so its sudden return to the extreme south, with a temporary sojourn at Napata, necessarily produced a similar effect, and led to the speedy secession of the northern provinces. In either case, the dynasty placed at one extremity of the empire was unable to sustain for any length of time the weight depending on it at the other; when once the balance became even slightly disturbed, it could not regain its equilibrium, and there was consequently a sudden dislocation of the machinery of government.
The triumph of the Saite dynasty accomplished the final ruin of the work begun under the Papis, and brought to completion by the Amenemhaits and the Usirtasens. Greater Egypt ceased to exist, after more than twenty centuries of glorious life, and was replaced by the Little Egypt of the first ages of history. The defeat of the military chiefs of the north, the annexation of the principality of Amon, and the final expulsion of the Ethiopians and the Asiatics had occupied scarcely nine years, but these feats constituted only the smaller part of the work Psammetichus had to accomplish: his subsequent task lay in restoring prosperity to his kingdom, or, at all events, in raising it from the state of misery into which two centuries of civil wars and invasions had plunged it. The important cities had suffered grievously: Memphis had been besieged and taken by assault by both Pionkhi and Esar-haddon, Thebes had been twice sacked by the veterans of Assur-bani-pal, and from Syene to Pelusium there was not a township but had suffered at the hands of foreigners or of the Egyptians themselves. The country had enjoyed a moment's breathing-space under Sabaco, but the little good which this prince had been able to accomplish was effaced immediately after his death: the canals and dykes had been neglected, the supervision of the police relaxed, and the population, periodically decimated or driven to take refuge in the strongholds, had often allowed the lands to lie waste, so that famine had been superadded to the other evils under which the land already groaned. Psammetichus, having forced the feudal lords to submit to his supremacy, deprived them of the royal titles they had unduly assumed; he no longer tolerated their habits of private warfare, but restricted them to the functions of hereditary governors, which their ancestors had exercised under the conquering dynasties of former times,* and this enforced peace soon allowed the rural population to devote themselves joyfully to their regular occupations.
* During the last few years records of a certain number of persons have been discovered whose names and condition prove that they were the descendants of semi-independent princes of the Ethiopian and Bubastite periods: e.g. a certain Akaneshu, who was prince of Sebennytos under Psammetichus I., and who very probably was the grandson of Akaneshu, prince of the same town under Pionkhi; and a Sheshonq of Busiris, who was perhaps a descendant of Sheshonq, prince of Busiris under Pionkhi.
With so fertile a soil, two or three years of security, during which the fellahin were able to sow and reap their crops free from the fear of marauding bands, sufficed to restore abundance, if not wealth, to the country, and Psammetichus succeeded in securing both these and other benefits to Egypt, thanks to the vigilant severity of his administration. He would have been unable to accomplish these reforms had he relied only on the forces which had been at the disposal of his ancestors -- the native troops demoralised by poverty, and the undisciplined bands of Libyan mercenaries, which constituted the sole normal force of the Tanite and Bubastite Pharaohs and the barons of the Delta and Middle Egypt. His experience of these two classes of soldiery had decided him to look elsewhere for a less precarious support, and ever since chance had brought him in contact with the Ionians and Carians, he had surrounded himself with a regular army of Hellenic and Asiatic mercenaries. It is impossible to exaggerate the terror that the apparition of these men produced in the minds of the African peoples, or the revolution they effected, alike in peace or war, in Oriental states: the charge of the Spanish soldiery among the lightly clad foot-soldiers of Mexico and Peru could not have caused more dismay than did that of the hoplites from beyond the sea among the half-naked archers and pikemen of Egypt and Libya. With their bulging corselets, the two plates of which protected back and chest, their greaves made of a single piece of bronze reaching from the ankle to the knee, their square or oval bucklers covered with metal, their heavy rounded helmets fitting closely to the head and neck, and surmounted by crests of waving plumes, they were, in truth, men of brass, invulnerable to any Oriental weapon. Drawn up in close array beneath their |tortoise,| they received almost unhurt the hail of arrows and stones hurled against them by the lightly armed infantry, and then, when their own trumpet sounded the signal for attack, and they let themselves fall with their whole weight upon the masses of the enemy, brandishing their spears above the upper edge of their bucklers, there was no force of native troops or company of Mashauasha that did not waver beneath the shock and finally give way before their attack. The Egyptians felt themselves incapable of overcoming them except by superior numbers or by stratagem, and it was the knowledge of their own hopeless inferiority which prevented the feudal lords from attempting to revenge themselves on Psammetichus. To make themselves his equals, they would have been obliged either to take a sufficient number of similar warriors into their own pay -- and this they were not able to afford -- or they must have won over those already in the employ of their suzerain; but the liberality with which Psammetichus treated his mercenaries gave them good cause to be faithful, even if military honour had not sufficed to keep them loyal to their employer. Psammetichus granted to them and their compatriots, who were attracted by the fame of Egypt, a concession of the fertile lands of the Delta stretching along the Pelusiac branch of the Nile, and he was careful to separate the Ionians from the Carians by the whole breadth of the river: this was a wise precaution, for their union beneath a common flag had not extinguished their inherited hatred of one another, and the authority of the general did not always suffice to prevent fatal quarrels breaking out between contingents of different nationalities.
[Illustration: 347.jpg THE SAITE FORTRESS OF DAPHNE]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a restoration by Fl. Petrie.
They occupied, moreover, regularly entrenched camps, enclosed within massive walls, containing a collection of mud huts or houses of brick, the whole enclosure commanded by a fortress which formed the headquarters of the general and staff of officers. Some merchants from Miletus, emboldened by the presence of their fellow-countrymen, sailed with thirty vessels into the mouth of the Bolbitine branch of the Nile, and there founded a settlement which they named the Port of the Milesians, and, following in their wake, successive relays of emigrants arrived to reinforce the infant colony. The king entrusted a certain number of Egyptian children to the care of these Greek settlers, to be instructed in their language,* and the interpreters thus educated in their schools increased in proportion as the bonds of commercial and friendly intercourse between Greece and Egypt became strengthened, so that ere long, in the towns of the Delta, they constituted a regular class, whose function was to act as intermediaries between the two races.
* Diodorus, or rather the historian whom he follows, assures us that Psammetichus went still further, and gave his own children a Greek education; what is possible and even probable, is, that he had them taught Greek. A bronze Apis in the Gizeh Museum was dedicated by an interpreter who inscribed on it a bilingual inscription in hieroglyphics and Carian.
[Illustration: 348a.jpg EGYPTIAN GREEK]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from PI, Petrie. The original statuette in alabaster is now in the Gizeh Museum; the Cyprian style of the figure is easily recognised.
[Illustration: 348b.jpg EGYPTIAN GREEK]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from PI. Petrie. The original limestone statuette is in the Gizeh Museum.
By thus bringing his subjects in contact with an active, industrious, and enterprising nation, full of youthful vigour, Psammetichus no doubt hoped to inspire them with some of the qualities which he discerned in the colonists, but Egypt during the last two centuries had suffered too much at the hands of foreigners of all kinds to be favourably disposed to these new-comers. It would have been different had they presented themselves in humble guise like the Asiatics and Africans to whom Egypt had opened her doors so freely after the XVIIIth dynasty, and if they had adopted the obsequious manners of the Phoenician and Hebrew merchants; but they landed from their ships fully equipped for war, and, proud of their own courage and ability, they vied with the natives of the ancient race, whether of plebeian or noble birth, for the favour of the sovereign. Their language, their rude military customs, their cunning devices in trade, even the astonishment they manifested at the civilisation of the country, rendered them objects of disdain, as well as of jealous hatred to the Egyptian. The food of which they partook made them unclean in native estimation, and the horrified fellah shunned contact with them from fear of defiling himself, refusing to eat with them, or to use the same knife or cooking-vessel: the scribes and members of the higher classes, astonished at their ignorance, treated them like children with no past history, whose ancestors a few generations back had been mere savages.
Although unexpressed at first, this hostility towards the Hellenes was not long in manifesting itself openly. The Saite tradition attributed it to a movement of wounded vanity. Psammetichus, to recompense the prowess of his Ionian and Carian soldiers, had attached them to his own person, and assigned to them the post of honour on the right wing when the army was drawn up for review or in battle array.*
* Diodorus Siculus states that it was during the Syrian war that the king thus honoured his mercenary troops. Wiedemann thinks this is an erroneous inference drawn from the passage of Herodotus, in which he explains the meaning of the word Asmakh.
They reaped thus the double advantage of the glory, which they greatly prized, and of the higher pay attached to the title of body-guard, but the troops who had hitherto enjoyed these advantages were naturally indignant at losing them, and began to murmur. One particularly galling circumstance at last caused their discontent to break out. The eastern and southern frontiers of Egypt were conterminous with those of two conquering empires, Assyria and Ethiopia, and on the west the Libyan tribes along the shores of the Mediterranean were powerful enough to demand constant vigilance on the part of the border garrisons. Psammetichus, among other reforms, had reorganised the ancient system of defence. While placing outposts at the entrance to the passes leading from the desert into the Nile valley, he had concentrated considerable masses of troops at the three most vulnerable points -- the outlets of the road to Syria, the country surrounding Lake Mareotis, and the first cataract; he had fortified Daphnse, near the old town of Zalu, as a defence against the Assyrians, Marea against the Libyan Bedawin, and Elephantine against the Ethiopians. These advanced posts had been garrisoned with native troops who were quartered there for a year at a time. To be condemned to such an exile for so long a period raised in them a sense of profound indignation, but when the king apparently forgot them and left them there three years without sending other troops to relieve them, their anger knew no bounds. They resolved to put an end to such treatment, and as the hope of a successful rebellion seemed but small, they decided to leave the country. Two hundred and forty thousand of them assembled on a given day with their arms and baggage, and marched in good order towards Ethiopia. Psammetichus, warned of their intentions when ifc was too late, hastened after them with a handful of followers, and coming up with them, besought them not to desert their national gods, their wives, and their children. He had nearly prevailed on them to return, when one soldier, with a significant gesture, intimated that while manhood lasted they had power to create new families wherever they might chance to dwell. The details of this story betray the popular legend, but nevertheless have a basis of truth. The inscriptions from the time of Psammetichus onwards never mention the Mashauasha, while their name and their exploits constantly recur in the history of the preceding dynasties: henceforth they and their chiefs vanish from sight, and discord and brigandage simultaneously cease in the Egyptian nomes. It was very probably the most turbulent among these auxiliaries who left the country in the circumstances above narrated: since they could not contest the superiority of their Greek rivals, they concluded that their own part was played out, and rather than be relegated to the second rank, they preferred to quit the land in a body. Psammetichus, thus deprived of their support at the moment when Egypt had more than ever need of all her forces to regain her rightful position in the world, reorganised the military system as best he could. He does not seem to have relied much upon the contingents from Upper Egypt, to whom was doubtless entrusted the defence of the Nubian frontier, and who could not be withdrawn from their posts without danger of invasion or revolt. But the source of imminent peril did not lie in this direction, where Ethiopia, exhausted by the wars of Taharqa and Tanuatamanu, perhaps needed repose even more than Egypt itself, but rather on the Asiatic side, where Assur-bani-pal, in spite of the complications constantly arising in Karduniash and Elam, had by no means renounced his claims to the suzerainty of Egypt. The Pharaoh divided the feudatory militia of the Delta into two classes, which resided apart in different sets of nomes. The first group, who were popularly called Hermotybies, were stationed at Busiris, Sais, and Khemmis, in the island of Prosopitis, and in one half of Natho -- in fact, in the district which for the last century had formed the centre of the principality of the Saite dynasty: perhaps they were mostly of Libyan origin, and represented the bands of Mashauasha who, from father to son, had served under Tafnakhti and his descendants. Popular report numbered them at 160,000 men, all told, and the total number of the other class, known as the Calasiries, at 250,000; these latter belonged, in my opinion, to the pure Egyptian race, and were met with at Thebes, while the troops of the north, who were more generally called out, were scattered over the territory which formerly supported the Tanite and Bubastite kings, and latterly Pakruru, and which comprised the towns of Bubastis, Aphthis, Tanis, Mendes, Sebennytos, Athribis, Pharbaathos, Thmuis, Onuphis, Anysis, and Myecphoris. Each year one thousand Hermotybies and one thousand Calasiries were chosen to form the royal body-guard, and these received daily five minae of bread apiece, two minas of beef, and four bowls of wine; the jealousy which had been excited by the Greek troops was thus lessened, as well as the discontent provoked by the emigration.*
* Calasiris, the exact transcription of Khala-shiri, Khala-shere, signifying young man. The meaning and original of the word transcribed Hermotybies by Herodotus, and Hermotymbies according to a variant given by Stephen of Byzantium, is as yet unknown, but it seems to me to conceal a title analogous to that of Hir-mazaiu, and to designate what remained of Libyan soldiers in Egypt. This organisation of the army is described by Herodotus as existing in his own days, and there were Calasiries and Hermotybies in the Egyptian contingent which accompanied the army of Mardonius to Greece; it is nowhere stated that it was the work of Psammetichus, but everything points to the conclusion that it was so, at all events in the form in which it was known to the Greeks.
The King of Napata gladly welcomed the timely reinforcements which arrived to fill up the vacancies in his army and among his people, weakened by a century of rapid changes, and generously gave them permission to conquer for themselves some territory in the possession of his enemies! Having driven out the barbarians, they established themselves in the peninsula formed by the White and Blue Niles, and their numbers increased so greatly that in course of time they became a considerable nation. They called themselves Asmakh, the men who stand on the king's left hand, in memory of the affront put upon them, and which they had avenged by their self-exile: Greek travellers and geographers called them sometimes Automoli, sometimes Sembrites, names which clung to them till almost the beginning of our present era.
This departure of the Mashauasha was as the last blast of wind after a storm: the swell subsided by degrees, and peace reigned in the interior. Thebes accommodated itself as best it could to the new order of things under the nominal administration of the Divine Spouses, the two Shapenuapits. Building works were recommenced at all points where it appeared necessary, and the need of restoration was indeed pressing after the disorders occasioned by the Assyrian invasion and the Ethiopian suzerainty. At Karnak, and in the great temples on both banks of the Nile, Psammetichus, respecting the fiction which assigned the chief authority to the Pallacides, effaced himself in favour of them, allowing them to claim all the merit of the work; in the cities they erected small chapels, in which they are portrayed as queens fulfilling their sacerdotal functions, humbly escorted by the viceroy who in other respects exercised the real power. The king's zeal for restoration is manifest all along the Nile, at Coptos, Abydos,* and in the plains of the Delta, which are crowded with memorials of him. His two favourite capitals were Memphis and Sais, on both of which he impartially lavished his favours.
* The first Egyptologists attributed the prenommai cartouche of Psammetichus I. to Psammetichus II., and vice versa: this error must always be kept in mind in referring to their works.
At Memphis he built the propylons on the south side of the temple of Phtah, and the court in which the living Apis took his exercise and was fed: this court was surrounded by a colonnade, against the pillars of which were erected statues twelve cubits high, probably representing Osiris as in the Eames-seum and at Medinet-Habu. Apis even when dead also received his share of attention. Since the days when Ramses II. had excavated the subterranean Serapeum as a burial-place of the sacred bulls, no subsequent Pharaoh who had reigned at Memphis had failed to embellish their common tomb, and to celebrate with magnificence their rites of sepulture.
[Illustration: 355.jpg CHAMBER AND SARCOPHAGUS OF AN APIS]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from an engraving published in Mariette.
The body of the Apis, carefully embalmed, was sealed up in a coffin or sarcophagus of hard stone, the mouth of the vault was then walled up, and against the fresh masonry, at the foot of the neighbouring rocks, on the very floor of the passage, or wherever there was a clear space available, the high dignitaries, the workmen or the priests who had taken any part in the ceremonial, set up a votive stele calling down upon themselves and their families divine benedictions.
[Illustration: 356.jpg THE GREAT GALLERY OF THE SERAPEUM]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from an engraving of Deveria.
The gallery was transformed by degrees into a kind of record-office, where each dynasty in turn recorded its name, whenever a fresh apotheosis afforded them the opportunity: these records were discovered in our own time by Mariette, almost perfect in spite of the destroying hand of men, and comprised inscriptions by the Bubastites, by Bocchoris, and even by the Ethiopians. Taharqa, when menaced by the Assyrians, had stayed at Memphis, only a year before his death, in the interval between two campaigns, in order to bury an Apis, and Psammetichus likewise took care not to neglect this part of his regal duties. He at first was content to imitate his predecessors, but a subsidence having occurred in that part of the Serapeum where the Apis who had died in the twentieth year of his reign reposed, he ordered his engineers to bore another gallery in a harder vein of limestone, and he performed the opening ceremony in his fifty-second year. It was the commencement of a thorough restoration. The vaults in which the sacred bulls were entombed were severally inspected, the wrappings were repaired together with the mummy cases, the masonry of the chapel was strengthened, and the building endowed with woods, stuffs, perfumes, and the necessary oils. No less activity apparently was displayed at Sais, the native home and favourite residence of the Pharaoh; but all the monuments which adorned the place, including the temple of Nit, and the royal palace, have been entirely destroyed; the enclosing wall of unbaked bricks alone remains, and here and there, amid the debris of the houses, may be seen some heaps of shattered stone where the public buildings once stood. On several blocks the name and titles of Psammetichus may yet be deciphered, and there are few cities in the Delta which cannot make a similar show. From one end of the Nile valley to the other the quarries were reopened, and the arts, stimulated by the orders which flowed in, soon flourished anew. The engraving of hieroglyphics and the art of painting both attained a remarkable degree of elegance; fine statues and bas-reliefs were executed in large numbers, and a widely spread school of art was developed. The local artists had scrupulously observed and handed down the traditions which obtained in the time of the Pyramids, and more especially those of the first Theban period; even the few fragments that have come down to us of the works of these artists in the age of the Ramessides recall rather the style of the VIth and XIIth dynasties than that of their Theban contemporaries. Their style, brought to perfection by evident imitation of the old Memphite masters, pleases us by its somewhat severe elegance, the taste shown in the choice of detail, and the extraordinary skill displayed in the working of the stone. The Memphites had by preference used limestone for their sculpture, the Thebans red and grey granite or sandstone; but the artists of the age of Psammetichus unhesitatingly attacked basalt, breccia, or serpentine, and obtained marvellous effects from these finely grained materials of regular and even texture. The artistic renaissance which they brought to its height had been already inaugurated under the Ethiopians, and many of the statues we possess of the reign of Taharqa are examples of excellent workmanship. That of Amenertas was over-praised at the time of its discovery; the face, half buried by the wig which we usually associate with the statues of the goddesses, has a dull and vacant expression in spite of its set smile, and the modelling of the figure is rather weak, but nevertheless there is something easy and refined in the gracefulness of the statue as a whole.
[358.jpg Chieck Beled -- Gizeh Museum]
A statuette of another |Divine Spouse,| though mutilated and unfinished, is pleasing from its greater breadth of style, although such breadth is rarely found in the works of this school, which toned down, elongated, and attenuated the figure till it often lost in vigour what it gained in distinction. The one point in which the Saite artists made a real advance, was in the treatment of the heads of their models.
[Illustration: 359.jpg MEMPHITE BAS-RELIEF OF THE SAITE EPOCH]
Drawn by Boudier, from a heliogravure in Mariette. The bas- relief was worked into the masonry of a house in Memphis in the Byzantine period, and it was in order to fit it to the course below that the masons bevelled the lower part of it.
The expression is often refined and idealised as in the case of older works, but occasionally the portraiture is exact even to coarseness. It was not the idealised likeness of Montumihait which the artist wished to portray, but Montumihait himself, with his low forehead, his small close-set eyes, his thin cheeks, and the deep lines about his nose and mouth. And besides this, the wrinkles, the crows' feet, the cranial projections, the shape of ear and neck, are brought out with minute fidelity. A statue was no longer, as in earlier days, merely a piece of sacred stone, the support of the divine or human double, in which artistic value was an accessory of no importance and was esteemed only as a guarantee of resemblance: without losing aught of its religious significance, a statue henceforward became a work of art, admired and prized for the manner in which the sculptor faithfully represented his model, as well as for its mystic utility.
The reign of Psammetichus lasted till nearly the end of the century, and was marked by peace both at home and abroad. No doubt skirmishes of some kind took place in Lydia and Nubia, but we know nothing of them, nor have we any account of engagements with the Asiatics which from time to time must have taken place during this reign. Psammetichus followed with a vigilant eye the revolutionary changes beyond the isthmus, actuated at first by the fear of an offensive movement on the part of Syria, and when that ceased to be a danger, by the hope of one day recovering, in Southern Syria, at all events, that leading position which his predecessors had held so long. Tradition asserts that he wisely confined his ambition to the conquest of the Philistine Pentapolis; it is even reported that he besieged Ashdod for twenty-nine years before gaining possession of it. If we disregard the cipher, which is evidently borrowed from some popular romance, the fact in itself is in no way improbable. Ashdod was a particularly active community, and had played a far more important part in earlier campaigns than any other member of the Pentapolis. It possessed outside the town proper, which was situated some little distance from the coast, a seaport similar to that of Gaza, and of sufficient size to shelter a whole fleet.
[Illustration: 361.jpg THE RUINS OF SAIS]
Drawn by Boudior, from a photograph by Golenischeff.
Whoever held this harbour could exercise effective control over the main routes leading from Syria into Egypt. Psammetichus probably undertook this expedition towards the end of his life, when the victories gained by the Medes had demonstrated the incapacity of Assyria to maintain the defence of her distant provinces.*
* At one time I was inclined to explain this period of twenty-nine years by assuming that the fall of Ashdod took place in the twenty-ninth year of the king's reign, and that Herodotus had mistaken the date of its surrender for the duration of the siege: such an hypothesis is, however, unnecessary, since it is very probable that we have here one of those exaggerated estimates of time so dear to the hearts of popular historians. If we are to believe the account given by Diodorus, it was in Syria that Psammetichus granted the honour of a place in the right wing of his army to the Greek mercenaries: the capture of Ashdod must, in this case, have occurred before the emigration of the native troops. In Jer. xxv.20, reference is made to |the remnant of Ashdod,| in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, i.e. about 603 B.C., and the decadence of the city is generally attributed to the war with Egypt; it might with equal probability be ascribed to the Scythian invasion.
The attack of the Scythians, which might have proved dangerous to Egypt, had it been pushed far enough, had left her unharmed, and was in the end even advantageous to her. It was subsequent to the retreat of the barbarians, no doubt, that Psam-metichus sent his troops into Philistia and succeeded in annexing the whole or part of it. After this success he was content to wait and watch the course of events. The surprising revival of Egypt must have had the effect of infusing fresh life into the Egyptian factions existing in all the autonomous states, and in the prefectures of Syria. The appearance of the Pharaoh's troops, and the toleration of their presence within the territory of the Assyrian empire, aroused on all sides the hope of deliverance, and incited the malcontents to take some immediate action.
We do not know what may have happened at Tyre and Sidon, or among the peoples of Edom and Arabia, but Judah, at any rate, under the rule of Josiah, carefully abstained from any action inconsistent with the pledge of fidelity which it had given to Assyria. Indeed, the whole kingdom was completely absorbed in questions of a theological nature, and the agitations which affected the religious life of the nation reacted on its political life as well. Josiah, as he grew older, began to identify himself more and more with the doctrines taught by the prophets, and, thanks to his support, the party which sought to complete the reforms outlined by Hezekiah gained fresh recruits every day. The opposition which they had formerly aroused among the priests of the temple had gradually died out, partly as the result of genuine conviction, and partly because the priests had come to realise that the establishment of a single exclusive sanctuary would work for their own interest and advantage. The high priest Hilkiah took up the line followed by Jeremiah, and was supported by a number of influential personages such as Shaphan the scribe, son of Azaliah, Ahikam, Achbor son of Micaiab, and a prophetess named Huldah, who had married the keeper of the royal wardrobe. The terrors of the Scythian invasion had oppressed the hearts and quickened the zeal of the orthodox. Judah, they declared, had no refuge save Jahveh alone; all hope was lost if it persisted in the doctrines which had aroused against the faithless the implacable wrath of Jahveh; it must renounce at once those idols and superstitious rites with which His worship had been disfigured, and overthrow the altars which were to be found in every part of the country in order to concentrate all its devotion on the temple of Solomon. In a word, Judah must return to an observance of the strict letter of the law, as it had been followed by their forefathers. But as this venerable code was not to be found either in the |Book of the Covenant| or in any of the other writings held sacred by Israel, the question naturally arose as to where it was now hidden. In the eighteenth year of his reign, Josiah sent Shaphan the scribe to the temple in order to audit the accounts of the sums collected at the gates for the maintenance of the building. After the accounts had been checked, Hilkiah suddenly declared that he had |found the Book of the Law| in the temple, and thereupon handed the document to Shaphan, who perused it forthwith. On his return to the palace, the scribe made his report: |Thy servants have emptied out the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of the workmen;| then he added |Hilkiah the priest hath delivered me a book,| and proceeded to read it to the king. When the latter had heard the words contained in this Book of the Law, he was seized with anguish, and rent his garments; then, unable to arrive at any decision by himself, he sent Hilkiah, Shaphan, Ahikam, Achbor, and Asaiah to inquire of Jahveh for him and for his people, |for great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us.|
[Illustration: 364.jpg DECORATIONS ON THE WRAPPINGS OF A MUMMY.]
The envoys betook themselves not to the official oracle or the recognised prophets, but to a woman, the prophetess Huldah, who was attached to the court in virtue of her husband's office; and she bade them, in the name of the Most High, to summon a meeting of the faithful, and, after reading the new code to them, to call upon all present to promise that they would henceforth observe its ordinances: thus Jahveh would be appeased, and since the king had |rent his garments and wept before Me, I also have heard thee, saith Jahveh. Therefore, behold, I will gather thee to thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered to thy grave in peace.| Josiah thereupon having summoned the elders of Judah and Jerusalem, went up into the temple, and there, standing on the platform, he read the Book of the Law in the presence of the whole people.*
* 2 Kings xxii.3-20; xxiii.1, 2. The narrative has undergone slight interpolation in places, e.g. verses 46, 5a, 6, and 7, where the compiler has made it harmonise with events previously recorded in connection with the reign of Joash (2 Kings xii.6-16). The beginning of Huldah's prophecy was suppressed, when the capture of Jerusalem proved that the reform of divine worship had not succeeded in averting the wrath of Jahveh. It probably contained directions to read the Book of the Covenant to the people, and to persuade them to adopt its precepts, followed by a promise to save Judah provided it remained faithful to its engagements.
It dealt with questions which had been frequent subjects of debate in prophetic circles since the days of Hezekiah, and the anonymous writer who had compiled it was so strongly imbued with the ideas of Jeremiah, and had so closely followed his style, that some have been inclined to ascribe the work to Jeremiah himself. It has always been a custom among Orientals to affirm that any work for which they profess particular esteem was discovered in the temple of a god; the Egyptian priests, for instance, invented an origin of this nature for the more important chapters of their Book of the Dead, and for the leading treatises in the scientific literature of Egypt. The author of the Book of the Law had ransacked the distant past for the name of the leader who had delivered Israel from captivity in Egypt. He told how Moses, when he began to feel the hand of death upon him, determined to declare in Gilead the decrees which Jahveh had delivered to him for the guidance of His people.* In these ordinances the indivisible nature of God, and His jealousy of any participation of other deities in the worship of His people, are strongly emphasised. |Ye shall surely destroy all the places wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains and upon the hills, and under every green tree: and ye shall break down their altars, and dash in pieces their pillars, and burn their Asherim with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods; and ye shall destroy their name out of that place.|**
* Even St. Jerome and St. John Chrysostom admitted that Deuteronomy was the book discovered by Hilkiah in the temple during the reign of Josiah, and this view is accepted at present, though it is applied, not to the book of
Deuteronomy as it appears in the Pentateuch, but rather to the nucleus of this book, and especially chaps, xii.-xxvi.
** Deut. xii.2, 3.
Even were a prophet or dreamer of dreams to arise in the midst of the faithful and direct them by a sign or a miracle to turn aside after those accursed gods, they must not follow the teaching of these false guides, not even if the sign or miracle actually came to pass, but must seize and slay them. Even |if thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods,... thou shalt not consent unto him nor hearken unto him: neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: but thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and, afterwards the hand of all the people. And thou shalt stone him with stones that he die; because he hath sought to draw thee away from Jahveh!|* And this Jahveh was not the Jahveh of any special place. He was not the Jahveh of Bethel, or of Dan, or of Mizpah, or of Geba, or of Beersheba; He is simply Jahveh.** Yet the seat of His worship was not a matter of indifference to Him. |Unto the place which Jahveh shall choose out of all your tribes to put His name there, even unto His habitation shall ye seek, and thither shalt thou come: and thither shall ye bring your... sacrifices and your tithes.|*** Jerusalem is not mentioned by name, but the reference to it was clear, since every one knew that the suppression of the provincial sanctuaries must necessarily benefit it. One part of the new code dealt with the relations between different members of the community. The king was to approximate as closely as possible to the ideal priest; he was not to lift up his heart above his brethren, nor set his mind on the possession of many chariots, horses, or wives, but must continually read the law of God and ponder over His ordinances, and observe them word for word all the days of his life.****
* Deut. xiii.1-10.
** Deut. vi.4. The expression found in Zecli. xiv.9 was borrowed from the second of the introductions added to Deuteronomy at a later date; the phrase harmonises so closely with the main purpose of the book itself, that there can be no objection to employing it here.
*** Deut. xii.5, 6.
**** Deut. xvii.14-20; cf. xx.1-9 for the regulations in regard to the levying of troops.
Even in time of war he was not to put his trust in his soldiers or in his own personal valour; here again he must allow himself to be guided by Jahveh, and must undertake nothing without first consulting Him through the medium of His priests. The poor,* the widow, and the orphan,** the bondservant,*** and even the stranger within the gates -- in remembrance of the bondage in Egypt **** -- were all specially placed under the divine protection; every Jew who had become enslaved to a fellow-countryman was to be set at liberty at the end of six years, and was to receive a small allowance from his master which would ensure him for a time against starvation.^
* As to the poor, and the charitable obligations towards them imposed by their common religion, cf. Deut. xv.7-11; as to the rights of the hired servant, cf. xxiv.14, 15.
** Deut. xxiv.17-22 forbids the taking of a widow's clothing in pledge, and lays down regulations in regard to gleaning permitted to widows and orphans (cf. Lev. xix.9, 10); reference is also made to their share in triennial tithe (Deut. xiv.28, 29; xxvi.12, 13) and in the solemn festivals (Deut. xvi.11-14).
*** Slaves were allowed to share in the rejoicings during the great festivals (Deut. xvi.11, 14), and certain rights were accorded to women taken prisoners in war who had become their captors' concubines (Deut. xxi.10-14).
****Participation of the stranger in the triennial tithe (Deut. xiv.28, 29; xxvi.12, 13).
^ Deut. xv.12-18.
The regulations in regard to divine worship had not as yet been drawn up in that spirit of hair-splitting minuteness which, later on, became a characteristic of Hebrew legislation. Only three great festivals are mentioned in the Book of the Law. The Passover was celebrated in the month of Abib, when the grain is in the ear, and had already come to be regarded as commemorative of the Exodus; but the other two, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles, were merely associated with the agricultural seasons, and took place, the former seven weeks after the beginning of the harvest, the latter after the last of the crops had been housed.* The claim of the priest to a share in the victim and in the offerings made on various occasions is maintained, and the lawgiver allows him to draw a similar benefit from the annual and triennial tithes which he imposes on corn and wine and on the firstborn of cattle, the produce of this tithe being devoted to a sort of family festival celebrated in the Holy Place.** The priest was thus placed on the same footing as the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the stranger, and his influence was but little greater than it had been in the early days of the monarchy. It was to the prophet and not to the priest that the duty belonged of directing the public conscience in all those cases for which the law had made no provision. |I will put My words into his mouth (said Jahveh), and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass that whosoever will not hearken unto My words which he shall speak in My name, I will require it of him. But the prophet which shall speak a word presumptuously in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken? -- when a prophet speaketh in the name of Jahveh, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which Jahveh hath not spoken: the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously; thou shalt not be afraid of him.|
* Deut. xvi.1-17.
** Deut. xviii.1-8; as to the share in the triennial tithe, cf. Deut. xiv.28, 29; xxvi.12, 13.
When the reading of the law had ended, Josiah implored the people to make a covenant with Jahveh; that is to say, |to walk after Jahveh, and to keep His commandments, and His testimonies, and His statutes, with all their hearts and all their souls, to confirm the words of this covenant that were written in this book.| The final words, which lingered in every ear, contained imprecations of even more terrible and gloomy import than those with which the prophets had been wont to threaten Judah. |If thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of Jahveh thy God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes which I command thee this day; then all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee. Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field. Cursed shall be thy basket and thy kneading-trough. Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, the increase of thy kine, and the young of thy flock.... Thou shalt betroth a wife, and another man shall lie with her; thou shalt build an house, and shalt not dwell therein: thou shalt plant a vineyard, and shalt not use the fruit thereof. Thine ox shall be slain before thine eyes, and thou shalt not eat thereof.... Thy sons and thy daughters shall be given unto another people; and thine eyes shall look, and fail with longing for them all the day: and there shall be naught in the power of thine hand.... Jahveh shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand; a nation of fierce countenance, which shalt not regard the person of the old, nor show favour to the young.| This enemy was to burn and destroy everything: |and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, throughout all thy land, which Jahveh thy God hath given thee. And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters... in the straitness wherewith thine enemies shall straiten thee.| Those who escape must depart into captivity, and there endure for many a long year the tortures of direst slavery; |thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear night and day, and shalt have none assurance of thy life: in the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! and at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning! for the fear of thine heart which thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see.|*
* Deut. xxviii. The two sets of imprecations (xxvii., xxviii.) which terminate the actual work are both of later redaction, but the original MS. undoubtedly ended with some analogous formula. I have quoted above the most
characteristic parts of the twenty-eighth chapter.
The assembly took the oath required of them, and the king at once displayed the utmost zeal in exacting literal performance of the ordinances contained in the Book of the Law. His first step was to purify the temple: Hilkiah and his priests overthrew all the idols contained in it, and all the objects that had been fashioned in honour of strange gods -- the Baals, the Asherim, and all the Host of Heaven -- and, carrying them out of Jerusalem into the valley of the Kidron, cast them into the flames, and scattered the ashes upon the place where all the filth of the city was cast out. The altars and the houses of the Sodomites which defiled the temple courts were demolished, the chariots of the sun broken in pieces, and the horses of the god sent to the stables of the king's chamberlain;* the sanctuaries and high places which had been set up at the gates of the city, in the public places, and along the walls were razed to the ground, and the Tophet, where the people made their children pass through the fire, was transformed into a common sewer.
* [The Hebrew text admits of this meaning, which is, however, not clear in the English A.V. -- Tr.]
The provincial sanctuaries shared the fate of those of the capital; in a short time, from Geba to Beersheba, there remained not one of those |high places,| at which the ancestors of the nation and their rulers had offered prayers for generations past. The wave of reform passed even across the frontier and was borne into the Assyrian province of Samaria; the temple and image which Jeroboam had set up at Bethel were reduced to ashes, and human bones were burnt upon the altar to desecrate it beyond possibility of purification.*
* 2 Kings xxiii.3-20, 24-27, where several glosses and interpolations are easily recognisable, such as the episode at Bethel (v.15-20), the authenticity of which is otherwise incontestable. The account in 2 Chron. xxxiv. is a defaced reproduction of that of 2 Kings, and it places the reform, in part at least, before the discovery of the new law.
The governor offered no objection to these acts; he regarded them, in the first place, as the private affairs of the subjects of the empire, with which he had no need to interfere, so long as the outburst of religious feeling did not tend towards a revolt: we know, moreover, that Josiah, guided on this point by the prophets, would have believed that he was opposing the divine will had he sought to free himself from the Assyrian yoke by ordinary political methods; besides this, in 621, under Assur-etililani, five years after the Scythian invasion, the prefect of Samaria had possibly not sufficient troops at his disposal to oppose the encroachments of the vassal princes. It was an affair of merely a few months. In the following year, when the work of destruction was over, Josiah commanded that the Passover should be kept in the manner prescribed in the new book; crowds flocked into Jerusalem, from Israel as well as from Judah, and the festival made a deep impression on the minds of the people. Centuries afterwards the Passover of King Josiah was still remembered: |There was not kept such a Passover from the days of the Judges... nor in all the days of the Kings of Israel, nor of the Kings of Judah.|*
1 2 Kings xxiii.21-23; cf.2 Chron. xxxv.1-19. The text of the Soptuagint appears to imply that it was the first Passover celebrated in Jerusalem. It also gives in chap. xxii.3, after the mention of the eighteenth year, a date of the seventh or eighth month, which is not usually accepted, as it is in contradiction with what is affirmed in chap, xxiii.21-23, viz. that the Passover celebrated at Jerusalem was in the same year as the reform, in the eighteenth year. It is to do away with the contradiction between these two passages that the Hebrew text has suppressed the mention of the month. I think, however, it ought to be considered authentic and be retained, if we are allowed to place the celebration of the Passover in what would be one year after. To do this it would not be needful to correct the regnal date in the text: admitting that the reform took place in 621, the Passover of 620 would still quite well have taken place in the eighteenth year of Josiah, that being dependent on the time of year at which the king had ascended the throne.
The first outburst of zeal having spent itself, a reaction was ere long bound to set in both among the ruling classes and among the people, and the spectacle that Asia at that time presented to their view was truly of a nature to incite doubts in the minds of the faithful. Assyria -- that Assyria of which the prophets had spoken as the irresistible emissary of the Most High -- had not only failed to recover from the injuries she had received at the hands, first of the Medes, and then of the Scythians, but had with each advancing year seen more severe wounds inflicted upon her, and hastening her irretrievably to her ruin. And besides this, Egypt and Chaldaea, the ancient kingdoms which had for a short time bent beneath her yoke, had now once more arisen, and were astonishing the world by their renewed vigour. Psammetichus, it is true, after having stretched his arm across the desert and laid hands upon the citadel which secured to him an outlet into Syria for his armies, had proceeded no further, and thus showed that he was not inclined to reassert the ancient rights of Egypt over the countries of the Jordan and the Orontes; but he had died in 611, and his son, Necho II., who succeeded him, did not manifest the same peaceful intentions.*
* The last dated stele of Psammetichus I. is the official epitaph of the Apis which died in his fifty-second year. On the other hand, an Apis, born in the fifty-third year of Psammetichus, died in the sixteenth year of Necho, after having lived 16 years, 7 months, 17 days. A very simple calculation shows that Psammetichus I. reigned fifty-four years, as stated by Herodotus and Manetho, according to Julius Africanus.
If he decided to try his fortune in Syria, supported by his Greek and Egyptian battalions, what would be the attitude that Judah would assume between moribund Assyria and the kingdom of the Pharaohs in its renewed vigour? It was in the spring of 608 that the crisis occurred. Nineveh, besieged by the Medes, was on the point of capitulating, and it was easy to foresee that the question as to who should rule there would shortly be an open one: should Egypt hesitate longer in seizing what she believed to be her rightful heritage, she would run the risk of finding the question settled and another in possession. Necho quitted Memphis and made his way towards the Asiatic frontier with the army which his father had left to him. It was no longer composed of the ill-organised bands of the Ethiopian kings or the princes of the Delta, temporarily united under the rule of a single leader, but all the while divided by reciprocal hatreds and suspicions which doomed it to failure. All the troops which constituted it -- Egyptians, Libyans, and Greeks alike -- were thoroughly under the control of their chief, and advanced in a compact and irresistible mass |like the Nile: like a river its volume rolls onward. It said: I arise, I inundate the earth, I will drown cities and people! Charge, horses! Chariots, fly forward at a gallop! Let the warriors march, the Ethiopian and the Libyan under the shelter of his buckler, the fellah bending the bow!|*
* Jer. xlvi.7-9, where the prophet describes, not the army which marched against Josiah, but that which was beaten at Carchemish. With a difference of date of only three or four years, the constituent elements of the army were certainly the same, so that the description of one would apply to the other.
As soon as Josiah heard the news, he called together his troops and prepared to resist the attack. Necho affected not to take his demonstrations seriously, and sent a disdainful message recommending him to remain neutral: |What have I to do with thee, thou King of Judah? I come not against thee this day, but against the house wherewith I have war: and God hath commanded me to make haste: forbear thee from meddling with God who is with me, that He destroy thee not!|*
* The message of Necho to Josiah is known to us from 2 Chron. xxxv.20-22.
Having despatched the message, probably at the moment of entering the Shephelah, he continued in a northerly direction, nothing doubting that his warning had met a friendly reception; but however low Nineveh had fallen, Josiah could not feel that he was loosed from the oaths which bound him to her, and, trusting in the help of Jahveh, he threw himself resolutely into the struggle. The Egyptian generals were well acquainted with the route as far as the farther borders of Philistia, having passed along it a few years previously, at the time of the campaign of Psammetichus; but they had no experience of the country beyond Ashdod, and were solely dependent for guidance on the information of merchants or the triumphant records of the old Theban Pharaohs. These monuments followed the traditional road which had led their ancestors from Gaza to Megiddo, from Megiddo to Qodshu, from Qodshu to Carchemish, and they were reckoning on passing through the valley of the Jordan, and then that of the Orontes, without encountering any resistance, when, at the entrance to the gorges of Carmel, they were met by the advance guard of the Judaean army.
Josiah, not having been warned in time to meet them as they left the desert, had followed a road parallel to their line of march, and had taken up his position in advance of them on the plain of Megiddo, on the very spot where Thutmosis III. had vanquished the Syrian confederates nearly ten centuries before. The King of Judah was defeated and killed in the confusion of the battle, and the conqueror pushed on northwards without, at that moment, giving the fate of the scattered Jews a further thought.* He rapidly crossed the plain of the Orontes by the ancient caravan track, and having reached the Euphrates, he halted under the walls of Carchemish. Perhaps he may have heard there of the fall of Nineveh, and the fear of drawing down upon himself the Medes or the Babylonians prevented him from crossing the river and raiding the country of the Balikh, which, from the force of custom, the royal scribes still persisted in designating by the disused name of Mitanni.**
* 2 Kings xxiii.29; cf.2 Chron. xxxv.22, 23. It is probably to this battle that Herodotus alludes when he says that Necho overcame the Syrians at Magdolos. The identity of Magdolos and Megiddo, accepted by almost all historians, was disputed by Gutschmid, who sees in the Magdolos of Herodotus the Migdol of the Syro-Egyptian frontier, and in the engagement itself, an engagement of Necho with the Assyrians and their Philistine allies; also by Th. Reinach, who prefers to identify Magdolos with one of the Migdols near Ascalon, and considers this combat as fought against the Assyrian army of occupation. If the information in Herodotus were indeed borrowed from Hecatasus of Miletus, and by the latter from the inscription placed by Necho in the temple of Branchidae, it appears to me impossible to admit that Magdolos does not here represent Megiddo.
** The text of 2 Kings xxiii.29 says positively that Necho was marching towards the Euphrates. The name Mitanni is found even in Ptolemaic times.
He returned southwards, after having collected the usual tributes and posted a few garrisons at strategic points; at Biblah he held a kind of Durbar to receive the homage of the independent Phoenicians* and of the old vassals of Assyria, who, owing to the rapidity of his movements, had not been able to tender their offerings on his outward march.
* The submission of the Phoenicians to Necho is gathered from a passage in Berosus, where he says that the Egyptian army beaten at Carchemish comprised Phoenicians, besides Syrians and Arabs.
[Illustration: 378.jpg Victorious Necho]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph published in Mariette. This scarab, now in the Gizeh Museum, is the only Egyptian monument which alludes to the victories of Necho. Above, the king stands between Nit and Isis; below, the vanquished are stretched on the ground.
The Jews had rescued the body of their king and had brought it back in his chariot to Jerusalem; they proclaimed in his stead, not his eldest son Eliakim, but the youngest, Shallum, who adopted the name of Jehoahaz on ascending the throne. He was a young man, twenty-three years of age, light and presumptuous of disposition, opposed to the reform movement, and had doubtless been unwise enough to display his hostile feelings towards the conqueror. Necho summoned him to Eiblah, deposed him after a reign of three months, condemned him to prison, and replaced him by Eliakim, who changed his name to that of Jehoiakim -- |he whom Jahveh exalts;| and after laying Judah under a tribute of one hundred talents of silver and one of gold, the Egyptian monarch returned to his own country. Certain indications lead us to believe that he was obliged to undertake other punitive expeditions. The Philistines, probably deceived by false rumours of his defeat, revolted against him about the time that he was engaged in hostilities in Northern Syria, and on receiving news not only of his safety, but of the victory he had gained, their alarm was at once aroused. Judah forgot her own sorrows on seeing the peril in which they stood, and Jeremiah pronounced against them a prophecy full of menace. |Behold,| he cried, |waters rise up out of the north, and shall become an overflowing stream, and shall overflow the land and all that is therein, the city and them that dwell therein; and the men shall cry, and all the inhabitants of the land shall howl... for the Lord will spoil the Philistines, the remnant of the Isle of Caphtor. Baldness is come upon Gaza; Ascalon is dumb with terror, and you, all that are left of the giants, how long will ye tear your faces in your mourning?|* Ascalon was sacked and then Gaza,** and Necho at length was able to re-enter his domains, doubtless by the bridge of Zalu, following in this his models, his heroic ancestors of the great Theban dynasties.
* [R.V., |Ashkolon is brought to nought, the remnant of their valley: how long wilt thou cut thyself?| -- Tr.]
** Jer. xlvii., which is usually attributed to a period subsequent to the defeat at Carchemish or even later; the title, which alone mentions the Egyptians, is wanting in the LXX. If we admit that the enemy coming from the north is the Egyptian and not the Chaldaean, as do most writers, the only time that danger could have threatened Philistia from the Egyptians coming from the north, was when Necho, victorious, was returning from his first campaign. In this case, the Kadytis of Herodotus, which has caused so much trouble to commentators, would certainly be Gaza, and there would be no difficulty in explaining how the tradition preserved by the Greek historian placed the taking of this town after the battle of Megiddo.
He wished thereupon to perpetuate the memory of the Greeks who had served him so bravely, and as soon as the division of the spoil had been made, he sent as an offering to the temple of Apollo at Miletus, the cuirass which he had worn throughout the campaign.
We can picture the reception which his subjects gave him, and how the deputations of priests and nobles in white robes flocked out to meet him with garlands of flowers in their hands, and with acclamations similar to those which of old had heralded the return of Seti I. or Ramses II. National pride, no doubt, was flattered by this revival of military glory, but other motives than those of vanity lay at the root of the delight exhibited by the whole country at the news of the success of the expedition. The history of the century which was drawing to its close, had demonstrated more than once how disadvantageous it was to Egypt to be separated from a great power merely by the breadth of the isthmus. If Taharqa, instead of awaiting the attack on the banks of the Nile, had met the Assyrians at the foot of Carmel, or even before Gaza, it would have been impossible for Esarhaddon to turn the glorious kingdom of the Pharaohs into an Assyrian province after merely a few weeks of fighting. The dictates of prudence, more than those of ambition, rendered, therefore, the conquest of Syria a necessity, and Necho showed his wisdom in undertaking it at the moment when the downfall of Nineveh reduced all risk of opposition to a minimum; it remained to be seen whether the conquerors of Sin-shar-ishkun would tolerate for long the interference of a third robber, and would consent to share the spoil with these Africans, who, having had none of the trouble, had hastened to secure the profit. All the Mediterranean dependencies of Assyria, such as Mesopotamia, Syria, and Judae, fell naturally within the sphere of Babylon rather than that of Media, and, indeed, Cyaxares never troubled himself about them; and Nabopolassar, who considered them his own by right, had for the moment too much in hand to permit of his reclaiming them. The Aramaeans of the Khabur and the Balikh, the nomads of the Mesopotamian plain, had not done homage to him, and the country districts were infested with numerous bands of Cimmerians and Scythians, who had quite recently pillaged the sacred city of Harran and violated the temple of the god Sin.* Nabopolassar, who was too old to command his troops in person, probably entrusted the conduct of them to Nebuchadrezzar, who was the son he had appointed to succeed him, and who had also married the Median princess. Three years sufficed this prince to carry the frontier of the new Chaldaean empire as far as the Syrian fords of the Euphrates, within sight of Thapsacus and Carchemish. Harran remained in the hands of the barbarians,** probably on condition of their paying a tribute, but the district of the Subaru was laid waste, its cities reduced to ashes, and the Babylonian suzerainty established on the southern slopes of the Masios.
* Inscrip. of the Cylinder of Nabonidus mentions the pillage of Harran as having taken place fifty-four years before the date of its restoration by Nabonidus. This was begun, as we know, in the third year of that king, possibly in 554-3. The date of the destruction is, therefore, 608-7, that is to say, a few months before the destruction of Nineveh.
** The passage in the Cylinder of Nabonidus shows that the barbarians remained in possession of the town.
Having brought these preliminary operations to a successful issue, Nabopolassar, considering himself protected on the north and north-east by his friendship with Cyaxares, no longer hesitated to make an effort to recover the regions dominated by Egyptian influence, and, if the occasion presented itself, to reduce to submission the Pharaoh who was in his eyes merely a rebellious satrap. Nebuchadrezzar again placed himself at the head of his troops; Necho, warned of his projects, hastened to meet him with all the forces at his disposal, and, owing probably to the resistance offered by the garrisons which he possessed in the Hittite fortresses, he had time to continue his march as far as the Euphrates. The two armies encountered each other at Carchemish; the Egyptians were completely defeated in spite of their bravery and the skilful tactics of their Greek auxiliaries, and the Asiatic nations, who had once more begun to rely on Egypt, were obliged to acknowledge that they were as unequal to the task of overcoming Chaldaea as they had been of sustaining a struggle with Assyria.*
* Jer. xlvi.2; cf.2 Kings xxiv.7, where the editor, without mentioning the battle of Carchemish, recalls in passing that |the King of Babylon had taken, from the brook of Egypt unto the river Euphrates, all that pertained to the King of Egypt.|
The religious party in Judah, whose hopes had been disappointed by the victory of Pharaoh at Megiddo, now rejoiced at his defeat, and when the remains of his legions made their way back across the Philistine plain, closely pressed by the enemy, Jeremiah hailed them as they passed with cutting irony. Two or three brief, vivid sentences depicting the spirit that had fired them a few months before, and then the picture of their disorderly flight: |Order ye the buckler and shield, and draw near to battle. Harness the horses; and get up, ye horsemen, and stand forth with your helmets; furbish the spears, put on the coats of mail. Wherefore have I seen it? They are dismayed and turn backward; and their mighty ones are beaten down, and are fled apace, and look not back; terror is on every side, saith the Lord. Let not the swift flee away, nor the mighty man escape; in the north by the river Euphrates have they stumbled and fallen.... Go up into Gilead, and take balm, O virgin daughter of Egypt; in vain dost thou use many medicines; there is no healing for thee. The nations have heard of thy shame, and the earth is full of thy cry: for the mighty man hath stumbled against the mighty, they are fallen both of them together.|* Nebuchadrezzar received by the way the submission of Jehoiakim, and of the princes of Ammon, Moab, and the Philistines;** he was nearing Pelusium on his way into Egypt, when a messenger brought him the news of his father's death.
* Jer. xlvi.3-6, 11, 12.
** The submission of all these peoples is implied by the passage already cited in 2 Kings xxiv.7; Berosus speaks of the Phoenician, Jewish, and Syrian prisoners whom
Nebuchadrezzar left to his generals, when he resolved to return to Babylon by the shortest route.
He feared lest a competitor should dispute his throne -- perhaps his younger brother, that Nabu-shum-lishir who had figured at his side at the dedication of a temple to Marduk. He therefore concluded an armistice with Necho, by the terms of which he remained master of the whole of Syria between the Euphrates and the Wady el-Arish, and then hastily turned homewards. But his impatience could not brook the delay occasioned by the slow march of a large force, nor the ordinary circuitous route by Carchemish and through Mesopotamia. He hurried across the Arabian desert, accompanied by a small escort of light troops, and presented himself unexpectedly at the gates of Babylon. He found all in order. His Chaldaean ministers had assumed the direction of affairs, and had reserved the throne for the rightful heir; he had only to appear to be acclaimed and obeyed (B.C.605).
His reign was long, prosperous, and on the whole peaceful. The recent changes in Asiatic politics had shut out the Chaldaeans from the majority of the battle-fields on which the Assyrians had been wont to wage warfare with the tribes on their eastern and northern frontiers. We no longer see stirring on the border-land those confused masses of tribes and communities of whose tumultuous life the Ninevite annals make such frequent record: Elam as an independent state no longer existed, neither did Philipi and Namri, nor the Cossaeans, nor Parsua, nor the Medes with their perpetual divisions, nor the Urartians and the Mannai in a constant state of ferment within their mountain territory; all that remained of that turbulent world now constituted a single empire, united under the hegemony of the Medes, and the rule of a successful conqueror. The greater part of Blam was already subject to those Achaemenides who called themselves sovereigns of Anshan as well as of Persia, and whose fief was dependent on the kingdom of Ecbatana:* it is probable that Chaldasa received as her share of the ancient Susian territory the low countries of the Uknu and the Ulai, occupied by the Aramaean tribes of the Puqudu, the Eutu, and the Grambulu;** but Susa fell outside her portion, and was soon transformed into a flourishing Iranian town.
* |The king and the princes of Elam| mentioned in Jer. xxv.25, xlix.35-39, and in Ezele. xxxii.24, 25, in the time of Nebuchadrezzar, are probably the Persian kings of Anshan and their Elamite vassals -- not only, as is usually believed, the kings and native princes conquered by Assur-bani-pal; the same probably holds good of the Elam which an anonymous prophet associates with the Medes under Nabonidus, in the destruction of Babylon (Isa. xxi.2). The princes of Malamir appear to me to belong to an anterior epoch.
** The enumeration given in Ezelc. xxiii.23, |the
Babylonians and all the Chaldaeans, Pelted, and Shoa, and Koa,| shows us probably that the Aramaeans of the Lower Tigris represented by Pekod, as those of the Lower Euphrates are by the Chaldaeans, belonged to the Babylonian empire in the time of the prophet. They are also considered as belonging to Babylon in the passage of an anonymous prophet (Jer. I.21), who wrote in the last days of the Chaldaen empire: |Go up against the land of Merathaim, even against it and the inhabitants of Pekod.| Translators and
commentators have until quite recently mistaken the import of the name Pekod.
The plains bordering the right bank of the Tigris, from the Uknu to the Turnat or the Eadanu, which had belonged to Babylon from the very earliest times, were no doubt still retained by her;* but the mountain district which commanded them certainly remained in the hands of Cyaxares, as well as the greater part of Assyria proper, and there is every reason to believe that from the Eadanu northwards the Tigris formed the boundary between the two allies, as far as the confluence of the Zab.
* This is what appears to me to follow from the account of the conquest oL Babylon by Cyrus, as related by Herodotus.
The entire basin of the Upper Tigris and its Assyrian colonies, Amidi and Tushkan were now comprised in the sphere of Medic influence, and the settlement of the Scythians at Harran, around one of the most venerated of the Semitic sanctuaries, shows to what restrictions the new authority of Chaldasa was subjected, even in the districts of Mesopotamia, which were formerly among the most faithful possessions of Nineveh. If these barbarians had been isolated, they would not long have defied the King of Babylon, but being akin to the peoples who were subject to Cyaxares, they probably claimed his protection, and regarded themselves as his liege men; it was necessary to treat them with consideration, and tolerate the arrogance of their presence upon the only convenient road which connected the eastern with the western provinces of the kingdom. It is therefore evident that there was no opening on this side for those ever-recurring struggles in which Assyria had exhausted her best powers; one war was alone possible, that with Media, but it was fraught with such danger that the dictates of prudence demanded that it should be avoided at all costs, even should the alliance between the two courts cease to be cemented by a royal marriage. However great the confidence which he justly placed in the valour of his Chaldaeans, Nebuchadrezzar could not hide from himself the fact that for two centuries they had always been beaten by the Assyrians, and that therefore he would run too great a risk in provoking hostilities with an army which had got the better of the conquerors of his people. Besides this, Cyaxares was fully engaged in subjecting the region which he had allotted to himself, and had no special desire to break with his ally. Nothing is known of his history during the years which followed the downfall of Nineveh, but it is not difficult to guess what were the obstacles he had to surmount, and the result of the efforts which he made to overcome them. The country which extends between the Caspian and the Black Sea -- the mountain block of Armenia, the basins of the Araxes and the Kur, the valleys of the Halys, the Iris, and the Thermodon, and the forests of the Anti-Taurus and the Taurus itself -- had been thrown into utter confusion by the Cimmerians and the Scythians. Nothing remained of the previous order of things which had so long prevailed there, and the barbarians who for a century and a half had destroyed everything in the country seemed incapable of organising anything in its place. Urartu had shrunk within its ancient limits around Ararat, and it is not known who ruled her; the civilisation of Argistis and Menuas had almost disappeared with the dynasty which had opposed the power of Assyria, and the people, who had never been much impregnated by it, soon fell back into their native rude habits of life. Confused masses of European barbarians were stirring in Etiaus and the regions of the Araxes, seeking a country in which to settle themselves, and did not succeed in establishing themselves firmly till a much later period in the district of Sakasene, to which was attached the name of one of their tribes.*
* Strabo states that Armenia and the maritime regions of Cappadocia suffered greatly from the invasion of the Scythians.
Such of the Mushku and the Tabal as had not perished had taken refuge in the north, among the mountains bordering the Black Sea, where they were ere long known to the Greeks as the Moschi and the Tibarenians. The remains of the Cimmerian hordes had taken their place in Cappadocia, and the Phrygian population which had followed in their wake had spread themselves over the basin of the Upper Halys and over the ancient Milidu, which before long took from them the name of Armenia.* All these elements constituted a seething, struggling, restless mass of people, actuated by no plan or method, and subject merely to the caprice of its chiefs; it was, indeed, the |seething cauldron| of which the Hebrew prophets had had a vision, which at times overflowed over the neighbouring nations, and at others was consumed within and wasted itself in fruitless ebullition.**
* The Phrygian origin of the Armenians is pointed out by Herodotus and by Eudoxius.
** Jer. i.13.
It took Cyaxares years to achieve his conquests; he finally succeeded, however, in reducing the various elements to subjection -- Urartians, Scythians, Cimmerians, Chaldae, and the industrious tribes of the Chalybes and the White Syrians -- and, always victorious, appeared at last on the right hank of the Halys; but having reached it, he found himself face to face with foes of quite a different calibre from those with whom he had hitherto to deal. Lydia had increased both in wealth and in vigour since the days when her king Ardys informed his ally Assur-bani-pal that he had avenged the death of his father and driven the Cimmerians from the valley of the Msoander.
He had by so doing averted all immediate danger; but as long as the principal horde remained unexterminated, another invasion was always to be feared; besides which, the barbarian inroad, although of short duration, had wrought such havoc in the country that no native power in Asia Minor appeared, nor in reality was, able to make the effort needful to destroy them. Their king Dugdamis, it will be remembered, met his death in Cilicia at the hands of the Assyrians about the year 640, and Kobos, his successor, was defeated and killed by the Scythians under Madyes about 633. The repeated repulses they had suffered had the effect of quickly relieving Lydia, Phrygia, and the remaining states of the AEgean and the Black Sea from their inroads; the Milesians wrested Sinope from them about 630, and the few bands left behind when the main body set out for the countries of the Euphrates were so harried and decimated by the people over whom they had terrorised for nearly a century, that they had soon no refuge except round the fortress of Antandros, in the mountains of the Troad. Most of the kingdoms whose downfall they had caused never recovered from their reverses; but Lydia, which had not laid down its arms since the death of Gyges, became possessed by degrees of the whole of their territory; Phrygia proper came back to her in the general redistribution, and with it most of the countries which had been under the rule of the dynasty of Midas, from the mountains of Lycia to the shores of the Black Sea. The transfer was effected, apparently, with very slight opposition and with little loss of time, since in the four or five years which followed the death of Kobos, Ardys had risen in the estimation of the Greeks to the position enjoyed by Gyges; and when, in 628, Aristomenes, the hero of the Messenian wars, arrived at Rhodes, it is said that he contemplated proceeding from thence, first to Sardes and then to Ecbatana, for the purpose of gaining the adherence of Lydia and Media to his cause.
[Illustration: 390.jpgA VIEW IN THE MOUNTAINS OF THE MESSOGIS]
Drawn by Boudier, from the heliogravure of Rayet and Thomas.
Death put an end to his projects, but he would not for a moment have entertained them had not Ardys been at that time at the head of a renowned and flourishing kingdom. The renewal of international commerce followed closely on the re-establishment of peace, and even if the long period of Scythian invasion, followed by the destruction of Nineveh, rendered the overland route less available for regular traffic than before, at all events relations between the inhabitants of the Euphrates valley and those of the iEgean littoral were resumed to such good purpose that before long several fresh marts were opened in Lydia.
[Illustration: 391.jpg THE SITE OF PRIENE.]
Drawn by Boudier, from the heliogravure of Rayet and Thomas.
Kyme and Ephesus put the region of the Messogis and the Tmolus into communication with the sea, but the lower valleys of the Hermos and the Masander were closed by the existence of Greek colonies at Smyrna, Clazomenas, Colophon, Priene, and Miletus -- all hostile to the Mermnadae -- which it would be necessary to overcome if these countries were to enjoy the prosperity shared by other parts of the kingdom; hence the principal effort made by the Lydians was either directly to annex these towns, or to impose such treaties on them as would make them their dependencies. Ardys seized Priene towards 620, and after having thus established himself on the northern shore of the Latrnio Gulf,* he proceeded to besiege Miletus in 616, at the very close of his career. Hostilities were wearily prolonged all through the reign of Sadyattes (615-610), and down to the sixth year of Alyattes.**
* The well-known story that Priene was saved under Alyattes by a stratagem of the philosopher Bias is merely a fable, of which several other examples are found. It would not be possible to conclude from it, as Grote did, that Ardys' rule over the town was but ephemeral.
** The periods of duration assigned here to the reigns of these princes are those of Euschius -- that is to say, 15 years for Crosus, 37 for Alyattes, 5 for Sadyattes, 37 for Ardys; Julius Africanus gives 15 for Sadyattes and 38 for Ardys, while Herodotus suggests 14 for Crosus, 57 for Alyattes, 12 for Sadyattes, and 59 for Ardys.
The position of Miletus was too strong to permit of its being carried by a coup de main; besides which, the Lydians were unwilling to destroy at one blow a town whose colonies, skilfully planted at the seaports from the coasts of the Black Sea to those of Egypt, would one day furnish them with so many outlets for their industrial products. Their method of attacking it resolved itself into a series of exhausting raids. |Every year, as soon as the fruit crops and the harvests began to ripen, Alyattes set out at the head of his troops, whom he caused to march and encamp to the sound of instruments. Having arrived in the Milesian territory, he completely destroyed the crops and the orchards, and then again withdrew.| In these expeditions he was careful to avoid any excesses which would have made the injury inflicted appear irretrievable; his troops were forbidden to destroy dwelling-houses or buildings dedicated to the gods; indeed, on one occasion, when the conflagration which consumed the lands accidentally spread to the temple of Athena near Assesos, he rebuilt two temples for the goddess at his own expense. The Milesians sustained the struggle courageously, until two reverses at Limeneion and in the plain of the Maeander at length induced them to make terms. Their tyrant, Thrasybulus, acting on the advice of the Delphic Apollo and by the mediation of Periander of Corinth, concluded a treaty with Alyattes in which the two princes, declaring themselves the guest and the ally one of the other, very probably conceded extensive commercial privileges to one another both by land and sea (604).*
* Thrasybulus' stratagem is said to have taken place at Priene by Diogenes Laertes and by Polysenus. The war begins under Ardys, lasts for five years under Sadyattes, instead of the six years which Herodotus attributes to it, and five years under Alyattes.
Alyattes rewarded the oracle by the gift of a magnificent bowl, the work of Glaucus of Chios, which continued to be shown to travellers of the Roman period as one of the most remarkable curiosities of Delphi. Alyattes continued his expeditions against the other Greek colonies, but directed them prudently and leisurely, so as not to alarm his European friends, and provoke the formation against himself of a coalition of the Hellenic communities shattered over the isles or along the littoral of the AEgean. We know that towards the end of his reign he recovered Colophon, which had been previously acquired by Gyges, but had regained its independence during the Cimmerian crisis;* he razed Smyrna to the ground, and forced its inhabitants to occupy unfortified towns, where his suzerainty could not be disputed;** he half devastated Clazomense, whose citizens saved it by a despairing effort, and he renewed the ancient alliances with Ephesus, Kyme, and the cities of the region of the Caicus and the Hellespont,*** though it is impossible to attribute an accurate date to each of these particular events.
* Polysenus tells the story of the trick by which Alyattes, after he had treated with the people of Colophon, destroyed their cavalry and seized on their town. The fact that a treaty was made seems to be confirmed by a fragment of Phylarchus, and the surrender of the town to the Lydians by a fragment of Xenophanes, quoted in Athenseus. Schubert does not seem to believe that the town was taken by Alyattes; I have adopted the opinion of Ladet on this point.
** Herodotus and Nicolas of Damascus confine themselves to relating the capture of the city; adds that the Lydians compelled the inhabitants to dwell in unfortified towns. Schubert thinks that the passage in Strabo refers, not to the time of Alyattes, but to a subsequent event in the fifth century; he relies for this opinion on a fragment of Pindar, which represents Smyrna as still flourishing in his time. But, as Busolt has pointed out, the intention of the text of Pindar is to represent the state of the city at about the time of Homer's birth, and not in the fifth century.
*** The peace between Ephesus and Lydia must have been troubled for a little while in the reign of Sadyattes, but it was confirmed under Alyattes by the marriage of Melas II. with one of the king's daughters.
Most of them had already taken place or were still proceeding when the irruption of the Medes across the Halys obliged him to concentrate all his energies on the eastern portion of his kingdom.
The current tradition in Lydia of a century later attributed the conflict of the two peoples to a romantic cause. It related that Cyaxares had bestowed his favour on the bands of Scythians who had become his mercenaries on the death of Madyes, and that he had entrusted to them the children of some of the noblest Medic families, that they might train them to hunt and also teach them the use of the bow. One day, on their returning from the chase without any game, Cyaxares reproached them for their want of skill in such angry and insulting terms, that they resolved on immediate revenge. They cut one of the children in pieces, which they dressed after the same manner as that in which they were accustomed to prepare the game they had killed, and served up the dish to the king; then, while he was feasting upon it with his courtiers, they lied in haste and took refuge with Alyattes. The latter welcomed them, and refused to send them back to Cyaxares; hence the outbreak of hostilities. It is, of course, possible that the emigration of a nomad horde may have been the cause of the war,* but graver reasons than this had set the two nations at variance.
* Grote has collected a certain number of examples in later times to show that the journeying of a nomad horde from one state to another may provoke wars, and he concludes therefrom that at least the basis of Herodotus' account may be considered as true.
The hardworking inhabitants of the valleys of the Iris and the Halys were still possessed of considerable riches, in spite of the losses they had suffered from the avaricious Cimmerians, and their chief towns, Comana, Pteria and Teiria, continued to enjoy prosperity under the rule of their priest-kings. Pteria particularly had developed in the course of the century, thanks to her favourable situation, which had enabled her to offer a secure refuge to the neighbouring population during the late disasters.
[Illustation: 396.jpg THE RUINS OF PTERIA]
Drawn by Boudier, from Charles Texier.
The town itself was crowded into a confined plain, on the left bank of a torrent which flowed into the Halys, and the city walls may still be clearly traced upon the soil; the outline of the houses, the silos, cisterns, and rock-cut staircases are still visible in places, besides the remains of a palace built of enormous blocks of almost rough-hewn limestone. The town was defended by wide ramparts, and also by two fortresses perched upon enormous masses of rock, while a few thousand yards to the east of the city, on the right bank of the torrent, three converging ravines concealed the sanctuary of one of those mysterious oracles whose fame attracted worshippers from far and wide during the annual fairs.
[Illustration: 396b.jpg THE ENTRANCE TO THE SANCTUARY OF PTERIA]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Chantre.
The bas-reliefs which decorate them belong to that semi-barbarous art which we have already met with in the monuments attributed to the Khafci, near the Orontes and Euphrates, on both slopes of the Amanus, in Cilioia, and in the ravines of the Taurus.
[Illustration: 398.jpg ONE OF THE PROCESSIONS IN THE RAVINE OF PTERIA]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Chantre.
Long processions of priests and votaries defile before figures of the gods and goddesses standing erect upon their sacred animals; in one scene, a tall goddess, a Cybele or an Anaitis, leans affectionately upon her chosen lover, and seems to draw him with her towards an image with a lion's body and the head of a youth.*
* These bas-reliefs seem to me to have been executed at about the time with which we are dealing, or perhaps a few years later -- in any case, before the Persian conquest.
Pteria and its surrounding hills formed a kind of natural fortress which overlooked the whole bend of the Halys; it constituted, in the land of the Lydians, an outpost which effectually protected their possessions in Phrygia and Papnlagonia against an attack from the East; in the hands of the Medes it would be a dominant position which would counteract the defensive features of the Halys, and from it they might penetrate into the heart of Asia Minor without encountering any serious obstacles. The struggle between the two sovereigns was not so unequal as might at first appear. No doubt the army of Alyattes was inferior in numbers, but the bravery of its component forces and the ability of its leaders compensated for its numerical inferiority, and Cyaxares had no troop to be compared with the Carian lancers, with the hoplites of Ionia, or with the heavy Maeonian cavalry. During six years the two armies met again and again -- fate sometimes favouring one and sometimes the other -- and were about to try their fortune once more, after several indecisive engagements, when an eclipse of the sun suspended operations (585). The Iranian peoples would fight only in full daylight, and their adversaries, although warned, so it is said, by the Milesian philosopher Thaies of the phenomenon about to take place in the heavens, were perhaps not completely reassured as to its significance, and the two hosts accordingly separated without coming to blows.*
* This eclipse was identified at one time with that of Sept.30, 610, at another with that of May 28, 585. The latter of these two dates appears to me to be the correct one, and is the only one which agrees with what we know of the general history of the sixth century.
Nebuchadrezzar had followed, not without some misgivings, the vicissitudes of the campaign, and his anxiety was shared by the independent princes of Asia Minor, who were allies of the Lydians; he and they alike awaited with dread a decisive action, which, by crushing one of the belligerents beyond hope of recovery, would leave the onlookers at the mercy of the victor in the full flush of his success. Tradition relates that Syennesis of Cilicia and the Babylonian Nabonidus had taken advantage of the alarm produced by the eclipse to negotiate an armistice, and that they were soon successful in bringing the rival powers to an agreement.* The Halys remained the recognised frontier of the two kingdoms, but the Lydians probably obtained advantages for their commerce, which they regarded as compensatory for the abandonment of their claim to the district of Pteria. To strengthen the alliance, it was agreed that Alyattes should give his daughter Aryenis in marriage to Ishtuvigu, or, as the Greeks called him, Astyages, the son of Cyaxares.** According to the custom of the times, the two contracting parties, after taking the vow of fidelity, sealed the compact by pricking each other's arms and sucking the few drops of blood which oozed from the puncture.***
* The name Labynetos given by Herodotus is a transcript of Nabonidus, but cannot here designate the Babylonian king of that name, for the latter reigned more than thirty years after the peace was concluded between the Lydians and the Medes. If Herodotus has not made the mistake of putting Labynetos for Nebuchadrezzar, we may admit that this Labynetos was a prince of the royal family, or simply a general who was commanding the Chaldoan auxiliaries of Cyaxares.
** The form Ishtuvigu is given us by the Chaldoan documents. Its exact transcript was Astuigas, Astyigas, according to Ctosias; in fact, this coincides so remarkably with the Babylonian mode of spelling, that we may believe that it faithfully reproduces the original pronunciation.
*** Many ancient authors have spoken of this war, or at least of the eclipse which brought it to an end. Several of them place the conclusion of peace not in the reign of Cyaxares, but in that of Astyages -- Cicero, Solinus, and the Armenian Eusebius -- and their view has been adopted by some modern historians. The two versions of the account can be reconciled by saying that Astyages was commanding the Median army instead of his father, who was too old to do so, but such an explanation is unnecessary, and Cyaxares, though over seventy, might still have had sufficient vigour to wage war. The substitution of Astyages for Cyaxares by the authors of Roman times was probably effected with the object of making the date of the eclipse agree with a different system of chronology from that followed by Herodotus.
Cyaxares died in the following year (584), full of days and renown, and was at once succeeded by Astyages. Few princes could boast of having had such a successful career as his, even in that century of unprecedented fortunes and boundless ambitions. Inheriting a disorganised army, proclaimed king in the midst of mourning, on the morrow of a defeat in which the fate of his kingdom had hung in the balance, he succeeded within a quarter of a century in overthrowing his enemies and substituting his supremacy for theirs throughout the whole of Western Asia. At his accession Media had occupied only a small portion of the Iranian table-land; at his death, the Median empire extended to the banks of the Halys. It is now not difficult to understand why Nebuchadrezzar abstained from all expeditions in the regions of the Taurus, as well as in those of the Upper Tigris. He would inevitably have come into contact with the allies of the Lydians, perchance with the Lydians themselves, or with the Medes, as the case might be; and he would have been drawn on to take an active part in their dangerous quarrels, from which, after all, he could not hope to reap any personal advantage. In reality, there was one field of action only open to him, and that was Southern Syria, with Egypt in her rear. He found himself, at this extreme limit of his dominions, in a political situation almost identical with that of his Assyrian predecessors, and consequently more or less under the obligation of repeating their policy. The Saites, like the Ethiopians before them, could enjoy no assured sense of security in the Delta, when they knew that they had a great military state as their nearest neighbour on the other side of the isthmus; they felt with reason that the thirty leagues of desert which separated Pelusium from Gaza was an insufficient protection from invasion, and they desired to have between themselves and their adversary a tract of country sufficiently extensive to ward off the first blows in the case of hostilities. If such a buffer territory could be composed of feudal provinces or tributary states, Egyptian pride would be flattered, while at the same time the security of the kingdom would be increased, and indeed the victorious progress of Necho had for the moment changed their most ambitious dreams into realities. Driven back into the Nile valley after the battle of Carchemish, their pretensions had immediately shrunk within more modest limits; their aspirations were now confined to gaining the confidence of the few surviving states which had preserved some sort of independence in spite of the Assyrian conquest, to detaching them from Chaldoan interests and making them into a protecting zone against the ambition of a new Esarhaddon. To this work Necho applied himself as soon as Nebuchadrezzar had left him in order to hasten back to Babylon. The Egyptian monarch belonged to a persevering race, who were never kept, down by reverses, and had not once allowed themselves to be discouraged during the whole of the century in which they had laboured to secure the crown for themselves; his defeat had not lessened his tenacity, nor, it would seem, his certainty of final success. Besides organising his Egyptian and Libyan troops, he enrolled a still larger number of Hellenic mercenaries, correctly anticipating that the restless spirits of the Phoenicians and Jews would soon furnish him with an opportunity of distinguishing himself upon the scene of action.
It was perhaps at this juncture that he decided to strengthen his position by the co-operation of a fleet. The superiority of the Chaldoan battalions had been so clearly manifested, that he could scarcely hope for a decisive victory if he persisted in seeking it on land; but if he could succeed in securing the command of the sea, his galleys, by continually cruising along the Syrian coast, and conveying troops, provisions, arms, and money to the Phoenician towns, would so successfully foster and maintain a spirit of rebellion, that the Chaldaeans would not dare to venture into Egypt until they had dealt with this source of danger in their rear. He therefore set to work to increase the number of his war-vessels on the Bed Sea, but more especially on the Mediterranean, and as he had drawn upon Greece for his troops, he now applied to her for shipbuilders.*
* Herodotus tells us that in his time the ruins of the docks which Necho had made for the building of his triremes could still be seen on the shore of the Red Sea as well as on that of the Mediterranean. He seems also to say that the building of the fleet was anterior to the first Syrian expedition.
[Illustration: 404.jpg AN EGYPTIAN VESSEL OF THE SAITE PERIOD]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph sent by G. Benedite.
The trireme, which had been invented by either the Samian or Corinthian naval constructors, had as yet been little used, and possibly Herodotus is attributing an event of his own time to this earlier period when he affirms that Necho filled a dockyard with a whole fleet of these vessels; he possessed, at any rate, a considerable number of them, and along with them other vessels of various build, in which the blunt stem and curved poop of the Greeks were combined with the square-cabined barque of the Egyptians. At the same time, in order to transport the squadron from one sea to another when occasion demanded, he endeavoured to reopen the ancient canal.
He improved its course and widened it so as to permit of two triremes sailing abreast or easily clearing each other in passing. The canal started from the Pelusiac branch of the Nile, not far from Patumos, and skirted the foot of the Arabian hills from west to east; it then plunged into the Wady Tumilat, and finally entered the head of the bay which now forms the Lake of Ismailia. The narrow channel by which this sheet of water was anciently connected with the Gulf of Suez was probably obstructed in places, and required clearing out at several points, if not along its entire extent. A later tradition states that after having lost 100,000 men in attempting this task, the king abandoned the project on the advice of an oracle, a god having been supposed to have predicted to him that he was working for the barbarians.*
* The figures, 100,000 men, are evidently exaggerated, for in a similar undertaking, the digging of the Mahmudiyeh canal, Mehemet-Ali lost only 10,000 men, though the work was greater.
[Illustration: 405.jpg THE ANCIENT HEAD OF THE RED SEA, NOW THE NORTHERN EXTREMITY OF THE BITTER LAKES]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph taken from the railway between Ismailia and Suez, on the eastern shore of the lake.
Another of Necho's enterprises excited the admiration of his contemporaries, and remained for ever in the memory of the people. The Carthaginians had discovered on the ocean coast of Libya, a country rich in gold, ivory, precious woods, pepper, and spices, but their political jealousy prevented other nations from following in their wake in the interests of trade. The Egyptians possibly may have undertaken to dispute their monopoly, or the Phoenicians may have desired to reach their colony by a less frequented highway than the Mediterranean. The merchants of the Said and the Delta had never entirely lost touch with the people dwelling on the shores of the Red Sea, and though the royal fleets no longer pursued their course down it on their way to Punt as in the days of Hatshopsitu and Ramses III., private individuals ventured from time to time to open trade communications with the ancient |Ladders of Incense.| Necho despatched the Phoenician captains of his fleet in search of new lands, and they started from the neighbourhood of Suez, probably accompanied by native pilots accustomed to navigate in those waters. The undertaking, fraught with difficulty even in the last century, was, indeed, a formidable one for the small vessels of the Saite period. They sailed south for months with the east to the left of them, and on their right the continent which seemed to extend indefinitely before them. Towards the autumn they disembarked on some convenient shore, sowed the wheat with which they were provided, and waited till the crop was ripe; having reaped the harvest, they again took to the sea. Any accurate remembrance of what they saw was soon effaced; they could merely recollect that, having reached a certain point, they observed with astonishment that the sun appeared to have reversed its course, and now rose on their right hand. This meant that they had turned the southern extremity of Africa and were unconsciously sailing northwards. In the third year they passed through the pillars of Hercules and reached Egypt in safety. The very limited knowledge of navigation possessed by the mariners of that day rendered this voyage fruitless; the dangerous route thus opened up to commerce remained unused, and its discovery was remembered only as a curious feat devoid of any practical use.*
* The Greek writers after Herodotus denied the possibility of such a voyage, and they thought that it could not be decided whether Africa was entirely surrounded by water, and that certainly no traveller had ever journeyed above 5000 stadia beyond the entrance to the Red Sea. Modern writers are divided on the point, some denying and others
maintaining the authenticity of the account. The observation made by the navigators of the apparent change in the course of the sun, which Herodotus has recorded, and which neither he nor his authorities understood, seems to me to be so weighty an argument for its authenticity, that it is impossible to reject the tradition until we have more decided grounds for so doing.
In order to obtain any practical results from the arduous voyage, it would have been necessary for Egypt to devote a considerable part of its resources to the making of such expeditions, whereas the country preferred to concentrate all its energies on its Tyrian policy. Necho certainly possessed the sympathies of the Tyrians, who had transferred their traditional hatred of the Assyrians to the Chaldaeans. He could also count with equal certainty on the support of a considerable party in Moab, Ammon, and Edom, as well as among the Nabataeans and the Arabs of Kedar; but the key of the whole position lay with Judah -- that ally without whom none of Necho's other partisans would venture to declare openly against their master. The death of Josiah had dealt a fatal blow to the hopes of the prophets, and even long after the event they could not recall it without lamenting the fate of this king after their own heart. |And like unto him,| exclaims their chronicler, |was there no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.|*
* 2 Kings xxiii.25.
The events which followed his violent death -- the deposition of Jehoahaz, the establishment and fall of the Egyptian supremacy, the proclamation of the Chaldaean suzerainty, the degradation of the king and the misery of the people brought about by the tribute exacted from them by their foreign masters, -- all these revolutions which had succeeded each other without break or respite had all but ruined the belief in the efficacy of the reform due to Hilkiah's discovery, and preached by Jeremiah and his followers. The people saw in these calamities the vengeance of Jahveh against the presumptuous faction which had overthrown His various sanctuaries and had attempted to confine His worship to a single temple; they therefore restored the banished attractions, and set themselves to sacrifice to strange gods with greater zest than ever.
A like crisis occurred and like party divisions had broken out around Jehoiakim similar to those at the court of Ahaz and Hezekiah a century earlier. The populace, the soldiery, and most of the court officials, in short, all who adhered to the old popular form of religion or were attracted to strange devotions, hoped to rid themselves of the Chaldaeans by earthly means, and since Necho declared himself an implacable enemy of their foe, their principal aim was to come to terms with Egypt. Jeremiah, on the contrary, and those who remained faithful to the teaching of the prophets, saw in all that was passing around them cogent reasons for rejecting worldly wisdom and advice, and for yielding themselves unreservedly to the Divine will in bowing before the Chaldaean of whom Jahveh made use, as of the Assyrian of old, to chastise the sins of Judah. The struggle between the two factions constantly disturbed the public peace, and it needed little to cause the preaching of the prophets to degenerate into an incitement to revolt. On a feast-day which occurred in the early months of Jehoiakim's reign, Jeremiah took up his station on the pavement of the temple and loudly apostrophised the crowd of worshippers. |Thus saith the Lord: If ye will not hearken unto Me, to walk in My law, which I have set before you, to hearken to the words of My servants the prophets, whom I send unto you, even rising up early and sending them, but ye have not hearkened; then will I make this house like Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all the nations of the earth.| Such a speech, boldly addressed to an audience the majority of whom were already moved by hostile feelings, brought their animosity to a climax; the officiating priests, the prophets, and the pilgrims gathered round Jeremiah, crying, |Thou shalt surely die.| The people thronged into the temple, the princes of Judah went up to the king's house and to the house of the Lord, and sat in council in the entry of the new gate. They decreed that Jeremiah, having spoken in the name of the Lord, did not merit death, and some of their number, recalling the precedent of Micaiah the Morasthite, who in his time had predicted the ruin of Jerusalem, added, |Did Hezekiah King of Judah and all Judah put him at all to death?| Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, one of those who had helped in restoring the law, took the prophet under his protection and prevented the crowd from injuring him, but some others were not able to escape the popular fury. The prophet Uriah of Kirjath-jearim, who unweariedly prophesied against the city and country after the manner of Jeremiah, fled to Egypt, but in vain; Jehoiakim despatched Elnathan, the son of Achbor, |and certain men with him,| who brought him back to Judah, |slew him with the sword, and cast his dead body into the graves of the common people.|* If popular feeling had reached such a pitch before the battle of Carchemish, to what height must it have risen when the news of Nebuchadrezzar's victory had given the death-blow to the hopes of the Egyptian faction! Jeremiah believed the moment ripe for forcibly arresting the popular imagination while it was swayed by the panic of anticipated invasion. He dictated to his disciple Baruch the prophecies he had pronounced since the appearance of the Scythians under Josiah, and on the day of the solemn fast proclaimed throughout Judah during the winter of the fifth year of the reign, a few months after the defeat of the Egyptians, he caused the writing to be read to the assembled people at the entry of the new gate.**
* Jer. xxvi., where the scene takes place at the beginning of Jehoiakim's reign, i.e. under the Egyptian domination.
** The date given in Jer. xxxvi.9 makes the year begin in spring, since the ninth month occurs in winter; this date belongs, therefore, to the later recensions of the text. It is nevertheless probably authentic, representing the exact equivalent of the original date according to the old calendar.
Micaiah, the son of Gremariah, was among those who listened, and noting that the audience were moved by the denunciations which revived the memory of their recent misfortunes, he hastened to inform the ministers sitting in council within the palace of what was passing. They at once sent for Baruch, and begged him to repeat to them what he had read. They were so much alarmed at its recital, that they advised him to hide himself in company with Jeremiah, while they informed the king of the matter. Jehoiakim was sitting in a chamber with a brazier burning before him on account of the severe cold: scarcely had they read three or four pages before him when his anger broke forth; he seized the roll, slashed it with the scribe's penknife, and threw the fragments into the fire. Jeremiah recomposed the text from memory, and inserted in it a malediction against the king. |Thus saith the Lord concerning Jehoiakim, King of Judah: He shall have none to sit upon the throne of David: and his dead body shall be cast out in the day to the heat, and in the night to the frost. And I will punish him and his seed and his servants for their iniquity: and I will bring upon them, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and upon the men of Judah, all the evil that I have pronounced against them; but they hearkened not.|*
* Jer. xxxvi. Attempts have been made to reconstruct the contents of Jeremiah's roll, and most of the authors who have dealt with this subject think that the roll contained the greater part of the fragments which, in the book of the prophet, occupy chaps, i.4-11, ii., iii.1-5, 19-25, iv.- vi., vii., viii., ix.1-21, x.17-25, xi., xii.1-6, xvii.19-27, xviii., xix.1-13, which it must be admitted have not in every case been preserved in their original form, but have been abridged or rearranged after the exile. Other chapters evidently belong to the years previous to the fifth year of Jehoiakim, as well as part of the prophecies against the barbarians, but they could not have been included in the original roll, as the latter would then have been too long to have been read three times in one day.
The Egyptian tendencies evinced at court, at first discreetly veiled, were now accentuated to such a degree that Nebuchadrezzar became alarmed, and came in person to Jerusalem in the year 601. His presence frustrated the intrigues of Pharaoh. Jehoiakim was reduced to order for a time, but three years later he revolted afresh at the instigation of Necho, and this time the Chaldaean satraps opened hostilities in earnest. They assembled their troops, which were reinforced by Syrian, Moabite, and Ammonite contingents, and laid siege to Jerusalem.*
* 2 Kings xxiv.1-4. The passage is not easy to be
understood as it stands, and it has been differently interpreted by historians. Some have supposed that it refers to events immediately following the battle of Carchemish, and that Jehoiakim defended Jerusalem against Nebuchadrezzar in 605. Others think that, after the battle of Carchemish, Jehoiakim took advantage of Nebuchadrezzar's being obliged to return at once to Babylon, and would not recognise the authority of the Chaldaeans; that Nebuchadrezzar returned later, towards 601, and took Jerusalem, and that it is to this second war that allusion is made in the Book of Kings. It is more simple to consider that which occurred about 600 as a first attempt at rebellion which was punished lightly by the Chaldaeans.
Jehoiakim, left to himself, resisted with such determination that Nebuchadrezzar was obliged to bring up his Chaldaean forces to assist in the attack. Judah trembled with fear at the mere description which her prophet Habakkuk gave of this fierce and sturdy people, |which march through the breadth of the earth to possess dwelling-places which are not theirs. They are terrible and dreadful: their judgment and their dignity proceed from themselves. Their horses also are swifter than leopards, and are more fierce than the evening wolves; and their horsemen spread themselves; yea, their horsemen come from far; they fly as an eagle that hasteneth to devour. They come all of them for violence; their faces are set eagerly as the east wind, and they gather captives as the sand. Yea, he scoffeth at kings, and princes are a derision unto him: he derideth every stronghold: for he heapeth up dust and taketh it. Then shall he sweep by as a wind, and shall pass over the guilty, even he whose might is his god.| Nebuchadrezzar's army must have presented a spectacle as strange as did that of Necho. It contained, besides its nucleus of Chaldaen and Babylonian infantry, squadrons of Scythian and Median cavalry, whose cruelty it was, no doubt, that had alarmed the prophet, and certainly bands of Greek hoplites, for the poet Alcasus had had a brother, Antimenidas by name, in the Chaldaean monarch's service. Jehoiakim died before the enemy appeared beneath the walls of Jerusalem, and was at once succeeded by his son Jeconiah,* a youth of eighteen years, who assumed the name of Jehoiachin.**
* [Jehoiachin is called Coniah in Jer. xxii.24 and xxiv.1, and Jeconiah in 1 Chron. iii.16. -- Tr.]
** 2 Kings xxiv.5-10; cf.2 Chron. xxxvi.6-9, where the writer says that Nebuchadrezzar bound Jehoiakim |in fetters, to carry him to Babylon.|
The new king continued the struggle at first courageously, but the advent of Nebuchadrezzar so clearly convinced him of the futility of the defence, that he suddenly decided to lay down his arms. He came forth from the city with his mother Nehushta, the officers of his house, his ministers, and his eunuchs, and prostrated himself at the feet of his suzerain. The Chaldaen monarch was not inclined to proceed to extremities; he therefore exiled to Babylon Jehoiachin and the whole of his seditious court who had so ill-advised the young king, the best of his officers, and the most skilful artisans, in all 3023 persons, but the priests and the bulk of the people remained at Jerusalem. The conqueror appointed Mattaniah, the youngest son of Josiah, to be their ruler, who, on succeeding to the crown, changed his name, after the example of his predecessors, adopting that of Zedekiah. Jehoiachin had reigned exactly three months over his besieged city (596).*
The Egyptians made no attempt to save their ally, but if they felt themselves not in a condition to defy the Chaldasans on Syrian territory, the Chaldaeans on their side feared to carry hostilities into the heart of the Delta. Necho died two years after the disaster at Jerusalem, without having been called to account by, or having found an opportunity of further annoying, his rival, and his son Psammetichus II. succeeded peacefully to the throne.** He was a youth at this time,*** and his father's ministers conducted the affairs of State on his behalf, and it was they who directed one of his early campaigns, if not the very first, against Ethiopia.****
* 2 Kings xxiv.11-17; cf.2 Chron. xxxvi.10.
** The length of Necho's reign is fixed at sixteen years by Herodotus, and at six or at nine years by the various abbreviators of Manetho. The contemporaneous monuments have confirmed the testimony of Herodotus on this point as against that of Manetho, and the stelse of the Florentine Museum, of the Leyden Museum, and of the Louvre have furnished certain proof that Necho died in the sixteenth year, after fifteen and a half years' reign.
*** His sarcophagus, discovered in 1883, and now preserved in the Gizeh Museum, is of such small dimensions that it can have been used only for a youth.
**** The graffiti of Abu-Simbel have been most frequently attributed to Psammetichus I., and until recently I had thought it possible to maintain this opinion. A. von Gutsehmid was the first to restore them to Psammetichus IL, and his opinion has gained ground since Wiedemann's vigorous defence of it. The Alysian mercenary's graffito contains the Greek translation of the current Egyptian phrase |when his Majesty came on his first military expedition into this country,| which seems to point to no very early date in a reign for a first campaign. Moreover, one of the generals in command of the expedition is a Psammetichus, son of Theocles, that is, a Greek with an Egyptian name. A considerable lapse of time must have taken place since Psammetichus' first dealings with the Greeks, for otherwise the person named after the king would not have been of sufficiently mature age to be put at the head of a body of troops.
They organised a small army for him composed of Egyptians, Greeks, and Asiatic mercenaries, which, while the king was taking up his residence at Elephantine, was borne up the Nile in a fleet of large vessels.* It probably went as far south as the northern point of the second cataract, and not having encountered any Ethiopian force,** it retraced its course and came to anchor at Abu-Simbel.
* The chief graffito at Abu-Simbel says, in fact, that the king came to Elephantine, and that only the troops
accompanying the General Psammetichus, the son of Theocles, went beyond Kerkis. It was probably during his stay at Elephantine, while awaiting the return of the expedition, that Psammetichus II. had the inscriptions containing his cartouches engraved upon the rocks of Bigga, Abaton, Philo, and Konosso, or among the ruins of Elephantine and of Phila?.
** The Greek inscription says above Kerlcis. Wiedemann has corrected Kerkis into Kortis, the Korte of the first cataract, but the reading Kerkis is too well established for there to be any reason for change. The simplest explanation is to acknowledge that the inscription refers to a place situated a few miles above Abu-Simbel, towards Wady-Halfa.
The officers in command, after having admired the rock-cut chapel of Ramses II., left in it a memento of their visit in a fine inscription cut on the right leg of one of the colossi. This inscription informs us that |King Psammatikhos having come to Elephantine, the people who were with Psammatikhos, son of Theocles, wrote this. They ascended above Kerkis, to where the river ceases; Potasimto commanded the foreigners, Amasis the Egyptians. At the same time also wrote Arkhon, son of Amoibikhos, and Peleqos, son of Ulamos.| Following the example of their officers, the soldiers also wrote their names here and there, each in his own language -- Ionians, Rhodians, Carians, Phoenicians, and perhaps even Jews; e.g. Elesibios of Teos, Pabis of Colophon, Telephos of Ialysos, Abdsakon son of Petiehve, Gerhekal son of Hallum. The whole of this part of the country, brought to ruin in the gradual dismemberment of Greater Egypt, could not have differed much from the Nubia of to-day; there were the same narrow strips of cultivation along the river banks, gigantic temples half buried by their own ruins, scattered towns and villages, and everywhere the yellow sand creeping insensibly down towards the Nile. The northern part of this province remained in the hands of the Saite Pharaohs, and the districts situated further south just beyond Abu-Simbel formed at that period a sort of neutral ground between their domain and that of the Pharaohs of Napata. While all this was going on, Syria continued to plot in secret, and the faction which sought security in a foreign alliance was endeavouring to shake off the depression caused by the reverses of Jehoiakim and his son; and the tide of popular feeling setting in the direction of Egypt became so strong, that even Zedekiah, the creature of Nebuchadrezzar, was unable to stem it. The prophets who were inimical to religious reform, persisted in their belief that the humiliation of the country was merely temporary.
[Illustration: 417.jpg THE FACADE OF THE GREAT TEMPLE OF ABU-SIMBEL]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Daniel Heron.
Those of them who still remained in Jerusalem repeated at every turn, |Ye shall not serve the King of Babylon... the vessels of the Lord's house shall now shortly be brought again from Babylon.| Jeremiah endeavoured to counteract the effect of their words, but in vain; the people, instead of listening to the prophet, waxed wroth with him, and gave themselves more and more recklessly up to their former sins. Incense was burnt every morning on the roofs of the houses and at the corners of the streets in honour of Baal, lamentations for Tammuz again rent the air at the season of his festival; the temple was invaded by uncircumcised priests and their idols, and the king permitted the priests of Moloch to raise their pyres in the valley of Hinnom. The exiled Jews, surrounded on all sides by heathen peoples, presented a no less grievous spectacle than their brethren at Jerusalem; some openly renounced the God of their fathers, others worshipped their chosen idols in secret, while those who did not actually become traitors to their faith, would only listen to such prophets as promised them a speedy revenge -- Ahab, Zedekiah, son of Maaseiah, and Shemaiah. There was one man, however, who appeared in their midst, a priest, brought up from his youth in the temple and imbued with the ideas of reform -- Ezekiel, son of Buzi, whose words might have brought them to a more just appreciation of their position, had they not drowned his voice by their clamour; alarmed at their threats, he refrained from speech in public, but gathered round him a few faithful adherents at his house in Tel-AMb, where the spirit of the Lord first came upon him in their presence about the year 592.*
* Ezelc. i.1, 2. We see him receiving the elders in his house in chaps, viii.1, xiv.1, xx.1, et. seq.
This little band of exiles was in constant communication with the mother-country, and the echo of the religious quarrels and of the controversies provoked between the various factions by the events of the political world, was promptly borne to them by merchants, travelling scribes, or the king's legates who were sent regularly to Babylon with the tribute.* They learnt, about the year 590, that grave events were at hand, and that the moment had come when Judah, recovering at length from her trials, should once more occupy, in the sight of the sun, that place for which Jahveh had destined her. The kings of Moab, Ammon, Edom, Tyre, and Sidon had sent envoys to Jerusalem, and there, probably at the dictation of Egypt, they had agreed on what measures to take to stir up a general insurrection against Chaldaea.** The report of their resolutions had revived the courage of the national party, and of its prophets; Hananiah, son of Azzur, had gone through the city announcing the good news to all.***
* Jer. xxix.3 gives the names of two of these transmitters of the tribute -- Elasah the son of Shaphan, and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, to whom Jeremiah had entrusted a message for those of the captivity.
** Jer. xxvii.1-3. The statement at the beginning of this chapter: In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim, contains a copyist's error; the reading should be: In the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah (see ver.12).
*** Jer. xxvii., xxviii.
|Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, saying, I have broken the yoke of the King of Babylon. Within two full years will I bring again into this place all the vessels of the Lord's house .. . and Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, King of Judah, with all the captives of Judah that went to Babylon!| But Jeremiah had made wooden yokes and had sent them to the confederate princes, threatening them with divine punishment if they did not bow their necks to Nebuchadrezzar; the prophet himself bore one on his own neck, and showed himself in the streets on all occasions thus accoutred, as a living emblem of the slavery in which Jahveh permitted His people to remain for their spiritual good. Hananiah, meeting the prophet by chance, wrested the yoke from him and broke it, exclaiming, |Thus saith the Lord: Even so will I break the yoke of Nebuchadrezzar, King of Babylon, within two full years from off the neck of all the nations.| The mirth of the bystanders was roused, but on the morrow Jeremiah appeared with a yoke of iron, which Jahveh had put |upon the neck of all the nations, that they may serve Nebuchadrezzar, King of Babylon.| Moreover, to destroy in the minds of the exiled Jews any hope of speedy deliverance, he wrote to them: |Let not your prophets that be in the midst of you, and your diviners, deceive you, neither hearken ye to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed. For they prophesy falsely unto you in My name: I have not sent them, saith the Lord.| The prophet exhorted them to resign themselves to their fate, at all events for the time, that the unity of their nation might be preserved until the time when it might indeed please Jahveh to restore it: |Build ye houses and dwell in them, and plant gardens and eat the fruit of them: take ye wives and beget sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply ye there and be not diminished. And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray unto the Lord for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.| Psammetichus II. died in 589,* and his reign, though short, was distinguished by the activity shown in rebuilding and embellishing the temples.
* Herodotus reckoned the length of the reign of Psammetichus II. at six years, in which he agrees with the Syncellus, while the abbreviators of Manetho fix it at seventeen years. The results given by the reading of a stele of the Louvre enable us to settle that the figure 6 is to be preferred to the other, and to reckon the length of the reign at five years and a half.
His name is met with everywhere on the banks of the Nile -- at Karnak, where he completed the decoration of the great columns of Taharqa, at Abydos, at Heliopolis, and on the monuments that have come from that town, such as the obelisk set up in the Campus Martius at Borne. The personal influence of the young sovereign did not count for much in the zeal thus displayed; but the impulse that had been growing during three or four generations, since the time of the expulsion of the Assyrians, now began to have its full effect. Egypt, well armed, well governed by able ministers, and more and more closely bound to Greece by both mercantile and friendly ties, had risen to a very high position in the estimation of its contemporaries; the inhabitants of Elis had deferred to her decision in the question whether they should take part in the Olympic games in which they were the judges, and following the advice she had given on the matter, they had excluded their own citizens from the sports so as to avoid the least suspicion of partiality in the distribution of the prizes.* The new king, probably the brother of the late Pharaoh, had his prenomen of Uahibn from his grandfather Psammetichus I., and it was this sovereign that the Greeks called indifferently Uaphres and Apries.**
* Diodorus Siculus has transferred the anecdote to Amasis, and the decision given is elsewhere attributed to one of the seven sages. The story is a popular romance, of which Herodotus gives the version current among the Greeks in Egypt.
** According to Herodotus, Apries was the son of Psammis. The size of the sarcophagus of Psammetichus II., suitable only for a youth, makes this filiation improbable.
Psammetichus, who came to the throne when he was hardly more than a child, could have left behind him only children of tender age, and Apries appears from the outset as a prince of full mental and physical development.
[Illustration: 422.jpg APRIES, FROM A SPHINX IN THE LOUVRE]
Drawn by Boudier, from the bronze statuette in the Louvre Museum.
He was young, ambitious, greedy of fame and military glory, and longed to use the weapon that his predecessors had for some fifteen years past been carefully whetting; his emissaries, arriving at Jerusalem at the moment when the popular excitement was at its height, had little difficulty in overcoming Zede-kiah's scruples. Edoni, Moab, and the Philistines, who had all taken their share in the conferences of the rebel party, hesitated at the last moment, and refused to sever their relations with Babylon. Tyre and the Ammonites alone persisted in their determination, and allied themselves with Egypt on the same terms as Judah.
[Illustration: 423.jpg STELE OF NEBUCHADREZZAR]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Pognon. The figures have been carefully defaced with the hammer, but the outline of the king can still be discerned on the left; he seizes the rampant lion by the right paw, and while it raises its left paw against him, he plunges his dagger into the body of the beast.
Nebuchadrezzar, thus defied by three enemies, was at a loss to decide upon which to make his first attack. Ezekiel, whose place of exile put him in a favourable position for learning what was passing, shows him to us as he |stood at the parting of the way, at the head of the two ways, to use divination: he shook the arrows to and fro, he consulted the teraphim, he looked in the liver.| Judah formed as it were the bridge by which the Egyptians could safely enter Syria, and if Nebuchadrezzar could succeed in occupying it before their arrival, he could at once break up the coalition into three separate parts incapable of rejoining one another -- Ammon in the desert to the east, Tyre and Sidon on the seaboard, and Pharaoh beyond his isthmus to the south-west. He therefore established himself in a central position at Eiblah on the Orontes, from whence he could observe the progress of the operations, and hasten with his reserve force to a threatened point in the case of unforeseen difficulties; having done this, he despatched the two divisions of his army against his two principal adversaries. One of these divisions crossed the Lebanon, seized its fortresses, and, leaving a record of its victories on the rocks of the Wady Brissa, made its way southwards along the coast to blockade Tyre.*
* The account of this Phoenician campaign is contained in one of the inscriptions discovered and commented on by Pognon. Winckler, the only one to my knowledge who has tried to give a precise chronological position to the events recorded in the inscription, places them at the very beginning of the reign, after the victory of Carchemish, about the time when Nebuchadrezzar heard that his father had just died. I think that this date is not justified by the study of the inscription, for the king speaks therein of the great works that he had accomplished, the restoration of the temples, the rebuilding of the walls of Babylon, and the digging of canals, all of which take us to the middle or the end of his reign. We are therefore left to choose between one of two dates, namely, that of 590-587, during the Jewish war, and that from the King's thirty-seventh year to 568 B.C., during the war against Amasis which will be treated below. I have chosen the first, because of Nebuchadrezzar's long sojourn at Riblah, which gave him sufficient time for the engraving of the stelse on Lebanon: the bas-reliefs of Wady. Brissa could have been cut before the taking of Jerusalem, for no allusion to the war against the Jews is found in them. The enemy mentioned in the opening lines is perhaps Apries, whose fleet was scouring the Phoenician coasts.
The other force bore down upon Zedekiah, and made war upon him ruthlessly. It burnt the villages and unwalled towns, gave the rural districts over as a prey to the Philistines and the Edomites, surrounded the two fortresses of Lachish and Azekah, and only after completely exhausting the provinces, appeared before the walls of the capital. Jerusalem was closely beset when the news reached the Chaldaeans that Apries was approaching Gaza; Zedekiah, in his distress, appealed to him for help, and the promised succour at length came upon the scene. The Chaldaeans at once raised the siege with the object of arresting the advancing enemy, and the popular party, reckoning already on a Chaldean defeat, gave way to insolent rejoicing over the prophets of evil. Jeremiah, however, had no hope of final success. |Deceive not yourselves, saying, The Chaldaeans shall surely depart from us; for they shall not depart. For though ye had smitten the whole army of the Chaldeans that fight against you, and there remained but wounded men among them, yet should they rise up every man in his tent, and burn this city with fire.| What actually took place is not known; according to one account, Apries accepted battle and was defeated; according to another, he refused to be drawn into an engagement, and returned haughtily to Egypt.*
* That, at least, is what Jeremiah seems to say (xxxvii.7): |Behold, Pharaoh's army, which is come forth to help you, shall return to Egypt into their own land.| There is no hint here of defeat or even of a battle.
His fleet probably made some effective raiding on the Phoenician coast. It is easy to believe that the sight of the Chaldoan camp inspired him with prudence, and that he thought twice before compromising the effects of his naval campaign and risking the loss of his fine army -- the only one which Egypt possessed -- in a conflict in which his own safety was not directly concerned. Nebuchadrezzar, on his side, was not anxious to pursue so strongly equipped an adversary too hotly, and deeming himself fortunate in having escaped the ordeal of a trial of strength with him, he returned to his position before the walls of Jerusalem.
The city receiving no further succour, its fall was merely a question of time, and resistance served merely to irritate the besiegers. The Jews nevertheless continued to defend it with the heroic obstinacy and, at the same time, with the frenzied discord of which they have so often shown themselves capable. During the respite which the diversion caused by Apries afforded them, Jeremiah had attempted to flee from Jerusalem and seek refuge in Benjamin, to which tribe he belonged. Arrested at the city gate on the pretext of treason, he was unmercifully beaten, thrown into prison, and the king, who had begun to believe in him, did not venture to deliver him. He was confined in the court of the palace, which served as a gaol, and allowed a ration of a loaf of bread for his daily food.1 The courtyard was a public place, to which all comers had access who desired to speak to the prisoners, and even here the prophet did not cease to preach and exhort the people to repentance: |He that abideth in this city shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence; but he that goeth forth to the Chaldaeans shall live, and his life shall be unto him for a prey, and he shall live. Thus saith the Lord, This city shall surely be given into the hand of the army of the King of Babylon, and he shall take it.|
[Illustration: 427.jpg PRISONERS UNDER TORTURE HAVING THEIR TONGUES TORN OUT]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph of the original in the British Museum.
The princes and officers of the king, however, complained to Zedekiah of him: |Let this man, we pray thee, be put to death; forasmuch as he weakeneth the hands of the men of war, and the hands of all the people in speaking such words.| Given up to his accusers and plunged in a muddy cistern, he escaped by the connivance of a eunuch of the royal household, only to renew his denunciations with greater force than ever.
[Illustration: 428.jpg A KING PUTTING OUT THE EYES OF A PRISONER]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from several engravings in Botta. The mutilated remains of several bas-reliefs have been combined so as to form a tolerably correct scene; the prisoners have a ring passed through their lips, and the king holds them by a cord attached to it.
The king sent for him secretly and asked his advice, but could draw from him nothing but threats: |If thou wilt go forth unto the King of Babylon's princes, then thy soul shall live, and this city shall not be burned with fire, and thou shalt live and thine house: but if thou wilt not go forth to the King of Babylon's princes, then shall this city be given into the hand of the Chal-dseans, and they shall burn it with fire, and thou shalt not escape out of their hand.| Zedekiah would have asked no better than to follow his advice, but he had gone too far to draw back now. To the miseries of war and sickness the horrors of famine were added, but the determination of the besieged was unshaken; bread was failing, and yet they would not hear of surrender. At length, after a year and a half of sufferings heroically borne, in the eleventh year of Zedekiah, the eleventh month, and the fourth day of the month, a portion of the city wall fell before the attacks of the battering-rams, and the Chaldaean army entered by the breach. Zedekiah assembled his remaining soldiers, and took counsel as to the possibility of cutting his way through the enemy to beyond the Jordan; escaping by night through the gateway opposite the Pool of Siloam, he was taken prisoner near Jericho, and carried off to Eiblah, where Nebuchadrezzar was awaiting with impatience the result of the operations. The Chaldaeans were accustomed to torture their prisoners in the fashion we frequently see represented on the monuments of Nineveh, and whenever an unexpected stroke of good fortune brings to light any decorative bas-relief from their palaces, we shall see represented on it the impaling stake, rebels being flayed alive, and chiefs having their tongues torn out. Nebuchadrezzar, whose patience was exhausted, caused the sons of Zedekiah to be slain in the presence of their father, together with all the prisoners of noble birth, and then, having put out his eyes, sent the king of Babylon loaded with chains. As for the city which had so long defied his wrath, he gave it over to Nebuzaradan, one of the great officers of the crown, with orders to demolish it and give it up systematically to the flames. The temple was despoiled of its precious wall-coverings, the pillars and brazen ornaments of the time of Solomon which still remained were broken up, and the pieces carried off to Chaldoa in sacks, the masonry was overthrown and the blocks of stone rolled down the hill into the ravine of the Kedron. The survivors among the garrison, the priests, scribes, and members of the upper classes, were sent off into exile, but the mortality during the siege had been so great that the convoy barely numbered eight hundred and thirty-two persons.
[Illustration: 430b.jpg A PEOPLE CARRIED AWAY INTO CAPTIVITY]
Some of the poorer population were allowed to remain in the environs, and the fields and vineyards of the exiles were divided among them.1 Having accomplished the work of destruction, the Chal-dseans retired, leaving the government in the hands of Gedaliah, son of Ahikam,* a friend of Jeremiah. Gedaliah established himself at Mizpah, where he endeavoured to gather around him the remnant of the nation, and fugitives poured in from Moab, Ammon, and Edom.
*Chron. xxxvi.17-20. The following is the table of the kings of Judah from the death of Solomon to the destruction of Jerusalem: --
[Illustration: 430.jpg TABLE OF THE KINGS OF JUDAH]
It seemed that a Jewish principality was about to rise again from the ruins of the kingdom. Jeremiah was its accredited counsellor, but his influence could not establish harmony among these turbulent spirits, still smarting from their recent misfortunes.* The captains of the bands which had been roaming over the country after the fall of Jerusalem refused, moreover, to act in concert with Gedaliah, and one of them, Ishmael by name, who was of the royal blood, assassinated him, but, being attacked in Gibeon by Johanan, the son of Kareah, was forced to escape almost alone and take refuge with the Ammonites.** These acts of violence aroused the vigilance of the Chaldasans; Johanan feared reprisals, and retired into Egypt, taking with him Jeremiah, Baruch, and the bulk of the people.*** Apries gave the refugees a welcome, and assigned them certain villages near to his military colony at Daphnae, whence they soon spread into the neighbouring nomes as far as Migdol, Memphis, and even as far as the Thebaid.****
* For the manner in which Jeremiah was separated from the rest of the captives, set at liberty and sent back to Gedaliah, see Jer. xxxix.11-18, xl.1-6.
** 2 Kings xxv.23-25, and Jer. xl.7-16, xli.1-15, where these events are recorded at length.
*** 2 Kings xxv.26; Jer. xli.16-18, xlii., xliii.1-7.
**** Jer. xliv.1, where the word of the Lord is spoken to |all the Jews... which dwelt at Migdol, and at Tahpanhes (Daphno), and at Moph (corr. Moph, Memphis), and in the country of Pathros.|
Even after all these catastrophes Judah's woes were not yet at an end. In 581, the few remaining Jews in Palestine allied themselves with the Moabites and made a last wild effort for independence; a final defeat, followed by a final exile, brought them to irretrievable ruin.* The earlier captives had entertained no hope of advantage from these despairing efforts, and Ezekiel from afar condemned them without pity: |They that inherit those waste places in the land of Israel speak, saying, Abraham was one, and he inherited the land: but we are many; the land is given us for inheritance.... Ye lift up your eyes unto your idols and shed blood: and shall ye possess the land? Ye stand upon your sword, ye work abomination, and ye defile every one his neighbour's wife: and shall ye possess the land?... Thus saith the Lord God: As I live, surely they that are in the waste places shall fall by the sword, and him that is in the open field will I give to the beasts to be devoured, and they that be in the strongholds and in the caves shall die of the pestilence.|**
* Josephus, following Berosus, speaks of a war against the Moabites and the Ammonites, followed by the conquest of Egypt in the twenty-third year of Nebuchadrezzar. To this must be added a Jewish revolt if we are to connect with these events the mention of the third captivity, carried out in the twenty-third year of Nebuchadrezzar by Nebuzaradan.
** Ezek. xxxiii.23-27.
The first act of the revolution foreseen by the prophets was over; the day of the Lord, so persistently announced by them, had at length come, and it had seen not only the sack of Jerusalem, but the destruction of the earthly kingdom of Judah. Many of the survivors, refusing still to acknowledge the justice of the chastisement, persisted in throwing the blame of the disaster on the reformers of the old worship, and saw no hope of salvation except in their idolatrous practices. |As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the Lord, we will not hearken unto thee. But we will certainly perform every word that is gone forth out of our mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we and our fathers, our kings and our princes, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well and saw no evil. But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine.|
There still remained to these misguided Jews one consolation which they shared in common with the prophets -- the certainty of seeing the hereditary foes of Israel involved in the common overthrow: Ammon had been already severely chastised; Tyre, cut off from the neighbouring mainland, seemed on the point of succumbing, and the turn of Egypt must surely soon arrive in which she would have to expiate in bitter sufferings the wrongs her evil counsels had brought upon Jerusalem. Their anticipated joy, however, of witnessing such chastisements was not realised. Tyre defied for thirteen years the blockade of Nebuchadrezzar, and when the city at length decided to capitulate, it was on condition that its king, Ethbaal III., should continue to reign under the almost nominal suzerainty of the Chaldeans (574 B.C.).*
* The majority of Christian writers have imagined, contrary to the testimony of the Phoenician annals, that the island of Tyre was taken by Nebuchadrezzar; they say that the Chaldaeans united the island to the mainland by a causeway similar to that constructed subsequently by Alexander. It is worthy of notice that a local tradition, still existing in the eleventh century of our era, asserted that the besiegers were not successful in their enterprise.
Egypt continued not only to preserve her independence, but seemed to increase in prosperity in proportion to the intensity of the hatred which she had stirred up against her.
[Illustration: 436.jpg BRONZE LION OF BOHBAIT]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from an engraving in Mariette.
Apries set about repairing the monuments and embellishing the temples: he erected throughout the country stelae, tables of offerings, statues and obelisks, some of which, though of small size, like that which adorns the Piazza della Minerva at Borne,* erected so incongruously on the back of a modern elephant, are unequalled for purity of form and delicacy of cutting. The high pitch of artistic excellence to which the schools of the reign of Psam-metichus II. had attained was maintained at the same exalted level. If the granite sphinxes** and bronze lions of this period lack somewhat in grace of form, it must be acknowledged that they display greater refinement and elegance in the technique of carving or moulding than had yet been attained.
* [One of the two obelisks of the Campus Martius, on which site the Church of S. Maria Sopra Minerva was built. -- Tr.]
** Above the summary of the contents of the present chapter, will be found one of these sphinxes which was discovered in Rome.
[Illustration: 437.jpg THE SMALL OBELISK IN THE PIAZZA DELLA MINERVA AT HOME]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph.
While engaged in these works at home, Apries was not unobservant of the revolutions occurring in Asia, upon which he maintained a constant watch, and in the years which followed the capitulation of Tyre, he found the opportunity, so long looked for, of entering once more upon the scene. The Phoenician navy had suffered much during the lengthy blockade of their country, and had become inferior to the Egyptian, now well organised by Thelonians: Apries therefore took the offensive by sea, and made a direct descent on the Phoenician coasts. Nebuchadrezzar opposed him with the forces of the recently subjugated Tyrians, and the latter, having cooled in their attachment to Egypt owing to the special favour shown by the Pharaoh to their rivals the Hellenes, summoned their Cypriote vassals to assist them in repelling the attack. The Egyptians dispersed the combined fleets, and taking possession of Sidon, gave it up to pillage. The other maritime cities surrendered of their own accord,* including Gebal, which received an Egyptian garrison, and where the officers of Pharaoh founded a temple to the goddess whom they identified with the Egyptian Hathor.
* The war of Apries against the Phoenicians cannot have taken place before the capitulation of Tyre in 574 B.C., because the Tyrians took part in it by order of
Nebuchadrezzar, and on the other hand it cannot be put later than 569 B.C., the date of the revolt of Amasis; it must therefore be assigned to about 571 B.C.
The object at which Necho and Psammetichus II. had aimed for fifteen years was thus attained by Apries at one fortunate blow, and he could legitimately entitle himself |more fortunate than all the kings his predecessors,| and imagine, in his pride, that |the gods themselves were unable to injure him.| The gods, however, did not allow him long to enjoy the fruits of his victory. Greeks had often visited Libya since the time when Egypt had been thrown open to the trade of the iEgean. Their sailors had discovered that the most convenient course thither was to sail straight to Crete, and then to traverse the sea between this island and the headlands of the Libyan plateau; here they fell in with a strong current setting towards the east, which carried them quickly and easily as far as Eakotis and Canopus, along the Marmarican shore. In these voyages they learned to appreciate the value of the country; and about 631 B.C. some Dorians of Thera, who had set out to seek for a new home at the bidding of the Delphic oracle, landed in the small desert island of Platsea, where they built a strongly fortified settlement. Their leader, Battos,* soon crossed over to the mainland, where, having reached the high plateau, he built the city of Cyrene on the borders of an extremely fertile region, watered by abundant springs. The tribes of the Labu, who had fought so valiantly against the Pharaohs of old, still formed a kind of loose confederation, and their territory stretched across the deserts from the Egyptian frontier to the shores of the Syrtes. The chief of this confederation assumed the title of king, as in the days of Minephtah or of Ramses III.**
* Herodotus seems to have been ignorant of the real name of the founder of Cyrene, which has been preserved for us by Pindar, by Callimachus, by the spurious Heraclides of Pontus, and by the chronologists of the Christian epoch. Herodotus says that Battos signifies king in the language of Libya.
** The description given by Herodotus of these Libyan tribes agrees with the slight amount of information furnished by the Egyptian monuments for the thirteenth century B.C.
The most civilised of these tribes were those which now dwelt nearest to the coast: first the Adyrmakhides, who were settled beyond Marea, and had been semi-Egyptianised by constant intercourse with the inhabitants of the Delta; then the Giligammes, who dwelt between the port of Plynus and the island of Aphrodisias; and beyond these, again, the Asbystes, famed for their skill in chariot-driving, the Cabales, and the Auschises. The oases of the hinterland were in the hands of the Nasamones and of the Mashauasha, whom the Greeks called Maxyes.
One of the revolutions so frequent among the desert tribes had compelled the latter to remove from their home near the Nile valley, to a district far to the west, on the banks of the river Triton.
[Illustration: 440.jpg THE OASIS OF AMOK AND THE SPRING OF THE SUN]
Drawn by Boudier, from Minutoli.
There they had settled down in a permanent fashion, dwelling in houses of stone, and giving themselves up to the cultivation of the soil. They continued, however, to preserve in their new life some of their ancient customs, such as that of painting their bodies with vermilion, and of shaving off the hair from their heads, with the exception of one lock which hung over the right ear. The Theban Pharaohs had formerly placed garrisons in the most important oases, and had consecrated temples there to their god Amon.
[Illustration: 440b.jpg PORTION OF THE RUINS OF CYRENE]
One of these sanctuaries, built close to an intermittent spring, which gave forth alternately hot and cold water, had risen to great eminence, and the oracle of these Ammonians was a centre of pilgrimage from far and near. The first Libyans who came into contact with the Greeks, the Asbystes and the Giligammes, received the new-comers kindly, giving them their daughters in marriage; from the fusion of the two races thus brought about sprang, first under Battos and then under his son Arkesilas I., an industrious and valiant race.
[Illustration: 443.jpg MAP OF LYBIA IN THE VITH CENTURY B.C.]
The main part of their revenues was derived from commerce in silphium and woollen goods, and even the kings themselves did not deem it beneath their dignity to preside in person at the weighing of the crop, and the storing of the trusses in their magazines. The rapid increase in the wealth of the city having shortly brought about a breach in the friendly relations hitherto maintained between it and its neighbours, Battos the Fortunate, the son of Arkesilas I., sent for colonists from Greece: numbers answered to his call, on the faith of a second oracular prediction, and in order to provide them with the necessary land, Battos did not hesitate to dispossess his native allies. The latter appealed to Adikran, king of the confederacy, and this prince, persuaded that this irregular militia would not be able to withstand the charge of the hoplites, thereupon applied in his turn to Apries for assistance.
[Illustration: 443b.jpg the Silphium ]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the cast of a coin of Cyrene.
There was much tempting spoil to be had in Cyrene, and Apries was fully aware of the fact, from the accounts of the Libyans and the Greeks. His covetousness must have been aroused at the prospect of such rich booty, and perhaps he would have thought of appropriating it sooner, had he not been deterred from the attempt by his knowledge of the superiority of the Greek fleets, and of the dangers attendant on a long and painful march over an almost desert country through disaffected tribes.
[Illustration: 444.jpg WEIGHING SILPHIUM IN PRESENCE OF KING ARKESILAS]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph of the original in the Coin Room in the Bibliotheque Nationale at Paris. The king here represented is Arkesilas II. the Bad.
Now that he could rely on the support of the Libyans, he hesitated no longer to run these risks. Deeming it imprudent, with good reason, to employ his mercenary troops against their own compatriots, Apries mobilised for his encounter with Battos an army exclusively recruited from among his native reserves. The troops set out full of confidence in themselves and of disdain for the enemy, delighted moreover at an opportunity for at length convincing their kings of their error in preferring barbarian to native forces. But the engagement brought to nought all their boastings. The Egyptians were defeated in the first encounter near Irasa, hard by the fountain of Theste, near the spot where the high plateaus of Cyrene proper terminate in the low cliffs of Marmarica: and the troops suffered so severely during the subsequent retreat that only a small remnant of the army regained in safety the frontier of the Delta.*
* The interpretation I have given to the sentiments of the Egyptian army follows clearly enough from the observation of Herodotus, that |the Egyptians, having never experienced themselves the power of the Greeks, had felt for them nothing but contempt.| The site of Irasa and the fountain of Theste has been fixed with much probability in the fertile district watered still by the fountain of Ersen, Erazem, or Erasan.
This unexpected reverse was the occasion of the outbreak of a revolution which had been in preparation for years. The emigration to Ethiopia of some contingents of the military class had temporarily weakened the factions hostile to foreign influence; these factions had felt themselves powerless under the rule of Psammetichus I., and had bowed to his will, prepared all the while to reassert themselves when they felt strong enough to do so successfully. The reorganisation of the native army furnished them at once with the means of insurrection, of which they had temporarily been deprived. Although Pharaoh had lavished privileges on the Hermotybies and Calasiries, she had not removed the causes for discontent which had little by little alienated the good will of the Mashauasha: to do so would have rendered necessary the disbanding of the Ionian guard, the object of their jealousy, and to take this step neither he nor his successors could submit themselves. The hatred of these mercenaries, and the irritation against the sovereigns who employed them, grew fiercer from reign to reign, and now wanted nothing but a pretext to break forth openly: such a pretext was furnished by the defeat at Irasa. When the fugitives arrived at the entrenched camp of Marea, exasperated by their defeat, and alleging doubtless that it was due to treachery, they found others who affected to share their belief that Pharaoh had despatched his Egyptian troops against Cyrene with the view of consigning to certain death those whose loyalty to him was suspected, and it was not difficult to stir up the disaffected soldiers to open revolt. It was not the first time that a military tumult had threatened the sovereignty of Apries. Some time previous to this, in an opposite quarter of the Nile valley, the troops stationed at Elephantine, composed partly of Egyptians, partly of Asiatic and Greek mercenaries -- possibly the same who had fought in the Ethiopian campaign under Psammetichus II. -- had risen in rebellion owing to some neglect in the payment of their wages: having devastated the Thebaid, they had marched straight across the desert to the port of Shashirit, in the hope of there seizing ships to enable them to reach the havens of Idumaea or Nabatoa. The governor of Elephantine, Nsihor, had at first held them back with specious promises; but on learning that Apries was approaching with reinforcements, he attacked them boldly, and driving them before him, hemmed them in between his own force and that of the king and massacred them all. Apries thought that the revolt at Marea would have a similar issue, and that he might succeed in baffling the rebels by fair words; he sent to them as his representative Amasis, one of his generals, distantly connected probably with the royal house. What took place in the camp is not clearly known, for the actual events have been transformed in the course of popular transmission into romantic legends. The story soon took shape that Amasis was born of humble parentage in the village of Siuph, not far from Sais; he was fond, it was narrated, of wine, the pleasures of the table, and women, and replenished his empty purse by stealing what he could lay his hands on from his neighbours or comrades -- a gay boon-companion all the while, with an easy disposition and sarcastic tongue. According to some accounts, he conciliated the favour of Apries by his invariable affability and good humour; according to others, he won the king's confidence by presenting him with a crown of flowers on his birthday.*
* The king to whom Amasis made this offering is called Patarmis, and the similarity of this name with the
Patarbemis of Herodotus seems to indicate a variant of the legend, in which Patarmis or Patarbemis took the place of Apries.
The story goes on to say that while he was haranguing the rebels, one of them, slipping behind him, suddenly placed on his head the rounded helmet of the Pharaohs: the bystanders immediately proclaimed him king, and after a slight show of resistance he accepted the dignity. As soon as the rumour of these events had reached Sais, Apries despatched Patarbemis, one of his chief officers, with orders to bring back the rebel chief alive. The latter was seated on his horse, on the point of breaking up his camp and marching against his former patron, when the envoy arrived. On learning the nature of his mission, Amasis charged him to carry back a reply to the effect that he had already been making preparation to submit, and besought the sovereign to grant him patiently a few days longer, so that he might bring with him the Egyptian subjects of Pharaoh. Tradition adds that, on receiving this insolent defiance, Apries fell into a violent passion, and without listening to remonstrance, ordered the nose and ears of Patarbemis to be cut off, whereupon the indignant people, it is alleged, deserted his cause and ranged themselves on the side of Amasis. The mercenaries, however, did not betray the confidence reposed in them by their Egyptian lords. Although only thirty thousand against a whole people, they unflinchingly awaited the attack at Momemphis (569 B.C.); but, being overwhelmed by the numbers of their assailants, disbanded and fled, after a conflict lasting one day. Apries, taken prisoner in the rout, was at first well treated by the conqueror, and seems even to have retained for a time the external pomp of royalty; but the populace of Sais demanding his execution with vehemence, Amasis was at length constrained to deliver him up to their vengeance, and Apries was strangled by the mob. He was honourably interred between the royal palace and the temple of Nit, not far from the spot where his predecessors reposed in their glory,* and the usurper made himself sole master of the country. It was equivalent to a change of dynasty, and Amasis had recourse to the methods usual in such cases to consolidate his power. He entered into a marriage alliance with princesses of the Saite line, and thus legitimatised his usurpation as far as the north was concerned.**
* It was probably from this necropolis that the coffin of Psammetichus II. came.
** The wife of Amasis, who was mother of Psammetichus III., the queen Tintkhiti, daughter of Petenit, prophet of Phtah, was probably connected with the royal family of Sais.
In the south, the |divine worshippers| had continued to administer the extensive heritage of Amon, and Nitocris, heiress of Shapenuapit, had adopted in her old age a daughter of her great-nephew, Psammetichus IL, named Ankhnasnofiribri: this princess was at this time in possession of Thebes, and Amasis appears to have entered into a fictitious marriage with her in order to assume to himself her rights to the crown. He had hardly succeeded in establishing his authority on a firm basis when he was called upon to repel the Chaldaean invasion. The Hebrew prophets had been threatening Egypt with this invasion for a long time, and Ezekiel, discounting the future, had already described the entrance of Pharaoh into Hades, to dwell among the chiefs of the nations -- Assur, Elam, Meshech, Tubal, Edom, and Philistia -- who, having incurred the vengeance of Jahveh, had descended into the grave one after the other: |Pharaoh and all his army shall be slain by the sword, saith the Lord God! For I have put this terror in the land of the living: and he shall be laid in the midst of the uncircumcised, with them that are slain by the sword, even Pharaoh and all his multitude, saith the Lord God!| Nebuchadrezzar had some hesitation in hazarding his fortune in a campaign on the banks of the Nile: he realised tolerably clearly that Babylon was not in command of such resources as had been at the disposal of Nineveh under Esarhaddon or Assur-bani-pal, and that Egypt in the hands of a Saite dynasty was a more formidable foe than when ruled by the Ethiopians. The report of the revolution of which Apries had become a victim at length determined him to act; the annihilation of the Hellenic troops, and the dismay which the defeat at Irasa had occasioned in the hearts of the Egyptians, seemed to offer an opportunity too favourable to be neglected. The campaign was opened by Nebuchadrezzar about 568, in the thirty-seventh year of his reign,* but we have no certain information as to the issue of his enterprise.
* A fragment of his Annals, discovered by Pinches, mentions in the thirty-seventh year of his reign a campaign against [Ah]masu, King of Egypt; and Wiedemann, from the evidence of this document combined with the information derived from one of the monuments in the Louvre, thought that the fact of a conquest of Egypt as far as Syeno might be admitted; at that point the Egyptian general Nsihor would have defeated the Chaldaeans and repelled the invasion, and this event would have taken place during the joint reign of Apries and Amasis. A more attentive examination of the Egyptian monument shows that it refers not to a Chaldaean war, but to a rebellion of the garrisons in the south of Egypt, including the Greek and Semitic auxiliaries.
According to Chaldaean tradition, Nebuchadrezzar actually invaded the valley of the Nile and converted Egypt into a Babylonian province, with Amasis as its satrap.* We may well believe that Amasis lost the conquests won by his predecessor in Phoenicia, if, indeed, they still belonged to Egypt at his accession: but there is nothing to indicate that the Chaldaeans ever entered Egypt itself and repeated the Assyrian exploit of a century before.
* These events would have taken place in the twenty-third year of Nebuchadrezzar; the reigning king (Apries) being killed and his place taken by one of his generals (Amasis), who remained a satrap of the Babylonian empire.
This was Nebuchadrezzar's last war, the last at least of which history makes any mention. As a fact, the kings of the second Babylonian empire do not seem to have been the impetuous conquerors which we have fancied them to be. We see them as they are depicted to us in the visions of the Hebrew prophets, who, regarding them and their nation as a scourge in the hands of God, had no colours vivid enough or images sufficiently terrible to portray them. They had blotted out Nineveh from the list of cities, humiliated Pharaoh, and subjugated Syria, and they had done all this almost at their first appearance in the field -- such a feat as Assyria and Egypt in the plenitude of their strength had been unable to accomplish: they had, moreover, destroyed Jerusalem and carried Judah into captivity. There is nothing astonishing in the fact that this Nebuchadrezzar, whose history is known to us almost entirely from Jewish sources, should appear as a fated force let loose upon the world. |O thou sword of the Lord, how long will it be ere thou be quiet? put up thyself into the scabbard; rest and be still! How canst thou be quiet, seeing the Lord hath given thee a charge?| But his campaigns in Syria and Africa, of which the echoes transmitted to us still seem so formidable, were not nearly so terrible in reality as those in which Blam had perished a century previously; they were, moreover, the only conflicts which troubled the peace of his reign. The Arabian chroniclers affirm, indeed, that the fabulous wealth of Yemen had incited him to invade that region. Nebuchadrezzar, they relate, routed, not far from the town of Dhat-irk, the Joctanides of Jorhom, who had barred his road to the Kaabah, and after seizing Mecca, reached the borders of the children of Himyra: the exhausted condition of his soldiers having prevented him from pressing further forward in his career of conquest, he retraced his steps and returned to Babylon with a great number of prisoners, including two entire tribes, those of Hadhura and Uabar, whom he established as colonists in Chaldaea.* He never passed in this direction beyond the limits reached by Assur-bani-pal, and his exploits were restricted to some successful raids against the tribes of Kedar and Nabatsea.**
* Most of the Arabic legends relating to these conquests of Nebuchadrezzar are indirectly derived from the biblical story; but it is possible that the history of the expeditions against Central Arabia is founded on fact.
** This seems to follow from Jeremiah's imprecations upon Kedar
The same reasons which at the commencement of his reign had restrained his ambition to extend his dominions towards the east and north, were operative up to the end of his life. Astyages had not inherited the martial spirit of his father Cyaxares, and only one warlike expedition, that against the Cadusians, is ascribed to him.*
* Moses of Chorene attributes to him long wars against an Armenian king named Tigranes; but this is a fiction of a later age.
Naturally indolent, lacking in decision, superstitious and cruel, he passed a life of idleness amid the luxury of a corrupt court, surrounded by pages, women, and eunuchs, with no more serious pastime than the chase, pursued within the limits of his own parks or on the confines of the desert. But if the king was weak, his empire was vigorous, and Nebuchadrezzar, brought up from his youth to dread the armies of Media, retained his respect for them up to the end of his life, even when there was no longer any occasion to do so. Nebuchadrezzar was, after all, not so much a warrior as a man of peace, whether so constituted by nature or rendered so by political necessity in its proper sense, and he took advantage of the long intervals of quiet between his campaigns to complete the extensive works which more than anything else have won for him his renown. During the century which had preceded the fall of Nineveh, Babylonia had had several bitter experiences; it had suffered almost entire destruction at the hands of Sennacherib; it had been given up to pillage by Assur-bani-pal, not to mention the sieges and ravages it had sustained in the course of continual revolts. The other cities of Babylonia, Sippara, Borsippa, Kutha, Nipur, Uruk, and Uru, had been subjected to capture and recapture, while the surrounding districts, abandoned in turn to Elamites, Assyrians, and the Kalda, had lain uncultivated for many years. The canals at the same time had become choked with mud, the banks had fallen in, and the waters, no longer kept under control, had overflowed the land, and the plains long since reclaimed for cultivation had returned to their original condition of morasses and reed-beds; at Babylon itself the Arakhtu, still encumbered with the debris cast into it by Sennacherib, was no longer navigable, and was productive of more injury than profit to the city: in some parts the aspect of the country must have been desolate and neglected as at the present day, and the work accomplished by twenty generations had to be begun entirely afresh. Nabopolassar had already applied himself to the task in spite of the anxieties of his Assyrian campaigns, and had raised many earthworks in both the capital and the provinces. But a great deal more still remained to be done, and Nebuchadrezzar pushed forward the work planned by his father, and carried it to completion undeterred and undismayed by any difficulties.* The combined system of irrigation and navigation introduced by the kings of the first Babylonian empire twenty centuries previously, was ingeniously repaired; the beds of the principal canals, the Royal river and the Arakhtu, were straightened and deepened; the drainage of the country between the Tigris and the Euphrates was regulated by means of subsidiary canals and a network of dykes; the canals surrounding Babylon or intersecting in the middle of the city were cleaned out, and a waterway was secured for navigation from one river to the other, and from the plateau of Mesopotamia to the Nar-Marratum.**
* The only long inscriptions of Nebuchadrezzar which we possess, are those commemorating the great works he designed and executed.
** The irrigation works of Nebuchadrezzar are described at length, and perhaps exaggerated, by Abydenus, who merely quotes Berosus more or less inaccurately. The completion of the quays along the Arakhtu, begun by Nabopolassar, is noticed in the East India Company's Inscription. A special inscription, publ. by H. Rawlinson, gives an account of the repairing of the canal Libil-khigallu, which crossed Babylon.
We may well believe that all Nebuchadrezzar's undertakings were carried out in accordance with a carefully prepared scheme for perfecting the defences of the kingdom while completing the system of internal communication. The riches of Karduniash, now restored to vigour by continued peace, and become the centre of a considerable empire, could not fail to excite the jealousy of its neighbours, and particularly that of the most powerful among them, the Medes of Ecbatana. It is true that the relations between Nebuchadrezzar and Astyages continued to be cordial, and as yet there were no indications of a rupture; but it was always possible that under their successors the good understanding between the two courts might come to an end, and it was needful to provide against the possibility of the barbarous tribes of Iran being let loose upon Babylon, and attempting to inflict on her the fate they had brought upon Nineveh. Nebuchadrezzar, therefore, was anxious to interpose, between himself and these possible foes, such a series of fortifications that the most persevering enemy would be worn out by the prolonged task of forcing them one after another, provided that they were efficiently garrisoned. He erected across the northern side of the isthmus between the two rivers a great embankment, faced with bricks cemented together with bitumen, called the Wall of Media; this wall, starting from Sippara, stretched from the confluence of the Saklauiyeh with the Euphrates to the site of the modern village of Jibbara on the Tigris; on both sides of it four or five deep trenches were excavated, which were passable on raised causeways or by bridges of boats, so arranged as to be easily broken up in case of invasion.
[Illustration: 456.jpg CITY DEFENDED BY A TRIPLE WALL]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a bas-relief of the time of Sargon, in the Museum of the Louvre.
The eastern frontier was furnished with a rampart protected by a wide moat, following, between Jibbara and Nipur, the contours of a low-lying district which could be readily flooded. The western boundary was already protected by the Pallakottas, and the lakes or marshes of Bahr-i-Nejif: Nebuchadrezzar multiplied the number of the dikes, and so arranged them that the whole country between the suburbs of Borsippa and Babylon could be inundated at will. Babylon itself formed as it were the citadel in the midst of these enormous outlying fortifications, and the engineers both of Nabopo-lassar and of his son expended all the resources of their art on rendering it impregnable. A triple rampart surrounded it and united it to Borsippa, built on the model of those whose outline is so frequently found on the lowest tier of an Assyrian bas-relief.
[Illustration: 457.jpg PROBABLE SECTION OF THE TRIPLE WALL OF BABYLON]
Reproduced by Faucher-Gudin, from the restoration by Dieulafoy.
A moat of great width, with banks of masonry, communicating with the Euphrates, washed the foot of the outer wall, which retained the traditional name of Imgur-bel: behind this wall rose Nimitti-bel, the true city wall, to a height of more than ninety feet above the level of the plain, appearing from a distance, with its battlements and towers, more like a mountain chain than a rampart built by the hand of man; finally, behind Nimitti-bel ran a platform on the same level as the curtain of Imgur-bel, forming a last barrier behind which the garrison could rally before finally owning itself defeated and surrendering the city. Large square towers rose at intervals along the face of the walls, to the height of some eighteen feet above the battlements: a hundred gates fitted with bronze-plated doors, which could be securely shut at need, gave access to the city.*
* The description of the fortifications of the city is furnished by Herodotus, who himself saw them still partially standing; the account of their construction has been given by Nebuchadrezzar himself, in the East India Company's Inscription.
The space within the walls was by no means completely covered by houses, but contained gardens, farms, fields, and, here and there, the ruins of deserted buildings. As in older Babylon, the city proper clustered round the temple of Merodach, with its narrow winding streets, its crowded bazaars, its noisy and dirty squares, its hostelries and warehouses of foreign merchandise.
[Illustration: 458.jpg FRAGMENT OF A BABYLONIAN BAS-RELIEF]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a sketch in Layard.
The pyramid of Esarhad-don and Assur-bani-pal, too hastily built, had fallen into ruins: Nebuchadrezzar reconstructed its seven stages, and erected on the topmost platform a shrine furnished with a table of massive gold, and a couch on which the priestess chosen to be the spouse of the god might sleep at night. Other small temples were erected here and there on both banks of the river, and the royal palace, built in the marvellously short space of fifteen days, was celebrated for its hanging gardens, where the ladies of the harem might walk unveiled, secure from vulgar observation. No trace of all these extensive works remains at the present day.
[Illustration: 459.jpg RUINS OF THE ZIGGURAT OF THE TEMPLE OF BEL]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a sketch in Layard.
Some scattered fragments of crumbling walls alone betray the site of the great ziggurat, a few bas-reliefs are strewn over the surface of the ground, and a lion of timeworn stone, lying on its back in a depression of the soil, is perhaps the last survivor of those which kept watch, according to custom, at the gates of the palace. But the whole of this vast work of reconstruction and ornamentation must not be attributed to Nebuchadrezzar alone. The plans had been designed by Nabopolassar under the influence of one of his wives, who by a strange chance bears in classic tradition the very Egyptian name of Nitocris; but his work was insignificant compared with that accomplished by his son, and the name of Nebuchadrezzar was justly connected with the marvels of Babylon by all ancient writers. But even his reign of fifty-five years did not suffice for the completion of all his undertakings, and many details still remained imperfect at his death in the beginning of 562 B.C. Though of Kaldu origin, and consequently exposed to the suspicions and secret enmity of the native Babylonians, as all of his race, even Mero-dach-Baladan himself, had been before him, he had yet succeeded throughout the whole of his reign in making himself respected by the turbulent inhabitants of his capital, and in curbing the ambitious pretensions of the priests of Merodach. As soon as his master-hand was withdrawn, the passions so long repressed broke forth, and proved utterly beyond the control of his less able or less fortunate successors.*
* The sequel of this history is known from the narrative of Berosus. Its authenticity is proved by passages on the Cylinder of Nabonidus. Messer-schmidt considers that Amil- marduk and Labashi-marduk were overthrown by the priestly faction, but a passage on the Cylinder, in which Nabonidus represents himself as inheriting the political views of Nebuchadrezzar and Nergal-sharuzur, leads me to take the opposite view. We know what hatred Nabonidus roused in the minds of the priests of Merodach because his principles of government were opposed to theirs: the severe judgment he passed on the rule of Amil-marduk and Labashi-marduk seems to prove that he considered them as belonging to the rival party in the state, that is, to the priestly faction. The forms of the names and the lengths of the several reigns have been confirmed by contemporary monuments, especially by the numerous contract tablets. The principal inscriptions belonging to the reign of Nergal-sharuzur deal only with public works and the restoration of monuments.
[Illustration: 460.jpg THE STONE LION OF BABYLON]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph furnished by Father Scheil.
As far as we are able to judge by the documents which have come down to us, two factions had arisen in the city since the fall of Nineveh, both of which aspired to power and strove to gain a controlling influence with the sovereign. The one comprised the descendants of the Kalda who had delivered the city from the Assyrian yoke, together with those of the ancient military nobility. The other was composed of the great priestly families and their adherents, who claimed for the gods or their representatives the right to control the affairs of the state, and to impose the will of heaven on the rulers of the kingdom. The latter faction seems to have prevailed at first at the court of Amil-marduk, the sole surviving son and successor of Nebuchadrezzar. This prince on his accession embraced a policy contrary to that pursued by his father: and one of his first acts was to release Jehoiachin, King of Judah, who had been languishing in chains for twenty-seven years, and to ameliorate the condition of the other expatriated Jews. The official history of a later date represented him as having been an unjust sovereign, but we have no information as to his misdeeds, and know only that after two years a conspiracy broke out against him, led by his own brother-in-law, Nergal-sharuzur, who assassinated him and seized the vacant throne (560 B.C.). Nergal-sharuzur endeavoured to revive the policy of Nebuchadrezzar, and was probably supported by the military party, but his reign was a short one; he died in 556 B.C., leaving as sole heir a youth of dissipated character named Labashi-marduk, whose name is stigmatised by the chroniclers as that of a prince who knew not how to rule. He was murdered at the end of nine months, and his place taken by a native Babylonian, a certain Nabonaid (Nabonidus), son of Nabo-balatsu-ikbi, who was not connected by birth with his immediate predecessors on the throne (556-555 B.C.).
No Oriental empire could escape from the effects of frequent and abrupt changes in its rulers: like so many previous dynasties, that of Nabopolassar became enfeebled as if from exhaustion immediately after the death of its most illustrious scion, and foundered in imbecility and decrepitude. Popular imagination, awe-struck by such a sudden downfall from exalted prosperity, recognised the hand of God in the events which brought about the catastrophe. A Chaldaean legend, current not long after, related how Nebuchadrezzar, being seized towards the end of his life with the spirit of prophecy, mounted to the roof of his palace, and was constrained, as a punishment for his pride, to predict to his people, with his own lips, the approaching ruin of their city; thereupon the glory of its monarch suffered an eclipse from which there was no emerging. The Jews, nourishing undying hatred for conqueror who had overthrown Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple of Solomon, were not satisfied with a punishment so inadequate. According to them, Nebuchadrezzar, after his victorious career, was so intoxicated with his own glory that he proclaimed himself the equal of God. |Is not this great Babylon,| he cried, |which I have built for the royal dwelling-place, by the might of my power, and for the glory of my majesty!| and while he thus spake, there came a voice from heaven, decreeing his metamorphosis into the form of a beast. |He was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hair was grown like eagles' feathers, and his nails like birds' claws.| For seven years the king remained in this state, to resume his former shape at the end of this period, and recover his kingdom after having magnified the God of Israel.*
* Dan. iv.
The founder of the dynasty which replaced that of Nebuchadrezzar, Nabonidus, was certainly ill fitted to brave the storms already threatening to break over his kingdom. It has not been ascertained whether he had any natural right to the throne, or by what means he attained supreme power, but the way in which he dwells on the names of Nebuchadrezzar and Nergal-sharuzur renders it probable that he was raised to the throne by the military faction. He did not prove, as events turned turned out, a good general, nor even a soldier of moderate ability, and it is even possible that he also lacked that fierce courage of which none of his predecessors was ever destitute. He allowed his army to dwindle away and his fortresses to fall into ruins; the foreign alliances existing at his accession, together with those which he himself had concluded, were not turned to the best advantage; his provinces were badly administered, and his subjects rendered discontented: his most salient characteristic was an insatiable curiosity concerning historical and religious antiquities, which stimulated him to undertake excavations in all the temples, in order to bring to light monuments of ages long gone by. He was a monarch of peaceful disposition, who might have reigned with some measure of success in a century of unbroken peace, or one troubled only by petty wars with surrounding inferior states; but, unfortunately, the times were ill suited to such mild sovereignty. The ancient Eastern world, worn out by an existence reckoned by thousands of years, as well as by its incessant conflicts, would have desired, indeed, no better fate than to enjoy some years of repose in the condition in which recent events had left it; but other nations, the Greeks and the Persians, by no means anxious for tranquillity, were entering the lists. For the moment the efforts of the Greeks were concentrated on Egypt, where Pharaoh manifested for them inexhaustible good will, and on Cyprus, two-thirds of which belonged to them; the danger for Chaldaea lay in the Persians, kinsfolk and vassals of the Medes, whose semi-barbarous chieftains had issued from their mountain homes some eighty years previously to occupy the eastern districts of Elam.
END OF VOL. VIII.