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sympathising with and assisting him, like a good Providence. If it presides over a triumph, its action resembles that of the king; and when represented over the king in war, it is seen, like a god of battles, shooting its arrows against the enemies of the Assyrians. The most superficial examination of the sculptures suffices to prove the sacred character of the king. Not only is the symbol of the great Deity above him, as well as the sun, moon, and planets; but the priests, or lesser divinities (whichever the winged human figures so frequently found on the Assyrian monuments may be), are represented as waiting upon or ministering to him. This is just a development of the old patriarchal principle, by which a father used to worship on behalf of his family. At this day the principle is carried out to the fullest extent in China, where the "higher sacrifices" can only be offered by the Emperor in person, who actually regards himself as the father of the nation, and who, on occasion of national calamities, fasts and makes public confession of his sins and shortcomings, looking upon them as the reason why the Divine wrath is poured out upon his people.
A marked difference is likewise observable in the style of ornamental art under the earlier and later dynasties. What principally distinguishes Assyrian from Egyptian sculpture is, that the former is entirely free from the angular mode of treatment so conspicuous in the latter. It is more florid, and altogether more advanced; but at the same time it must be said, that in regard to accuracy we incline to place greater estimation upon the portrait-sculpture of Egypt than upon that of Assyria. In the later monuments of Nineveh we find direct, although not very extensive, traces of Egyptian influence; but the principal distinction between the earlier and later sculptures is, the greater knowledge of design and composition displayed in the former. The bas-relief representing the Lion-hunt, now in the British Museum, is a good illustration of the earliest school of Assyrian art yet discovered. It far exceeds the later sculptures in the vigour of
treatment, the elegance of the forms, and in what the French aptly term mouvement,-as well as by the evident attempt at composition, the artistical arrangement of the groups. The sculptors who worked at Khorsabad and Kouyunjik perhaps possessed more skill in handling their tools, and their work is frequently superior to that of the earlier artists in delicacy of execution-as, for instance, in the details of the features and in boldness of relief; but they are decidedly inferior to their ancestors in the higher branches of art-in the treatment of a subject, and in beauty and variety of form.
The domestic furniture, arms, utensils, and personal ornaments of the Assyrians show a very refined and cultivated taste. In their arms they rivalled even the Greeks in elegance of design. Their drinking-cups and vessels used on festive occasions were apparently of gold, like those of Solomon, or.of silver; and they were frequently wrought into the shape of the head and neck of an animal-such as a lion or bull-and resembled those afterwards in use among the Greeks, and found in the tombs of Etruria. Their thrones, tables, and couches were made both of metal and wood; and the tables and chairs were frequently shaped like our camp-stools, and may have been made to close. On the earliest monuments, the chair is represented richly cushioned, with the seat and legs tastefully carved, but without a back,-in the later monuments the back is added, but the chairs exhibit less elegance. Indeed, in domestic and personal ornament, as in the higher branches of art, the most ancient Assyrian monuments greatly exceed the later. "Many forms had been preserved," says Mr Layard, "as in the swords, bracelets, and armlets; but they had evidently degenerated, and are more coarsely designed in the sculptures. This is also evident in the embroideries of the robes, and in the details of the chariots. We see the same love of elaborate and profuse decoration, but not that elegance and variety so conspicuous in the ornamants of the first period. The kneeling bull or wildgoat, the graceful flower, and the
groups of men and animals skilfully combined, are succeeded by a profusion of rosettes, circles, and squares, covering the whole surface of the dress, or the sides of the chariots. Although there is a certain richness of appearance, yet the classic forms, if the term may be used, of the earlier artists, are wanting."
The materials at our command are as yet too scanty to enable us to arrive at definite conclusions as to the manners and private life of the Assyrians; but we do not doubt that future discoveries will yet supply the desideratum. Mr Layard says:
"From casual notices in the Bible and in ancient history, we learn that the Assyrians, as well as those who succeeded them in the empire of Asia, were fond of public entertainments and festivities, and that they displayed on such occasions the greatest luxury and magnificence. The Assyrian king, called Nabuchodonosor in the book of Judith, on returning from his victorious expedition against Arphaxad, feasted with his whole army for one hundred and twenty days. The same is related by the Greek authors of Sardanapalus, after his great victory over the combined armies of the Medes. The Book of Esther describes the splendour of
the festivals given by the Babylonian king. The princes and nobles of his vast
On the walls of the palace at Khorsabad was a bas-relief representing a public feast, probably in celebration of a victory. Men were seen seated on high chairs with drinking-cups in their hands; whilst attendants were
bringing in bowls, goblets, and various fruits and viands, for the banquet. At Nimroud part of a similar bas-relief was discovered. Music was not wanting on these occasions."
dominions were feasted for one hundred and eighty days; and for one week all the people of Susa assembled in the gardens of his palace, and were served in vessels of gold. The richest tapestries adorned the halls and tents, and the most costly couches were prepared for the guests. Wine was served in abundance, and women, including even the wives and concubines of the monarch, were frequently present to add to the magnificence of the scene. According to Quintus Curtius, not only did hired female performers exhibit on these occasions, but the wives and daughters of the nobles, forgetting their modesty, danced before the guests, divesting themselves even of their garments. Wine was drunk immoderately. When Babylon was taken by the Persians, the inhabitants were celebrating one of their great festivals, and even the guards were intoxicated. The Babylonian king, ignorant of the approaching fate of his capital, and surrounded by one thousand of his princes and nobles, and by his wives and concubines, drank out of the golden vessels that had been carried away from the
The arts and civilisation of Nineveh represent those of Babylon also. Babylon, though it was long of attaining to the political greatness of her rival, was evidently an older city. It can hardly be doubted that it arose from the first gathering of mankind upon the plains of Shinar. From notices of it on Egyptian monuments of the time of Thothmes III., it is evident that it was a place of considerable note at least in the fifteenth century before Christ. Although for long politically overshadowed by her neighbour Nineveh, Babylon at an early period became famous for the extent and importance of her commerce. No position could then have been more favourable than hers for carrying on a trade with all the regions of the known world. She stood upon a navigable stream that brought to her quays the produce of the temperate highlands of Armenia-running westward in one part of its course to within a hundred miles of the Mediterranean, and empting its waters into a gulf of the Indian Ocean. Parallel to this great river, and scarcely inferior to it in size, was the Tigris, flowing through the fertile plains of Assyria, and carrying their produce to the Babylonian cities. The inhabitants turned these natural advantages to the best account; and their industry and enterprise, cooperating with that of civilised people in the adjoining countries, greatly increased the means of locomotion. Highroads and causeways across the Desert connected Babylonia with Syria and Palestine. Fortified stations protected the merchant from the wandering tribes of Arabia,—walled cities served as resting-places and storehouses,-and wells at regular intervals gave an abundant supply of water during the hottest season of the year. One of those highways was carried
through the centre of Mesopotamia, and, crossing the Euphrates near the town of Anthemusia, led into Central Asia;-a second appears to have left Babylon by the western quarter of the city, and entered Idumea, after passing through the country of the Nabathæans; while others branched off to Tadmor, and to other cities built in the Desert almost solely for purposes of trade. To the east of Babylon was the celebrated military and commercial road described by Herodotus, leading from Sardis to Susa in ninety days' journey, and furnished at intervals of about fifteen miles with stations and public hostelries, probably resembling the modern caravanserais of Persia. A very considerable trade was likewise carried on with India, through Media, Hyrcania, and the centre of Asia,-by which route it was, probably, that the greater part of the precious stones and gold were supplied to Babylon. A coasting-trade existed along the shores of the Persian Gulf eastwards. The prophet Isaiah alludes to the ships of the Chaldeans; and we learn from the Kouyunjik inscriptions that the inhabitants of the country at the mouth of the Euphrates possessed vessels in which, when defeated by the Assyrians, they took refuge on the sea. It is difficult to determine to how far the Babylonians may have navigated the Indian Ocean; but of the merchandise in which they traded, the pearls, cotton, spices, precious stones, ivory, ebony, silks, and dyes, a large portion, if not the whole, must have been obtained from the southern coasts of Arabia, and from the Indian peninsula. Their exports consisted both of manufactures and of the natural produce of the country. Corn was cultivated to a great extent, and sent to distant provinces; and the Babylonian carpets, silks, and woollen fabrics, woven or embroidered with figures of mythic animals, and with exquisite designs, were not less famous for the beauty of their texture and workmanship, than for the richness and variety of their colours.
der Nebuchadnezzar she succeeded to the proud position so long held by her rival. The bounds of the city were extended; buildings of extraordinary size and magnificence were erected, and her victorious armies conquered Syria and Palestine, and penetrated into Egypt. But her greatness as an independent State was short-lived. The Medians and Persians, who had been the principal agents in the overthrow of the Assyrian empire, now united under one king, turned their warlike_strength against their former ally Babylon; and scarcely half a century had elapsed from the fall of Nineveh, when "Belshazzar, the king of the Chaldeans, was slain, and Darius the Median took the kingdom."
Babylon reached her zenith of power and magnificence immediately after the final destruction of Nineveh. Un
From that time Babylonia sank into a province of Persia-still retaining, however, much of its former power and trade; and, as we learn from the rock-inscriptions of Bisutun, as well as from ancient authors, struggling more than once to regain its independence. When Alexander the Great overthrew the Persian empire, Babylon opened its gates to him, and he deemed the city worthy to become the capital of his mighty empire. The early death of the conqueror, however, without leaving a successor, prevented his splendid projects being carried into execution; and the last blow to the prosperity of Babylon was given by Seleucus, when he laid the foundations of his new capital (Seleucia) on the banks of the Tigris (B.c. 322.) Nevertheless, a considerable population seems to have lingered in the fastdecaying city; for, five centuries afterwards, we find the Parthian king Evemerus sending numerous families from Babylon into Media, to be sold as slaves, and burning many great and beautiful edifices which still remained standing. At the time of the Arab invasion, in the beginning of the seventh century, the ancient cities of Babylon were a desolation, a dry land, and a wilderness." Amidst the heaps that marked the site of Babylon herself, there rose the small town of Hillah, which, with its falling gateway, mean bazaar, and a few halfruined mosques, still exists, as if in mockery of the power and splendour
which in long-departed ages had there its abode.
Moral corruption was the ruin of Babylon, as of all the great empires of the old world. Her vast trade, which rendered Babylon the gathering-place of men from all parts of the known world, which poured wealth into her coffers, and furnished her with luxuries of all kinds, bad the effect of producing an effeminacy and general profligacy, which mainly contributed to her fall. There is no necessary connection between prosperity and corruption; nevertheless, in nations as in individuals, it is generally found that a long lease of prosperity-especially if conjoined with much wealth, which at once allows of indolence and invites to self-indulgence-dwarfs the generous and lofty feelings of our nature, and renders both men and nations selfish in feeling, and absorbed in the material comforts and pleasures of life. In Babylon this tendency was aggravated, at least in later times, by the corruptions of its religion, promoted by a hierarchy which, in course of time, became at once too rich and too powerful for its own purity, and too profligate not to insure the corruption of the people. The description given by Herodotus of the manners of the people, when under the dominion of the Persian kings, is sufficient to explain the cause of Babylon's speedy fall and ultimate ruin; and his account tallies perfectly with the denunciations of the city's wickedness by the prophets of Israel. Her inhabitants, as generally happens, along with their moral integrity lost their warlike character. When the Persians broke into the city, they were revelling in debauchery and lust; and when the Macedonian conqueror appeared at their gates, they received with indifference the yoke of a new master.
"It is not difficult," says Mr Layard, "to account for the rapid decay of the country around Babylon. As the inhabitants deserted the city,' and a foreign yoke pressed heavily upon them, "the canals were neglected; and when once those great sources of fertility were choked up, the plains became a wilderness. Upon the waters conveyed by their channels to the in
nermost parts of Mesopotamia, depended not only the harvests, the gardens, and the palm-groves, but the very existence of the numerous towns and villages far removed from the river-banks." Built of unbaked bricks, "they soon turned to mere heaps of earth and rubbish. Vegetation ceased; and the plains, parched by the burning heat of the sun, were ere long once more a vast arid waste."
So flourished and so fell Nineveh and Babylon. For fourteen centuries the Assyrian empire, of which they formed the pillars, was the leading Power in Western Asia,-overlapping to the south with that of Egypt, with which it was sometimes at peace, sometimes at war, at first a dependent and latterly victorious. We think the character of these two old empires may be symbolised by their different styles of architecture,-Egypt built with granite, and Assyria with alabaster and painted brick. It was not to geographical position that the difference was owing. The valley of the Nile and that of the Euphrates are much alike. Both are alluvial in their character, and possess but little stone; and with both nations, accordingly, brick was the ordinary material employed in building. In both countries quarries of granite and other stone existed in the mountains which bordered the valley-land, with rivers upon which the stone might be floated down on rafts. But the one nation used this material, and the other did not. The Egyptians, indomitable in science, and animated by grander views than their Asiatic rivals, sent several hundred miles for intractable but everlasting granite, whereon to design their sculptures and inscriptions, and with which to rear those vast and countless edifices which seem destined to perpetuate the fame and history of their founders to the end of time. The Assyrians, fonder of luxury than of fame, more desirous of display than of enduring strength, contented themselves with materials which they could get without trouble, but ornamenting the brick with colours, or coating it with slabs of soft alabaster, which they found protruding from the ground beneath their feet. The architecture of Egypt was
grand and strong-that of Assyria was vast and showy. Egyptian sculpture was angular, and strove to be correct, that of Assyria was round and florid. Although we know as yet but little of the arts and customs of life among the Assyrians, we may confidently conjecture that they were left comparatively unshackled by rule, and at the sway of individual impulse; whereas in Egypt rule and system pervaded everything, alike in art and in society.
Of all the empires of the first period of the world, the Assyrian is the one whose history and civilisation most closely connect themselves with the subsequent destinies of mankind. India and China were isolated empires, each developing a civilisation for itself, independent of and wholly uninfluencing the rest of the world. Egypt was less so; but it also, secluded in position and unproselytising in spirit, stands apart from the community of nations, and may be studied like an isolated statue placed in a niche. With Assyria, however, the case is far otherwise. Its influence, extending for centuries over Western and Southern Asia-from the frontiers of Affghanistan to the Levant, from the Persian Gulf to the shores of the Egean Sea was potent in modifying a vast population, destined to give birth to many civilised States. From
its loins proceeded the empire of Persia,-which was, in fact, in all respects only a modification of the empire which it supplanted; while these two, by their great influence over all western Asia, including the Greek settlements of Ionia, must have affected in no slight degree the Hellenic mind--especially from the period when Alexander by his conquests drew Greece bodily into Asia. As yet, as we have said, the book of Assyrian history and civilisation is only beginning to be unrolled; but there are already in the possession of the literati of Europe written cylinders and inscriptions which, when deciphered, will cast important light upon matters as yet in the dark. Doubtless many more will be found even in the ruins already opened,— only one of which, let it be noted, has been thoroughly searched. Above all, ruins upon ruins are to be seen scattered over the plains of Mesopotamia, which Mr Layard himself describes as the evident remains of ancient cities, and which offer ample scope for the labours of more than one generation of investigators. We shall get at the truth at last. Years may roll by, and still see but little progress made in the search;—but there, underneath, lie the records of the past for which we seek, and earth will keep them safe until we are ready to dig for them in earnest.