Instead, therefore, of following in the direct track of the annalist whom Shalmaneser employed to record his exploits, and proceeding to analyze his account of the twenty-seven campaigns belonging to this reign, I shall simply present the reader with the general result in a few words, and then draw his special attention to a few of the expeditions which are of more than common importance.
It appears, then, that Shalmaneser, during the first twenty-seven years of his reign, led in person twenty-three expeditions into the territories of his neighbors, attacking in the course of these inroads, besides petty tribes, the following nations and countries:—Babylonia, Chaldaea, Media, the Zimri, Armenia, Upper Mesopotamia, the country about the head-streams of the Tigris, the Hittites, the Patena, the Tibareni, the Hamathites, and the Syrians of Damascus. He took tribute during the same time from the Phoenieian cities of Tyre, Sidon, and Byblus, from the Tsukhi or Shuhites, from the people of Muzr, from the Bartsu or Partsu, who are almost certainly the Persians, and from the Israelites. He thus traversed in person the entire country between the Persian Gulf on the south and Mount Niphates upon the north, and between the Zagros range (or perhaps the Persian desert) eastward, and, westward, the shores of the Mediterranean. Over the whole of this region he made his power felt, and even beyond it the nations feared him and gladly placed themselves under his protection. During the later years of his reign, when he was becoming less fit for warlike toils, he seems in general to have deputed the command of his armies to a subject in whom he had great confidence, a noble named Dayan-Asshur. This chief, who held an important office as early as Shahnaneser's fifth year, was in his twenty-seventh, twenty-eighth, thirtieth, and thirty-first employed as commander-in-chief, and sent out, at the head of the main army of Assyria, to conduct campaigns against the Armenians, against the revolted Patena, and against the inhabitants of the modern Kurdistan. It is uncertain whether the king himself took any part in the campaigns of these years, the native record the first and third persons are continually interchanged, some of the actions related being ascribed to the monarch and others to the general; but on the whole the impression left by the narrative is that the king, in the spirit of a well-known legal maxim assumes as his own the acts which he has accomplished through his representative. In his twenty-ninth year, however, Shalmaneser seems to have led an expedition in person into Khirki (the Niphates country), where he "overturned, beat to pieces, and consumed with fire the towns, swept the country with his troops, and impressed on the inhabitants the fear of his presence."
The campaigns of Shalmaneser which have the greatest interest are those of his sixth, eighth, ninth, eleventh, fourteenth, eighteenth, and twenty-first years. Two of these were directed against Babylonia, three against Ben-hadad of Damascus, and two against Khazail (Hazael) of Damascus.
In his eighth year Shalmaneser took advantage of a civil war in Babylonia between King Merodach-sum-adin and a younger brother, Merodach-bel-usati (?), whose power was about evenly balanced, to interfere in the affairs of that country, and under pretence of helping the legitimate monarch, to make himself master of several towns. In the following year he was still more fortunate. Having engaged, defeated, and slain the pretender to the Babylonian crown, he marched on to Babylon itself, where he was probably welcomed as a deliverer, and from thence proceeded into Chaldaea, or the tract upon the coast, which was at this time independent of Babylon, and forced its kings to become his tributaries. "The power of his army," he tells us, "struck terror as far as the sea."
The wars of Shalmaneser in Southern Syria commenced as early as his ninth year. He had succeeded to a dominion in Northern Syria which extended over the Patena, and probably over most of the northern Hittites; and this made his territories conterminous with those of the Phoenicians, the Hamathites, the southern Hittites, and perhaps the Syrians of Damascus. At any rate the last named people felt themselves threatened by the growing power on or near their borders, and, convinced that they would soon be attacked, prepared for resistance by entering into a close league with their neighbors. The king of Damascus, who was the great Ben-hadad, Tsakhulena, king of Hamath, Ahab, king of Israel, the kings of the southern Hittites, those of the Phoenician cities on the coast, and others, formed an alliance, and, uniting their forces, went out boldly to meet Shalnaneser, offering him battle. Despite, however, of this confidence, or perhaps in consequence of it, the allies suffered a defeat. Twenty thousand men fell in the battle. Many chariots and much of the material of war were captured by the Assyrians. But still no conquest was effected. Shalmaneser does not assert that he either received submission or imposed a tribute; and the fact that he did not venture to renew the war for five years seems to show that the resistance which he had encountered made him hesitate about continuing the struggle.
Five years, however, having elapsed, and the power of Assyria being increased by her successes in Lower Mesopotamia, Shalmaneser, in the eleventh year of his reign, advanced a second time against Hamath and the southern Hittites. Entering their territories unexpectedly, he was at first unopposed, and succeeded in taking a large number of their towns. But the troops of Ben-hadad soon appeared in the field. Phoenicia, apparently, stood aloof, and Hamath was occupied with her own difficulties; but Ben-hadad, having joined the Hittites, again gave Shalmaneser battle; and though that monarch, as usual, claims the victory, it is evident that he gained no important advantage by his success. He had once more to return to his own land without having extended his sway, and this time (as it would seem) without even any trophies of conquest.
Three years later, he made another desperate effort. Collecting his people "in multitudes that were not to be counted," he crossed the Euphrates with above a hundred thousand men. Marching southwards, he soon encountered a large army of the allies, Damascenes, Hamathites, Hittites, and perhaps Phoenicians, the first-named still commanded by the undaunted Ben-hadad. This time the success of the Assyrians is beyond dispute. Not only were the allies put to flight, not only did they lose most of their chariots and implements of war, but they appear to have lost hope, and, formally or tacitly, to have forthwith dissolved their confederacy. The Hittites and Hamathites probably submitted to the conqueror; the Phoenicians withdrew to their own towns, and Damascus was left without allies, to defend herself as she best might, when the tide of conquest should once more flow in this direction.
In the fourth year the flow of the tide came. Shalmaneser, once more advancing southward, found the Syrians of Damascus strongly posted in the fastnesses of the Anti-Lebanon. Since his last invasion they had changed their ruler. The brave and experienced Ben-hadad had perished by the treachery of an ambitious subject, and his assassin, the infamous Hazael, held the throne. Left to his own resources by the dissolution of the old league, this monarch had exerted himself to the utmost in order to repel the attack which he knew was impending. He had collected a very large army, including above eleven hundred chariots, and, determined to leave nothing to chance, had carefully taken up a very strong position in the mountain range which separated his territory from the neighboring kingdom of Hamath, or valley of Coele-Syria. Here he was attacked by Shalmaneser, and completely defeated, with the loss of 16,000 of his troops, 1121 of his chariots, a quantity of his war material, and his camp. This blow apparently prostrated him; and when, three years later, Shalmaneser invaded his territory, Hazael brought no army into the field, but let his towns, one after another, be taken and plundered by the Assyrians.
It was probably upon this last occasion, when the spirit of Damascus was cowed, and the Phoenician cities, trembling at the thought of their own rashness in having assisted Hazael and Ben-hadad, hastened to make their submission and to resume the rank of Assyrian tributaries, that the sovereign of another Syrian country, taking warning from the fate of his neighbors, determined to anticipate the subjection which he could not avoid, and, making a virtue of necessity, to place himself under the Assyrian yoke. Jehu, "son of Omri," as he is termed in the Inscription—i.e., successor and supposed descendant of the great Omri who built Samaria, sent as tribute to Shalmaneser a quantity of gold and silver in bullion, together with a number of manufactured articles in the more precious of the two metals. In the sculptures which represent the Israelitish ambassadors presenting this tribute to the great king, these articles appear carried in the hands, or on the shoulders, of the envoys, but they are in general too indistinctly traced for us to pronounce with any confidence upon their character. [PLATE CXLVI., Fig. 1]
Shalmaneser had the same taste as his father for architecture and the other arts. He completed the ziggurat of the Great Temple of Nin at Calah, which his father had left unfinished, and not content with the palace of that monarch, built for himself a new and (probably) more magnificent residence on the same lofty platform, at the distance of about 150 yards. This edifice was found by Mr. Layard in so ruined a condition, through the violence which it had suffered, apparently at the hands of Esarhaddon, that it was impossible either to trace its plan or to form a clear notion of its ornamentation. Two gigantic winged bulls, partly destroyed, served to show that the grand portals of the chambers were similar in character and design to those of the earlier monarch, while from a number of sculptured fragments it was sufficiently plain that the walls had been adorned with bas-reliefs of the style used in Asshur-izir-pal's edifice. The only difference observable was in the size and subjects of the sculptures, which seemed to have been on a grander scale and more generally mythological than those of the North-West palace.
The monument of Shalmaneser which has attracted most attention in this country is an obelisk in black marble, similar in shape and general arrangement to that of Asshur-izir-pal, already described, but of a handsomer and better material. This work of art was discovered in a prostrate position under the debris which covered up Shalmaneser's palace. It contained bas-reliefs in twenty compartments, five on each of its four sides; the space above, between, and below then being covered with cuneiform writing, sharply inscribed in a minute character. The whole was in most excellent preservation.
The bas-reliefs represent the monarch, accompanied by his vizier and other chief officers, receiving the tribute of five nations, whose envoys are ushered into the royal presence by officers of the court, and prostrate themselves at the Great King's feet ere they present their offerings. The gifts brought are, in part, objects carried in the hand—gold, silver, copper in bars and cubes, goblets, elephants' tusks, tissues, and the like—in part, animals such as horses, camels, monkeys and baboons of different kinds, stags, lions, wild bulls, antelopes, and—strangest of all—the rhinoceros and the elephant. One of the nations, as already mentioned, is that of the Israelites. The others are, first, the people of Kirzan, a country bordering on Armenia, who present gold, silver, copper, horses, and camels, and fill the four highest compartments with a train of nine envoys: secondly, the Muzri, or people of Muzr, a country nearly in the same quarter, who are represented in the four central compartments, with six envoys conducting various wild animals; thirdly, the Tsukhi, or Shuhites, from the Euphrates, to whom belong the four compartments below the Muzri, which are filled by a train of thirteen envoys, bringing two lions, a stag, and various precious articles, among which bars of metal, elephants' tusks, and shawls or tissues are conspicuous; and lastly, the Patera, from the Orontes, who fill three of the lowest compartments with a train of twelve envoys bearing gifts like those of the Israelites.
Besides this interesting monument, there are very few remains of art which can be ascribed to Shalmaneser's time with any confidence. The sculptures found on the site of his palace belonged to a later monarch, who restored and embellished it. His own bas-reliefs were torn from their places by Esarhaddon, and by him defaced and used as materials in the construction of a new palace. We are thus left almost without materials for judging of the progress made by art during Shalmaneser's reign. Architecture, it may be conjectured, was modified to a certain extent, precious woods being employed more frequently and more largely than before; a fact of which we seem to have an indication in the frequent expeditions made by Shalmaneser into Syria, for the single purpose of cutting timber in its forests. Sculpture, to judge from the obelisk, made no advance. The same formality, the same heaviness of outline, the same rigid adherence to the profile in all representations both of man and beast, characterize the reliefs of both reigns equally, so far as we have any means of judging.
Shalmaneser seems to have held his court ordinarily at Calah, where he built his palace and set up his obelisk; but sometimes he would reside for a time at Nineveh or at Asshur. He does not appear to have built any important edifice at either of these two cities, but at the latter he left a monument which possesses some interest. This is the stone statue, now in a mutilated condition, representing a king seated, which was found by Mr. Layard at Kileh-Sherghat, and of which some notice has already been taken. Its proportions are better than those of the small statue of the monarch's father, standing in his sacrificial dress, which was found at Nimrud; and it is superior to that work of art, in being of the size of life; but either its execution was originally very rude, or it must have suffered grievously by exposure, for it is now wholly rough and unpolished.
The later years of Shahuaneser appear to have been troubled by a dangerous rebellion. The infirmities of age were probably creeping upon him. He had ceased to go out with his armies; and had handed over a portion of his authority to the favorite general who was entrusted with the command of his forces year after year. The favor thus shown may have provoked jealousy and even alarm. It may have been thought that the legitimate successor was imperilled by the exaltation of a subject whose position would enable him to in gratiate himself with the troops, and who might be expected, on the death of his patron, to make an effort to place the crown on his own head. Fears of this kind may very probably have so worked on the mind of the heir apparent as to determine him not to await his father's demise, but rather to raise the standard of revolt during his lifetime, and to endeavor, by an unexpected coup-de-main, to anticipate and ruin his rival. Or, possibly, Asshur-danin-pal, the eldest son of Shalmaneser, like too many royal youths, may have been impatient of the long life of his father, and have conceived the guilty desire, with which our fourth Henry is said to have taxed his first-born, a "hunger for the empty chair" of which the aged monarch, still held possession. At any rate, whatever may have been the motive that urged him on, it is certain that Asshur-danin-pal rebelled against his sire's authority, and, raising the standard of revolt, succeeded in carrying with him a great part of the kingdom. At Asshur, the old metropolis, which may have hoped to lure back the Court by its subservience, at Arbela in the Zab region, at Amidi on the Upper Tigris, at Tel-Apni near the site of Orfa, and at more than twenty other fortified places, Asshur-danin-pal was pro-claimed king, and accepted by the inhabitants for their sovereign. Shalmaneser must have felt himself in imminent peril of losing his crown. Under these circumstances he called to his assistance his second son Shamas-Vul, and placing him at the head of such of his troops as remained firm to their allegiance, invested him with full power to act as he thought best in the existing emergency. Shamas-Vul at once took the field, attacked and reduced the rebellious cities one after another, and in a little time completely crushed the revolt and reestablished peace throughout the empire. Asshur-danin-pal, the arch conspirator, was probably put to death; his life was justly forfeit; and neither Shamas-Vul nor his father is likely to have been withheld by any inconvenient tenderness from punishing treason in a near relative, as they would have punished it in any other person. The suppressor of the revolt became the heir of the kingdom; and when, shortly afterwards, Shalmaneser died, the piety or prudence if his faithful son was rewarded by the rich inheritance of the Assyrian Empire.
Shalmaneser reigned, in all, thirty-five years, from B.C. 858 to B.C. 823. His successor, Shamas-Vul, held the throne for thirteen years, from B.C. 823 to B.C. 810. Before entering upon the consideration of this latter monarch's reign, it will be well to cast your eyes once more over the Assyrian Empire, such as it has now become, and over the nations with which its growth had brought it into contact. Considerable changes had occurred since the time of Tiglath-Pileser I., the Assyrian boundaries having been advanced in several directions, while either this progress, or the movements of races beyond the frontier, had brought into view many new and some very important nations.
The chief advance which the "Terminus" of the Assyrians had made was towards the west and the north-west. Instead of their dominion in this quarter being bounded by the Euphrates, they had established their authority over the whole of Upper Syria, over Phoenicia, Hamath, and Samaria, or the kingdom of the Israelites. These countries were not indeed reduced to the form of provinces; on the contrary, they still retained their own laws, administration, and native princes; but they were henceforth really subject to Assyria, acknowledging her suzerainty, paying her an annual tribute, and giving a free passage to her armies through their territories. The limit of the Assyrian Empire towards the west was consequently at this time the Mediterranean, from the Gulf of Iskanderun to Cape Carmel, or perhaps we should say to Joppa. Their north-western boundary was the range of Taurus next beyond Amanus, the tract between the two belonging to the Tibareni (Tubal), who had submitted to become tributaries. Northwards, little if any progress had been made. The chain of Niphates—"the high grounds over the effluents of the Tigris and Euphrates"—where Shalmaneser set up "an image of his majesty," seems still to be the furthest limit. In other words, Armenia is unconquered, the strength of the region and the valor of its inhabitants still protecting it from the Assyrian arms. Towards the east some territory seems to have been gained, more especially in the central Zagros region, the district between the Lower Zab and Holwan, which at this period bore the name of Hupuska; but the tribes north and south of this tract were still for the most part unsubdued. The southern frontier may be regarded as wholly unchanged: for although Shalmaneser warred in Babylonia, and even took tribute on one occasion from the petty kings of the Chaldaean towns, he seems to have made no permanent impression in this quarter. The Tsukhi or Shuhites are still the most southern of his subjects.
The principal changes which time and conquest had made among the neighbors of Assyria were the following. Towards the west she was brought into contact with the kingdom of Damascus, and, through her tributary Samaria with Judea. On the north-west she had new enemies in the Quins (Coans?) who dwelt on the further side of Amanus, near the Tibareni, in a part of the country afterwards called Cilicia, and the Cilicians themselves, who are now first mentioned. The Moschi seem to have withdrawn a little from this neighborhood, since they no longer appear either among Assyria's enemies or her tributaries. On the north all minor powers had disappeared; and the Armenians (Urarda) were now Assyria's sole neighbors. Towards the east she had come into contact with the Mannai, or Minni, about Lake Urumiyeh, with the Harkhar in the Van region and in north-western Kurdistan, with the Bartsu or Persians and the Mada or Medes in the country east of Zagros, the modern province of Ardelan, and with the Tsimri, or Zimri, in Upper Luristan. Among all her fresh enemies, she had not, however, as yet found one calculated to inspire any serious fear. No new organized monarchy presented itself. The tribes and nations upon her borders were still either weak in numbers or powerless from their intestine divisions; and there was thus every reason to expect a long continuance of the success which had naturally attended a large centralized state in her contests with small kingdoms or loosely-united confederacies. Names celebrated in the after history of the world, as those of the Medes and Persians, are now indeed for the first time emerging into light from the complete obscurity which has shrouded there hitherto; and tinged as they are with the radiance of their later glories, they show brightly among the many insignificant tribes and nations with which Assyria has been warring for centuries; but it would be a mistake to suppose that these names have any present importance in the narrative or represent powers capable as yet of contending on equal terms with the Assyrian Empire, or even of seriously checking the progress of her successes. The Medes and Persians are at this period no more powerful than the Zimri, the Minni, the Urarda, or than half a dozen others of the border nations, whose appellations sound strange in the ears even of the advanced student. Neither of the two great Arian peoples had as yet a capital city, neither was united under a king: separated into numerous tribes, each under its chief, dispersed in scattered towns and villages, poorly fortified or not fortified at, all, they were in the same condition as the Nairi, the Qummukh, the Patena, the Hittites, and the other border races whose relative weakness Assyria had abundantly proved in a long course of wars wherein she had uniformly been the victor.
The short reign of Shamas-Vul II., presents but little that calls for remark. Like Shalmaneser II., he resided chiefly at Calah, where, following the example of his father and grandfather, he set up an obelisk (or rather a stele) in commemoration of his various exploits. This monument, which is covered on three sides with an inscription in the hieratic or cursive character, contains an opening invocation to Nin or Hercules, conceived in the ordinary terms, the genealogy and titles of the king, an account of the rebellion of Asshur-bani-pal, together with its suppression, and Shamas-Vul's own annals for the first four years of his reign. From these we learn that he displayed the same active spirit as his two predecessors, carrying his arms against the Nairi on the north, against Media and Arazias on the east, and against Babylonia on the south. The people of Hupuska, the Minni, and the Persians (Bartsu) paid him tribute. His principal success was that of his fourth campaign, which was against Babylon. He entered the country by a route often used, which skirted the Zagros mountain range for some distance, and then crossed the flat, probably along the course of the Diyaleh, to the southern capital. The Babylonians, alarmed at his advance, occupied a strongly fortified place on his line of route, which he besieged and took after a vigorous resistance, wherein the blood of the garrison was shed like water. Eighteen thousand were slain; three thousand were made prisoners; the city itself was plundered and burnt, and Shamas-Vul pressed forward against the flying enemy. Hereupon the Babylonian monarch, Merodach-belatzu-ikbi, collecting his own troops and those of his allies, the Chaldaeans, the Aramaeans or Syrians, and the Zimri—a vast host—met the invader on the river Daban—perhaps a branch of the Euphrates—and fought a great battle in defence of his city. He was, however, defeated by the Assyrians, with the loss of 5000 killed, 2000 prisoners, 100 chariots, 200 tents, and the royal standard and pavilion. What further military or political results the victory may have had is uncertain. Shamas-Vul's annals terminate abruptly at this point, and we are left to conjecture the consequences of the campaign and battle. It is possible that they were in the highest degree important; for we find, in the next reign, that Babylonia, which has so long been a separate and independent kingdom, is reduced to the condition of a tributary, while we have no account of its reduction by the succeeding monarch, whose relations with the Babylonians, so far as we know, were of a purely peaceful character.
The stele of Shamas-Vul contains one allusion to a hunting exploit, by which we learn that this monarch inherited his grandfather's partiality for the chase. He found wild bulls at the foot of Zagros when he was marching to invade Babylonia, and delaying his advance to hunt them, was so fortunate as to kill several.
We know nothing of Shamas-Vul as a builder, and but little of him as a patron of art. He seems to have been content with the palaces of his father and grandfather, and to have been devoid of any wish to outshine them by raising edifices which should throw theirs into the shade. In his stele he shows no originality; for it is the mere reproduction of a monument well known to his predecessors, and of which we have several specimens from the time of Asshur-izir-pal downwards. It consists of a single figure in relief—a figure representing the king dressed in his priestly robes, and wearing the sacred emblems round his neck, standing with the right arm upraised, and enclosed in the customary arched frame. This figure, which is somewhat larger than life, is cut on a single solid block of stone, and then placed on another broader block, which serves as a pedestal. It closely resembles the figure of Asshur-izir-pal, whereof a representation has been already given.
The successor of Shamas-Vul was his son Vul-lush, the third monarch of that name, who ascended the throne B.C. 810, and held it for twenty-nine years, from B.C. 810 to B.C. 781. The memorials which we possess of this king's reign are but scanty. They consist of one or two slabs found at Nimrod, of a short dedicatory inscription on duplicate statues of the god Nebo brought from the same place, of some brick inscriptions from the mound of Nebbi Vunus, and of the briefest possible notices of the quarters in which he carried on war, contained in one copy of the Canon. As none of these records are in the shape of annals except the last, and as only these and the slab notices are historical, it is impossible to give any detailed account of this long and apparently important reign. We can only say that Vul-lush III., was as warlike a monarch as any of his predecessors, and that his efforts seem to have extended the Assyrian dominion in almost every quarter. He made seven expeditions across the Zagros range into Media, two into the Van country, and three into Syria. He tells us that in one of these expeditions he succeeded in making himself master of the great city of Damascus, whose kings had defied (as we have seen) the repeated attacks of Shalmaneser. He reckons as his tributaries in these parts, besides Damascus, the cities of Tyre and Sidon, and the countries of Khumri or Samaria, of Palestine or Philistia, and of Hudum (Idumaea or Edom). On the north and east he received tokens of submission from the Nairi, the Minni, the Medes, and the Partsu, or Persians. On the south, he exercised a power, which seems like that of a sovereign, in Babylonia; where homage was paid him by the Chaldaeans, and where, in the great cities of Babylon, Borsippa, and Cutha (or Tiggaba), he was allowed'to offer sacrifice to the gods Bel, Nebo, and Nergal. There is, further, some reason to suspect that, before quitting Babylonia, he established one of his sons as viceroy over the country; since he seems to style himself in one place "the king to whose son Asshur, the chief of the gods, has granted the kingdom of Babylon."
It thus appears that by the time of Vul-lush III., or early in the eighth century u.e., Assyria had with one hand grasped Babylonia, while with the other she had laid hold of Philistia and Edom. She thus touched the Persian Gulf on the one side, while on the other she was brought into contact with Egypt. At the same time she had received the submission of at least some portion of the great nation of the Medes, who were now probably moving southwards from Azerbijan and gradually occupying the territory which was regarded as Media Proper by the Greeks and Romans. She held Southern Armenia, from Lake Van to the sources of the Tigris; she possessed all Upper Syria, including Commagene and Amanus she had tributaries even on the further side of that mountain range; she bore sway over the whole Syrian coast from Issus to Gaza; her authority was acknowledged, probably, by all the tribes and kingdoms between the coast and the desert, certainly by the Phoenicians, the Hamathites, the Patena, the Hittites, the Syrians of Damascus, the people of Israel, and the Idumaeans, or people of Edom. On the east she had reduced almost all the valleys of Zagros, and had tributaries in the great upland on the eastern side of the range. On the south, if she had not absorbed Babylonia, she had at least made her influence paramount there. The full height of her greatness was not indeed attained till a century later; but already the "tall cedar" was "exalted above all the trees of the field; his boughs were multiplied; his branches had become long; and under his shadow dwelt great nations."
Not much is known of Vul-lush III., as a builder, or as a patron of art. He calls himself the "restorer of noble buildings which had gone to decay," an expression which would seem to imply that he aimed rather at maintaining former edifices in repair than at constructing new ones. He seems, however, to have built some chambers on the mound of Nimrod, between the north-western and the south-western palaces, and also to have had a palace at Nineveh on the mound now called Nebbi Ynnus. The Nimrud chambers were of small size and poorly ornamented; they contained no sculptures; the walls were plastered and then painted in fresco with a variety of patterns. They may have been merely guard-rooms, since they appear to have formed a portion of a high tower. The palace at Nebbi Ynnus was probably a more important work; but the superstitious regard of the natives for the supposed tomb of Jonah has hitherto frustrated all attempts made by Europeans to explore that mass of ruins.
Among all the monuments recovered by recent researches, the only works of art assignable to the reign of Vul-lush are two rude statues of the god Nebo, almost exactly resembling one another. From the representation of one of them, given on a former page of this volume, the reader will see that the figures in question have scarcely any artistic merit. The head is disproportionately large, the features, so far as they can be traced, are coarse and heavy, the arms and hands are poorly modelled, and the lower part is more like a pillar than the figure of a man. We cannot suppose that Assyrian art was incapable, under the third Vul-lush, of a higher flight than these statues indicate; we must therefore regard them as conventional forms, reproduced from old models, which the artist was bound to follow. It would seem, indeed, that while in the representation of animals and of men of inferior rank, Assyrian artists were untrammelled by precedent, and might aim at the highest possible perfection, in religious subjects, and in the representation of kings and nobles, they were limited, by law or custom, to certain ancient forms and modes of expression, which we find repeated from the earliest to the latest times with monotonous uniformity.
If these statues, however, are valueless as works of art, they have yet a peculiar interest for the historian, as containing the only mention which the disentombed remains have furnished of one of the most celebrated names of antiquity—a name which for many ages vindicated to itself a leading place, not only in the history of Assyria, but in that of the world. To the Greeks and Romans Semiramis was the foremost of women, the greatest queen who had ever held a sceptre, the most extraordinary conqueror that the East had ever produced. Beautiful as Helen or Cleopatra, brave as Tomyris, lustful as Messalina, she had the virtues and vices of a man rather than a woman, and performed deeds scarcely inferior to those of Cyrus or Alexander the Great. It is an ungrateful task to dispel illusions, more especially such as are at once harmless and venerable for their antiquity; but truth requires the historian to obliterate from the pages of the past this well-known image, and to substitute in its place a very dull and prosaic figure—a Semiramis no longer decked with the prismatic hues of fancy, but clothed instead in the sober garments of fact. The Nebo idols are dedicated, by the Assyrian officer who had them executed, "to his lord Vul-lush and his lady Sammuramit" from whence it would appear to be certain, in the first place, that that monarch was married to a princess who bore this world-renowned name, and, secondly, that she held a position superior to that which is usually allowed in the East to a queen-consort. An inveterate Oriental prejudice requires the rigid seclusion of women; and the Assyrian monuments, thoroughly in accord with the predominant tone of Eastern manners, throw a veil in general over all that concerns the weaker sex, neither representing to us the forms of the Assyrian women in the sculptures, nor so much as mentioning their existence in the inscriptions. Very rarely is there an exception to this all but universal reticence. In the present instance, and in about two others, the silence usually kept is broken; and a native woman comes upon the scene to tantalize us by her momentary apparition. The glimpse that we here obtain does not reveal much. Beyond the fact that the principal queen of Vul-lush III., was named Semiramis, and the further fact, implied in her being mentioned at all, that she had a recognized position of authority in the country, we can only conclude, conjecturally, from the exact parallelism of the phrases used, that she bore sway conjointly with her husband, either over the whole or over a part of his dominions. Such a view explains, to some extent, the wonderful tale of the Ninian Semiramis, which was foisted into history by Ctesias; for it shows that he had a slight basis of fact to go upon. It also harmonizes, or may be made to harmonize, with the story of Semiramis as told by Herodotus, who says that she was a Babylonian queen, and reigned five generations before Nitocris, or about B.C. 755. For it is quite possible that the Sammuramit married to Vul-lush III., was a Babylonian princess, the last descendant of a long line of kings, whom the Assyrian monarch wedded to confirm through her his title to the southern provinces; in which case a portion of his subjects would regard her as their legitimate sovereign, and only recognize his authority as secondary and dependent upon hers. The exaggeration in which Orientals indulge, with a freedom that astonishes the sober nations of the West, would seize upon the unusual circumstance of a female having possessed a conjoint sovereignty, and would gradually group round the name a host of mythic details, which at last accumulated to such an extent that, to prevent the fiction from becoming glaring, the queen had to be thrown back into mythic times, with which such details were in harmony. The Babylonian wife of Vul-lush III., who gave him his title to the regions of the south, and reigned conjointly with him both in Babylonia and Assyria, became first a queen of Babylon, ruling independently and alone, and then an Assyrian empress, the conqueror of Egypt and Ethiopia, the invader of the distant India, the builder of Babylon, and the constructor of all the great works which were anywhere to be found in Western Asia. The grand figure thus produced imposed upon the uncritical ancients, and was accepted even by the moderns for many centuries. At length the school of Heeren and Niebuhr, calling common sense to their aid, pronounced the figure a myth. It remained for the patient explorers of the field of Assyrian antiquity in our own day to discover the slight basis of fact on which the myth was founded, and to substitute for the shadowy marvel of Ctesias a very prosaic and commonplace princess, who, like Atossa or Elizabeth of York, strengthened her husband's title to his crown, but who never really made herself conspicuous by either great works or by exploits.
With Vul-lush III., the glories of the Nimrud line of monarchs come to a close, and Assyrian history is once more shrouded in a partial darkness for a space of nearly forty years, from B.C. 781 to B.C. 745. The Assyrian Canon shows us that three monarchs bore sway during this interval—Shalmaneser III., who reigned from B.C. 78l to B.C. 771, Asshur-dayan III., who reigned from B. C. 771 to B.C. 753, and Asshur-lush, who held the throne from the last-mentioned date to B.C.. 745, when he was succeeded by the second Tiglatli-Pileser. The brevity of these reigns, which average only twelve years apiece, is indicative of troublous times, and of a disputed, or, at any rate, a disturbed succession. The fact that none of the three monarchs left buildings of any importance, or, so far as appears, memorials of any kind, marks a period of comparative decline, during which there was a pause in the magnificent course of Assyrian conquests, which had scarcely known a check for above a century. The causes of the temporary inaction and apparent decline of a power which had so long been steadily advancing, would form an interesting subject of speculation to the political philosopher; but they are too obscure to be investigated here, where our space only allows us to touch rapidly on the chief known facts of the Assyrian history.
One important difficulty presents itself at this point of the narrative, in an apparent contradiction between the native records of the Assyrians and the casual notices of their history contained in the Second Book of Kings. The Biblical Pul—"the king of Assyria" who came up against the land of Israel and received from Menahem a thousand talents of silver, "that his hand might be with him to confirm the kingdom in his hand," is unnoticed in the native inscriptions, and even seems to be excluded from the royal lists by the absence of any name at all resembling his in the proper place in the famous Canon. Pul appears in Scripture to be the immediate predecessor of Tiglath Pileser. At any rate, as his expedition against Menahem is followed within (at the utmost) thirty-two years by an expedition of Tiglath Pileser against Pekah, his last year (if he was indeed a king of Assyria) cannot have fallen earlier than thirty-two years before Tiglath-Pileser's first. In other words, if the Hebrew numbers are historical some portion of Pul's reign must necessarily fill into the interval assigned by the Canon to the kings for which it is the sole authority—Shalmaneser III., Asshur-dayan III., and Asshur-lush. But these names are so wholly unlike the name of Pul that no one of them can possibly be regarded as its equivalent, or even as the original from which it was corrupted. Thus the Assyrian records do not merely omit Pul, but exclude him: and we have to inquire how this can be accounted for, and who the Biblical Pul is, if he is not a regular and recognized Assyrian monarch.
Various explanations of the difficulty have been suggested. Some would regard Pul as a general of Tiglath-Pileser (or of some earlier Assyrian king), mistaken by the Jews for the actual monarch. Others would identify him with Tiglath-Pileser himself. But perhaps the most probable supposition is, that he was a pretender to the Assyrian crown, never acknowledged at Nineveh, but established in the western (and southern) provinces so firmly, that he could venture to conduct an expedition into Lower Syria, and to claim there the fealty of Assyrians vassals. Or possibly he may have been a Babylonian monarch, who in the troublous times that had now evidently come upon the northern empire, possessed himself of the Euphrates valley, and thence descended upon Syria and Palestine. Berosus, it must be remembered, represented Pul as a Chaldaean king; and the name itself, which is wholly alien to the ordinary Assyrian type, has at least one counterpart among known Babylonian namies.
The time of Pul's invasion may be fixed by combining the Assyrian and the Hebrew chronologies within very narrow limits. Tiglath-Pileser relates that he took tribute from Menahem in a war which lasted from his fourth to his eighth year, or from B.C. 742 to B.C. 738. As Menahem only reigned ten years, the earliest date that can be assigned to Puls expedition will be B.C. 752, while the latest possible date will be B.C. 746, the year before the accession of Tiglath-Pileser. In any case the expedition fells within the eight years assigned by the Assyrian Canon to the reign of Asshur-lush, Tiglath-Pileser's immediate predecessor.
It is remarkable that into this interval falls also the famous era of Nabonassar, which must have marked some important change, dynastic or other, at Babylon. The nature of the change will be considered at length in the Babylonia a section. At present it is sufficient to observe that, in the declining condition of Assyria under the kings who followed Vul-lush III., there was naturally a growth of power and independence among the border countries. Babylon, repenting of the submission which she had made either to Vul-lush III., or to his father, Shamas-Vul II., once more vindicated her right to freedom, and resumed the position of a separate and hostile monarchy. Samaria, Damascus, Judaea, ceased to pay tribute. Enterprising kings, like Jeroboam II., and Menahem, taking advantage of Assyria's weakness, did not content themselves with merely throwing off her yoke, but proceeded to enlarge their dominions at the expense of her feudatories. Judging of the unknown from the known, we may assume that on the north and east there were similar defections to those on the west and south—that the tribes of Armenia and of the Zagros range rose in revolt, and that the Assyrian boundaries were thus contracted in every quarter.
At the same time, within the limits of what was regarded as the settled Empire, revolts began to occur. In the reign of Asshur-dayan III. (B.C. 771-753), no fewer than three important insurrections are recorded—one at a city called Libzu, another at Arapkha, the chief town of Arrapachitis, and a third at Gozan, the chief city of Gauzanitis or Mygdonia. Attempts were made to suppress these revolts; but it may be doubted whether they were successful. The military spirit had declined; the monarchs had ceased to lead out their armies regularly year by year, preferring to pass their time in inglorious ease at their rich and luxurious capitals. Asshur-dayan III., during nine years of his eighteen, remained at home, under-taking no warlike enterprise. Asshur-lush, his successor, displayed even less of military vigor. During the eight years of his reign he took the field twice only, passing six years in complete inaction. At the end of this time, Calah, the second city in the kingdom, revolted; and the revolution was brought about which ushered in the splendid period of the Lower Empire.
It was probably during the continuance of the time of depression, when an unwarlike monarch was living in inglorious ease amid the luxuries and refinements of Nineveh, and the people, sunk in repose, gave the themselves up to vicious indulgences more hateful in the eye of God than even the pride and cruelty which they were want to exhibit in war, that the great capital was suddenly startled by a voice of warning in the streets—a voice which sounded everywhere, through corridor, and lane, and square, bazaar and caravanserai, one shrill monotonous cry—"Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown." A strange wild man, clothed in a rough garment of skin, moving from place to place, announced to the inhabitants their doom. None knew who he was or whence he had come; none had ever beheld him before; pale, haggard, travel-stained, he moved before then like a visitant from another sphere; and his lips still framed the fearful words—"Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown." Had the cry fallen on them in the prosperous time, when each year brought its tale of victories, and every nation upon their borders trembled at the approach of their arms, it would probably have been heard with apathy or ridicule, and would have failed to move the heart of the nation. But coming, as it did, when their glory had declined; when their enemies, having been allowed a breathing space, had taken courage and were acting on the offensive in many quarters; when it was thus perhaps quite within the range of probability that some one of their numerous foes might shortly appear in arms before the place, it struck them with fear and consternation. The alarm communicated itself from the city to the palace; and his trembling attendants "came and told the king of Nineveh," who was seated on his royal throne in the great audience-chamber, surrounded by all the pomp and magnificence of his court. No sooner did he hear, than the heart of the king was touched, like that of his people; and he "arose from his throne, and laid aside his robe from him, and covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes." Hastily summoning his nobles, he had a decree framed, and "caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh, by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; let them not feed, nor drink water: but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands." Then the fast was proclaimed, and the people of Nineveh, fearful of God's wrath, put on sackcloth "from the greatest of them even to the least of them." The joy and merriment, the revelry and feasting of that great city were changed into mourning and lamentation; the sins that had provoked the anger of the Most High ceased; the people humbled themselves; they "turned from their evil way," and by a repentance, which, if not deep and enduring, was still real and unfeigned, they appeased for the present the Divine wrath. Vainly the prophet sat without the city, on its eastern side, under his booth woven of boughs, watching, waiting, hoping (apparently) that the doom which he had announced would come, in spite of the people's repentance. God was more merciful than man. He had pity on the "great city," with its "six score thousand persons that could not discern between their right hand and their left," and, sparing the penitents, left their town to stand unharmed for more than another century.
The circumstances under which Tiglath-Pileser II., ascended the throne in the year B.C. 745 are unknown to us. No confidence can be placed in the statement of Bion and Polyhistor which seems to have been intended to refer to this monarch, whom they called Beletaras—a corruption perhaps of the latter half of the name—that he was, previously to his elevation to the royal dignity, a mere vine-dresser, whose occupation was to keep in order the gardens of the king. Similar tales of the low origin of self-raised and usurping monarchs are too common in the East, and are too often contradicted by the facts, when they come known to us, for much credit to attach to the story told by these late writers, the earlier of whom, must have written five or six hundred years after Tiglath-Pileser's time. We aught, however, conclude, without much chance of mistake, from such a story being told, that the king-intended acquired the throne irregularly; that either he was not of the blood royal, or that, being so, he was at any rate not the legitimate heir. And the conclusion at which we should thus arrive is confirmed by the monarch's inscriptions; for though he speaks repeatedly of "the kings his fathers." and even calls the royal buildings at Galati. "the palaces of his fathers," yet he never mentions his actual father's name in any record that has come down to us. Such a silence is so contrary to the ordinary practice of Assyrian monarchs, who glory in their descent and parade it on every possible occasion, that, where it occurs, we are justified in concluding the monarch to have been an usurper, deriving his title to the crown, not from his ancestry or from any law of succession, but from a successful revolution, in which he played the principal part. It matters little that such a monarch, when he is settled upon the throne, claims, in a vague and general way, connection with the kings of former times. The claim may often have a basis of truth; for in monarchies where polygamy prevails, and the kings have numerous daughters to dispose of, almost all the nobility can boast that they are of the blood royal. Where the claim is in no sense true, it will still be made; for it flatters the vanity of the monarch, and there is no one to gainsay it.
Only in such cases we are sure to find a prudent vagueness—an assertion of the fact of the connection, expressed in general terms, without any specification of the particulars on which the supposed fact rests.
On obtaining the crown whatever the circumstances under which he obtained it—Tiglath-Pileser immediately proceeded to attempt the restoration of the Empire by engaging in a series of wars, now upon one, now upon another frontier, seeking by his unwearied activity and energy to recover the losses suffered through the weakness of his predecessors, and to compensate for their laches by a vigorous discharge of all the duties of the kingly office. The order of these wars, which formerly it was impossible to determine, is now fixed by means of the Assyrian Canon, and we may follow the course of the expeditions conducted by Tiglath-Pileser II., with as much confidence and certainty as those of Tiglath-Pileser I., Asshur-izir-pal, or the second Shalmaneser. It is scarcely necessary, however, to detain the reader by going through the entire series. The interest of Tiglath-Pileser's military operations attaches especially to his campaigns in Babylonia and in Syria, where he is brought into contact with persons otherwise known to us. His other wars are comparatively unimportant. Under these circumstances it is proposed to consider in detail only the Babylonian and Syrian expeditions, and to dismiss the others with a few general remarks on the results which were accomplished by them.
Tiglath-Pileser's expeditions against Babylon were in his first and in his fifteenth years, B.C. 745 and 731. No sooner did he find himself settled upon the throne, than he levied an army, and marched against Southern Mesopotamia, which appears to have been in a divided and unsettled condition. According to the Canon of Ptolemy, Nabonassar then ruled in Babylon. Tiglath-Pileser's annals confuse the accounts of his two campaigns; but the general impression which we gather from them is that, even in B.C. 745, the country was divided up into a number of small principalities, the sea-coast being under the dominion of Merodach-Baladan, who held his court in his father's city of Bit-Yakin; while in the upper region there were a number of petty princes, apparently independent, among whom may be recognized names which seem to occur later in Ptolemy's list, among the kings of Babylon to whom he assigns short reigns in the interval between Nabonassar and Mardocempalus (Merodach-Baladan). Tiglath-Pileser attacked and defeated several of these princes, taking the towns of Kur-Galzu (now Akkerkuf), and Sippara or Sepharvaim, together with many other places of less consequence in the lower portion of the country, after which he received the submission of Merodach-Baladan, who acknowledged him for suzerain, and consented to pay an annual tribute. Tiglath-Pileser upon this assumed the title of "King of Babylon" (B.C. 729), and offered sacrifice to the Babylonian gods in all the principal cities.
The first Syrian war of Tiglath-Pileser was undertaken in his third year (B.C. 743), and lasted from that year to his eighth. In the course of it he reduced to subjection Damascus, which had regained its independence, and was under the government of Rezin; Samaria, where Menahem, the adversary of Pul, was still reigning; Tyre, which was under a monarch bearing the familiar name of Hiram; Hamath, Gebal, and the Arabs bordering upon Egypt, who were ruled by a queen called Khabiba. He likewise met and defeated a vast army under Azariah (or Uzziah), king of Judah, but did not succeed in inducing him to make his submission. It would appear by this that Tiglath-Pileser at this time penetrated deep into Palestine, probably to a point which no Assyrian king but Vul-lush III., had reached previously. But it would seem, at the same time, that his conquests were very incomplete; they did not include Judaea or Philistia, Idumaea, or the tribes of the Hauran; and they left untouched the greater number of the Phoenician cities. It causes us, therefore, no surprise to find that in a short time, B.C. 734, he renewed his efforts in this quarter, commencing by an attack on Samaria, where Pekah was now king, and taking Ijon, and Abel-beth-maachah, and Jamoah, and Kedesh, and Hazor, and Gilead, and Galilee, and all the land of Naphtali, and carrying them captive to Assyria, thus "lightly afflicting, the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali," or the more northern portion of the Holy Land, about Lake Merom, and from that to the Sea of Gennesareth.
This attack was-followed, shortly (B.C. 733) by the most important of Tiglath-Pileser's Syrian wars. It appears that the common danger, which had formerly united the Hittites, Hamathites, and Damascenes in a close alliance, now caused a league to be formed between Damascus and Samaria, the sovereigns of which—Pekah and Rezin—made an attempt to add Judaea to their confederation, by declaring war against Ahaz, attacking his territory, and threatening to substitute in his place as king of Jerusalem a creature of their own, "the son of Tabeal." Hard pressed by his enemies, Ahaz applied to Assyria, offering to become Tiglath-Pileser's "servant"—i.e, his vassal and tributary—if he would send troops to his assistance, and save him from the impending danger. Tiglath-Pileser was not slow to obey this call. Entering Syria at the head of an army, he fell first upon Rezin, who was defeated, and fled to Damascus, where Tiglath-Pileser besieged him for two years, at the end of which time he was taken and slain. Next he attacked Pekah, entering his country on the north-east, where it bordered upon the Damascene territory, and overrunning the whole of the Trans-Jordanic provinces, together (apparently) with some portion of the Cis-Jordanic region. The tribes of Reuben and Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, who had possessed the country between the Jordan and the desert from the time of Moses, were seized and carried away captive by the conqueror, who placed them in Upper Mesopotamia, on the affluents of the Bilikh and the Khabour, from about Harran to Nisibis. Some cities situated on the right bank of the Jordan, in the territory of Issachar, but belonging to Manasseh, were at the same time seized and occupied. Among these, Megiddo in the great plain of Esdraelon, and Dur or Dor upon the coast, some way below Tyre, were the most important. Dur was even thought of sufficient consequence to receive an Assyrian governor at the same time with the other principal cities of Southern Syria.
After thus chastising Samaria, Tiglath-Pileser appears to have passed on to the south, where he reduced the Philistines and the Arab tribes, who inhabited the Sinaitic desert as far as the borders of Egypt. Over these last he set, in lieu of their native queen, an Assyrian governor. He then returned towards Damascus, where he held a court, and invited the neighboring states and tribes to send in their submission. The states and tribes responded to his invitation. Tiglath-Pileser, before quitting Syria, received submission and tribute not only from Ahaz, king of Judah, but also from Mit'enna, king of Tyre; Pekah, king of Samaria; Khanun, king of Gaza; and Mitinti, king of Ascalon: from the Moabites, the Ammonites, the people of Arvad or Aradus, and the Idumaeans. He thus completely re-established the power of Assyria in this quarter, once more recovering to the Empire the entire tract between the coast and the desert from Mount Amanus on the north to the Red Sea and the confines of Egypt.
One further expedition was led or sent by Tiglath-Pileser into Syria, probably in his last year. Disturbances having occurred from the revolt of Mit'enna of Tyre and the murder of Pekah of Israel by Hoshea, an Assyrian army marched westward, in B.C. 725, to put them down. The Tyrian monarch at once submitted; and Hoshea, having entered into negotiations, agreed to receive investiture into his kingdom at the hands of the Assyrians, and to hold it as an Assyrian territory. On these terns peace was re-established, and the army of Tiglath-Pileser retired and recrossed the Euphrates.
Besides conducting these various campaigns, Tiglath-Pileser employed himself in the construction of some important works at Calah, which was his usual and favorite residence. He repaired and adorned the palace of Shalmaneser II., in the centre of the Nimrud mound; and he built a new edifice at the south-eastern corner of the platform, which seems to have been the most magnificent of his erections. Unfortunately, in neither case were his works allowed to remain as he left them. The sculptures with which he adorned Shalmaneser's palace were violently torn from their places by Esar-haddon, and, after barbarous ill-usage, were applied to the embellishment of his own residence by that monarch. The palace which he built at the south-eastern corner of the Nimrud mound was first ruined by some invader, and then built upon by the last Assyrian king. Thus the monuments of Tiglath-Pileser II., come to us in a defaced and unsatisfactory condition, rendering it difficult for us to do full justice either to his architectural conceptions or to his taste in ornamentation. We can see, however, by the ground plan of the building which Mr. Loftus uncovered beneath the ruins of Mr. Layard's south-east palaces that the great edifice of Tiglath-Pileser was on a scale of grandeur little inferior to that of the ancient palaces, and on a plan very nearly similar. The same arrangement of courts and halls and chambers, the same absence of curved lines or angles other than right angles, the same narrowness of rooms in comparison with their length, which have been noted in the earlier buildings, prevailed also in those of this king. With regard to the sculptures with which, after the example of the former monarchs, he ornamented their walls, we can only say they seem to have been characterized by simplicity of treatment—the absence of all ornamentation, except fringes, from the dresses, the total omission of backgrounds, and (with few exceptions) the limitation of the markings to the mere outlines of forms. The drawing is rather freer and more spirited than that of the sculptures of Asshur-izir-pal; animal forms, as camels, oxen, sheep, and goats, are more largely introduced, and there is somewhat less formality in the handling. But the change is in no respect very decided, or such as to indicate an era in the progress of art.
Tiglath-Pileser appears, by the Assyrian Canon, to have had a reign of eighteen years. He ascended the throne in B.C. 747, and was succeeded in B.C. 727 by Shalmaneser, the fourth monarch who had borne that appellation.
It is uncertain whether Shalmaneser IV, was related to Tiglath-Pileser or not. As, however, there is no trace of the succession having been irregular or disputed, it is most probable that he was his son. He ascended the throne in B.C. 727, and ceased to reign in B.C. 722, thus holding the royal power for less than six years. It was probably very soon after his accession, that, suspecting the fidelity of Samaria, he "came up" against Hoshea, king of Israel, and, threatening him with condign punishment, so terrified him that he made immediate submission. The arrears of tribute were rendered, and the homage due from a vassal to his lord was paid; and Shalmaneser either returned into his own country or turned his attention to other enterprises. But shortly afterwards he learnt that Hoshea, in spite of his submission and engagements, was again contemplating defection; and, conscious of his own weakness, was endeavoring to obtain a promise of support from an enterprising monarch who ruled in the neighboring country of Egypt. The Assyrian conquests in this quarter had long been tending to bring them into collision with the great power of Eastern Africa, which had once held, and always coveted, the dominion of Syria. Hitherto such relations as they had had with the Egyptians appear to have been friendly. The weak and unwarlike Pharaohs who about this time bore sway in Egypt had sought the favor of the neighboring Asiatic power by demanding Assyrian princesses in marriage and affecting Assyrian names for their offspring. But recently an important change had occurred. A brave Ethiopian prince had descended the valley of the Nile at the head of a swarthy host, had defeated the Egyptian levies, had driven the reigning monarch into the marshes of the Delta, or put him to a cruel death, and had established his own dominion firmly, at any rate over the upper country. Shebek the First bore sway in Memphis in lieu of the blind Bocchoris; and Hoshea, seeing in this bold and enterprising king the natural foe of the Assyrians, and therefore his own natural ally and friend, "sent messengers" with proposals, which appear to have been accepted; for on their return Hoshea revolted openly, withheld his tribute, and declared himself independent. Shalmaneser, upon this, came up against Samaria for the second time, determined now to punish his vassal's perfidy with due severity. Apparently, he was unresisted; at any rate, Hoshea fell into his power, and was seized, bound, and shut up in prison. A year or two later Shalmaneser made his third and last expedition into Syria. What was the provocation given him, we are not told; but this time, he came up throughout all the land and being met with resistance, he laid formal siege to the capital. The siege commenced in Shahnaneser's fourth year, B.C. 724, and was protracted to his sixth, either by the efforts of the Egyptians, or by the stubborn resistance of the inhabitants. At last, in B.C. 722, the town surrendered, or was taken by storm; but before this consummation had been reached, Shalmaneser's reign would seem to have come to an end in consequence of a successful revolution.
While he was conducting these operations against Samaria, either in person or by means of his generals, Shalmaneser appears to have been also engaged in hostilities with the Phoenician towns. Like Samaria, they had revolted at the death of Tiglath-Pileser; and Shalmaneser, consequently, marched into Phoenecia at the beginning of his reign, probably in his first year, overran the entire country, and forced all the cities to resume their position of dependence. The island Tyre, however, shortly afterwards shook off the yoke. Hereupon Shalmaneser "returned" into these parts, and collecting a fleet from Sidon, Paleo-Tyrus, and Akko, the three most important of the Phoenician towns after Tyre, proceeded to the attack of the revolted place. His vessels were sixty in number, and were manned by eight hundred Phoenician rowers, co-operating with probably, a smaller number of unskilled Assyrians. Against this fleet the Tyrians, confiding in their maritime skill, sent out a force of twelve vessels only, which proved, however, quite equal to the occasion; for the assailants were dispersed and driven off, with the loss of 500 prisoners.
Shalmaneser, upon this defeat, retired, and gave up all active operations, contenting himself with leaving a body of troops on the mainland, over against the city, to cut off the Tyrians from the supplies of water which they were in the habit of drawing from the river Litany, and from certain aqueducts which conducted the precious fluid from springs in the mountains. The Tyrians, it is said, held out against this pressure for five years, satisfying their thirst with rain water, which they collected in reservoirs. Whether they then submitted, or whether the attempt to subdue them was given up, is uncertain, since the quotation from Menander, which is our sole authority for this passage of history, here breaks off abruptly.
The short reign of Shalmaneser IV, was, it is evident, sufficiently occupied by the two enterprises of which accounts have now been given—the complete subjugation of Samaria, and the attempt to reduce the island Tyre. Indeed, it is probable that neither enterprise had been conducted when a dynastic revolution, caused by the ambition of a subject, brought the unhappy monarch's reign to an untimely end. The conquest of Samaria is claimed by Sargon as an event of his first year; and the resistance of the Tyrians, if it really continued during the full space assigned to it by Menander, must have extended beyond the terns of Shalmaneser's reign, into the first or second year of his successor. It was probably the prolonged absence of the Assyrian monarch from his capital, caused by the obstinacy of the two cities which he was attacking, that encouraged a rival to come forward and seize the throne; just as in the Persian history we shall find the prolonged absence of Canbyses in Egypt produce a revolution and change of dynasty at Susa. In the East, where the monarch is not merely the chief but the sole power in the state, the moving spring whose action must be continually exerted to prevent the machinery of government from standing still, it is always dangerous for the reigning prince to be long away from his metropolis. The Orientals do not use the language of mere unmeaning compliment when they compare their sovereigns with the sun, and speak of them as imparting light and life to the country and people over which they rule. In the king's absence all languishes; the course of justice is suspended; public works are stopped; the expenditure of the Court, on which the prosperity of the capital mainly depends, being withdrawn, trade stagnates, the highest branches suffering most; artists are left without employment; work-men are discharged; wages fall; every industry is more or less deranged, and those engaged in it suffer accordingly; nor is there any hope of a return of prosperity until the king comes home. Under these circumstances a general discontent prevails; and the people, anxious for better times, are ready to welcome any pretender who will come forward, and, on any pretext whatever, declare the throne vacant, and claim to be its proper occupant. If Shalmaneser continued to direct in person the siege of Samaria during the three years of its continuance, we cannot be surprised that the patience of the Ninevites was exhausted, and that in the third year they accepted the rule of the usurper who boldly proclaimed himself king.
What right the new monarch put forward, what position he had previously held, what special circumstances, beyond the mere absence of the rightful king, facilitated his attempts, are matters on which the monuments throw no light, and on which we must therefore be content to be ignorant. All that we can see is, that either personal merit or official rank and position must have enabled him to establish himself; for he certainly did not derive any assistance from his birth, which must have been mediocre, if not actually obscure. It is the custom of the Babylonian and Assyrian kings to glory in their ancestry, and when the father has occupied a decently high position, the son declares his sire's name and rank at the commencement of each inscription, but Sargon never, in any record, names his father, nor makes the slightest allusion to his birth and descent, unless it be in vague phrases, wherein he calls the former kings of Assyria, and even those of Babylonia, his ancestors. Such expressions seem to be mere words of course, having no historical value: and it would be a mistake even to conclude from them that the new king intended seriously to claim the connection of kindred with the monarchs of former times.
It has been thought indeed, that Sargon, instead of cloaking his usurpation under some decent plea of right, took a pride in boldly avowing it. The name Sargon has been supposed to be one which he adopted as his royal title at the time of his establishment upon the throne, intending by the adoption to make it generally known that he had acquired the crown, not by birth or just claim, but by his own will and the consent of the people. Sargon, or Sar-gina, as the native name is read, means "the firm" or "well-established king," and (it has been argued) "shows the usurper." The name is certainly unlike the general run of Assyria royal titles; but still, as it is one which is found to have been previously borne by at least one private person in Assyria, it is perhaps best to suppose that it was the monarch's real original appellation, and not assumed when he came to the throne; in which case no argument can be founded upon it.
Military success is the best means of confirming a doubtful title to the leadership of a warlike nation. No sooner, therefore, was Sargon accepted by the Ninevites as king than he commenced a series of expeditions, which at once furnished employment to unquiet spirits, and gave the prestige of military glory to his own name. He warred successively in Susiana, in Syria, on the borders of Egypt, in the tract beyond Amanus, in Melitene and southern Armenia, in Kurdistan, in Media, and in Babylonia. During the first fifteen years of his reign, the space which his annals cover, he kept his subjects employed in a continual series of important expeditions, never giving himself, nor allowing them, a single year of repose. Immediately upon his accession he marched into Susiana, where he defeated Hum-banigas, the Elamitie king, and Merodach-Baladan, the old adversary of Tiglath-Pileser, who had revolted and established himself as king over Babylonia. Neither monarch was, however, reduced to subjection, though an important victory was gained, and many captives taken, who were transported into the country of the Hittites, In the same year, B.C. 722, he received the submission of Samaria, which surrendered, probably, to his generals, after it had been besieged two full years. He punished the city by depriving it of the qualified independence which it had enjoyed hitherto, appointing instead of a native king an Assyrian officer to be its governor, and further carrying off as slaves 27,280 of the inhabitants. On the remainder, however, he contented himself with re-imposing the rate of tribute to which the town had been liable before its revolt.—The next year, B.C. 721, he was forced to march in person into Syria in order to meet and quell a dangerous revolt. Yahu-bid (or Ilu-bid), king of Hamath—a usurper like Sargon himself—had rebelled, and had persuaded the cities of Arpad Zimira, Damascus, and Samaria to cast in their lot with his, and to form a confederacy, by which it was imagined that effectual resistance might be offered to the Assyrian arms. Not content merely to stand on the defensive in their several towns, the allies took to the field; and a battle was fought at Kar-kar or Garrrar (perhaps one of the many Aroers), where the superiority of the Assyrian troops was once more proved, and Sargon gained a complete victory over his enemies. Yahu-bid himself was taken and beheaded; and the chiefs of the revolt in the other towns were also put to death.
Having thus crushed the rebellion and re-established tranquillity throughout Syria, Sargon turned his arms towards the extreme south, and attacked Gaza, which was a dependency of Egypt. The exact condition of Egypt at this time is open to some doubt. According to Manetho's numbers, the twenty-fifth or Ethiopian dynasty had not yet begun to reign. Bocchoris the Saite occupied the throne, a humane but weak prince, of a contemptible presence, and perhaps afflicted with blindness. No doubt such a prince would tempt the attack of a powerful neighbor; and, so for, probability might seem to be in favor of the Manethonian dates. But, on the other hand, it must be remembered that Egypt had lately taken an aggressive attitude, incompatible with a time of weakness: she had intermeddled between the Assyrian crown and its vassals, by entering into a league with Hoshea: and she had extended her dominion over a portion of Philistia, thereby provoking a collision with the Great Power of the East. Again, it is worthy of note that the name of the Pharaoh who had dealings with Hoshea, if it does not seen at first sight very closely to resemble the Egyptian Shebek, is, at any rate, a possible representative of that word, while no etymological skill can force it into agreement with any other name in this portion of the Egyptian lists. Further, it is to be remarked that at this point of the Assyrian annals, a Shebek appears in them, holding a position of great authority in Egypt, though not dignified with the title of king. These facts furnish strong grounds for believing that the Manethonian chronology, which can be proved to be in many points incorrect, has placed the accession of the Ethiopians somewhat too late, and that that event occurred really as early as B.C. 725 or B.C. 730.
At the same time, it must be allowed that all difficulty is not removed by this supposition. The Shebek Sibahe (or Sibaki) of the Assyrian record bears an inferior title, and not that of king. He is also, apparently, contemporary with another authority in Egypt, who is recognized by Sargon as the true "Pharaoh," or native ruler. Further, it is not till eight or nine years later that any mention is made of Ethiopia as having an authority over Egypt or as in any way brought into contact with Sargon. The proper conclusion from these facts seems to be that the Ethiopians established themselves gradually; that in B.C. 720, Shebek or Sabaco, though master of a portion of Egypt, had not assumed the royal title, which was still borne by a native prince of little power—Bocchoris, or Scthos—who held his court somewhere in the Delta; and that it was not till about the year B.C. 712 that this shadowy kingdom passed away, that the Ethiopian rule was extended over the whole of Egypt, and that Sabaco assumed the full rank of an independent monarch.
If this be the true solution of the difficulty which has here presented itself, we must conclude that the first actual collision between the powers of Egypt and Assyria took place at a time very unfavorable to the former. Egypt was, in fact, divided against itself, the fertile tract of the Delta being under one king, the long valley of the Nile under another. If war was not actually going on, jealousy and suspicion, at any rate, must have held the two sovereigns apart; and the Assyrian monarch, coming at such a time of intestine feud, must have found it comparatively easy to gain a triumph in this quarter.
The armies of the two great powers met at the city of Rapikh, which seems to be the Raphia of the Greeks and Romans, and consequently the modern Refah a position upon the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, about half-way between Gaza and the Wady-el-Arish, or "River of Egypt." Here the forces of the Philistines, under Khanun, king of Gaza, and those of Shebek, the Tar-dan (or perhaps the Sultan) of Egypt, had effected a junction, and awaited the approach of the invader. Sargon, having arrived, immediately engaged the allied army, and succeeded in defeating it completely, capturing Khanun, and forcing Shebek to seek safety in flight. Khanun was deprived of his crown and carried off to Assyria by the conqueror.
Such was the result of the first combat between the two great powers of Asia and Africa. It was an omen of the future, though it was scarcely a fair trial of strength. The battle of Raphia foreshadowed truly enough the position which Egypt would hold among the nations from the time that she ceased to be isolated, and was forced to enter into the struggle for preeminence, and even for existence, with the great kingdoms of the neighboring continent. With rare and brief exceptions, Egypt has from the time of Sargon succumbed to the superior might of whatever power has been dominant in Western Asia, owning it for lord, and submitting, with a good or bad grace, to a position involving a greater or less degree of dependence. Tributary to the later Assyrian princes, and again, probably, to Nebuchadnezzar, she had scarcely recovered her independence when she fell under the dominion of Persia. Never successful, notwithstanding all her struggles, in thoroughly shaking off this hated yoke, she did but exchange her Persian for Greek masters, when the empire of Cyrus perished. Since then, Greeks, Romans, Saracens, and Turks have, each in their turn, been masters of the Egyptian race, which has paid the usual penalty of precocity in the early exhaustion of its powers.
After the victories of Aroer and Raphia, the Assyrian monarch appears to have been engaged for some years in wars of comparatively slight interest towards the north and the north-east. It was not till B.C. 715, five years after his first fight with the Egyptians, that he again made an expedition towards the south-west, and so came once more into contact with nations to whose fortunes we are not wholly indifferent. His chief efforts on this occasion were directed against the peninsula of Arabia. The wandering tribes of the desert, tempted by the weak condition to which the Assyrian conquest had reduced Samaria, made raids, it appears, into the territory at their pleasure, and carried off plunder. Sargon determined to chastise these predatory bands, and made an expedition into the interior, where "he subdued the uncultivated plains of the remote Arabia, which had never before given tribute to Assyria," and brought under subjection the Thamudites, and several other Arab tribes, carrying off a certain number and settling them in Samaria itself, which thenceforth contained an Arab element in its population. Such an effect was produced on the surrounding nations by the success of this inroad, that their princes hastened to propitiate Sargon's favor by sending embassies, and excepting the position of Assyrian tributaries. The reigning Pharaoh, whoever he may have been, It-hamar, king of the Sabaeans, and Tsamsi, queen of the Arabs, thus humbled themselves, sending presents, and probably entering into engagements which bound them for the future.
Four years later (B.C. 711) Sargon led a third expedition into these parts, regarding it as important to punish the misconduct of the people of Ashdod. Ashdod had probably submitted after the battle of Raphia, and had been allowed to retain its native prince, Azuri. This prince, after awhile, revolted, withheld his tribute, and proceeded to foment rebellion against Assyria among the neighboring monarchs; whereupon Sargon deposed him, and made his brother Akhimit king in his place. The people of Ashdod, however, rejected the authority of Akhimit, and chose a certain Yaman, or Yavan, to rule over them, who strengthened himself by alliances with the other Philistine cities, with Judaea, and with Edom. Immediately upon learning this. Sargon assembled his army, and proceeded to Ashdod to punish the rebels; but, before his arrival, Yaman had fled away, and "escaped to the dependencies of Egypt, which" (it is said) "were under the rule of Ethiopia." Ashdod itself, trusting in the strength from which it derived its name, resisted; but Sargon laid siege to it and in a little time forced it to surrender. Yaman fled to Egypt, but his wife and children were captured and, together with the bulk of the inhabitants, were transported into Assyria, while their place was supplied by a number of persons who had been made prisoners in Sargon's eastern wars. An Assyrian governor was set over the town.
The submission of Ethiopia followed. Ashdod, like Samaria, had probably been encouraged to revolt by promises of foreign aid. Sargon's old antagonist, Shebek, had recently brought the whole of Egypt under his authority, and perhaps thought the time had come when he might venture once more to measure his strength against the Assyrians. But Sargon's rapid movements and easy capture of the strong Ashdod terrified him, and produced a change of his intentions. Instead of marching into Philistia and fighting a battle, he sent a suppliant embassy, surrendered Yaman, and deprecated Sargon's wrath. The Assyrian monarch boasts that the king of Meroe, who dwelt in the desert, and had never sent ambassadors to any of the kings his predecessors, was led by the fear of his majesty to direct his steps towards Assyria and humbly bow down before him.
At the opposite extremity of his empire, Sargon soon after-wards gained victories which were of equal or greater importance. Having completely reduced Syria, humiliated Egypt, and struck terror into the tribes of the north and east, he determined on a great expedition against Babylon. Merodach-Baladan had now been twelve years in quiet possession of the kingdom. He had established his court at Babylon, and, suspecting that the ambition of Sargon would lead him to attempt the conquest of the south he had made preparations for resistance by entering into close alliance with the Susianians under Sutruk-Nakhunta on the one hand, and with the Aramaean tribes above Babylonia on the other. Still, when Sargon advanced against him, instead of giving him battle, or even awaiting him behind the walls of the capital, he at once took to flight. Leaving garrisons in the more important of the inland towns, and committing their defence to his generals, he himself hastened down to his own city of Beth-lakin, which was on the Euphrates, near its mouth, and, summoning the Aramaeans to his assistance, prepared for a vigorous resistance in the immediate vicinity of his native place. Posting himself in the plain in front of the city, and protecting his front and left flank with a deep ditch, which he filled with water from the Euphrates, he awaited the advance of Sargon, who soon appeared at the head of his troops, and lost no time in beginning the attack. We cannot follow with any precision the exact operations of the battle, but it appears that Sargon fell upon the Babylonian troops, defeated them, and drove them into their own dyke, in which many of therm were drowned, at the same time separating them from their allies, who, on seeing the disaster, took to flight, and succeeded in making their escape. Merodach-Baladan, abandoning his camp, threw himself with the poor remains of his army into Beth-Yakin, which Saigon then besieged and took. The Babylonian monarch fell into the hands of his rival, who plundered his palace and burnt his city, but generously spared his life. He was not, however, allowed to retain his kingdom, the government of which was assumed by Sargon himself, who is the Arceanus of Ptolemy's Canon.
The submission of Babylonia was followed by the reduction of the Aramaeans, and the conquest of at least a portion of Susiana. To the Susianin territory Sargon transported the Comnumkha from the Upper Tigris, placing the mixed population under a governor, whom he made dependent on the viceroy of Babylon.
The Assyrian dominion was thus firmly established on the shores of the Persian Gulf. The power of Babylon was broken. Henceforth the Assyrian rule is maintained over the whole of Chaldaea and Babylonia, with few and brief interruptions, to the close of the Empire. The reluctant victim struggles in his captor's grasp, and now and then for a short space shakes it off; but only to be seized again with a fiercer gripe, until at length his struggles cease, and he resigns himself to a fate which he has come to regard as inevitable. During the last fifty years of the Empire, from B.C. 650 to B.C. 625, the province of Babylon was almost as tranquil as any other.
The pride of Sargon received at this time a gratification which he is not able to conceal, in the homage which was paid to him by sovereigns who had only heard of his fame, and who were safe from the attacks of his armies. While he held his court at Babylon, in the year B.C. 708 or 707, he gave audience to two embassies from two opposite quarters, both sent by islanders dwelling (as he expresses it) "in the middle of the seas" that washed the outer skirts of his dominions. Upir, king of Asmun, who ruled over an island in the Persian Gulf,—Khareg, perhaps, or Bahrein,—sent messengers, who bore to the Great King the tribute of the far East. Seven Cyprian monarchs, chiefs of a country which lay "at the distance of seven days from the coast, in the sea of the setting sun," offered him by their envoys the treasures of the West. The very act of bringing presents implied submission; and the Cypriots not only thus admitted his suzerainty, but consented to receive at his hands and to bear back to their country a more evident token of subjection. This was an effigy of the Great King carved in the usual form, and accompanied with an inscription recording his name and titles, which was set up at Idalium, nearly in the centre of the island, and made known to the Cypriots the form and appearance of the sovereign whom it was not likely that they would ever see.
The expeditions of Sargon to the north and north-east had results less splendid than those which he undertook to the south-west and the south; but it may be doubted whether they did not more severely try his military skill and the valor of his soldiers. The mountain tribes of Zagros, Taurus, and Niphates,—Medes, Armaenians, Tibarini, Moschi, etc.,—were probably far braver men and far better soldiers than the levies of Egypt, Susiana, and Babylon. Experience, moreover, had by this time taught the tribes the wisdom of uniting against the common foe, and we find Ambris the Tibareni in in alliance with Mita the Moschian, and Urza the Armenian, when he ventures to revolt against Sargon. The submission of the northern tribes was with difficulty obtained by a long and fierce struggle, which—so far as one belligerent was concerned —terminated in a compromise. Ambris was deposed, and his country placed under an Assyrian governor; Mita consented, after many years of resistance, to pay a tribute; Urza was defeated, and committed suicide, but the general pacification of the north was not effected until a treaty was made with the king of Van, and his good-will purchased by the cession to him of a considerable tract of country which the Assyrians had previously taken from Urza.
On the side of Media the resistance offered to the arms of Sargon seems to have been slighter, and he was consequently able to obtain a far more complete success. Having rapidly overrun the country, he seized a number of the towns and "annexed them to Assyria," or, in other words, reduced a great portion of Media into the form of a province. He also built in one part of the country a number of fortified posts. He then imposed a tribute on the natives, consisting entirely of horses, which were perhaps required to be of the famous Nisaean breed.
After his fourteenth year, B.C. 708, Sargon ceased to lead out his troops in person, employing instead the services of his generals. In the year B.C. 707 a disputed succession gave him an opportunity of interference in Illib, a small country bordering on Susiana. Nibi, one of the two pretenders to the throne, had applied for aid to Sutruk-Nakhunta, king of Elam, who held his court at Susa, and had received the promise of his favor and protection. Upon this, the other claimant, who was named Ispabara, made application to Sargon, and was readily received into alliance, Sargon sent to his assistance "seven captains with seven armies," who engaged the troops of Sutruk-Naklnurta, defeated them, and established Ispabara on the throne? In the following year, however, Sutruk-Nakhunta recovered his laurels, invading Assyria in his turn, and capturing cities which he added to the kingdom of Susiana.