Page images

sufficient for turning a chariot with four horses. In the circumference of the wall there were a hundred gates, all of brass, as also are the posts and lintels. Eight days' journey from Babylon stands another city, called Is, on a small river of the same name, which discharges its stream into the Euphrates. Now this river brings down with its water many lumps of bitumen, from whence the bitumen used in the wall of Babylon was brought. 180. In this manner Babylon was encompassed with a wall; and the city consists of two divisions, for a river, called the Euphrates, separates it in the middle: this river, which is 'broad, deep, and rapid, flows from Armenia, and falls into the Red Sea. The wall, therefore, on either bank, has an elbow carried down to the river; from thence, along the curvatures of each bank of the river, runs a wall of baked bricks. The city itself, which is full of houses three and four stories high, is cut up into straight streets, as well all the other as the transverse ones that lead to the river. At the end of each street a little gate is formed in the wall along the river-side, in number equal to the streets; and they are all made of brass, and lead down to the edge of the river. 181. This outer wall, then, is the chief defense, but another wall runs round within, not much inferior to the other in strength, though narrower.

In the middle of each division of the city fortified buildings were erected; in one, the royal palace, with a spacious and strong inclosure, brazengated ; and in the other, the precinct of Jupiter Belus, which in my time was still in existence, a square building of two stades on every side. In the midst of this precinct is built a solid tower of one stade both in length and breadth, and on this tower rose another, and another upon that, to the number of eight; and an ascent to these is outside, running spirally round all the towers. About the middle of the ascent there is a landing-place and seats to rest on, on which those who go up sit down and rest themselves; and in the uppermost tower stands a spacious temple, and in this temple is placed, handsomely furnished, a large couch, and by its side a table of gold. No statue has been erected within it, nor does any mortal pass the night there, except only a native woman,

chosen by the god out of the whole nation, as the Chaldeans, who are priests of this deity, say. 182. These same priests assert, though I can not credit what they say, that the god himself

comes to the temple and reclines on the bed, in the same manner as the Egyptians say happens at Thebes in Egypt, for there also a woman lies in the temple of Theban Jupiter, and both are said to have no intercourse with men; in the same manner also the priestess who utters the oracles at Pataræ in Lycia, when the god is there, for there is not an oracle there at all times, but when there she is shut up during the night in the temple with the god. 183. There is also another temple below, within the precinct at Babylon; in it is a large golden statue of Jupiter seated, and near it is placed a large table of gold, the throne also and the step are of gold, which together weigh eight hundred talents, as the Chaldæans affirm. Outside the temple is a golden altar, and another large altar, where full-grown sheep are sacrificed; for on the golden altar only sucklings may be offered. On the great altar the Chaldæans consume yearly a thousand talents of frankincense when they celebrate the festival of this god. There was also at that time within the precincts of this temple a statue of solid gold, twelve cubits high: I, indeed, did not see it; I only relate what is said by the Chaldæans. Darius, son of Hystaspes, formed a design to take away this statue, but dared not do so; but Xerxes, son of Darius, took it, and killed the priest who forbade him to remove it. Thus, then, this temple was adorned; and, besides, there are many private offerings.

184. There were many others who reigned over Babylon, whom I shall mention in my Assyrian history, who beautified the walls and temples, and among them were two wom

The first of these, named Semiramis, lived five generations before the other. She raised mounds along the plain which are worthy of admiration ; for, before, the river used to overflow the whole plain like a sea. 185. But the other, who was queen next after her, and whose name was Nitocris (she was much more sagacious than the queen before her), in the first place, left monuments of herself which I shall presently describe; and, in the next place, when she saw the power of the Medes growing formidable and restless, and that, among other cities, Nineveh was captured by them, she took every possible precaution for her own defense. First of all, with respect to the river Euphrates, which before ran in a straight line, and which flows through the middle of the city, this, by



having channels dug above, she made so winding that in its course it touches three times at one and the same village in Assyria : the name of this village at which the Euphrates touches is Arderica ; and to this day, those who

from our sea to Babylon, if they travel by the Euphrates, come three times to this village on three successive days. She also raised on either bank of the river a mound, astonishing for its magnitude and height. At a considerable distance above Babylon, she had a reservoir for a lake dug, carrying it out some distance from the river, and in depth digging down to water, and in width making its circumference of four hundred and twenty stades: she consumed the soil from this excavation by heaping it up on the banks of the river, and when it was completely dug, she had stones brought, and built a casing to it all round. She had both these works done, the river made winding, and the whole excavation a lake, in order that the current, being broken by frequent turnings, might be more slow, and the navigation to Babylon tedious, and that after the voyage a long march round the lake might follow. All this was done in that part of the country where the approach to Babylon is the nearest, and where is the shortest way for the Medes, in order that the Medes might not, by holding intercourse with her people, become acquainted with her affairs. 186. She inclosed herself, therefore, with these defenses by digging, and immediately afterward made the following addition. As the city consisted of two divisions, which were separated by the river, during the reign of former kings, when any one had occasion to cross from one division to the other, he was obliged to cross in a boat ; and this, in my opinion, was very troublesome. She therefore provided for this; for, after she had dug the reservoir for the lake, she left this other monument, built by similar toil. She had large blocks of stone cut, and when they were ready, and the place was completely dug out, she turned the whole stream of the river into the place she had dug: while this was filled, and the ancient channel had become dry, in the first place, she lined with burned bricks the banks of the river throughout the city, and the descents that lead from the gates to the river, in the same manner as the walls. In the next place, about the middle of the city she built a bridge with the stones she had prepared, and bound them together with plates of lead and

iron. Upon these stones she laid, during the day, square planks of timber, on which the Babylonians might pass over; but at night these planks were removed, to prevent people from crossing by night and robbing one another. When the hollow that was dug had become a lake filled by the river, and the bridge was finished, she brought back the river to its ancient channel from the lake. And thus, the excavation having been turned into a marsh, appeared to answer the purpose for which it was made, and a bridge was built for the use of the inhabitants.

187. This same queen also contrived the following deception. Over the most frequented gate of the city she prepared a sepulchre for herself, high up above the gate itself; and on the sepulchre she had engraved, SHOULD ANY ONE OF MY SUCCESSORS, KINGS OF BABYLON, FIND HIMSELF IN WANT OF MONEY, LET HIM OPEN THIS SEPULCHRE, AND TAKE AS MUCH AS HE CHOOSES ; BUT IF HE BE NOT IN WANT, LET HIM NOT OPEN IT, FOR THAT WERE NOT WELL.

This monument remained undisturbed until the kingdom fell to Darius; but it seemed hard to Darius that this gate should be of no use, and that when money was lying there, and this money inviting him to take it, he should not do so; but no use was made of this gate for this reason, that a dead body was over the head of any one who passed through it. He therefore opened the sepulchre, and instead of money, found only the body, and these words written: HADST THOU NOT BEEN INSATIABLY COVETOUS, AND GREEDY OF THE MOST SORDID GAIN, THOU WOULDST NOT HAVE OPENED THE CHAMBERS OF THE DEAD. Such, then, is the account given of this queen.

188. Cyrus made war against the son of this queen, who bore the name of his father Labynetus, and had the empire of Assyria. Now when the great king leads his army in person, he carries with him from home provisions well prepared and cattle; and he takes with him water from the river Choaspes, which flows past Susa, of which alone, and no other, the king drinks. A great number of four-wheeled carriages, drawn by mules, carry the water of this river, after it has been boiled in silver vessels, and follow him from place to place wherever he marches. 189. When Cyrus, in his march against Babylon, arrived at the river Gyndes, whose fountains are in the Matianian mountains, and which flows through the

land of the Dardanians, and falls into another river, the Tigris; which latter, flowing by the city of Opis, discharges itself into the Red Sea: now, when Cyrus was endeavoring to cross this river Gyndes, which can be passed only in boats, one of the sacred white horses, through wantonness, plunged into the stream, and attempted to swim over, but the stream having carried him away and drowned him, Cyrus was much enraged with the river for this affront, and threatened to make his stream so weak that henceforth women should easily cross it without wetting their knees. After this menace, deferring his expedition against Babylon, he divided his army into two parts; and having so divided it, he marked out by lines one hundred and eighty channels, on each side of the river, diverging every way; then having distributed his army, he commanded them to dig. His design was indeed executed by the great numbers he employed, but they spent the whole summer in the work. 190. When Cyrus had avenged himself on the river Gyndes by distributing it into three hundred and sixty channels, and the second spring began to shine, he then advanced against Babylon. But the Babylonians, having taken the field, awaited his coming; and when he had advanced near the city, the Babylonians gave battle, and, being defeated, were shut up in the city. But as they had been long aware of the restless spirit of Cyrus, and saw that he attacked all nations alike, they had laid up provisions for many years, and therefore were under no apprehensions about a siege. On the other hand, Cyrus found himself in difficulty, since much time had elapsed, and his affairs were not at all advanced. 191. Whether, therefore, some one else made the suggestion to him in his perplexity, or whether he himself devised the plan, he had recourse to the following stratagem. Having stationed the bulk of his army near the passage of the river where it enters Babylon, and again having stationed another division beyond the city, where the river makes its exit, he gave orders to his forces to enter the city as soon as they should see the stream fordable. Having thus stationed his forces and given these directions, he himself marched away with the ineffective part of his army; and having come to the lake, Cyrus did the same with respect to the river and the lake as the queen of the Babylonians had done; for having diverted the river, by means of a canal,

« PreviousContinue »