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"in a war against a prince, infinitely my superior in all respects. But now that I am instructed by my defeat, and "begin to know myself, I believe I am going to begin to be happy; and if you prove favourable to me (for my fate is in your hands) I shall certainly be so." Cyrus, touched with compassion at the misfortune of the king, who was fallen in a moment from so great an elevation, and admiring his equanimity under such a reverse of fortune, treated him with a great deal of clemency and kindness, suffering him to enjoy both the title and authority of king, under the restriction of not having the power to make war; that is to say, he discharged him (as Crœsus acknowledged himself) from all the burthensome part of regal power, and truly enabled him to lead a happy life, exempt from all care and disquiet. From thenceforward he took him with him in all his expeditions, either out of esteem for him, or to have the benefit of his counsel, or out of policy, and to be the more secure of his person.
Herodotus, and other writers after him, relate this story, with the addition of some very remarkable circumstances, which I think it incumbent on me to mention, notwithstanding they seem to be much more wonderful than true.
a I have already observed, that the only son Croesus had living was dumb. This young prince, seeing a soldier, when the city was taken, ready to give the king, whom he did not know, a stroke upon the head with his scymitar, made such a violent effort and struggle, out of fear and tenderness for the life of his father, that he broke the string of his tongue and cried out, Soldier! spare the life of Cræsus.
6 Crœsus being a prisoner, was condemned by the conqueror to be burnt alive. Accordingly, the funeral pile was prepared, and that unhappy prince, being laid thereon, and just upon the point of execution, recollecting the conversation he had formerly had with Solon, was wofully convinced of the truth of that philosopher's admonition, and in remembrance thereof, cried aloud, three times, Solon ! Solon! Solon! Cyrus, who, with the chief officers of his court, was present at this spectacle, was curious to know why Croesus pronounced that celebrated philosopher's name with so much vehemence in this extremity. Bemg told the reason, and reflecting upon the uncertain state of all sublunary things, he was touched with commiseration at the prince's misfortune, caused him to be taken from the pile, and treated him afterwards, as long as he lived, with honour and respect. Thus had Solon the glory, with one single
a Herod. l. i. c. 85. b Herod. 1. i. c. 86-91. Plut. in Solon. c This conversation is already related, p. 272. « Καὶ δόξαν ἔσχεν ὁ Σόλων ἑνὶ λόγῳ τὸν μὲν σώσας, τὸν δὲ παιδεύσας τῶν βασιλέων. Plut.
word, to save the life of one king, and give a wholesome lesson of instruction to another.
Two answers in particular, given by the Delphic oracle, had induced Croesus to engage in the war, which proved se fatal to him. The one was, that he, Croesus, was to believe himself in danger, when the Medes should have a mule to reign over them: the other, that when he should pass the river Halys, to make war against the Medes, he would destroy a mighty empire. From the first of these oracular answers he concluded, considering the impossibility of the thing spoken of, that he had nothing to fear; and from the second he conceived hopes of subverting the empire of the Medes. When he found how things had happened quite contrary to his expectations, with Cyrus's leave he dispatched messengers to Delphos, in order to make a present to the god, in his name, of a golden chain, and at the same time to reproach him for having so basely deceived him by his oracles, notwithstanding all the vast presents, and offerings he had made him. The god was at no great pains to justify his answers. The mule which the oracle meant was Cyrus, who derived his extraction from two different nations, being a Persian by the father's side, and a Mede by the mother's; and as to the great empire which Croesus was to overthrow, the oracle did not mean that of the Medes, but his own.
It was by such false and deceitful oracles, that the father of lies, the Devil, who was the author of them, imposed upon mankind, in those times of ignorance and darkness, always giving his answers to those that consulted him, in such ambiguous and doubtful terms, that let the event be what it would, they contained a relative meaning.
a When the people of Ionia and Æolia were apprised of Cyrus's having subdued the Lydians, they sent ambassadors to him at Sardis, to desire he would receive them as his subjects upon the same conditions he had granted the Lydians. Cyrus, who before his victory had solicited them in vain to embrace his party, and was then in a condition to compel them to it by force, answered them only by a fable of a fisherman, who having played upon his pipe, in order to make the fish come to him, in vain, found there was no way to catch them but by throwing his net into the water. Failing in their hopes of succeeding this way, they applied to the Lacedæmonians, and demanded their succour. The Lacedæmonians thereupon sent deputies to Cyrus, to let him know, that they would not suffer him to undertake any thing against the Greeks. Cyrus only laughed at such a message, and warned them in his turn to take care, and put themselves into a condition to defend their own territories.
a Herod. 1. j. c. 141, 152, 153,
The nations of the isles had nothing to apprehend from Cyrus, because he had not yet subdued the Phoenicians, nor had the Persians any shipping.
THE HISTORY OF THE BESIEGING AND TAKING OF
CYRUS staid in Asia Minor, till he had entirely reduced all the nations that inhabited it into subjection, from the Ægean sea to the river Euphrates. From thence he proceeded to Syria and Arabia, which he also subjected. After which he entered into Assyria, and advanced towards Babylon, the only city of the east that stood out against him.
The siege of this important place was no easy enterprise. The walls of it were of a prodigious height, and appeared to be inaccessible, without mentioning the immense number of people within them for their defence. Besides, the city was stored with all sorts of provisions for twenty years. However, these difficulties did not discourage Cyrus from pursuing his design. But despairing to take the place by storm or assault, he made them believe his design was to reduce it by famine. To which end he caused a line of circumvallation to be drawn quite round the city with a large and deep ditch; and, that his troops might not be over-fatigued, he divided his army into twelve bodies, and assigned each of them its month for guarding the trenches. The besieged, thinking themselves out of all danger, by reason of their ramparts and magazines, insulted Cyrus from the top of their walls, and laughed at all his attempts, and all the frouble he gave himself, as so much unprofitable labour.
Predictions of the principal Circumstances relating to the Siege and the taking of Babylon, as they are set down in different Places of the holy Scrifitures.
As the taking of Babylon is one of the greatest events in ancient history, and as the principal circumstances, with which it was attended, were foretold in the holy Scriptures many years before it happened, I think it not improper, before I give an account of what the profane writers say of it, briefly to put together what we find upon the same head in the sacred pages, that the reader may be the more capable of comparing the predictions and the accomplishment of them together.
a Herod. 1. i. c. 177. Cyrop. I. vii. p 186–188,
1. The Prediction of the Jewish Captivity at Babylon, and of the Time of its Duration.
God Almighty was pleased not only to cause the captivity, which his people were to suffer at Babylon, to be foretold a long time before it came to pass, but likewise to set down the exact number of years it was to last. The term he fixed for it was seventy years, after which he promised he would deliver them, by bringing a remarkable and an eternal destruction upon the city of Babylon, the place of their bondage and confinement. "And these nations shall serve the king of Babylon 70 years." Jer. xxv. 11.
II. The Causes of God's Wrath against Babylon.
That which kindled the wrath of God against Babylon was, 1. her insupportable pride; 2. her inhuman cruelty towards the Jews; and 3. the sacrilegious impiety of her king.
1. Her pride. a She believed herself to be invincible. She said in her heart, I am the queen of nations, and I shall remain so for ever. There is no power equal to mine. All other powers are either subject or tributary to me, or in alliance with me. I shall never know either barrenness or widowhood. Eternity is written in my destiny, according to the observation of all those that have consulted the stars to know it.
2. Her cruelty. It is God himself that complains of it. I was willing (says he) to punish my people in such a manner, as a father chastiseth his children. I sent them for a time into banishment at Babylon, with a design to recall them, as soon as they were become more thankful and more faithful. But Babylon and her prince have converted my paternal chastisement into such a cruel and inhuman treatment, as my clemency abhors. Their design has been to destroy; mine was to save. The banishment they have turned into a severe bondage and captivity, and have shown no compassion or regard either to age, infirmity, or virtue.
3. The sacrilegious impiety of her king. To the pride and cruelty of his predecessors Belshazzar added an impiety that was peculiar to himself. He did not only prefer his false divinities to the true and only God, but imagined himself likewise to have vanquished his power, because he was possessed of the vessels which had belonged to his worship;
a Dixisti, In sempiternum ero domina-Dicis in corde tuo, Ego sum, et non est præter me amphus: non sedeno vidua, et ignorabo sterilitatem. Isa. xlvii. 7,8.
b Iratus sum super populum meum, et dedi eus in manu tua, Babylon Non posuisti eis misericordiam super senem aggravasti jugum tuum valde. Venjet super te malum. Isa. xlvii. 6, 7.
"Make bright the arrows, gather the shields;" it is the prophet that speaks to the Medes and Persians. "The "Lord hath raised up the spirit of the kings of the Medes, for his device is against Babylon to destroy it, because it is "the vengeance of the Lord, the vengeance of his temple." "Howl ye, for the day of the Lord is at hand, a day "cruel both with wrath and fierce anger to lay the land de"solate. C Behold, I will punish the king of Babylon and * his land, as I have punished the king of Assyria.”
e "Shout against her round about. Recompense her according to her work; according to all that she hath done, "do unto her ;-and spare ye not her young men ; destroy
ye utterly all her host. Every one that is found shall be "thrust through, and every one that is joined unto them shall "fall by the sword. Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes, their houses shall be spoiled, and "their wives ravished. Behold I will stir up the Medes against them, who shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it. Their bows also shall dash the "young men to pieces, and they shall have no pity on the fruit "of the womb; their eye shall not spare children. O
daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed, happy shall "he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us. Happy "shall he be that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against "the stones."
and, as if he meant it to affront him, he affected to apply those holy vessels to profane uses. This was the provoking circumstance, that brought down the wrath of God upon him. III. THE DECREE PRONOUNCED AGAINST BABYLON. PREDICTION OF THE CALAMITIES THAT WERE ΤΟ FALL UPON HER, AND OF HER UTTER DESTRUCTION,
"And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, and the beauty of "the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew "Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited; nei"ther shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation; "neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there; but wild beasts of the de"sert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures, and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance "there and the wild beasts of the island shall cry in their "desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces. I "will also make it a possession for the bittern and pools of "water; and I will sweep it with the besom of destruction, "saith the Lord of hosts. The Lord of hosts hath sworn,
a Jer. li. 11,
g P3. cxxxvii. 8, 9.
c Jer 1. 18.
e Jer. 1. 15, 29. and li. 3.