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palaces, cultivated music and the arts, and established a sort of royal library at Nineveh.
35. The reign of his son, Asshur-emid-ilin, called Saracus by the Greeks, was overwhelmed with disasters. A horde of barbarians, from the plains of Scythia, invaded the empire, and before it could recover from the shock, it was rent by a double revolt of Media on the north, and Babylonia on the south. Nabopolassar, the Babylonian, had been general of the armies of Saracus; but finding himself stronger than his master, he made an alliance with Cyaxʼares, king of the Medes, in concert with whom he besieged and captured Nineveh. The Assyrian monarch perished in the flames of his palace, and the two conquerors divided his dominions between them. Thus ended the Assyrian Empire, B. C. 625.
36. The THIRD PERIOD was the Golden Age of Assyrian Art. The sculptured marbles which have been brought from the palaces of Sargon, Sennacherib, and Asshur-bani-pal, show a skill and genius in the carving which remind us of the Greeks. A few may be seen in collections of colleges and other learned societies in this country. The most magnificent specimens are in the British Museum, the Louvre at Paris, and the Oriental Museum at Berlin. During the same period the sciences of geography and astronomy were cultivated with great diligence; studies in, language and history occupied multitudes of learned men; and modern scholars, as they decipher the long-buried memorials, are filled with admiration of the mental activity which characterized the times of the Lower Empire of Assyria.
Kings of the Second Period.
KINGS OF ASSYRIA.
For the First and more than half the Second Period, the names are discontinuous and dates unknown. We begin, therefore, with the era of ascertained chronology.
B. C. 909.
B. C. 647-625.
A kingdom of mighty hunters and great builders is founded by Nimrod, B. C. 2000. Chaldæa becomes subject, first to Arabian, then to Assyrian invaders, but is made independent by Pul, B. C. 772. The Assyrian monarchy absorbs the Chaldæan, and extends itself from Syria to the Persian mountains. After two hundred years' depression, its records become authentic B. C. 909. Iva-lush and Sammuramit reign jointly over greatly increased territories. The Lower Empire is established by Tiglath-pileser II, whose dominion reaches the Mediterranean. Sargon records many conquests in his palace at Khorsabad. Sennacherib recaptures Babylon and gains victories over Egypt and Palestine. The Assyrian Empire is increased by Esarhaddon, and culminates under Asshur-bani-pal, only to be overthrown in the next reign by a Scythian invasion and a revolt of Media and Babylonia.
37. Little is known of the Medes before the invasion of their country by Shalmaneser II, B. C. 830, and its partial conquest by Sargon, † in 710. They had some importance, however, in the earliest times after the Deluge, for Berosus tells us that a Median dynasty governed Babylon during that period. The country was doubtless divided among petty chieftains, whose rivalries prevented its becoming great or famous in the view of foreign nations.
*The student's memory may be aided by some explanation of the long names of the Assyrian kings. They resemble the Hebrew in their composition; and, as in that language, each may form a complete sentence. Of the two, three, or four distinct words which always compose a royal appellation, one is usually the name of a divinity. Thus, Tiglathi-nin "Worship be to Nin" (the Assyrian Hercules); Tiglath-pileser = "Worship be to the Son of Zira;" Sargon 'The King is established;" Esar-haddon "Asshur has given a brother." In Babylonian names, Nebo, Merodach, Bel, and Nergal correspond to Asshur, Sin, and Shamas in Assyrian. Thus, Abed-nego (for Nebo) is the "Servant of Nebo;" Nebuchadnezzar means "Nebo protect my race," or "Nebo is the protector of landmarks;" Nabopolassar "Nebo protect my son"-the exact equivalent of Asshur-nasir-pal in the Assyrian Dynasty of the Second Period.
† See ? 32.
38. About 740 B. C., according to Herodotus, the Medes revolted from Assyria, and chose for their king Dei'oces, whose integrity as a judge had marked him as fittest for supreme command. He built the city of Ecbat'ana, which he fortified with seven concentric circles of stone, the innermost being gilded so that its battlements shone like gold. Here Deioces established a severely ceremonious etiquette, making up for his want of hereditary rank by all the external tokens of the divinity that "doth hedge a king." No courtier was permitted to laugh in his presence, or to approach him without the profoundest expressions of reverence. Either his real dignity of character or these stately ceremonials had such effect, that he enjoyed a prosperous reign of fifty-three years. Though Deioces is described by Herodotus as King of the Medes, it is probable that he was ruler only of a single tribe, and that a great part of his story is merely imaginary.
39. The true history of the Median kingdom dates from B. C. 650, when Phraor'tes was on the throne. This king, who is called the son of Deioces, extended his authority over the Persians, and formed that close connection of the Medo-Persian tribes which was never to be dissolved. The supremacy was soon gained by the latter nation. The double kingdom was seen by Daniel in his vision, under the form of a ram, one of whose horns was higher than the other, and "the higher came up last.” (Daniel viii: 3, 20.) Phraor'tes, reinforced by the Persians, made many conquests. in Upper Asia. He was killed in a war against the last king of Assyria, B. C. 633.
40. Determined to avenge his father's death, Cyaxares renewed the war with Assyria. He was called off to resist a most formidable incursion of barbarians from the north of the Caucasus. These Scythians became masters of Western Asia, and their insolent dominion is said to have lasted twenty-eight years. A band of the nomads were received into the service of Cyaxares as huntsmen. According to Herodotus, they returned one day empty-handed from the chase; and upon the king's expressing his displeasure, their ferocious temper burst all bounds. They served up to him, instead of game, the flesh of one of the Median boys who had been placed with them to learn their language and the use of the bow, and then fled to the court of the King of Lydia. This circumstance led to a war between Alyat'tes and Cyaxares, which continued five years without any decisive result. It was terminated by an eclipse of the sun occurring in the midst of a battle. The two kings hastened to make peace; and the treaty, which fixed the boundary of their two empires at the River Halys, was confirmed by the marriage of the son of Cyaxares with the daughter of Alyattes. The Scythian oppressions were ended by a general massacre of the barbarians, who, by a secretly concerted plan, had been invited to banquets and made drunken with wine.
41. Cyaxares now resumed his plans against Assyria. In alliance with Nabopolassar, of Babylon, he was able to capture Nineveh, overthrow the empire, and render Media a leading power in Asia. The successful wars of Cyaxares secured for himself and his son nearly half a century of peace, during which the Medes rapidly adopted the luxurious habits of the nations they had conquered. The court of Ecbatana became as magnificent as that of Nineveh had been when at the height of its grandeur. The courtiers delighted in silken garments of scarlet and purple, with collars and bracelets of gold, and the same precious metal adorned the harness of their horses. Reminiscences of the old barbaric life remained in an excessive fondness for hunting, which was indulged either in the parks about the capital, or in the open country, where lions, leopards, bears, wild boars, stags, and antelopes still abounded. The great wooden palace, covered with plates of gold and silver, as well as other buildings of the capital, showed a barbarous fondness for costly materials, rather than grandeur of architectural ideas. The Magi, a priestly caste, had great influence in the Median court. The education of each young king was confided to them, and they continued throughout his life to be his most confidential counselors.
42. B. C. 593. Cyaxares died after a reign of forty years. His son, Asty'ages, reigned thirty-five years in friendly and peaceful alliance with the kings of Lydia and Babylon. Little is known of him except the events connected with his fall, and these will be found related in the history of Cyrus, Book II.
NOTE. It is impossible to reconcile the chronology of the reign of Cyaxares with all the ancient accounts. If the Scythian invasion occurred after the beginning of his reign, continued twenty-eight years, and ended before the Fall of Nineveh, it is easy to see that the date of the latter event must have been later than is given in the text. The French school of Orientalists place it, in fact, B. C. 606, and the accession of Cyaxares in 634. The English school, with Sir H. Rawlinson at their head, give the dates which we have adopted.
43. For nearly five hundred years, Babylon had been governed by Assyrian viceroys, when Nabonassar (747 B. C.) threw off the yoke, and established an independent kingdom. He destroyed the humiliating records of former servitude, and began a new era from which Babylonian time was afterward reckoned.
B. C. 721-709.
44. Merodach-baladan, the fifth king of this line, sent an embassy to Hezekiah, king of Judah, to congratulate him upon his recovery from illness, and to inquire concerning an extraordinary phenomenon connected with his restoration. (Isaiah xxxviii: 7,8; xxxix: 1.) This shows that the Babylonians were no less alert for astronomical observations than their predecessors, the Chaldæans. In fact, the brilliant clearness of their heavens early led the inhabitants of this region to a study of the stars. The sky was mapped out in constellations, and the fixed stars were catalogued; time was measured by sun-dials, and other astronomical instruments were invented by the Babylonians.
45. The same Merodach-baladan was taken captive by Sargon, king of Assyria, and held for six years, while an Assyrian viceroy occupied his throne. He escaped and resumed his government, but was again dethroned by Sennacherib, son of Sargon. The kingdom remained in a troubled state, usually ruled by Assyrians, but seeking independence, until Esarhaddon, son of Sennacherib, conquered Babylon, built himself a palace, and reigned alternately at that city and at Nineveh. His son, Sa'os-duchi'nus, governed Babylon as viceroy for twenty years, and was succeeded by Cinnelada'nus, another Assyrian, who ruled twenty-two years.
B. C. 680-667.
B. C. 625–604.
46. B. C. 625. SECOND PERIOD. Nabopolas'sar, a Babylonian general, took occasion, from the misfortunes of the Assyrian Empire, to end the long subjection of his people. He allied himself with Cyaxares, the Median king, to besiege Nineveh and overthrow the empire. In the subsequent division of spoils, he received Susiana, the Euphrates Valley, and the whole of Syria, and erected a new empire, whose history is among the most brilliant of ancient times. The extension of his dominions westward brought him in collision with a powerful neighbor, Phaʼraoh-ne'choh, of Egypt, who actually subdued the Syrian provinces, and held them a few years. But Nabopolassar sent his still more powerful son, Nebuchadnezzar, who chastised the Egyptian king in the battle of Carʼchemish, and wrested from him the stolen provinces. He also besieged Jerusalem, and returned to Babylon laden with the treasures of the temple and palace of Solomon. He brought in his train Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and several young persons of the royal family, among whom was the prophet Daniel.
B. C. 608.
B. C. 605.
47. During his son's campaign, Nabopolassar had died at Babylon, and the victorious prince was immediately acknowledged as B. C. 604-561. king. Nebuchadnezzar made subsequent wars in Phoenicia,
Palestine, and Egypt, and established an empire which extended westward to the Mediterranean Sea. He deposed the king of Egypt, and placed Amasis upon the throne as his deputy. Zedekiah, who had been elevated A. H.-4.
B. C. 667-647.