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B. C. 555-538.
daughter of Nebuchadnezzar -- probably the widow of Nereglissar - and
afterward by associating their son Belshaz'zar with him in
the government. He also sought security in foreign alliances. He fortified his capital by river walls, and constructed water-works in connection with the river above the city, by which the whole plain north and west could be flooded to prevent the approach of an enemy.
54. A new power was indeed arising in the East, against which the three older but feebler monarchies, Babylonia, Lydia, and Egypt, found it necessary to combine their forces. After the conquest of Lydia, and the extension of the Persian Empire to the Ægean Sea, Nabonadius had still fifteen
years for preparation. He improved the time by laying up enormous quantities of food in Babylon; and felt confident that, though the country might be overrun, the strong walls of Nebuchadnezzar would enable him cheerfully to defy his foe. On the approach of Cyrus he resolved to risk one battle; but in this he was defeated, and compelled to take refuge in Bor'sippa. His son Belshazzar, being left in Babylon, indulged in it false assurance of safety. Cyrus, by diverting the course of the Euphrates, opened a way for his army into the heart of the city, and the court was surprised in the midst of a drunken revel, unprepared for resistance. The young prince, unrecognized in the confusion, was slain at the gate of his palace. Nabonadius, broken by the loss of his capital and his son, surrendered himself a prisoner; and the dominion of the East passed to the MedoPersian race. Babylon became the second city of the empire, and the Persian court resided there the greater portion of the year.
Deioces, the first reputed king of Media, built and adorned Ecbatana. Phraortes mited the Medes and Persians into one powerful kingdom. In the reign of Cyaxares, the Scythians ruled Western Asia twenty-eight years. After their expulsion, Cyaxares, in alliance with the Babylonian viceroy, overthrew the Assyrian Empire, divided its territories with his ally, and raised his own dominion to a high degree of wealth. His son Astyages reigned peacefully thirty-five years.
Babylon, under Nabonassar, became independent of Assyria, B. C. 747. Merodach-baladan, the fifth native king, was twice deposed, by Sargon and Sennacherib, and the country again remained forty-two years under Assyrian rule. It was delivered by Nabopolassar, whose still more powerful son, Nebuchadnezzar, gained great victories over the kings of Judah and Egypt, replacing the latter with viceroys of his own, and transporting the former, with the princes, nobles, and sacred treasures of Jerusalem, to Babylon. By a thirteen years' siege, Tyre was subdued and all Phænicia conquiered. From visions interpreted by Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar learned the future rise and fall of Asiatic empires. He constructed the Hanging Gardens, the walls of Babylon, and many other public works. His pride was punished by seven years' degradation. Evil-merodach was murdered by Nereglissar, who after four years bequeathed his crown to Laborosoarchod. Nabonadius obtained the throne by violence, and in concert with his son Belshazzar, tried to protect his dominions against Cyrus; but Babylon was taken and the empire overthrown, B, C. 338.
KINGDOMS OF ASIA MINOR.
55. The Anatolian peninsula, divided by its mountain chains into several sections, was occupied from very ancient times by different nations nearly equal in power. Of these, the PHRYGIANS were probably the earliest settlers, and at one time occupied the whole peninsula. Successive immigrations from the east and west pressed them inward from the coast, but they still had the advantage of a large and fertile territory. They were a brave but rather brutal race, chiefly occupied with agriculture, and especially the raising of the vine.
56. The Phrygians came from the mountains of Armenia, whence they brought a tradition of the Flood, and of the resting of the ark on Mount Ararat. They were accustomed, in primitive times, to hollow their habitations out of the rock of the Anatolian hills, and many of these rock cities may be found in all parts of Asia Minor. Before the time of Homer, however, they had well-built towns and a flourishing commerce.
57. Their religion consisted of many dark and mysterious rites, some of which were afterward copied by the Greeks. The worship of Cyb'ele, and of Sabaʼzius, god of the vine, was accompanied by the wildest music and dances. The capital of Phrygia was Gor'dium, on the Sanga'rius. The kings were alternately called Gor'dias and Mi’das, but we have no chronological lists. Phrygia became a province of Lydia B. C. 560.
58. In later times Lydia became the greatest kingdom in Asia Minor, both in wealth and power, absorbing in its dominion the whole peninsula, except Lycia, Cilicia, and Cappadocia. Three dynasties successively bore rule: the Atyada, before 1200 B. C.; the Heraclidæ, for the next 505 years; and the Mermnada, from B. C. 694 until 516, when Cresus, the last and greatest monarch, was conquered by the Persians. The name of this king has become proverbial from his enormous wealth. When associated with his father as crown prince, he was visited by Solon of Athens, who looked on all the splendor of the court with the coolness of a philosopher. Annoyed by his indifference, the prince asked Solon who, of all the men he had encountered in his travels, seemed to him the happiest. To his astonishment, the wise man named two persons in comparatively humble stations, but the one of whom was blessed with dutiful children, and the other had died a triumphant and glorious death. The vanity of Crasus could no longer abstain from a direct effort to extort a compliment. He asked if Solon did not consider him a happy man. The philosopher gravely replied that, such were the vicissitudes of life, no man, in his opinion, could safely be pronounced happy until his life was ended.
59. Cræsus extended his power over not only the whole Anatolian peninsula, but the Greek islands both of the Egean and Ionian seas. He made an alliance with Sparta, Egypt, and Babylon to resist the growing empire of Cyrus; but his precautions were ineffectual; he was defeated and made prisoner. He is said to have been bound upon a funeral pile, or altar, near the gate of his capital, when he recalled with anguish of heart the words of the Athenian sage, and three times uttered his name, “Solon, Solon, Solon!” Cyrus, who was regarding the scene with curiosity, ordered his interpreters to inquire what god or man he had thus invoked in his distress. The captive king replied that it was the name of a man with whom he wished that every monarch might be acquainted; and described the visit and conversation of the serene philosopher who had remained undazzled by his splendor. The conqueror was inspired with a more generous emotion by the remembrance that he, too, was mortal; he caused Cresus to be released and to dwell with him as a friend.
KINGS OF LYDIA. Of the First and Second Dynasties, the names are only partially known, and dates are wanting.
60. The small strip of land between Mount Lebanon and the sea was more important to the ancient world than its size would indicate. Here arose the first great commercial cities, and Phænician vessels wove a web of peaceful intercourse between the nations of Asia, Africa, and Europe.
61. Sidon was probably the most ancient, and until B. C. 1050, the most flourishing, of all the Phænician communities. About that year the Philistines of Askalon gained a victory over Sidon, and the exiled inhabitants took refuge in the rival city of Tyre. Henceforth the daughter surpassed the mother in wealth and power. When Herodotus visited Tyre, he found a temple of Hercules which claimed to be 2,300 years old. This would give Tyre an antiquity of 2,750 years B. C.
62. Other chief cities of Phænicia were Bery'tus (Beirût), Bybʼlus, Tri'polis, and Ara’dus. Each with its surrounding territory made an independent state. Occasionally in times of danger they formed themselves into a league, under the direction of the most powerful; but the name Phænicia applies merely to territory, not to a single well organized state, nor even to a permanent confederacy. Each city was ruled by its king, but a strong priestly influence and a powerful aristocracy, either of birth or wealth, restrained the despotic inclinations of the monarch.
63. The commerce of the Phænician cities had no rival in the earlier centuries of their prosperity. Their trading stations sprang up rapidly along the coasts and upon the islands of the Mediterranean; and even beyond the Pillars of Hercules, their city of Gades (Kadesh), the modern Cadiz, looked out upon the Atlantic. These remote colonies were only starting points from which voyages were made into still more distant regions. Merchantmen from Cadiz explored the western coasts of Africa and Europe. From the stations on the Red Sea, trading vessels were fitted out for India and Ceylon.
64. At a later period, the Greeks absorbed the commerce of the Euxine and the Ægean, while Carthage claimed her share in the Western Mediterranean and the Atlantic. By this time, however, Western Asia was more tranquil under the later Assyrian and Babylonian monarchs; and the wealth of Babylon attracted merchant trains from Tyre across the Syrian Desert by way of Tadmor. Other caravans moved northward, and exchanged the products of Phænician industry for the horses, mules, slaves, and copper utensils of Armenia and Cappadocia. A friendly intercourse was always maintained with Jerusalem, and a land-traffic with the Red Sea, which was frequented by Phænician fleets. Gold from Ophir, pearls and diamonds from Eastern India and Ceylon, silver from Spain, linen embroidery from Egypt, apes from Western Africa, tin from the British Isles, and amber from the Baltic, might be found in the cargoes of Tyrian vessels.
66. The Phænicians in general were merchants, rather than manufacturers; but their bronzes and vessels in gold and silver, as well as other works in metal, had a high repute. They claimed the invention of glass, which they manufactured into many articles of use and ornament. But the most famous of their products was the “Tyrian purple,” which they obtained in minute drops from the two shell-fish, the buccinum and murex, and by means of which they gave a high value to their fabrics of wool.
66. About the time of Pygma’lion, the warlike expeditions of Shalmaneser II overpowered the Phænician towns, and for more than two hundred years they remained tributary to the Assyrian Empire. Frequent but usually vain attempts were made, during the latter half of this period, to throw off the yoke. With the fall of Nineveh it is probable that Phænicia became independent.
67. B. C. 608. It was soon reduced, however, by Necho of Egypt, who added all Syria to his dominions, and held Phænicia dependent until he himself was conquered by Nebuchadnezzar (B. C. 605) at Carchemish. The captive cities were only transferred to a new master; but, in 598, Tyre revolted against the Babylonian, and sustained a siege of thirteen years. When at length she was compelled to submit, the conqueror found no plunder to reward the extreme severity of his labors, for the inhabitants had secretly removed their treasures to an island half a mile distant, where New Tyre soon excelled the splendor of the Old.
68. Phænicia remained subject to Babylon until that power was overcome by the new empire of Cyrus the Great. The local government was carried on by native kings or judges, who paid tribute to the Babylonian king.
69. The religion of the Phænicians was degraded by many cruel and uncleanly rites. Their chief divinities, Baal and Astar'te, or Ashtaroth, represented the sun and moon. Baal was worshiped in groves on high places, sometimes, like the Ammonian Moloch, with burnt-offerings of human beings; always with wild, fanatical rites, his votaries crying aloud and cutting themselves with knives. Melcarth, the Tyrian Hercules, was worshiped only at Tyre and her colonies. His symbol was an ever-burning fire, and he probably shared with Baal the character of a sun-god. The marine deities were of especial importance to these commercial cities. Chief of these were Posi'don, Ne'reus, and Pontus. Of lower rank, but not less constantly remembered, were the little Cabi'ri, whose images formed the figure-heads of Phænician ships. The seat of their worship was at Berytus.
70. The Phænicians were less idolatrous than the Egyptians, Greeks, or Romans; for their temples contained either no visible image of their deities, or only a rude symbol like the conical stone which was held to represent Astarte.
KINGS OF TYRE.
981-975. One of his assassins, whose name is unknown,
963-951. Aser'ymus, his brother,
951-912. Phales, another brother, who murdered Aserymus, 942-941. Ethba'al, * high priest of Astarte,
941-909, Badeʼzor, his son,
» His daughter Jezebel became the wife of Ahab, king of Israel. His reign is marked in Phoenician annals by a drought which extended throughout Syria.