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of the historian's claim to credit. It is not alone the incredible numbers of her army and vast preparations that cast over the narrative an air of fable, for this may be found in other authors, both Greek and Mohammedan, in relating facts which themselves rest on indisputable evidence. We may instance the enormous armaments attributed to Darius and Xerxes in their invasions of Greece, and the incredible multitudes of human beings said to have been slaughtered by Zinghis Khan. In the sack and destruction of five cities alone, Merve, Nishapore, Herat, Rhé, and Bagdad, the number of persons put to death, according to the historians of Zinghis, exceeds eight millions! But to attribute to distant countries like India such an advanced state of power, riches, and civilization, at a period little more than a thousand years after the Flood-and not only to call into existence such prodigious armies, but imagine they could be maintained in remote quarters of the globe, when the race of men were as yet but thinly scattered over any part of its surface-argues not only a strong disposition to romance, but a deficiency of all authentic records.

Ninyas, the son of Semiramis, was ill qualified to maintain the mighty fabric of empire which his parents had reared. Little, in truth, remained for him to do; for all Asia, with the exception of India, acknowledged his supremacy, and few were the adventurers in those early times hardy enough to dispute his power. Unmoved by any necessity for exertion, he abandoned himself to voluptuous enjoyment. Concealing himself from the eyes of his subjects, as if he were something more than mortal, he spent his time in lascivious sloth among his concubines and eunuchs. Yet it would appear that he did not altogether neglect the affairs of state; for we hear that, in order to preserve tranquillity throughout his dominions, it was his practice to levy an army every year, enrolling a certain number of men from each province, who, at the end of that period, were each bound by an oath of fidelity, and dismissed to their homes. The rapid changes involved in this system were considered to afford security against any serious conspiracy on the part either of officers or soldiers.

Of the long list of his successors, little or nothing has been recorded by Ctesias, or at least by his transcribers, beyond their names, and that they pursued a line of policy

similar to that of their progenitor. And here, again, there does appear a most conclusive objection to the authenticity of this portion of the narrative. That, at any period of the world, a term of 1200 years should have been occupied in one empire by a single family, in an unbroken line of consecutive sovereigns, whose reigns all extended to so unusual a length, is a fact unparalleled in history, and opposed to the course of human affairs: and that this long period should, moreover, have been so unproductive of great events as not to afford a single prominent occurrence to give the means of fixing a date, is a circumstance so entirely at variance with all probability, as to render the whole recital totally unworthy of credit.

The last of this long race of sovereigns, Thonos Concolerus of Ctesias, the Sardanapalus of Diodorus, Justin, and Polyhistor, has left a name almost unequalled for effeminate luxury and depraved sensuality. It is asserted that he had become so lost to a sense of decency, that not only did he clothe himself like a woman, but painted his face, and, assuming the ornaments and air of the most worthless of the sex, sat and spun among his concubines. The boldness and resolution, however, with which he is represented to have roused himself and defended his kingdom, when attacked by the rebel Medes and Babylonians under Arbaces and Belesis, is so inconsistent with the character attributed to him, that it has been brought forward as one among other reasons for concluding that there were more than one king of the race named or entitled Sardanapalus ;* and that two of them-one an effeminate, the other a brave prince-have, in the accounts of Ctesias and his followers, been confounded together. But this is one of many conjectures to which the obscurity of this period of history has given rise, when the false light of fable was beginning to fade before the gleams of truth from more authentic


It is at the termination of this monarch's reign and life that Ctesias has placed the destruction of Nineveh; but this obviously must be a mistake; for, according to the most approved chronology, the downfall of Thonos Con

St. Martin and others suppose this to have been a title borne by the kings of Assyria (derived, no doubt, from the appellations of their gods), rather than a name peculiar to any one sovereign, as there appear to have been more than one who bore it

colerus took place about the year B.C. 821.* Yet, twenty years afterward, following the same notation, we find the prophet Jonah sent to preach repentance to the Ninevites, in that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand, and also much cattle;" and that their unnamed king, and all his people, received the divine warning with reverence, humbling themselves before the Lord in sackcloth and ashes. The most probable solution of this difficulty is, that Ctesias and his followers have somehow confounded together the taking of Nineveh by Arbaces and Belesis and the death of Sardanapalus, when the former prince established the Medo-Assyrian dynasty upon the throne of Nineveh, with the final capture and demolition of the city, and overthrow of the empire by Cyaxares the Mede, in the year B.C. 606.

The account of this first taking of Nineveh, and the death of the last sovereign of the line of Ninus, is shortly as follows. Sardanapalus, living in despicable effeminacy, became odious to his subjects, and more especially to a valiant noble named Arbaces, and Belesis, a priest and astrologer. These two conspired for the overthrow of their unworthy sovereign, the latter assuring his confederate that, by the rules of his art, he could foresee that he was to dethrone Sardanapalus, and become lord of his dominions. The former, on his part, promised that, should they succeed in their enterprise, he would bestow the government of Babylon upon him.

The conspirators raised their friends, and, gaining over many of the king's troops, attacked the royal army, but were defeated in three pitched battles. Belesis, however, relying on his astrological revelations, persevered; and, re-enforced by the revolted troops of Bactria, surprised the army of Sardanapalus at a splendid festival, and routed them with immense slaughter. The king fled to Nineveh, where, having laid up immense magazines, and trusting to the response of an oracle, which declared that the great city would never be taken until the river had become her enemy, he abandoned himself in fatal security to the indulgence of sloth, while the enemy blockaded his walls.

He was at length roused from his delusion; for, after

* Dr. Russell's Connexion, vol. ii., c. 1.

+ Jonah, iv., 11.

two years, the river, swollen to an extraordinary size by an unusual fall of rain, overflowed its banks, and swept away no less than twenty stadia, or about two miles and a half, of the fortifications. Sardanapalus saw that, the oracle being fulfilled, his hour was come; and he prepared to meet it in a characteristic manner. Retiring to his palace, he caused a vast pile of wood to be raised in one of the courts, having a chamber constructed within. On it he heaped all his gold and silver plate and rich apparel, and, entering with his eunuchs and concubines, set fire to the pile, whereby he destroyed himself and them together.

Thus far have we followed Ctesias, whom we now relinquish for other guides. Of the credit due to the earlier parts of his work, we have already expressed a distinct opinion. That there may be some foundation for a portion of his list of kings, it would be idle to dispute or deny, and that the later periods of his narrative afford more frequent and decided glimpses of truth, may also be safely admitted. But, cut off as we are from all reference to the original, and restricted to the works of copyists, who may not always have abstained from alterations, it seems impossible to admit the statements within the pale of authentic history.

We shall now shortly examine the history of the Assyrian or Medo-Assyrian dynasty, according to the canon of Scripture and of Ptolemy, which have a remarkable coincidence, arranged principally from the Universal History, and the authorities followed by its compilers.

With its exception of the slight mention of Asshur as the founder of Nineveh in the book of Genesis, the first ruler of that city noticed in the Old Testament is the personage to whom Jonah was sent, unless we should admit "Chushan-rishathaim, king of Mesopotamia,”* who held the children of Israel in bondage eight years, to be an Assyrian sovereign. And of that nameless monarch visited by the prophet, nothing more is known than what we read in the Bible; but it has been conjectured that he was the same as Arbaces the Mede.

The next mention in the inspired writingst of an Assyrian king is that of Pul, who was contemporary with Menahem, king of Israel, B.C. 771, perhaps the Mandau† 2 Kings, xv., 19.

* Judges, iii., 8.

ces of Ctesias, and successor to Arbaces. The only fact recorded of this prince is that he invaded Syria, and received from the court of Samaria 1000 talents of silver as the price for forbearance and future protection.

Pul appears to have been succeeded by Tiglath-pileser, B.C. 747, probably his son, and perhaps the Sosarmus or Artycas of Ctesias, who, in the year B.C. 740, overran the dominions of Israel, and carried away many of the inhabitants captive.* He pursued the same system towards his other conquests in that quarter; for we find in the same sacred text, that, instigated by the King of Judah, he marched against Damascus, slew Rezin its king, and, transporting his people to Kir in Media, put an end to his sovereignty.

Shalmaneser, the Enemessar of Tobit, succeeded Tiglath-pileser, B.C. 726. Provoked by the rebellion of Hoshea, king of Israel, who had been reduced to the condition of his tributary, and who had solicited the assistance of So, king of Egypt, to enable him to throw off the Assyrian yoke, he overran the country with a powerful army, laid siege to Samaria, which, at the end of three years, he took, and, carrying all the people into captivity, brought to a termination the independent existence of the ten tribes. He then proceeded against the cities of Sidon, Acre, Palæetyrus, and others, which, revolting from the Tyrians, opened their gates; but he failed, after a struggle of five years, to gain possession of Tyre itself.

Sennacherib, possibly the Arbianes of Ctesias, makes his first appearance in Sacred Writ in the fourteenth year of the reign of Hezekiah, king of Judah, B.C. 714, marching against the dominions of that prince, who had withheld the stipulated tribute. On this occasion, the Assyrian monarch not only compelled him to acknowledge his supremacy, and promise an annual payment of thirty talents of gold and 300 of silver, but, unsatisfied with these concessions, and with the treasure which the other was forced to strip from the house of God, he sent his generals, Tartan, Rabsaris, and Rab-shakeh, with a mighty host, to reduce Jerusalem itself. These men declared their master's will, taunted Hezekiah with his weakness, and warned him not to put his trust either in the power of Egypt or in † 2 Kings, xvi., 9.

* 2 Kings, xv., 29. 2 Chron., xxviii.

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