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five days. He yielded to her entreaties, and all the provinces of the empire were commanded to obey Semiramis. These orders were executed but too exactly for the unfortunate Ninus, who was put to death, either immediately, or after some years imprisonment.
SEMIRAMIS. • This princess applied all her thoughts to immortalize her name, and to cover the meanness of her extraction by the greatness of her enterprises. She proposed to herself to surpass all her predecessors in magnificence, and to that end she undertook the building of the mighty Babylon, in which work she employed two million of men, which were collected out of all the provinces of her vast empire. Some of her successors endeavoured to adorn that city with new works and embellishments. I shall here speak of them all together, in order to give the reader a more clear and distinct idea of that stupendous city.
The principal works which rendered Babylon so famous are, the walls of the city; the quays and the bridge; the lake, banks, and canals made for the draining of the river; the palaces, hanging gardens, and the temple of Belus; works of such a surprising magnificence, as is scarce to be comprehended. Dr. Prideaux having treated this matter with great extent and learning, I have only to copy, or rather abridge hims
1. THE WALLS.
Babylon stood on a large plain, in a very fat and deep soil. The walls were every way prodigious. They were in thickness 87 feet, in height 350, and in compass 480 furlongs, which make 60 of our miles. These walls were drawn round the city in the form of an exact square, each side of which was 120 furlongs, or 15 miles, in length, and all built of large bricks cemented together with bitumen, a glutinous slime arising out of the earth in that country, which binds in building much stronger and firmer than mortar, and soon grows much harder than the bricks or stones themselves which it cements together.
These walls were surrounded on the outside with a vast. ditch, full of water, and lined with bricks on both sides. The earth that was dug out of it made the bricks wherewith the walls were built; and therefore, from the vast height
a Diod. l. ii. p. 95.
We are not to wonder. if, we find the founding of a city ascribed to differ ent persons. It is common, even among the profane writers, to say. Such a prince built such a city, whether he was the person that first founded it, or that only embellished, or enlarged it.
c Herod 11. c 178, 180 Diod. 1. ii p. 95. 96. Q Curt. 1. v. c. 1.
d I relate things as I find them in the ancient authors, which Dean Prideaux Kas also done; but I cannot help believing that great abatements are to be made in what they say as to the immense extent of Babylon and Nineveh.
and breadth of the walls may be inferred the greatness of the ditch.
In every side of this great square were 25 gates, that is, 100 in all, which were all made of solid brass; and hence it is, that when God promised to Cyrus the conquest of Babylon, he tells hima, that he would break in pieces before him the gates of brass. Between every two of these gates were three towers, and four more at the four corners of this great square, and three between each of these corners and the next gate on either side; every one of these towers was 10 feet higher than the walls. But this is to be understood only of those parts of the wall where there was need of tow
From the 25 gates in each side of this great square went 25 streets, in straight lines to the gates, which were directly over against them, in the opposite side; so that the whole number of the streets were 50, each 15 miles long, whereof 25 went one way, and 25 the other, directly crossing each other at right angles. And besides these, there were also four half streets, which had houses only on one side, and the wall on the other; these went round the four sides of the city next the walls, and were each of them 200 feet broad; the rest were about 150. By these streets thus crossing each other, the whole city was cut out into 676 squares, each of which was four furlongs and an half on every side, that is, two miles and a quarter in circumference. Round these squares, on every side towards the streets, stood the houses (which were not contiguous, but had void spaces between them) all built three or four stories high, and beautified with all manner of ornaments towards the streets. space within, in the middle of each square, was likewise all void ground, employed for yards, gardens, and other such uses; so that Babylon was greater in appearance than reality, near one half of the city being taken up in gardens and other cultivated lands, as we are told by Q. Curtius.
2. THE QUAYS AND BRIDGE.
A branch of the river Euphrates ran quite cross the city. from the north to the south side; on each side of the river was a quay, and an high wall built of brick and bitumen, of the same thickness as the walls that went round the city. In these walls, over against every street that led to the river, were gates of brass, and from them descents by steps to the river, for the conveniency of the inhabitants, who used to pass over from one side to the other in boats, having no other,
a Isa. xlv. 2.
b Quint. Curt. v. c. 1.e Herod. 1. 1. c. 180. & 186, Diod. l. ii. p. 96.
way of crossing the river before the building of the bridge. These brazen gates were always open in the daytime, and shut in the night.
The bridge was not inferior to any of the other buildings, either in beauty or magnificence; it was a a furlong in length, and 30 feet in breadth, built with wonderful art, to supply the defect of a foundation in the bottom of the river, which was all sandy. The arches were made of huge stones, fastened together with chains of iron and melted lead. Before they began to build the bridge, they turned the course of the river, and laid its channel dry, having another view in so doing, besides that of laying the foundations more commodiously, as I shall explain hereafter. And as every thing was prepared beforehand, both the bridge and the quays, which I have already described, were built in that interval.
-3. THE LAKE, DITCHES, AND CANALS, MADE FOR THE DRAINING OF THE RIVER.
These works, objects of admiration for the skilful in all ages were still more useful than magnificent. In the beginning of the summer, on the sun's melting the snow on the mountains of Armenia, there arises a vast increase of waters, which, running into the Euphrates in the months of June, July, and August, makes it overflow its banks, and occasions such another inundation as the Nile does in Egypt. © To prevent the damage which both the city and country received from these inundations, at a very considerable distance above the town two artificial canals were cut, which turned the course of these waters into the Tigris before they reached Babylon. And to secure the country yet more from the danger of inundations, and to keep the river within its channel they raised prodigious banks on both sides the river, built with brick cemented with bitumen, which began at the head of the artificial canals, and extended below the city.
To facilitate the making of these works, it was necessary to turn the course of the river another way, for which purpose, to the west of Babylon, was dug a prodigious artificial lake, 40 miles square, 160 in compass, and 35 feet deep, according to Herodotus, and 75 according to Megasthenes. Into this lake was the whole river turned, by an artificial canal cut from the west side of it, till the whole work was finish
a Diodorus says, this bridge was five furlongs in length, which can hardly be true. since the Euphrates was but one furlong broad. Strab. I. xvi. p. 738. 6 Strab J. xvi. p 740. Plin 1. v. c. 26.
c Abyd. ap. Eus. Præp. Evang. lib. ix.
d Abyd. ap. Eus Præp. Evang. lib. ix. Herod. l. i. c. 185.
e The author follows Herodotus, who makes it 420 furlongs, or 52 miles square; but I choose to follow Dean Prideaux, who prefers the account of Megasthenes.
ed, when it was made to flow in its former channel. But that the Euphrates, in the time of its increase, might not overflow the city through the gates on its sides, this lake, with the canal from the river, was still preserved. The water received into the lake at the time of these overflowings, was kept there all the year, as in a common reservoir, for the benefit of the country, to be let out by sluices at all convenient times for the watering of the lands below it. The lake therefore was equally useful in defending the country from inundations, and making it fertile. I relate the wonders of Babylon as they are delivered down to us by the ancients; but there are some of them which are scarce to be comprehended or believed, of which number is the vast extent of the lake which I have just described.
Berosus, Megasthenes, and Abydenus, quoted by Josephus and Eusebius, make Nebuchadnezzar the author of most of these works; but Herodotus ascribes the bridge, the two quays of the river, and the lake to Nitocris, the daughter-in-law, of that monarch. Perhaps Nitocris might only finish what her father left imperfect at his death, on which account that historian might give her the honour of the whole undertaking.
4. THE PALACES, AND HANGING GARDENS.
a At the two ends of the bridge were two palaces, which had a communication with each other by a vault, built under the channel of the river, at the time of its being dry. The old palace, which stood on the east side of the river, was thirty furlongs (or three miles and three quarters) in compass; near which stood the temple of Belus, of which we shall soon speak. The new palace, which stood on the west side of the river, opposite to the other, was sixty furlongs (or seven miles and an half) in compass. It was surrounded with three walls, one within another, with considerable spaces between them. These walls, as also those of the other palace, were embellished with an infinite variety of sculptures, representing all kinds of animals, to the life. Amongst the rest was a curious hunting piece, in which Semiramis on horseback was throwing her javelin at a leopard, and her husband Ninus piercing a lion.
In this last, or new palace, were the hanging gardens, so celebrated among the Greeks. They contained a square of four plethra (that is, of 400 feet) on every side, and were carried up aloft into the air in the manner of several large terraces, one above another, till the height equalled that of the walls of the city. The ascent was from terrace to ter
a Diod 1. ii. p 96, 97.
Ibid p. 98, 99. Strab. 1. xvi. p. 738, Quint. Curt. 1. v, c. 1.
race, by stairs ten feet wide. The whole pile was sustained by vast arches, raised upon other arches, one above another, and strengthened by a wall, surrounding it on every side, of 22 feet thickness. On the top of the arches were first laid large flat stones, sixteen feet long, and four broad: over these was a layer of reeds, mixed with a great quantity of bitumen, upon which were two rows of bricks, closely cemented together with plaster. The whole was covered with thick sheets of lead, upon which lay the mould of the garden. And all this floorage was contrived to keep the moisture of the mould from running away through the arches. The mould, or earth, laid hereon, was so deep, that the greatest trees might take root in it; and with such the terraces were covered, as well as with all other plants and flowers, that were proper to adorn a pleasure-garden. In the upper terrace there was an engine, or kind of pump, by which water was drawn up out of the river, and from thence the whole garden was watered. In the spaces between the several arches, upon which this whole structure rested, were large and magnificent apartments, that were very light, and had the advantage of a beautiful prospect.
a Amytis, the wife of Nebuchadnezzar, having been bred in Media (for she was the daughter of Astyages, the king of that country) had been much delighted with the mountains and woody parts of that country. And as she desired to have something like it in Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, to gratify her, caused this prodigious edifice to be erected: Diodorus gives much the same account of the matter, but without naming the persons.
5. THE TEMPLE OF BELUS.
Another of the great works at Babylon was the temple of Belus, which stood, as I have mentioned already, near the old palace. It was most remarkable for a prodigious tower, that stood in the middle of it. At the foundation, according to Herodotus, it was a square of a furlong on each side, that is, half a mile in the whole compass, and (according to Strabo) it was also a furlong in height. It consisted of eight towers, built one above the other; and because it decreased gradually to the top, Strabo calls the whole a pyramid. It is not only asserted, but proved, that this tower much exceeded the greatest of the pyramids of Egypt in height. Therefore we have good reason to believe, as Bochart asserts, that this is the very same tower, which was built there at the confusion of languages: and the rather, because it is attested by a Beros ap. Jos cont. App. l. i. c 6.
b Herod. 1. 1. c. 181 Diod, 1. ii. p. 98. Strab. 1. xvi. p. 738. Phal. part 1. l. i. c.