THE Former Book (being the First of the whole) contains the Affairs of Egypt; among which are related what is fabulously reported of the Gods of Egypt, and what strange and wonderful Accounts are given of the Nature of Nile, and other things concerning that River. We have spoken there likewise of the Land of Egypt, their ancient Kings, and their several Actions; and have added the Building of the Pyramids, reckon'd amongst the Seven Wonders of the World. We have likewise set forth their Laws and Courts of Justice, and the strange Adoration of Beasts in Egypt. Lastly, the manner of their Burials, and the Greeks that were famous for Learning, and travell'd into Egypt, and brought over from thence many useful and profitable Arts and Sciences into Greece. In this next Book we shall describe the things done in Asia in ancient times, beginning with the Assyrian Empire.
Ninus the First King of Assyria: His Acts: He invades Babylonia, Media, and overruns several other Countries. Nineve built by him; the Description of it; Marries Semiramis; her Descent. Derceta the Philistines Dagon. His Expedition against Bactria; he dies. Semiramis builds Babylon, and several strange Works there; as a Passage under Water, Jupiter's Temple, &c. Hanging Gardens in Babylon. A vast Stone cut out. The strange property of a Morass. Her several Expeditions. The wonderful Lake in Ethiopia; their Burials there. Semiramis's Expedition into India: Her mock Elephants. Her Expedition proves fruitless. She surrenders her Kingdom to Ninyas her Son; her End.
ASIA was anciently govern'd by its own Native Kings, of whom there's no History extant, either as to any memorable Actions they perform'd, or so much as to their Names.
He was naturally of a Warlike Disposition, and very ambitious of Honour and Glory, and therefore caus'd the strongest of his Young Men to be train'd up in Martial Discipline, and by long and continual Exercise inur'd them readily to undergo all the Toyls and Hazards of War.
Having therefore rais'd a gallant Army, he made a League with Arieus King of Arabia, that was at that time full of strong and valiant Men. For that Nation are constant Lovers of Liberty, never upon any Terms admitting of any Foreign Prince: And therefore neither the Persian, nor the Macedonian Kings after them, (though they were most powerful in Arms) were ever able to conquer them. For Arabia being partly Desart, and partly parcht up for want of Water (unless it be in some secret Wells and Pits known only to the Inhabitants) cannot be subdu'd by any Foreign Force.
Ninus therefore, the Assyrian King, with the Prince of Arabia his Assistant, with a numerous Army, invaded the Babylonians, then next bordering upon him: For the Babylon that is now, was not built at that time; but the Province of Babylon had in it then many other considerable Cities, whose Inhabitants he easily subdu'd, (being rude and unexpert in Matters of War,) and impos'd upon them a Yearly Tribute; but carried away the King with all his Children Prisoners, and after put them to Death. Afterwards he entred Armenia with a great Army, and having overthrown some Cities, he struck Terror into the rest, and thereupon their King Barzanus seeing himself unable to deal with him, met him with many rich Presents, and submitted himself; whom Ninus out of his generous dissition, courteously receiv'd, and gave him the Kingdom of Armenia, upon condition he should be his Friend for the future, and supply him with Men and Provision for his Wars as he should have occasion.
Being thus strengthen'd, he invaded Media, whose King Pharnus coming out against him with a mighty Army, was utterly routed, and lost most of his Men, and was taken Prisoner with his Wife and Seven Children, and afterwards Crucified.
Ninus being thus successful and prosperous, his Ambition rose the higher, and his desire most ardent to conquer all in Asia, which lay between Tanais and Nile; (so far does Prosperity and Excess in getting much, inflame the Desire to gain and compass more.) In order hereunto, he made one of his Friends Governor of the Province of Media, and he himself in the mean time marcht against the other Provinces of Asia, and subdu'd them all in Seventeen Years time, except the Indians and Bactrians. But no Writer has given any Account of the several Battels he fought, nor of the number of those Nations he conquer'd; and therefore following Ctesias the Cnidian, we shall only briefly run over the most famous and considerable Countries. He over-ran all the Countries bordering upon the Sea, together with the adjoining Continent, as Egypt and Phenicia, Celo-Syria, Cilicia, Pamphylia, Lycia, Caria, Phrygia, Mysia and Lydia; the Province of Troas and Phrygia upon the Hellespont, together with Propontis, Bithynia, Cappadocia, and the Barbarous Nations adjoyning upon Pontus, as far as to Tanais; he gain'd likewise the Country of the Caddusians, Tarpyrians, Hyrcanians, Dacians, Derbians, Carmanians, Choroneans, Borchanians and Parthians. He pierc'd likewise into Persia, the Provinces of Susiana, and that call'd Caspiana, through those narrow Straits, which from thence are call'd the Caspian Gates. He subdu'd likewise many other less considerable Nations, which would be too tedious here to recount. After much toyl and labour in vain, because of the difficulty of the Passes, and the multitude of those Warlike Inhabitants, he was forc'd to put off his War against the Bactrians to another opportunity.
Having marcht back with his Army into Syria, he markt out a Place for the building of a stately City: For in as much as he had surpast all his Ancestors in the glory and success of his Arms, he was resolv'd to build one of that state and grandeur, as should not only be the greatest then in the World, but such as none that ever should come after him should be able easily to exceed.
The King of Arabia he sent back with his Army into his own Country, with many rich Spoils, and noble Gifts. And he himself having got a great number Page 55 of his Forces together, and provided Mony and Treasure, and other things necessary for the purpose, built a City near the River Euphrates, very famous for its Walls and Fortifications; of a long Form; for on both sides it ran out in length above an Hundred and Fifty Furlongs; but the Two lesser Angles were only Ninety Furlongs apiece; so that the Circumference of the whole was Four Hundred and Fourscore Furlongs. And the Founder was not herein deceived, for none ever after built the like, either as to the largeness of its Circumference, or the stateliness of its Walls. For the Wall was an Hundred Foot in Height, and so broad as Three Chariots might be driven together upon it in breast: There were Fifteen Hundred Turrets upon the Walls, each of them Two Hundred Foot high. He appointed the City to be inhabited chiefly by the richest Assyrians, and gave liberty to People of any other Nation, (to as many as would) to dwell there, and allow'd to the Citizens a large Territory next adjoining to them, and call'd the City after his own Name Ninus.
When he had finish'd his Work here, he marcht with an Army against the Bactrians, where he marry'd Semiramis; who being so famous above any of her Sex (as in History it is related) we cannot but say something of her here in this Place, being one advanc'd from so low a Fortune, to such a state and degree of Honour and Worldly Glory.
There's a City in Syria, call'd Ascalon, near which is a deep Lake abounding with Fish, where not far off stands a Temple dedicated to a famous Goddess call'd by the SyriansDerceto, she represents a Woman in her Face, and a Fish in all other parts of her Body, upon the account following, as the most Judicious among the Inhabitants report; for they say, that Venus being angry at this Goddess, caus'd her to fall into a vehement pang of Love with a beautiful Young Man, who was among others sacrificing to her, and was got with Child by him, and brought to Bed of a Daughter; and being asham'd afterwards of what she had done, she kill'd the Young Man, and expos'd the Child among Rocks in the Desert, and through Sorrow and Shame cast her self into the Lake, and was afterwards transform'd into a Fish; whence it came to pass, that at this very Day the Syrians eat no Fish, but adore them as Gods. They say that the Infant that was expos'd, was both preserv'd and nourish'd by a most wonderful Providence, by the means of a great Flock of Pigeons that nestled near to the Place where the Child lay: For with their Wings they cherisht it, and kept it warm; and observing where the Herdsmen and other Shepherds left their Milk in the Neighbouring Cottages, took it up in their Bills, and as so many Nurses thrust their Beaks between the Infants Lips, and so instil'd the Milk: And when the Child was a Year old, and stood in need of stronger Nourishment, the Pigeons fed it with pieces of Cheese which they pickt out from the rest: When the Shepherds return'd, and found their Cheeses pickt round, they wondred (at first) at the thing; but observing afterward how it came to pass, they not only found out the cause, but likewise a very beautiful Child, which they forthwith carry'd away to their Cottages, and made a Present of it to the King's Superintendent of his Flocks and Herds (whose Name was Simma) who (having no Children of his own) carefully bred up the Young Lady as if she had been his own Daughter, and call'd her Semiramis, a denomination in the Syrian Language deriv'd from Pigeons, which the Syrians ever after ador'd for Goddesses. And these are the Stories told of Semiramis.
Being now grown up, and exceeding all others of her Sex for the Charms of her Beauty, one of the King's great Officers call'd Menon, was sent to take an account of the Kings Herds and Flocks: This Man was Lord President of the King's Council, and chief Governor of Syria, and lodging upon this occasion at Simma's House, at the sight of Semiramis, fell in love with her, and with much intreaty obtain'd her from Simma, and carried her away with him to Ninive, where he Marry'd her, and had by her Two Sons, Hypates and Hydaspes: And being a Woman of admirable Parts as well as Beauty, her Husband was altogether at her Devotion, and never would do any thing without her Advice, which was ever successful.
About this time Ninus having finish'd his City (call'd after his own Name,) prepar'd for his Expedition against the Bactrians; and having had experience of the greatness of their Forces, the valour of their Souldiers, and the difficulties of passing into their Country, he rais'd an Army of the choicest Men he could Page 56 pick out from all Parts of his Dominions'; for because he was baffl'd in his former Expedition, he was resolv'd to invade Bactria with a far stronger Army than he did before. Bringing therefore his whole Army together at a General Randezvouz, there were numbred (as Ctesias writes) Seventeen Hundred Thousand Foot, above Two Hundred and Ten Thousand Horse, and no fewer than Ten Thousand and Six Hundred Hooked Chariots. This number at the first view seems to be very incredible; but to such as seriously consider the largeness and populousness of Asia, it cannot be judg'd impossible. For if any (not to say any thing of the Eight Hundred Thousand Men that Darius had with him in his Expedition against the Scythians, and the innumerable Army Xerxes brought over with him into Grecce) will but take notice of things done lately, even as of Yesterday, he'l more easily credit what we now say. For in Sicily Dionysius led only out of that one City of Syracuse, an Hundred and Twenty Thousand Foot, and Twelve Thousand Horse; and lancht out of one Port, a Navy of Four Hundred Sail, of which some were of Three Tyre of Oars, and others of Five: And the Romans a little before the Times of Hannibal, rais'd in Italy of their own Citizens and Confederates, an Army little less than a Million of Fighting Men; and yet all Italy is not to be compar'd with one Province of Asia for number of Men. But this may sufficiently convince them, that compute the ancient Populousness of the Countries by the present depopulations of the Cities at this day.
Ninus therefore marching with these Forces against the Bactrians, divided his Army into Two Bodies, because of the straitness and difficulty of the Passages. There are in Bactria many large and populous Cities, but one is more especially Famous, call'd Bactria, in which the King's Palace, for greatness and magnificence, and the Citadel for strength, far excel all the rest.
Oxyartes reign'd there at this time, who caus'd all that were able, to bear Arms, and muster'd an Army of Four Hundred Thousand Men. With these he met the Enemy at the Streights, entring into his Country, where he suffered Ninus to enter with part of his Army: When he saw a competent number enter'd, he fell upon them in the open Plain, and fought them with that resolution, that the Bactrians put the Assyrians to flight, and pursuing them to the next Mountains, kill'd a Hundred Thousand of their Enemies; but after the whole Army enter'd, the Bactrians were overpower'd by number, and were broken, and all fled to their several Cities, in order to defend every one his own Country. Ninus easily subdu'd all the rest of the Forts and Castles; but Bactria it self was so strong and well provided, that he could not force it; which occasion'd a long and tedious Siege, so that the Husband of Semiramis (who was there in the King's Camp) being Love-sick, impatient of being any longer without his Wife, sent for her, who being both discreet and couragious, and indowed with other noble Qualifications, readily imbrac'd the opportunity of shewing to the World her own natural Valour and Resolution; and that she might with more safety perform so long a Journey, she put on such a Garment as whereby she could not be discern'd whether she were a Man or a Woman; and so made, that by it she both preserv'd her Beauty from being scorcht by the heat in her Journey, and likewise was thereby more nimble and ready for any business she pleas'd to undertake, being of her self a youthful and sprightly Lady; and this sort of Garment was in so high esteem, that the Medes afterwards when they came to be Lords of Asia, wore Semiramis's Gown, and the Persians likewise after them.
As soon as she came to Bactria, and observ'd the manner of the Siege, how Assaults were made only in open and plain Places most likely to be enter'd, and that none dar'd to approach the Cittadel, because of its natural Strength and Fortisication, and that they within took more care to defend the lower and weaker parts of the Walls, than the Castle where they neglected their Guards, she took some with her that were skilful in climbing up the Rocks, and with them with much Toyl, pass'd over a deep Trench, and possess'd her self of part of the Castle; whereupon she gave a Signal to them that were assaulting the Wall upon the Plain. Then they that were within the City being suddenly struck with a Panick Fear at the taking of the Castle, in desperation of making any further defence forsook the Walls.
The City being taken in this manner, the King greatly admir'd the Valour of the Woman, and bountifully rewarded her, and was presently so passionately affected at the sight of her Beauty, that he us'd all the Arguments imaginable to persuade Page 57 her Husband to bestow his Wife upon him, promising him as a Reward of his Kindness, to give him his Daughter Sosana in Marriage: But he absolutely refus'd; upon which the King threatn'd him, that if he would not consent, he would pluck out his Eyes.
Menon hereupon out of fear of the King's Threats, and overpower'd with the Love of his Wife, fell into a distracted Rage and Madness, and forthwith hang'd himself. And this was the occasion of the advancement of Semiramis to the Regal state and dignity.
Ninus having now possess'd himself of all the Treasures of Bactria (where was abundance of Gold and Silver) and settled his Affairs throughout the whole Province of Bactria, return'd with his Army to his own Country.
Afterwards he had a Son by Semiramis, call'd Ninyas, and dy'd leaving his Wife Queen Regent. She bury'd her Husband Ninus in the Royal Palace, and rais'd over him a Mount of Earth of a wonderful bigness, being Nine Furlongs in height, and ten in breadth, as Ctesias says: So that the City standing in a Plain near to the River Euphrates, the Mount (many Furlongs off) looks like a stately Cittadel. And it's said, that it continues to this day, though Nin•ve was destroy'd by the Medes when they ruin'd the Assyrian Empire.
Semiramis was naturally of an high aspiring Spirit, ambitious to excel all her Predecessors in glorious Actions, and therefore imploy'd all her Thoughts about the building of a City in the Province of Babylon; and to this end having provided Architects, Artists, and all other Necessaries for the Work, She got together Two Millions of Men out of all Parts of the Empire to be imploy'd in the building of the City. It was so built as that the River Euphrates ran through the middle of it, and she compass'd it round with a Wall of Three Hundred and Sixty Furlongs in Circuit, and adorn'd with many stately Turrets; and such was the state and grandeur of the Work, that the Walls were of that breadth, as that Six Chariots abreast might be driven together upon them. Their height was such as exceeded all Mens belief that heard of it (as Ctesias Cnidius relates) But Clitarchus, and those who afterwards went over with Alexander into Asia, have written that the Walls were in Circuit Three Hundred Sixty Five Furlongs; the Queen making them of that Compass, to the end that the Furlongs should be as many in number as the Days of the Year: They were of Brick cemented with Brimstone; in height as Ctesias says Fifty Orgyas; but as some of the later Writers report, but Fifty Cubits only, and that the Breadth was but a little more than what would allow two Chariots to be driven afront. There were Two Hundred and Fifty Turrets, in height and thickness proportionable to the largeness of the Wall. It is not to be wondred at, that there were so few Towers upon a Wall of so great a Circuit, being that in many Places round the City, there were deep Morasses; so that it was judg'd to no purpose to raise Turrets there where they were so naturally fortify'd: Between the Wall and the Houses, there was a Space left round the City of Two Hundred Foot.
That the Work might be the more speedily dispatcht, to each of her Friends was allotted a Furlong, with an allowance of all Expences necessary for their several Parts, and commanded all should be finish'd in a Years time; which being diligently perfected with the Queen's Approbation, she then made a Bridge over the narrowest part of the River, Five Furlongs in length, laying the Supports and Pillars of the Arches with great Art and Skill in the Bottom of the Water Twelve Foot distance from each other. That the Stones might be the more firmly joyn'd, they were bound together with Hooks of Iron, and the Joints fill'd up with melted Lead. And before the Pillars, she made and placed Defences, with sharp pointed Angles, to receive the Water before it beat upon the flat sides of the Pillars, which caus'd the Course of the Water to run round by degrees gently and moderately as far as to the broad sides of the Pillars, so that the sharp Points of the Angles cut the Stream, and gave a check to its violence, and the roundness of them by lit•le and little giving way, abated the force of the Current. This Bridge was 〈◊〉 wi•h •reat •oices and Planks of Cedar, Cypress and Palm Trees, and was Thi〈…〉•oot in breadth, and for Art and Curiosity, yielded to none of the Works o•〈◊〉. On either side of the River she rais'd a Bank, as broad 〈◊◊◊◊〉 great cost drew it out in length an Hundred Furlongs. Page 58 She built likewise Two Palaces at each end of the Bridge upon the Bank of the River, whence she might have a Prospect over the whole City, and make her Passage as by Keys to the most convenient Places in it, as she had occasion. And whereas Euphrates runs through the middle of Babylon, making its course to the South, the Palaces lye the one on the East, and the other on the West Side of the River; both built at exceeding Costs and Expence. For that on the West had an high and stately Wall, made of well burnt Brick, Sixty Furlongs in compass; within this was drawn another of a round Circumference, upon which were portray'd in the Bricks before they were burnt, all sorts of living Creatures, as if it were to the Life, laid with great Art in curious Colours. This Wall was in Circuit Forty Furlongs, Three Hundred Bricks thick, and in height (as Ctesias says) a Hundred Yards, upon which were Turrets an Hundred and Forty Yards high. The Third and most inward Wall immediately surrounded the Palace, Thirty Furlongs in Compass, and far surmounted the middle Wall, both in height and thickness; and on this Wall and the Towers were represented the Shapes of all sorts of Living Creatures, artificially exprest in most lively Colours. Especially was represented a General Hunting of all sorts of wild Beasts, each Four Cubits high and upwards; amongst these was to be seen Semiramis on Horseback, striking a Leopard through with a Dart, and next to her, her Husband Ninus in close Fight with a Lion, piercing him with his Lance. To this Palace she built likewise Three Gates, under which were Apartments of Brass for Entertainments, into which Passages were open'd by by a certain Engin. This Palace far excell'd that on the other side of the River, both in greatness and adornments. For the outmost Wall of that (made of well burnt Brick) was but Thirty Furlongs in compass. Instead of the curious Portrature of Beasts, there were the Brazen Statues of Ninus and Semiramis, the great Officers, and of Jupiter, whom the Babylonians call Belus; and likewise Armies drawn up in Battalia, and divers sorts of Hunting were there represented, to the great diversion and pleasure of the Beholders. After all these in a low Ground in Babylon, she sunk a Place for a Pond Four-square, every Square being Three Hundred Furlongs in length, lin'd with Brick, and cemented with Brimstone, and the whole Five and Thirty Foot in depth: Into this having first turn'd the River, she then made a Passage in nature of a Vault, from one Palace to another, whose Arches were built of firm and strong Brick, and plaister'd all over on both sides with Bitumen Four Cubits thick. The Walls of this Vault were Twenty Bricks in thickness, and Twelve Foot high, beside and above the Arches; and the breadth was Fifteen Foot. This Piece of Work being finish'd in Two Hundred and Sixty Days, the River was turn'd into its ancient Channel again, so that the River flowing over the whole Work, Semiramis could go from one Palace to the other, without passing over the River. She made likewise Two Brazen Gates at either end of the Vault, which continu'd to the time of the Persian Empire. In the middle of the City, she built a Temple to Jupiter, whom the Babylonians call Belus (as we have before said) of which since Writers differ amongst themselves, and the Work is now wholly decay'd through length of Time, there's nothing that can certainly be related concerning it: Yet it's apparent it was of an exceeding great height, and that by the advantage of it, the Chaldean Astrologers exactly observ'd the setting and rising of the Stars. The whole was built of Brick, cemented with Brimstone, with great Art and Cost. Upon the top she plac'd Three Statues of beaten Gold of Jupiter, Juno and Rhea. That of Jupiter stood upright in the posture as if he were walking; he was Forty Foot in height, and weighed a Thousand Babylonish Talents. The Statue of Rhea was of the same weight sitting on a Golden Throne, having Two Lions standing on either side, one at her Knees, and near to them Two exceeding great Serpents of Silver, weighing Thirty Talents apiece. Here likewise the Image of Juno stood upright, and weighed Eight Hundred Talents, grasping a Serpent by the Head in her right Hand, and holding a Scepter adorn'd with precious Stones in her left. For all these Deities there was plac'd a Common Table made of beaten Gold, Forty Foot long, and Fifteen broad, weighing Five Hundred Talents: Upon which stood Two Cups weighing Thirty Talents, and near to them as many Censers weighing Three Hundred Talents: There were there likewise plac'd Three Drinking Bowls of Gold, one of which dedicated to Jupiter, weigh'd Twelve Hundred Babylonish Talents, but the other Two Six Hundred apiece; but all those the PersianPage 59 Kings sacrilegiously carry'd away. And length of Time has either altogether consum'd, or much defac'd the Palaces and the other Structures; so that at this day but a small part of this Babylon is inhabited, and the greatest part which lay within the Walls is turn'd into Tillage and Pasture.
There was likewise a Hanging Garden (as it's call'd) near the Citadel, not built by Semiramis, but by a later Prince, call'd Cyrus, for the sake of a Curtesan, who being a Persian (as they say) by Birth, and coveting Meadows on Mountain Tops, desir'd the King by an Artificial Plantation to imitate the Land in Persia. This Garden was Four Hundred Foot Square, and the Ascent up to it was as to the Top of a Mountain, and had Buildings and Apartments out of one into another, like unto a Theater. Under the Steps to the Ascent, were built Arches one above another, rising gently by degrees, which supported the whole Plantation. The highest Arch upon which the Platform of the Garden was laid, was Fifty Cubits high, and the Garden it self was surrounded with Battlements and Bulwarks. The Walls were made very strong, built at no small Charge and Expence, being Two and Twenty Foot thick, and every Sally-port Ten Foot wide: Over the several Stories of this Fabrick, were laid Beams and Summers of huge Massy Stones each Sixteen Foot long, and Four broad. The Roof over all these was first cover'd with Reeds, daub'd with abundance of Brimstone; then upon them was laid double Tiles pargeted together with a hard and durable Mortar, and over them after all, was a Covering with Sheets of Lead, that the Wet which drencht through the Earth, might not rot the Foundation. Upon all these was laid Earth of a convenient depth, sufficient for the growth of the greatest Trees. When the Soyl was laid even and smooth, it was planted with all sorts of Trees, which both for Greatness and Beauty, might delight the Spectators. The Arches (which stood one above another, and by that means darted light sufficient one into another) had in them many stately Rooms of all Kinds, and for all purposes. But there was one that had in it certain Engins, whereby it drew plenty of Water out of the River through certain Conduits and Conveyances from the Platform of the Garden, and no body without was the wiser, or knew what was done. This Garden (as we said before) was built in later Ages.
But Semiramis built likewise other Cities upon the Banks of Euphrates and Tigris, where she establish'd Marts for the vending of Merchandize brought from Media and Paretacenes, and other Neighbouring Countries. For next to Nile and Ganges, Euphrates and Tigris are the noblest Rivers of all Asia, and have their Spring-heads in the Mountains of Arabia, and are distant one from another Fifteen Hundred Furlongs. They run through Media and Paretacena into Mesopotamia, which from its lying in the middle between these Two Rivers, has gain'd from them that Name; thence passing through the Province of Babylon, they empty themselves into the Red Sea. These being very large Rivers, and passing through divers Countries, greatly inrich the Merchants that traffick in those Parts; so that the Neighbouring Places are full of Wealthy Mart Towns, and greatly advanc'd the glory and majesty of Babylon.
Semiramis likewise caus'd a great Stone to be cut out of the Mountains of Armenia, an Hundred and Twenty Five Foot in length, and Five in breadth and thickness; this she convey'd to the River by the help of many Yokes of Oxen and Asses, and there put it Aboard a Ship, and brought it safe by Water to Babylon, and set it up in the most remarkable High-way as a wonderful Spectacle to all Beholders. From its shape it's call'd an * Obelisk, and is accounted one of the Seven Wonders of the World. There are indeed many remarkable and wonderful things to be seen in Babylon; but amongst these, the great quantity of Brimstone that there flows out of the Ground, is not to be the least admir'd, which is so much, that it not only supply'd all their occasions in building such great and mighty Works, but the common People profusely gather it, and when its dry, burn it instead of Fewel; and though it be drawn out by an innumerable Company of People, as from a great Fountain, yet it's as plentiful as ever it was before. Near this Fountain there's a Spring not big, but very fierce and violent, for it casts forth a Sulphureous and gross Vapour, which suddenly kills every living Creature that comes near to it; for the Breath being stopt a long time, and all power of Respiration taken away by the force of the Exhalation, the Body presently swells so, that the Parts about the Lungs are all in a Flame.
Page 60 Beyond the River there is a Morass, about which is a crusty Earth; if any unacquainted with the Place get into it, at first he floats upon the Top, when he comes into the Middle he's violently hal'd away, and striving to help himself, seems to be held so fast by something or other, that all his Labour to get loose is in vain. And first his Feet, then his Legs and Thighs to his Loyns are benumm'd, at length his whole Body is stupify'd, and then down he sinks to the Bottom, and presently after is cast up dead to the Surface. And thus much for the Wonders of BABYLON.
When Semiramis had finish'd all her Works, she marcht with a great Army into Media, and encamp'd near to a Mountain call'd Bagistan; there she made a Garden twelve Furlongs in Compass: It was in a plain Champain Country, and had a great Fountain in it, which water'd the whole Garden. Mount Bagistan is dedicated to Jupiter, and towards one side of the Garden has steep Rocks seventeen Furlongs from the Top to the Bottom. She cut out a Piece of the lower Part of the Rock, and caus'd her own Image to be carv'd upon it, and a Hundred of her Guard that were Launceteers standing round about her. She wrote likewise in Syriac Letters upon the Rock, That Semiramis ascended from the Plain to the Top of the Mountain by laying the Packs and Fardles of the Beasts that follow'd her one upon another.
Marching away from ence, she came to Chaone, a City of Media, where she incamp'd upon a rising Ground, from whence she took notice of an exceeding great and high Rock, where she made another very great Garden in the very Middle of the Rock, and built upon it stately Houses of Pleasure, whence she might both have a delightful Prospect into the Garden, and view the Army as they lay incamp'd below in the Plain; being much delighted with this Place she stay'd here a considerable Time, giving up her self to all kinds of Pleasures and Delights, for she forbore marrying lest she should then be depos'd from the Government, and in the mean time she made Choice of the handsomest Commanders to be her Gallants; but after they had layn with her she cut off their Heads.
From hence she march'd towards Ecbatana, and arriv'd at the Mountain Zarcheum, which being many Furlongs in Extent, and full of steep Precipices and craggy Rocks, there was no passing but by long and tedious Windings and Turnings. To leave therefore behind her an Eternal Monument of her Name, and to make a short Cut for her Passage, she caus'd the Rocks to be hew'd down, and the Valleys to be fill'd up with Earth, and so in a short time at a vast Expence laid the Way open and plain, which to this day is call'd Semiramis's WAY.
When she came to Ecbatana, which is situated in a low and even Plain, she built there a stately Palace, and bestow'd more of her Care and Pains here than she had done at any other Place. For the City wanting Water (there being no Spring near) she plentifully supply'd it with good and wholesom Water, brought thither with a great deal of Toyl and Expence, after this manner: There's Mountain call'd Orontes, twelve Furlongs distant from the City, exceeding high and steep for the Space of five and twenty Furlongs up to the Top; on the other side of this Mount there's a great Mear which empties it self into the River. At the Foot of this Mountain she dug a Canal fifteen Foot in Breadth and forty in Depth, through which she convey'd Water in great Abundance into the City. And these are the Things which she did in Media.
Afterwards she made a Progress through Persia and all the rest of her Dominions in Asia, and all along as she went she plain'd all the Way before her, levelling both Rocks and Mountains. On the other hand in Champain Countries she would raise Eminences on which she would sometimes build Sepulchres for her Officers and Commanders, and at other times Towns and Cities. Throughout her whole Expeditions she always us'd to raise an Ascent, upon which she pitcht her own Pavilion, that from thence she might have a View of her whole Army. Many Things which she perform'd in Asia remain to this day, and are call'd Semiramis's Works.
Afterwards she pass'd through all Egypt, and having conquer'd the greatest Part of Lybia, she went to the Temple of Jupiter Hammon, and there inquir'd of the Oracle how long she should live; which return'd her this Answer, That she should leave this World and afterwards be for ever honour'd by some Nations in Asia, when Ninyas her Son should be plotting against her.
Page 61 When she had perform'd these things, she marcht into Ethiopia, and having subdu'd many Places in it, she had an Opportunity to see what was there very remarkable and wonderful. For they say there's a four-square Lake, a hundred and sixty Foot in Circuit, the Water of which is in Colour like unto Vermilion, and of an extraordinary sweet Flavour, much like unto old Wine; yet of such wonderful Operation, that whosoever drinks of it goes presently mad, and confesses all the Faults that ever he had been before guilty of; but some will scarce believe this Relation.
The Ethiopians have a peculiar way of burying their Dead; for after they have imbalm'd the Body they pour round about it melted Glass, and then place it upon a Pillar, so that the Corps may be plainly seen through the Glass, as Herodotus has reported the thing. But Ctesias of Cnidus assirms that he tells a Winter-tale, and says that its true indeed that the Body is imbalm'd, but that Glass is not pour'd upon the naked Body, for the Bodies thereby would be so scorch'd and defac'd that they could not possibly retain any likeness to the dead: And that therefore they make an hollow Statue of Gold, and put the Body within it, and then pour the melted Glass round upon this Statue, which they set upon some high Place, and so the Statue which resembles the dead is seen through the Glass, and thus he says they use to bury those of the richer Sort; But those of meaner Fortunes they put into Statues of Silver; and for the poor they make Statues of Potters Clay, every one having Glass enough, for there's Abundance to be got in Ethiopia, and ready at hand for all the Inhabitants. But we shall speak more fully of the Customs and Laws of the Ethiopians and the Product of the Land and other things worthy of Remark presently when we come to relate their Antiquities and old Fables and Stories.
Semiramis having settl'd her Affairs in Egypt and Ethiopia, return'd with her Army into Asia to Bactria: And now having a great Army, and enjoying a long Peace, she had a longing Desire to perform some notable Exploit by her Arms. Hearing therefore that the Indians were the greatest Nation in the whole World, and had the largest and richest Tract of Land of all others, she resolv'd to make War upon them. Stabrobates was at that time King, who had innumerable Forces, and many Elephants bravely accoutred and fitted to strike Terror into the Hearts of his Enemies. For India for the Pleasantness of the Country excell'd all others, being water'd in every Place with many Rivers, so that the Land yielded every year a double Crop; and by that Means was so rich and so abounded with Plenty of all things necessary for the Sustenance of Man's Life, that it supply'd the Inhabitants continually with such things as made them excessively rich, insomuch as it was never known that there was ever any Famine amongst them, the Climate being so happy and favourable; and upon that account likewise there's an incredible Number of Elephants, which for Courage and Strength of Body far excel those in Africa. Moreover this Country abounds in Gold, Silver, Brass, Iron and pretious Stones of all sorts, both for Profit and Pleasure. All which being nois'd abroad, so stirr'd up the Spirit of Semiramis, that (tho' she had no Provocation given her) yet she was resolv'd upon the War against the Indians. But knowing that she had need of great Forces, she sent Dispatches to all the Provinces, with Command to the Governors to list the choicest young Men they could find, ordering the Proportion of Souldiers every Province and Country should send forth according to the Largeness of it; and commanded that all should furnish themselves with new Arms and Armour, and all appear in three years time at a general Randezvouz in Bactria bravely arm'd and accountred in all Points. And having sent for Shipwrights out of Phoenicia, Syria, Cyprus, and other Places bordering upon the Sea-coasts, she prepar'd Timber for them fit for the Purpose, and order'd them to build Vessels that might be taken asunder and convey'd from place to place wherever she pleas'd. For the River Indus bordering upon that Kingdom being the greatest in those Parts, she stood in need of many River-boats to pass it in Order to repress the Indians. But being there was no Timber near that River she was necessitated to convey the Boats thither by Land from Bactria. She further consider'd that she was much inferior to the Indians for Elephants (which were absolutely necessary for her to make use of) she therefore contriv'd to have Beasts that should resemble them, hoping by this Means to strike a Terror into the Indians, who believ'd there were no Elephants in any place but in India.
Page 62 To this End she provided three hundred thousand black Oxen, and distributed the Flesh amongst a Company of ordinary Mechanicks and such Fellows as she had to play the Coblers for her, and ordered them by stitching the Skins together and stuffing them with Straw to imitate the Shape of an Elephant, and in every one of them she put a Man to govern them, and a Camel to carry them, so that at a distance they appear'd to all that saw them as if they were really such Beasts.
They that were imploy'd in this Work wrought at it night and day in a Place which was wall'd round for the Purpose, and Guards set at every Gate, that none might be admitted either to go in or out, to the end that none might see what they were doing, lest it should be nois'd abroad and come to the Ears of the Indians.
Having therefore provided Shipping and Elephants in the space of two years, in the third she randezvouz'd all her Forces in Bactria. Her Army consisted (as Ctesias says) of three Millions of Foot, two hundred Thousand Horse, and a hundred Thousand Chariots, and a hundred Thousand Men mounted upon Camels with Swords four Cubits long. The Boats that might be taken asunder were two Thousand; which the Camels carry'd by Land as they did the Mock-Elephants, as we have before declar'd. The Souldiers made their Horses familiar with these feign'd Beasts by bringing them often to them, lest they should be terrify'd at the Sight of them; which Perseus imitated many Ages after when he was to fight with the Romans, who had Elephants in their Army out of Africa. However this Contrivance prov'd to be of no Advantage either to him or her, as will appear in the Issue herein a little after related.
When Stabrobates the Indian King heard of these great Armies and the mighty Preparations made against him, he did all he could to excel Semiramis in every thing. And first he built of great Canes four Thousand River-boats: For abundance of these Canes grow in India about the Rivers and Fenns, so thick as a Man can scarce fathom: And Vessels made of these Reeds (they say) are exceeding useful, because they'l never rot or be worm-eaten.
He was very diligent likewise in preparing of Arms and going from Place to Place throughout all India, and so rais'd a far greater Army than that of Semiramis. To his former Number of Elephants he added more, which he took by hunting, and furnish'd them all with every thing that might make them look terrible in the Face of their Enemies, so that by their Multitude and the Compleatness of their Armour in all Points it seem'd above the Strength and Power of Man to bear up against the violent Shock of these Creatures.
Having therefore made all these Preparations, he sent Embassadours to Semiramis (as she was on her March towards him) to complain and upbraid her for beginning a War without any Provocation or Injury offer'd her; and by his private Letters taxed her with her whorish Course of Life, and vow'd (calling the Gods to witness) that if he conquer'd her he would nail her to the Cross. When she read the Letters, she smil'd, and said, the Indian should presently have a Trial of her Valour by her Actions. When she came up with her Army to the River Indus she found the Enemies Fleet drawn up in a Line of Battle; whereupon she forthwith drew up her own, and having mann'd it with the stoutest Souldiers, joyn'd Battle, yet so ordering the Matter as to have her Land-forces ready upon the Shoar to be assisting as there should be Occasion. After a long and sharp Fight with Marks of Valour on both sides, Semiramis was at length victorious, and sunk a Thousand of the Enemies Vessels, and took a great number of Prisoners. Puffed up with this Success she took in all the Cities and Islands that lay in the River, and carry'd away a hundred Thousand Captives. After this the Indian King drew off his Army (as if he fled for Fear) but in Truth to decoy his Enemies to pass the River.
Semiramis therefore (seeing things fall out according to her wish) laid a broad Bridge of Boats (at a vast Charge) over the River, and thereby passed over all her Forces, leaving only threescore Thousand to guard the Bridge, and with the rest of her Army pursu'd the Indians. She plac'd the Mock-Elephants in the Front that the Enemies Scouts might presently inform the King what Multitudes of Elephants she had in her Army: And she was not deceiv'd in her hopes; for when the Spies gave an Account to the Indians what a great Multitude of these Creatures were advancing towards them, they were all in amaze, inquiring among themselves, whence the Assyrians should be supply'd with such a vast number of Elephants: But the Cheat could not be long conceal'd, for some of Semiramis's Souldiers being Page 63 laid by the Heels for their Carelesness upon the Guard (through Fear of further Punishment) made their Escape and fled to the Enemy, and undeceiv'd them as to the Elephants; upon which the Indian King was mightily encourag'd, and caus'd Notice of the Delusion to be spread through the whole Army, and then forthwith march'd with all his Force against the Assyrians, Semiramis on the other hand doing the like. When they approach'd near one to another, Stabrobates the Indian King plac'd his Horse and Chariots in the Van-guard at a good distance before the main Body of his Army. The Queen having plac'd her Mock-Elephants at the like distance from her main Body, valiantly receiv'd her Enemies Charge; but the Indian Horse were most strangely terrify'd; for in Regard the Phantasms at a distance seem'd to be real Elephants, the Horses of the Indians (being inur'd to those Creatures) prest boldly and undauntedly forward; but when they came near and saw another sort of Beast than usual, and the smell and every thing else almost being strange and new to them, they broke in with great Terror and Confusion, one upon another, so that they cast some of their Riders headlong to the Ground, and ran away with others (as the Lot happen'd) into the midst of their Enemies: Whereupon Semiramis readily making use of her Advantage, with a Body of choice Men fell in upon them, and routed them, forcing them back to their main Body: And though Stabrobates was something astonish'd at this unexpected Defeat, yet he brought up his Foot against the Enemy with his Elephants in the Front: He himself was in the right Wing, mounted upon a stately Elephant, and made a fierce Charge upon the Queen her self, who happen'd then to be opposite to him in the left. And tho' the Mock-Elephants in Semiramis's Army did the like, yet they stood the violent shock of the other but a little while, for the Indian Beasts being both exceeding strong and stout, easily bore down and destroy'd all that oppos'd them, so that there was a great Slaughter; for some they trampl'd under foot, others they rent in pieces with their Teeth, and toss'd up others with their Trunks into the Air. The Ground therefore being cover'd with Heaps of dead Carcases and nothing but Death and Destruction to be seen on every hand, so that all were full of Horror and Amazement, none durst keep their Order or Ranks any longer. Upon which the whole Assyrian Army fled outright, and the Indian King encountred with Semiramis, and first wounded her with an Arrow in the Arm, and afterwards with a Dart (in wheeling about) in the Shoulder, whereupon the Queen (her Wounds not being mortal) fled, and by the Swiftness of her Horse (which far exceeded the other that pursu'd her) she got off. But all making one way to the Bridge of Boats, and such a vast Multitude of Men thronging together in one strait and narrow Passage, the Queen's Souldiers miserably perish'd by treading down one another under foot, and (which was strange and unusual) Horse and Foot lay tumbling promiscuously one over another. When they came at length to the Bridge, and the Indians at their Heels, the Consternation was so great that many on both sides the Bridge were tumbled over into the River. But when the greatest part of those that remain'd had got over; Semiramis caus'd the Cords and Tenons of the Bridge to be cut, which done, the Boats (which were before joyn'd together, and upon which was a great Number of Indians not in the Pursuit) being now divided into many Parts, and carry'd here and there by the force of the Current, Multitudes of the Indians were drown'd, and Semiramis was now safe and secure, having such a Barrier as the River betwixt her and her enemies. Whereupon the Indian King being forewarn'd by Prodigies from Heaven and the Opinions of the Soothsayers, forbore all further Pursuit. And Semiramis making Exchange of Prisoners in Bactra return'd with scarce a third part of her Army.
A little time after Semiramis being assaulted by an Eunuch through the treacherous Contrivance of her Son, remembred the former Answer given her by the Oracle at the Temple of Hammon, and therefore pass'd the Business over without punishing of him who was chiefly concern'd in the Plot: But surrendring the Crown to him, commanded all to obey him as their lawful King, and forthwith disappear'd as if she had been translated to the Gods, according to the Words of the Oracle. There are some which fabulously say she was metamorphos'd into a Pigeon; and that she flew away with a Flock of those Birds that lighted upon her Palace: And hence it is that the Assyrians adore a Dove, believing that Semiramis was enthron'd amongst the Gods. And this was the * End of Semiramis Queen Page 64 of all Asia, except India, after she had liv'd Sixty two years, and reign'd Forty two. And these are the Things which Ctesias the Cnidian reports of her in his History.
Athenaeus, and some other Writers, affirm that she was a most beautiful Strumpet, and upon that account the King of Assyria fell in Love with her, and at first was taken into his Favour, and at length becoming his lawful Wife she prevail'd with her Husband to grant her the sole and absolute Authority of the regal Government for the space of five days. Taking therefore upon her the Scepter and royal Mantle of the Kingdom, the first day she made a sumptuous Banquet and magnificent Entertainments, to which she invited the Generals of the Army and all the Nobility, in order to be observant to all her Commands. The next day having both great and small at her beck, she committed her Husband to the Goal: And in Regard she was of a bold and daring Spirit, apt and ready to undertake any great Matters, she easily gain'd the Kingdom, which she held to the time of her old Age, and became famous for her many great and wonderful Acts: And these are the Things which Historians variously relate concerning her.
Ninyas succeeds Semiramis: His close and slothful Manner of Life. The Reign of Sardanapalus: His Luxury and Effeminacy. His Epitaph. Depos'd by Arbaces the Mede; and the Assyrian Empire overturn'd. Nineveh raz'd.
AFTER her Death Ninyas, the Son of Ninus and Semiramis, succeeded, and reign'd peaceably, nothing at all like his Mother for Valour and martial Affairs. For he spent all his Time shut up in his Place, insomuch as he was never seen of any but of his Concubines and Eunuchs; for being given up wholly to his Pleasures, he shook off all Cares and every thing that might be irksome and troublesome, placing all the Happiness of a King in a fordid Indulgence of all sorts of Voluptuousness. But that he might reign the more securely, and be fear'd of all his Subjects, every year he rais'd out of every Province a certain number of Souldiers, under their several Generals, and having brought them in the City, over every Country appointed such a Governor as he could most confide in, and were most at his Devotion. At the end of the year he rais'd as many more out of the Provinces, and sent the former home, taking first of them an Oath of Fidelity. And this he did, that his Subjects observing how he always had a great Army ready in the Field, those of them that were inclin'd to be refractory or rebel (out of fear of Punishment) might continue firm in their due Obedience. And the further Ground likewise of this yearly Change was, that the Officers and Souldiers might be from time to time disbanded before they could have time to be well acquainted one with another. For length of Time in martial Imployments so improves the Skill and advances the Courage and Resolution of the Commanders, that many times they conspire against their Princes and wholly fall off from their Allegiance.
His living thus close and unseen, was a Covert to the Voluptuous Course of his Life, and in the mean time (as if he had been a God) none durst in the least mutter any thing against him. And in this manner (creating Commanders of his Army, constituting of Governors in the Provinces, appointing the Chamberlains and Officers of his Houshold, placing of Judges in their several Countries, and ordering and disposing of all other Matters as he thought sit most for his own Advantage) he spent his Days in Nineve.
Page 65 After the same manner almost liv'd all the rest of the Kings for the space of Thirty Generations, in a continu'd Line of Succession from Father to Son, to the very Reign of Sardanapalus; in whose time the Empire of the Assyrians devolv'd upon the Medes, after it had continu'd above Thirteen Hundred and Sixty Years, as Ctesias the Cnidian says in his Second Book. But it's needless to recite their Names, or how long each of them reign'd, in regard none of them did any thing worth remembring, save only that it may deserve an Account how the Assyrians assisted the Trojans, by sending them some Forces under the Command of Memnon the Son of Tithon.
For when Teutamus reign'd in Asia, who was the Twentieth from Ninyas the Son of Semiramis, it's said the Grecians under their General Agamemnon, made War upon the Trojans, at which time the Assyrians had been Lords of Asia above a Thousand Years. For Priam the King of Troy (being a Prince under the Assyrian Empire, when War was made upon him) sent Ambassadors to crave aid of Teutamus, who sent him Ten Thousand Ethiopians, and as many out of the Province of Susiana, with Two Hundred Chariots under the Conduct of Memnon the Son of Tithon. For this Tithon at that time was Governor of Persia, and in special Favour with the King above all the rest of the Princes: And Memnon was in the Flower of his Age, strong and couragious, and had built a Pallace in the Cittadel of Susa, which retain'd the Name of Memnonia to the time of the Persian Empire. He pav'd also there a Common High-way, which is call'd Memnon's Way to this day. But the Ethiopians of Egypt question this, and say that Memnon was their Country-man, and shew several antient Palaces which (they say) retain his Name at this day, being call'd Memnon's Palaces.
Notwithstanding, however it be as to this matter, yet it has been generally and constantly held for a certain Truth, that Memnon led to Troy Twenty Thousand Foot, and Two Hundred Chariots, and signaliz'd his Valour with great Honour and Reputation, with the Death and Destruction of many of the Greeks, till at length he was slain by an Ambuscade laid for him by the Thessalians. But the Ethiopians recover'd his Body, and burnt it, and brought back his Bones to Tithon. And these things the Barbarians say are recorded of Memnon in the Histories of their Kings.
Sardanapalus, the Thirtieth from Ninus, and the last King of the Assyrians, exceeded all his Predecessors in Sloth and Luxury; for besides that, he was seen of none out of his Family, he led a most effeminate Life: For wallowing in pleasure and wanton Dalliances, he cloathed himself in Womens Attire, and spun fine Wool and Purple amongst the throngs of his Whores and Concubines. He painted likewise his Face, and deckt his whole Body with other Allurements like a Strumpet, and was more lascivious than the most wanton Curtezan. He imitated likewise a Womans Voice, and not only daily inured himself to such Meat and Drink as might incite and stir up his lascivious Lusts, but gratify'd them by filthy Catamites, as well as Whores and Strumpets, and without all sense of Modesty, abusing both Sexes, slighted Shame, the concomitant of filthy and impure Actions; and proceeded to such a degree of Voluptuousness and sordid Uncleanness, that he compos'd Verses for his Epitaph, with a Command to his Successors to have them inscrib'd upon his Tomb after his Death, which were thus Translated by a Grecian out of the Barbarian Language,
For Arbaces a Mede, a Valiant and Prudent Man, and General of the Forces which were sent every Year out of Media to Ninive, was stir'd up by the Governor of Babylon (his Fellow Soldier, and with whom he had contracted an intimate familiarity) to overthrow the Assyrian Empire. This Captain's Name was Belesis, a most Famous Babylonian Priest, one of those call'd Caldeans, expert in Astrology and Divination; of great Reputation upon the account of foretelling future Events, which happen'd accordingly. Amongst others, he told his Friend, the Median General, that he should depose Sardanapalus, and be Lord of all his Dominions. Arbaces hereupon hearkning to what he said, promis'd him, that if he succeeded in his Attempt, Belesis should be chief Governor of the Province of Babylon: Being therefore fully persuaded of the truth of what was foretold, as if he had receiv'd it from an Oracle, he enter'd into an Association with the Governors of the rest of the Provinces, and by feasting and caressing of them, gain'd all their Hearts and Affections. He made it likewise his great business to get a sight of the King, that he might observe the Course and manner of his Life; to this end he bestow'd a Cup of Gold upon an Eunuch, by whom being introduc'd into the King's Presence, he perfectly came to understand his Laciviousness, and Esseminate course of Life. Upon sight of him, he contemn'd and despis'd him as a Vile and Worthless Wretch, and thereupon was much more earnest to accomplish what the Chaldean had before declar'd to him. At length he conspir'd with Belesis so far, as that he himself persuaded the Medes and Persians to a defection, and the other brought the Babylonians into the Confederacy. He imparted likewise his Design to the King of Arabia, who was at this time his special Friend.
And now the Years attendance of the Army being at an end, new Troops succeeded, and came into their Place, and the former were sent every one here and there, into their several Countries. Hereupon Arbaces prevail'd with the Medes to invade the Assyrian Empire, and drew in the Persians in hopes of Liberty, to join in the Confederacy. Belesis in like manner persuaded the Babylonians to stand up for their Liberties. He sent Messengers also into Arabia, and gain'd that Prince (who was both his Friend, and had been his Guest) for a Confederate.
When therefore the Yearly Course was run out, all these with a great number of Forces flockt together to Nineve, in shew to serve their Turn according to custom, but in truth to overturn the Assyrian Empire. The whole number of Soldiers now got together out of those Four Provinces, amounted to Four Hundred Thousand Men. All these (being now in one Camp) call'd a Council of War in order to consult what was to be done.
Sardanapalus being inform'd of the Revolt, led forth the Forces of the rest of the Provinces against them; whereupon a Battel being fought, the Rebels were totally routed, and with a great Slaughter were forc'd to the Mountains Seventy Furlongs from Nineve.
Being drawn up a Second time in Battalia to try their Fortune in the Field, and now fac'd by the Enemy, Sardanapalus caus'd a Proclamation to be made by the Heralds, that whosoever kill'd Arbaces the Mede, should receive as a Reward, Two Hundred Talents of Gold, and double the Sum to him (together with the Government of Media,) who should take him alive. The like Sum he promis'd to such as should kill Belesis, or take him alive. But none being wrought upon by these Promises, he fought them again, and destroy'd many of the Rebels, and forc'd the rest to fly to their Camp upon the Hills. Arbaces being disheartn'd with these Misfortunes, call'd a Council of War to consider what was sit further to be done: The greater part were for returning into their own Countries, and possess themselves of the strongest Places, in order to fit and furnish themselves with all things further necessary for the War. But when Belesis the Babylonian assur'd them that the Gods promis'd, that after many Toyls and Labours they should have good Success, and all should end well, and had us'd several other Arguments (such as he thought best) he prevail'd with them to resolve to run through all the hazards of the War.
Page 67 Another Battle therefore was fought, wherein the King gain'd a third Victory, and pursu'd the Revolters as far as to the Mountains of Babylon. In this Fight Arbaces himself was wounded, though he fought stoutly, and slew many of the Assyrians with his own Hand.
After so many Defeats and Misfortunes one upon the neck of another, the Conspirators altogether despair'd of Victory, and therefore the Commanders resolv'd every one to return to their own Country. But Belesis, who lay all that Night Star-gazing in the open Field, prognosticated to them the next day, that if they would but continue together Five Days, unexpected Help would come, and they would see a mighty change, and that Affairs would have a contrary aspect to what they then had; for he affirm'd, that through his Knowledge in Astrology, he understood that the Gods portended so much by the Stars; therefore he intreated them to stay so many days, and make trial of his Art, and wait so long to have an Experiment of the Goodness of the Gods.
All being thus brought back, and waiting till the time appointed, News on a sudden was brought that mighty Forces were at hand, sent to the King out of Bactria. Hereupon Arbac•s resolv'd with the stoutest and swiftest Soldiers of the Army, forthwith to make out against the Captains that were advancing, and either by fair words to perswade them to a defection, or by Blows to force them to join with them in their Design. But Liberty being sweet to every one of them, first the Captains and Commanders were easily wrought upon, and presently after the whole Army join'd, and made up one intire Camp together. It happen'd at that time, that the King of Assyria not knowing any thing of the Revolt of the Bactrians, and puft up by his former Successes, was indulging his Sloath and Idleness, and preparing Beasts for Sacrifice, plenty of Wine, and other things necessary in order to feast and entertain his Soldiers.
While his whole Army was now feasting and revelling, Arbaces (receiving intelligence by some Deserters of the Security and Intemperance of the Enemy) fell in upon them on the sudden in the Night; and being in due order and discipline, and setting upon such as were in confusion, he being before prepar'd, and the other altogether unprovided, they easily broke into their Camp, and made a great Slaughter of some, forcing the rest into the City.
Hereupon Sardanapalus committed the charge of the whole Army to Salemenus his Wife's Brother, and took upon himself the defence of the City. But the Rebels twice defeated the King's Forces, once in the open Field, and the Second time before the Walls of the City; in which last ingagement Salemenus was kill'd, and almost all his Army lost, some being cut off in the pursuit, and the rest (save a very few) being intercepted, and prevented from entring into the City, were driven headlong into the River Euphrates; and the number of the Slain was so great, that the River was dy'd over with Blood, and retain'd that Colour for a great distance, and a long course together.
The King being afterwards besieg'd, many of the Nations (through desire of Liberty) revolted to the Confederates; so that Sardanapalus now perceiving that the Kingdom was like to be lost, sent away his Three Sons and Two Daughters, with a great deal of Treasure into Paphlagonia, to Cotta the Governor there, his most intire Friend; and sent Posts into all the Provinces of the Kingdom, in order to raise Souldiers, and make all other Preparations necessary to indure a Siege. And he was the more incouraged to this, for that he was acquainted with an ancient Prophesy, That Nineve could never be taken by force, till the River became the City's Enemy; which the more incourag'd him to hold out, because he conceiv'd that was never like to be; therefore he resolv'd to indure the Siege till the Aids which he expected out of the Provinces came up to him.
The Enemy on the other hand grown more couragious by their Successes, eagerly urg'd on the Siege, but made little impression on the Besieg'd by reason of the strength of the Walls; for Ballistes to cast Stones, Testudos to cast up Mounts, and Battering Rams were not known in those Ages. And besides (to say truth) the King had been very careful (as to what concern'd the defence of the place) plentifully to furnish the Inhabitants with every thing necessary. The Siege continu'd Two Years, during which time nothing was done to any purpose, save that the Walls were sometimes assaulted, and the Besieg'd pen'd up in the City. The Third Year it happened that Euphrates overflowing with continual Rains, came up into a part of the City, and tore down the Wall Twenty Furlongs in Page 68 length. The King hereupon conceiving that the Oracle was accomplish'd, in that the River was an apparent Enemy to the City, utterly despair'd, and therefore that he might not fall into the Hands of his Enemies, he caus'd a huge Pile of Wood to be made in his Palace Court, and heapt together upon it all his Gold, Silver, and Royal Apparel, and enclosing his Eunuchs and Concubines in an Apartment within the Pile, caus'd it to be set on Fire, and burnt himself and them together, which when the Revolters came to understand, they enter'd through the Breach of the Walls, and took the City; and cloath'd Arbaces with a Royal Robe, and committed to him the sole Authority, proclaiming him King. When he had rewarded his Followers, every one according to their demerit, and appointed Governors over the several Provinces, Belesis the Babylonian, who had foretold his advancement to the Throne, put him in mind of his Services, and demanded the Government of Babylon, which he had before promis'd him. He told him likewise of a Vow that he himself had made to Belus, in the heat of the War, that when Sardanapalus was conquer'd, and the Palace consum'd, he would carry the Ashes to Babylon, and there raise a Mount near to his Temple, which should be an eternal Monument to all that sail'd through Euphrates, in memory of him that overturn'd the Assyrian Empire. But that which in truth induc'd him to make this Request was, that he had been inform'd of the Gold and Silver by an Eunuch (that was a Deserter) whom he had hid and conceal'd: Arbaces therefore being ignorant of the Contrivance (because all the rest beside this Eunuch, were consum'd with the King) granted to him liberty both to carry away the Ashes, and likewise the absolute Government of Babylon without paying any Tribute. Whereupon Belesis forthwith prepar'd Shipping, and together with the Ashes carry'd away most of the Gold and Silver to Babylon. But when the King came plainly to understand the Cheat, he committed the Examination and Decision of this Theft to the other Captains who were his Assistants in the deposing of Sardanapalus. Belesis upon his Trial confess'd the Fact, and thereupon they condemn'd him to lose his Head. But the King being a Man of a noble and generous Spirit, and willing to adorn the beginning of his Reign with the Marks of his Grace and Mercy, not only pardon'd him, but freely gave him all the Gold and Silver which had been carry'd away; neither did he deprive him of the Government of Babylon, which at the first he conferr'd upon him, saying, That his former good Services did overballance the Injuries afterwards. This gracious Disposition of the King being nois'd abroad, he thereby not only gain'd the Hearts of his People, but was highly honour'd, and his Name famous among all the Provinces, and all judg'd him worthy of the Kingdom, who was so compassionate and gracious to Offenders.
The like Clemency he shew'd to the Inhabitants of Nineve; for though he disspers'd them into several Country Villages, yet he restor'd to every one of them their Estates, but raz'd the City to the ground.
The rest of the Silver and Gold that could be found in the Pile (of which there were many Talents) he convey'd to Ecbatana the Seat Royal of Media.
And thus was the Assyrian Empire overturn'd by the Medes after it had continu'd Thirty Generations; from Ninus above Fourteen Hundred Years.
Of the Ancient Chaldeans, and their Philosophy. The Planets and their Course. The Empire of the Medes and their Kings. A Description of India: The ancient Manners and Customs of the People. Their Laws; Tribes. A Description of Scythia. Of the Amazons. Of the Hyperboreans.
HEre it will not be amiss to say something of the Chaldeans (as the Babylonians call them) and of their Antiquity, that nothing worth Remark may be omitted.
They being the most ancient Babylonians, hold the same station and dignity in the Common-wealth as the Egyptian Priests do in Egypt: For being deputed to Divine Offices, they spend all their Time in the study of Philosophy, and are especially famous for the Art of Astrology. They are mightily given to Divination, and foretel future Events, and imploy themselves either by Purifications, Sacrifices, or other Inchantments to avert Evils, or procure good Fortune and Success. They are skilful likewise in the Art of Divination, by the flying of Birds, and interpreting of Dreams and Prodigies: And are reputed as true Oracles (in declaring what will come to pass) by their exact and diligent viewing the Intrals of the Sacrifices. But they attain not to this Knowledge in the same manner as the Grecians do; for the Chaldeans learn it by Tradition from their Ancestors, the Son from the Father, who are all in the mean time free from all other publick Offices and Attendances; and because their Parents are their Tutors, they both learn every thing without Envy, and rely with more confidence upon the truth of what is taught them; and being train'd up in this Learning from their very Childhood, they become most famous Philosophers, (that Age being most capable of Learning, wherein they spend much of their time.) But the Grecians for the most part come raw to this study, unfitted and unprepar'd, and are long before they attain to the Knowledge of this Philosophy: And after they have spent some small time in this Study, they are many times call'd off and forc'd to leave it, in order to get a Livelihood and Subsistence. And although some few do industriously apply themselves to Philosophy, yet for the sake of Gain, these very Men are opinionative, and ever and anon starting new and high Points, and never fix in the steps of their Ancestors. But the Barbarians keeping constantly close to the same thing, attain to a perfect and distinct Knowledge in every particular.
But the Grecians cunningly catching at all Opportunities of Gain, make new Sects and Parties, and by their contrary Opinions wrangling and quarelling concerning the chiefest Points, lead their Scholars into a Maze; and being uncertain and doubtful what to pitch upon for certain truth, their Minds are fluctuating and in suspence all the days of their Lives, and unable to give a certain assent unto any thing. For if any Man will but examine the most eminent Sects of the Philosophers, he shall find them much differing among themselves, and even opposing one another in the most weighty parts of their Philosophy. But to return to the Chaldeans, they hold that the World is eternal, which had neither any certain Beginning, nor shall have any End; but all agree, that all things are order'd, and this beautiful Fabrick is supported by a Divine Providence, and that the Motions of the Heavens are not perform'd by chance and of their own accord, but by a certain and determinate Will and Appointment of the Gods.
Therefore from a long observation of the Stars, and an exact Knowledge of the motions and influences of every one of them, wherein they excel all others, they foretel many things that are to come to pass.
The say that the Five Stars which some call Planets, but they Interpreters, are most worthy of Consideration, both for their motions and their remarkable influences, especially that which the Grecians call Saturn. The brightest of them all, and which often portends many and great Events, they call Sol, the other Four they name Mars,Venus,Mercury and Jupiter, with our own Country Astrologers. They give the Name of Interpreters to these Stars, because these only Page 70 by a peculiar Motion do portend things to come, and instead of Jupiters, do declare to Men before-hand the good-will of the Gods; whereas the other Stars (not being of the number of the Planets) have a constant ordinary motion. Future Events (they say) are pointed at sometimes by their Rising, and sometimes by their Setting, and at other times by their Colour, as may be experienc'd by those that will diligently observe it; sometimes foreshewing Hurricanes, at other times Tempestuous Rains, and then again exceeding Droughts. By these, they say, are often portended the appearance of Comets, Eclipses of the Sun and Moon, Earthquakes and all other the various Changes and remarkable effects in the Air, boding good and bad, not only to Nations in general, but to Kings and Private Persons in particular. Under the Course of these Planets, they say are Thirty Stars, which they call Counselling Gods, half of whom observe what is done under the Earth, and the other half take notice of the actions of Men upon the Earth, and what is transacted in the Heavens. Once every Ten Days space (they say) one of the highest Order of these Stars descends to them that are of the lowest, like a Messenger sent from them above; and then again another ascends from those below to them above, and that this is their constant natural motion to continue for ever. The chief of these Gods, they say, are Twelve in number, to each of which they attribute a Month, and one Sign of the Twelve in the Zodiack.
Through these Twelve Signs the Sun, Moon, and the other Five Planets run their Course. The Sun in a Years time, and the Moon in the space of a Month.
To every of the Planets they assign their own proper Courses, which are perform'd variously in lesser or shorter time according as their several motions are quicker or slower. These Stars, they say, have a great influence both as to good and bad in Mens Nativities; and from the consideration of their several Natures, may be foreknown what will befal Men afterwards. As they foretold things to come to other Kings formerly, so they did to Alexander who conquer'd Darius, and to his Successors Antigonus and Seleucus Nicanor; and accordingly things fell out as they declar'd; which we shall relate particularly hereafter in a more convenient time. They tell likewise private Men their Fortunes so certainly, that those who have found the thing true by Experience, have esteem'd it a Miracle, and above the reach of Man to perform. Out of the Circle of the Zodiack they describe Four and Twenty Stars, Twelve towards the North Pole, and as many to the South.
Those which we see, they assign to the living; and the other that do not appear, they conceive are Constellations for the Dead; and they term them Judges of all things. The Moon, they say, is in the lowest Orb; and being therefore next to the Earth (because she is so small,) she finishes her Course in a little time, not through the swiftness of her Motion, but the shortness of her Sphear. In that which they affirm (that she has but a borrow'd light, and that when she is eclips'd, it's caus'd by the interposition of the shadow of the Earth) they agree with the Grecians.
Their Rules and Notions concerning the Eclipses of the Sun are but weak and mean, which they dare not positively foretel, nor fix a certain time for them. They have likewise Opinions concerning the Earth peculiar to themselves, affirming it to resemble a Boat, and to be hollow, to prove which, and other things relating to the frame of the World, they abound in Arguments; but to give a particular Account of 'em, we conceive would be a thing foreign to our History. But this any Man may justly and truly say, That the Chaldeans far exceed all other Men in the Knowledge of Astrology, and have study'd it most of any other Art or Science: But the number of Years during which the Chaldeans say, those of their Profession have given themselves to the study of this natural Philosophy, is incredible; for when Alexander was in Asia, they reckon'd up Four Hundred and Seventy Thousand Years since they first began to observe the Motions of the Stars. But lest we should make too long a digression from our intended Design, let this which we have said concerning the Chaldeans suffice.
Having now therefore spoken of the Assyrian Empire, and its Translation to the Medes, we shall return to that part of our History from whence we broke off.
Page 71 Whereas remarkable Authors have differ'd among themselves about the large Empire of the Medes, we conceive we shall not stray from the Duty of true and faithful Historians, if we compare the different relations of Writers one with another.
Herodotus indeed, who liv'd in the time of Xerxes, says that the Assyrians were conquer'd by the Medes after they had held the Empire of Asia for the space of five Hundred Years: That thence for many Ages after there was no one King that had the sole and absolute Authority of the Empire, but that the Cities in every Place enjoy'd their own Laws in a Democratical Government. At length after the Course of many Years, he says one Cyaxares, renown'd for his Justice, was advanc'd to the Throne; and that he was the first that subdu'd the neighbouring Nations to the Medes, and gave beginning to that Empire; whose Posterity afterwards brought under the bordering Countries and inlarg'd their Dominions, and continu'd their Empire to the time of Astyages (who was conquer'd by Cyrus and the Persians) of whom we shall now only give a touch in short, and shall treat more distinctly and particularly hereafter when we come to the Times more proper for this Purpose. For in the second year of the seventeeenth Olympiad (as Herodotus says) Cyaxares was elected King by the Medes. But Ctesias the Cnidian who was later then Herodotus, and liv'd about the time of Cyrus his Expedition against his Brother A•taxarxes: (for being then taken Prisoner (for his Skill in Physic) he was taken into the King's Favour, and continu'd with him in great Honour and Esteem for the space of seventeen years.) Out of the publick Records (in which the Persians (by force of some Law made for that Purpose) had in Order of Time noted and registred the ancient Affairs and Things done in the Kingdom) he industriously pick'd out every thing that was remarkable, and methodically compos'd them into an History, and brought them over into Greece.
In this History he declares that after the Overthrow of the Assyrian Empire, all Asia was under the Power of the Medes, and that Arbaces who overcame Sardanapalus (as is before related) was sole Monarch, and that after he had reign'd eight and twenty years, his Son Mandauces succeeded him, who reign'd over all Asia fifty years. After him reign'd Sesarmus thirty years; then Artias Fifty; after whom succeeded Arbianes two and twenty years. In his time (its said) a great War broke out between the Medes and the Cadusians upon the Occasions following. One Parsodes a Persian, for his Valour, Prudence and other Virtues, was a Man highly honour'd and dearly belov'd of the King, and one of the greatest Statesmen in the Kings Council.
This Man taking some Offence at a Sentence pronounc'd against him by the King, fled with three Thousand Foot and a Thousand Horse to the Cadusians, where he marry'd the Sister of the most potent Man amongst them; and not only rebell'd himself, but perswaded the whole Nation of the Cadusians to a general Revolt, and to stand up for their Liberties: Whereupon he was presently (upon the Account of his noted Valour) made General of the War. And now hearing that mighty Forces were preparing against him, he rais'd no less than two hundred Thousand Men out of the Country of the Cadusians, and pitcht his Camp upon the Borders of the Province; and tho' King Arseus came against him with eight hundred Thousand Men, yet Parsodes routed him and kill'd above fifty Thousand, and drove the rest out of the Country. Upon this Victory he was so honour'd and admir'd that the Inhabitants forthwith made him their King; after which he vex'd and tyr'd out Media with continual Incursions, and wasted and destroy'd all Places round about him. His Name therefore being grown famous, and now waxing old and drawing near to the End of his days, he injoyn'd his Successor (with the Denunciation of most dreadful Execrations) never to make Peace with the Medes, and if they did he wish'd that both the whole Nation of the Cadusians and his own Posterity might be rooted out and perish together. And for this Reason the Cadusians were ever after Enemies to the Medes, never subject to their Kings, till Cyrus transferr'd the Empire to the Persians.
After the Death of Artaeus, Artynes was King of the Medes, and reign'd two and twenty years; after him A••ibarnas fourteen years, in whose Reign the Parthians revolted and deliver'd up both their City and Country into the Hand of Page 72 the Sacae; whereupon arose a War between the Sacae and the Medes, which continu'd many years, and after many Battles fought, and great Slaughter on both sides, at length Peace was made upon these Conditions, That the Parthians should return to their ancient Subjection, and that both sides should quietly whatever enjoy they didbefore, and should ever after be Friends and Confederates. Zanara at that time was Queen of the Sacae, a Woman of a warlike Spirit, far exceeding any of her Sex among the Sacae for Courage and Activity in Martial Affairs. For this Nation is remarkable for brave spirited Women that use to go out to the Wars as Fellow-souldiers with the Men; and they say that this Virago was extraordinarily beautiful, and admirable for Courage and Council in all her Affairs. For she conquer'd the neighbouring Princes who had proudly oppress'd the Sacae, and civiliz'd the most part of the Country, and built many Cities, and every way improv'd and inrich'd her People; and therefore the Citizens after her Death in Gratitude for the many Advántages they injoy'd by her and to preserve the Memory of her Virtues, built for her a Sepulcher far higher than any of the rest. For they rear'd up for her a Pyramid Triangular from the Foundation Three Furlongs broad on every side, spiring up in a sharp Point at the Top a Furlong in Height. They plac'd likewise upon her Tomb a Colossus in Gold representing her, and ador'd her as a Demi-Goddess, and perform'd all other things with more State and Grandeur than to any of her Predecessors.
After the Death of Astibara King of the Medes, who dy'd old in Ecbatana, his Son Apandas (whom the Grecians call Astyages) succeeded, who being conquer'd by Cyrus the Persian, the Empire devolv'd upon the Persians. Of which we shall write distinctly in its proper Place.
Having therefore said enough (as we conceive) of the Empire of the Assyrians and Medes, and the Differences among Writers concerning them, we shall pass over to India, and give a particular Account of Things said to be done there.
INDIA is of a Quadrangular Form, one side lying towards the East, and the other to the South, inviron'd and washt by the great Ocean; that side on the North is divided by the Mountain Hemodus from Scythia, where the Sacae inhabit: The Fourth part towards the West, is bounded with the River Indus, the greatest of all others next to the River Nile.
The whole Extent of India from East to West, is Eight and Twenty Thousand Furlongs; and from North to South Two and Thirty Thousand Furlongs. The Extent of India being thus very large, it seems most of any other part of the World to lye under the Tropick of Capricorn. And in many remote parts of India, the Sun casts no Shadow, neither is the North Pole seen there in the Night, nor any of the Constellation call'd Arcturus, in the utmost parts; and for this reason they say, the Shadows bend towards the South.
The Mountains of India abound with all sorts of Fruit Trees, and the Fields every where cloath'd with Fruits of the Earth, full of pleasant Plains, watered with many Rivers; so that the Country bears Two Crops in the Year. It breeds likewise divers sorts of Creatures, both Volatile and Terrestrial, for strength and largeness remarkable above others. It affords plentiful Pastures for multitudes of mighty Elephants, in so much as those kind of Beasts which are bred there, are far stronger than those in Africa. And therefore many of them being taken in Hunting, and inur'd to Martial Exercises, are of great use and advantage to them for the obtaining of Victories. And such is the plenty there of all sorts of Fruits, that the Men are taller and bigger than any elsewhere; and the Air is so pure, and the Water so clear and wholsom, that by the help of these natural Advantages, the Inhabitants are very quick and ingenious in any Art or Profession. As the Earth is fruitful in the producing plenty of pleasant Fruits, so in the Bowels of it are to be found all sorts of Metals: For it abounds in Mines of Gold and Silver, Brass, Iron and Tin, and richly affords all other things useful both as to Pleasure and Profit, and likewise for Service in Times of War. Besides Corn, abundance of Millet grows there, being richly water'd by the overflowing of the Rivers: There's likewise great store of all sorts of Pulse and Rice, and that which they call Bosphorus, and many other Fruits for the sustaining of Man's Life. To all these may be added many other Fruits useful for Page 73 Food, and likewise as many fit for the feeding of Cattel, of which it would be too tedious to write particularly. And for this reason it's said, that there's never any Famine in India, or want of Victuals; for being that the Land there bears Two Crops every Year, once in the Winter about the time of Wheat-seeding among other Nations, and the other about the time of the Summer Solstice, when Rice, Bosporus, Sesamus and Millet are us'd to be sown; at both these times the Indians reap very plentifnl Harvests. And if one Harvest happens to miss, the other is sure to make amends for it. Besides there are many Fruits which grow naturally of themselves, and the Marishes afford for Mens Food, abundance of Roots of a most sweet and delicious Taste. For all the Fields almost of the whole Country are watered in Summer time with the sweet Waters of the overflowing Rivers, and with the Rains from Heaven, which fall constantly at certain times every Year in the Summer; and the Roots in the Marishes (especially of the Canes) are perfectly boyl'd by the heat of the Sun. There are Laws likewise in India, which conduce much to the preventing of Famine among them. Amongst other People, by Devastations in time of War the Land lies untill'd; but amongst the Indians, Husbandmen (as sacred) are never toucht, so that though the Armies fight and ingage even under their very Noses, yet they are never in the least prejudic'd. For though the Armies on both sides slaughter one another, yet they never hurt the Husbandman, as one who is a Servant for the common good and advantage of them all; neither do they burn their Enemies Country, or cut down their Trees or Plants.
Moreover in India are many great navigable Rivers which descend into the Plains from the Mountains in the Northern Parts (where they have their Spring-heads) and at length all meet together and fall into the River Ganges, which is Thirty Furlongs in breadth, and takes its Course from the North to the South, and so empties it self into the main Ocean; passing by in its course the Nation of the Gandarides lying on the East, where are bred Multitudes of most monstrous Elephants. No Foreign King hitherto ever conquer'd that part of the Country, all Strangers dreading the number and strength of those Creatures. Even Alexander himself, who conquer'd all Asia besides, left only the Gandarides untoucht. For when he came with his whole Army as far as to the River Ganges, and had subdu'd all the Indians behind him, as soon as he understood that the Gandarides had Four Thousand Elephants sitted and compleatly furnished for War, he wholly desisted the further Prosecution of his Design against them. Much like to the River Ganges is that call'd Indus, which runs with a swift Course likewise from the North, and falls into the Ocean, and divides India from the rest of Asia; and in its Course through wide and spacious Plains takes in many Navigable Rivers, amongst which the most famous are Hipanis, Hydaspes, and Arcesines. There are many other Rivers also which pass through several Parts of India which inrich the Country with pleasant Gardens, and all sorts of Fruits.
The Philosophers and Naturalists of this Country give this Reason why there are so many Rivers, and such plenty of Water in India. They say, that the adjacent Countries, the Scythians, Bactrians and Arianians, lye higher than India, whence (from good reason) they conclude that the Rains flowing down by degrees into the lower Countries, so water them, that they make many large Rivers: But above all the other Rivers of India, that they call Silla (which springs from a Fountain of the same Name) has a peculiar property: For this only of all the others will not admit any thing thrown into it to swim, but in a wonderful manner swallows up every thing, and forceably draws it to the bottom.
Moreover India being of the largest Extent of all other by far, is inhabited by many different Nations (of whom none are Foreigners, but all natural Inhabitants:) And they say that no Strangers ever planted amongst them, nor they themselves ever sent forth any Colonies into other Countries; and they tell Stories that anciently the Inhabitants fed only upon Herbs and Roots that grow in the Fields, and cloath'd themselves with wild Beasts Skins, as the Grecians did; and that Arts and other things conducing to the well-being of Man's Life were found out by degrees, Necessity pressing upon a Creature that was rational and ingenious, and had likewise the further helps and advantages of Hands, Speech and quickness of invention to find out ways to relieve himself.
Some of the Learnedst of the Indians have given an account of the Antiquity of their Country, of which it is our part here to say something in short.
Page 74 They say, that in ancient Time, when Men liv'd scatter'd and dispers'd here and there, Bacchus with a great Army from the West, overran all India, which at that time had no considerable City in it able to make any resistance; and that a Plague (through the violent and parching heat) destroying many of his Souldiers, (they say) that prudent General drew his Army out of the Plains to the tops of the Mountains, where (by means of the cool Blasts of the refreshing Air, and drinking of the Spring-Waters there at hand) they were restor'd to their former Health; and that the Place where his Army was thus recover'd, was call'd the Thigh; hence the Grecians frame a Story of this God to this Day, that Bacchus was bred in the Thigh. Afterwards (they say) he diligently imploy'd himself in sowing and planting divers Fruit-Trees, and imparted the Art to the Indians, and found out the use of Wine, and other things conducing to the comfort of Man's Life. He built likewise stately Cities, and remov'd the Villages to more commodious Situations; and instituted the manner of Divine Worship, and made Laws, and set up Courts of Justice; and at last for the many excellent Inventions imparted to the Indians, he was esteem'd as a God, and obtain'd immortal Honours. They report that he had a Regiment of Women in his Army, and that in the heat of Battel he made use of Timbrels and Cymbals, the Trumpet being not at that time found out: And that after he had reign'd over all India for the space of Two and Fifty Years, he dy'd of extream old Age, leaving the Kingdom to his Sons, who injoy'd it, and their Posterity after them successively, till many Ages after the Regal Authority was abrogated, and the Cities were govern'd by a Democrasy. These are the things related of Bacchus and his Posterity by the Inhabitants of the Mountainous parts of India.
They say moreover, that Hercules was born amongst them, and like the Greeks, furnish him with a Club and a Lion's Skin; and for Strength and Courage that he excell'd all other Men, and clear'd both Sea and Land of Monsters and Wild Beasts: That of many Wives he begat many Sons, but one only Daughter. Among these Sons, when they were grown up, he divided India into equal Parts, and appointed each to be King over their several shares, allotting likewise one part of the Kingdom to his Daughter, whom he carefully brought up under his own Eye. It's said that he built many Cities, the most famous of which is call'd Palibothra, in which he built a stately Palace, and planted it with a great number of Inhabitants, and fortify'd it round with deep Trenches, fill'd with Water from the River. And at length after his Death he was honour'd as a God. His Posterity reign'd for many Ages together, and perform'd many noble Actions; but never made any Foreign Expeditions, or sent forth any Colonies into other Parts; and though that after the Course of many Years, most of the Cities reduc'd themselves under the power of a Democratical Government, yet there were some of the Indians that flourish'd under a Monarchy, till the very time that Alexander invaded that Country.
Although the Indians have Laws peculiar to themselves, differing from all other People, yet one especially is most remarkable, instituted by their ancient Philosophers, which is this:
It's an establish'd Law, That none amongst them should be a Servant; but that every one being free, all should be honour'd with equal respect: For they that know that they are neither to be superior nor inferior to any, are ready to undergo all the Shocks of Fortune with Courage and Resolution. For it's a Foolish thing to make Laws for an equality amongst all, and yet at the same time to order inequality of Estates.
All the People of India are divided into Seven Ranks; the First is Philosophers, who are least in number, but chiefest in esteem: For they are free from all publick Offices; and are neither subject themselves to any, nor any subject to them. Yet they are made use of by their Friends to offer Sacrifice for them while they are alive, and to perform the solemn Exequies at their Funerals when they are dead, as Persons who are greatly belov'd of the Gods, and skilful in Matters relating to the Affairs of the Dead in the Shades below; for which piece of Service they are highly honour'd, and presented with many rich Gifts: Especially they much advantage the Indians in general, at such times as being admitted into the publick Assemblies, at the beginning of every Year they foretel Droughts, Rains, Winds and Diseases, and other things convenient and useful for the Auditors to be inform'd of; for so both King and People being forewarn'd of things to come, Page 75 provide against them, and always prepare something or other that may be of advantage to them in such cases.
And if any of the Philosophers prove afterwards to be mistaken in his Prognostication, he undergoes no other Punishment, save only that he is evil spoken of, and is to be silent ever after while he lives.
The Second Rank or Tribe is of the Husbandmen; These are more in number than any of the rest: These likewise are free from the Militia, and all publick Offices, and spend all their time and care about Tilling and Improving the Lands.
No Enemy ever does them any Prejudice; but out of a due regard to the common good, forbear to injure them in the least degree; and therefore the Land being never spoil'd nor wasted, yields its Fruits in great Abundance, and furnishes the Inhabitants with plenty of Victuals and all other Provision. The Husbandmen live in the Fields with their Wives and Children, and never meddle with the concerns of the Cities. They pay the King his Tribute out of the Fruits of the Ground: For all the Land of India belongs to the King, and no private Man has any Land of his own. Besides the Tribute, the Fourth part of the Fruits are paid to the King.
The Third Tribe comprehended the Herdsmen and Shepherds, and all sorts of feeders of Cattel; and these neither liv'd in the Cities nor Villages, but in Tents, and by Hunting clear'd the Land both of wild Beasts and hurtful Birds; and by this Exercise all India was freed from Ravenous Creatures which abounded in the Country, both Birds and wild Beasts of all sorts, that eat up and devour'd the Seed and Fruits of the Husbandman.
The Fourth Classis and Order of Men amongst them was made up of the Mechanicks, some of whom were imploy'd in making of Arms, and others of Tools for Tillage and Husbandry, and other serviceable Utensils. This Order is not only free from all Taxes and Impositions, but is allow'd a yearly proportion of Corn out of the King's Granaries.
The Fifth is the Militia (the Second for number) who in Times of Peace live idle lives, and give themselves up wholly to their pleasures. All the Souldiers with the War-Horses and Elephants are kept and maintain'd out of the King's Treasury.
The Sixth Tribe are the Ephori, who are the Inquisitors, and have a diligent and observant Eye upon every thing that is done throughout all India, and upon any discovery inform the King of what the know; and when there's no King, the Princes and principal Ministers of state.
In the Seventh Rank are reckon'd the Senators, such as have Place in the great and General Councils: These are the fewest in number, but of greatest Dignity for their Birth, and highest esteem for their Wisdom and Prudence. Out of these are chosen the King's Privy-Council, Governors of Provinces, Judges, Generals of Armies in Times of War, and other Principal Officers.
These are the parts into which almost all India is divided.
It is not lawful for any to marry out of the Tribe to which he belongs, nor to exercise any other Trade or Calling than that wherein he has been bred up, as for a Souldier to imploy himself in Husbandry or for an Artificer to turn Philosopher.
India breeds the largest, most couragious and strongest Elephants of any other Place. This Creature does not couple with the Female in any strange or unusual manner (as some say) but as Horses and all other four-footed Beasts.
They go with young at the least Sixteen Months, at the most Eighteen. They bring forth for the most part (like Mares) but one at a time, which the Dam suckles till it be Six Years old.
Most of the Inhabitants live very long; the Oldest attain to Two Hundred Years.
In India there are Magistrates appointed to take care of Strangers to see that no Injury be offer'd them; and if any of them be sick these Magistrates provide Physitians, and in all other respects are very careful of them; and if they dye, they bury them; and whatever Goods or Monies they leave behind, they give it to their Kindred.
Page 76 Their Judges are very diligent in deciding Suits brought before them; and severely punish Offenders. But this short account shall suffice concerning India and its Antiquities. And now we shall say something particularly of the Scythians, which border upon the other.
The Scythians anciently injoy'd but a small Tract of Ground, but (through their, Valour) growing stronger by degrees, they inlarg'd their Dominion far and near, and attain'd at last to a vast and glorious Empire.
At the First a very few of them, and those very desplcable for their mean original, seated themselves near to the River Araxes. Afterwards one of their ancient Kings, who was a warlike Prince, and skilful in Arms, gain'd to their Country, all the Mountainous Parts as far as to Mount Caucasus, and all the Champain Country, to the Ocean, and the Lake Maeotis, and all the rest of the Plain to the River Tanais. Then they tell a Story, That a Virgin was born among them of the Earth, of the shape of a Woman from the middle upwards, and of a Viper downwards: And that Jupiter begot of her a Son call'd Scythes; they say, that from this Prince (being more eminent than any of his Ancestors) the People were call'd Scythians: There were Two Brothers that descended from this King, that were remarkable for Valour, the one call'd Palus, and the other Napas. These Two Brothers, after many glorious Actions done by them, divided the Country between them, and from their own Names call'd one part of the Inhabitants Palians, and the other Napians.
Some time afterwards their Posterity becoming famous and eminent for Valour and martial affairs, subu'd many Territories beyond Tanais.
Then turning their Arms the other way they led their Forces as far as to the River Nile in Egypt, and having subdu'd many Nations lying between, they inlarg'd the Empire of the Scythians as far as to the Eastern Ocean one way, and to the Caspian Sea and the Lake of Maeotis another.
This Nation prosper'd still more and more, and had Kings that were very famous; from whom the Sacans, the Massageties, and the Arimaspanis, and many others call'd by other Names derive their original. Amongst others, there were two remarkable Colonies that were drawn out of the conquer'd Nations by those Kings; the one they brought out of Assyria, and settl'd in the Country lying between Paphlagonia and Pontus; the other out of Media, which they plac'd near the River Tanais, which People are call'd Sauromatians, who many Years after increasing in number and power, wasting the greatest part of Scythia, and rooting out all that they conquer'd, totally ruinated the whole Nation. Afterwards the Royal Line failing, they say, Women remarkable for Courage and Strength of Body reign'd instead of Kings. For in these Nations, Women like Men, are train'd up for the Wars, being nothing inferior to Men for Courage.
Henceforward many and great things were done by famous Women, not only in Scythia, but in the neighbouring Nations. For when Cyrus King of Persia the most powerful Prince in his Age, led a mighty Army into Scythia, the Queen of Scythia routed the Persian Army, and taking Cyrus himself in the Battel Prisoner, afterwards Crucify'd him. And such was the Valour of the Amazons, after they had thus strengthened themselves, that they not only overran their Neighbours, but conquer'd a great part both of Europe and Asia. But since now we have begun to speak of the Amazons, we conceive it not impertinent if we here relate cursorily those things concerning them which for the strangeness of the matter may seem to resemble Romantick Fables.
There was heretofore a Potent Nation seated upon the River Thermodon, govern'd always by Women, as their Queens; in which the Women, like Men, manag'd all their Martial Affairs. Amongst these Female Princes (they say) there was one that excell'd all the rest for strength and valour, who got together an Army of Women, and having train'd them up in Martial Discipline, first subdu'd some of her Neighbouring Nations; afterwards by her Valour growing more fam'd and renown'd, she led her Army against the rest, and Fortune favouring her Arms, she was so puft up, that she call'd her self The Danghter of Mars, and ordered the Men to spin Wool, and do the Womens Work within Doors.
Page 77 She made Laws also, whereby she injoin'd the Women to go forth to the Wars, and the Men to be as Slaves, and do all the Servile work at Home. Therefore when any Male Child was born, they broke their Thighs and Arms, to render them useless and unfit for War: And for the Females they sear'd off the right Breast, lest it should be an hinderance to them in Fight: And hence they were call'd Amazons. At length grown eminent for Policy and Skill in Military Affairs, she built a large City call'd Themiscyra, at the Mouth of the River Thermodon, and beautify'd it with a stately Palace. She was very exact in Martial Discipline, and keeping good Order: She first conquer'd all the Neighbouring Nations, as far as to the River Tanais; and having perform'd all these noble Exploits (they say) in a Battel, she afterwards fought, (having first signalized her Valour) she ended her Days like an Hero. Upon her Death her Daughter succeeded her in the Kingdom, who imitating her Mother's Valour, in some Exploits excell'd her: For she caus'd the Girls from their very Infancy to be exercis'd in Hunting, and daily train'd up in Martial Discipline. Then she instituted solemn Festivals and Sacrifices to be offer'd to Mars and Diana, call'd Tauropoli. She advanc'd her Arms beyond Tanais, and brought under all the Nations as far as to Thrace. Then returning to her own Country with a rich Booty, she erected stately Temples to those Deities before mention'd, and gain'd the Hearts of her Subjects by her easie and gentle Government. Afterwards she undertook an Expedition against them that lay on the other side of the River, and added a great part of Asia to her Dominion, and extended her Arms as far as to Syria.
After her Death, the Crown descended still to the next of Kin, and every one in their time govern'd with great Commendation, and advanc'd the Honour and Renown of the Amazons Kingdom.
Many Ages after (the Fame and Renown of the Amazons being spread Abroad all the World over) they say, that Hercules, the Son of Jupiter and Alcmena, was enjoin'd by Eurystheus to fight Hippolyta, the Amazon Queen, and to strip her of her Belt. Upon which, he made War upon the Amazons, and in a great Battel routed them, and took Hippolyta, and her Belt together, which so weaken'd them, that the Neighbouring Barbarians knowing their low Condition, despis'd them; and remembring what ruin and destruction they had formerly made amongst them, so wasted them with continual War, that not so much as the Name of Amazons is now to be found any where in the World. For a few Years after Hercules's Time, the Trojan War broke forth, at which time Penthesilia Queen of those Amazons that were left, and Daughter of Mars (having committed a cruel Murther among her own People) for the horridness of the Fact fled, and after the Death of Hector, brought aid to the Trojans; and though she bravely behav'd her self, and kill'd many of the Greeks, yet at last she was slain by Achilles, and so in Heroick Actions ended her Days. This, they say, was the last Queen of the Amazons, a brave spirited Woman, after whom the Nation (growing by degrees weaker and weaker) was at length wholly extinct: So that these later Ages look upon all those old Stories concerning the valiant Acts of the Amazons, to be but meer Fictions and Fables. Now since we have thus far spoken of the Northern Parts of Asia, it's convenient to observe something relating to the Antiquity of the Hyperborcans.
Amongst them that have written old Stories much like Fables, Hecateus and some others say, that there is an Island in the Ocean over against Gall, (as big as Sicily) under the Artick Pole, where the Hyperboreans inhabit, so call'd, because they lye beyond the Breezes of the North Wind. That the Soyl here is very rich, and very fruitful; and the Climate temperate, insomuch as there are Two Crops in the Year.
They say that Latona was born here, and therefore that they worship Apollo above all other Gods; and because they are daily saying Songs in praise of this God, and ascribing to him the highest Honours, they say that these Inhabitants demean themselves, as if they were Apollo's Priests, who has there a stately Grove, and renown'd Temple of a round Form, beautify'd with many rich Gifts. That there is a City likewise consecrated to this God, whose Citizens are most Page 78 of them Harpers, who playing on the Harp, chant Sacred Hymns to Apollo in the Temple, setting forth his glorious Acts. The Hyperboreans use their own natural Language: But of long and ancient time, have had a special Kindness for the Grecians; and more especially for the Athenians, and them of Delos. And that some of the Grecians pass'd over to the Hyperboreans, and left behind them divers Presents, inscrib'd with Greek Characters; and that Abaris formerly travell'd thence into Greece, and renew'd the ancient League of Friendship with the Delians.
They say moreover, that the Moon in this Island seems as if it were near to the Earth, and represents in the face of it Excrescences like Spots in the Earth. And that Apollo once in Nineteen Years comes into the Island; in which space of time, the Stars perform their Courses, and return to the same Point; and therefore the Greeks call the Revolution of Nineteen Years, the Great Year. At this time of his appearance (they say) that he plays upon the Harps, and sings and daunces all the Night from the Vernal Equinox, to the rising of the Pleiades, solacing himself with the Praises of his own successful Adventures. The Sovereignty of this City, and the care of the Temple (they say) belongs to the Boreades, the Posterity of Boreas, who hold the Principality by Descent in a direct Line from that Ancestor.
A Description of Arabia the Desert, Happy, &c. Metals, Precious Stones, Beasts, &c. A Description of Taprobana in the Southern Ocean, now call'd Ceylon or Zeilan. The strange things there. How discover'd by Iambulus.
HAving now finish'd these foregoing Relations, we shall bend our Discourse to the other Parts of Asia not yet spoken of, and chiefly to Arabia.
This Country is situated between Syria and Egypt, and is divided into several Nations. On the East the Arabians, call'd the Nabateans, inhabit a Tract partly Desert, and in other Parts without Water, and very little of it there is that bears any Fruit; and therefore the Inhabitants live by Robbing and Stealing, and for that end roving up and down the Countries far and near, they vex the Inhabitants with their continual Incursions and Robberies, it being a very difficult matter to subdue them. For in the dry Country, they have Wells digg'd in convenient Places, unknown to Strangers, whither they fly for refuge, and are safe: For knowing where the Waters lye hid and private, upon opening of the Wells they are largely supply'd; but Strangers, who pursue them (unacquainted with those Fountains) either perish for Thirst, or falling into many other Disasters, and quite tyr'd out, scarcely ever return home: And therefore these Arabians (being that they are not to be conquer'd) are never inslav'd, nor ever admit any Foreign Prince over them, but preserve themselves continually in perfect Liberty; and therefore neither the Assyrians antiently, nor the Medes and Persians, nor the very Macedonians themselves, were ever able to conquer them; who, though they often march'd with great Forces against them, yet they ever fail'd in their Designs.
In the Country of the Nabateans, there's a Rock strongly Fortified, to which there is an Ascent but one way, through which a few only at a time mount up to cast down their Fardles. There's likewise a large Mere which produces Brimstone, from whence they raise no small Revenue: It's Five Hundred Furlongs in length, and Sixty in breadth: The Water for Smell stinks, and is bitter in Taste, so that neither Fish, nor any other living thing us'd to the Water can live there. There are indeed great Rivers, whose Waters are exceeding sweet, which empty themselves into the Lake, and yet it stinks howsoever. Every Page 79 Year the Brimstone rises up out of the middle of the Mere, some Pieces Two, and others Three Plethras Square in quantity. The greater Pieces the Inhabitants call Bulls, and the lesser Calfs. When the Brimstone swims upon the Water, it represents at a distance the form of an Island. There are apparent Signs of casting up of the Brimstone Twenty Days before; for every where round the Lake for many Furlongs distant, a Steam arises with a stinking smell, and all Gold, Silver, or Brass near those Places, change their natural Colour; but return to their former, when all the Brimstone is exhal'd. And in as much as all Places near adjoyning are corrupted with a Fire and stinking Stench, it infects Mens Bodies with Diseases, and shortens their days. However this Region abounds with Palm-trees, because it's water'd with wholesom Rivers and Springs. In a Valley thereabouts grows that which they call Balsam: Whence they gain a plentiful Revenue, in regard this Plant grows in no other Parts of the World; which affords likewise excellent Medicines for the Use of the Physician.
The other Arabia adjoyning to this barren and dry Country Arabia, so far excels it, that for its Fruitfulness and Plenty of all other good things its call'd Arabia the Happy. It plentifully produces Calamus and Mastick, and other Aromatick Plants, and breaths out all sorts of fragrant Smells from the Trees, and abounds with divers kinds of sweet Gums, which distil from them. The furthest Parts likewise of Arabia produce Myrrh and Frankincense (so grateful to the Gods) which is carry'd all the World over.
Upon the Mountains grow in abundance not only Firs and Pine-trees, but tall Cedars, Junipers and the Tree call'd Agyreus; and many other fruitful Plants, which yield not only a pleasant Tastle, but a most sweet and delicious Smell to those that come near them. The very Nature of the Soyl it self is odoriferous and useful for sweet Perfumes; and therefore in some Places of Arabia in digging of the Ground they find sweet-scented Veins of Stone Metal, which furnish the Inhabitants with large Quarries, who build Houses of the Stone cut out of these Delphs; and when the Rain falls upon them, the Metal in the Stone melts, and runs within the Joints of the Building, and so binds all together, that the Wall seems to be all of one Piece. In Arabia are found Mines of pure Gold call'd Gold without Fire: For it is not extracted out of the little Pieces of drossy Metal by melting in the Fire as in other Places, but its pure and refin'd at the first digging it out of the Earth, every Piece about the Bigness of a Chesnut, and of so bright and glorious a Colour that this Gold adds an exceeding Beauty and Lustre to the most precious Stones that are set in it.
ARABIA is so rich in all sorts of Cattle, that many Provinces (imploying themselves only as Herdsmen and Shepherds) live fully and contentedly without the Use of Corn. That Part joyning upon Asia breeds vast Multitudes of exceeding great wild Beasts; for the Lyons and Leopards here are far more for Number, and larger and stronger than any in Africa; to which may be added those they call the Babylonian Tygers. It produces likewise Beasts of a double Nature, and mixt Shape; amongst whom are those that are call'd Struthocameli, who have the Shape both of a Camel and an Ostrich. For in the Bulk of their Bodies they are as big as a Camel newly foal'd, having upon their Heads small Hairs and great and black Eyes; in Shape and Colour they are like to Camels, having long Necks, and very short Beaks turning inwards, and sharp at the Point; they have Wings also of soft and hairy Feathers; they are supported with two strong Thighs, and are cloven hoofed, so that this Creature seems to be both terrestrial and volatile, a Land-Beast and a Bird: But being not able to fly by reason of the Bulk of her Body, she runs upon the Ground as swift as if she flew in the Air; and when she is pursu'd by Horsemen, with her Feet she hurls the Stones that are under her, with that Force as if they were sent out of a Sling, and many times kills the Pursuers with the Blows and Strokes they receive. When she is near being taken, she thrusts her Head under a Shrub or some such like Cover; not (as some suppose) through Folly and Blockishness, as if she would not see any or be seen of them, but because her Head is the tenderest Part of her Body she seeks to secure that Part all manner of ways she can; for Nature teaches all Creatures to seek not only to preserve themselves but their Kind; through a natural Instinct and Love of Life prompting them to perpetuate their Species by a constant Propagation.
Page 80 Those Creatures call'd Cameleopards partake of both kinds, as is denoted by their Name. They are indeed less then Camels, and lower crested; but in their Heads and Eyes like unto Leopards: In the Bulch upon their Backs they resemble Camels; but in Colour, Hair, and in the Length of their Tails they are in Nature Leopards.
There are likewise bred Tragclaphi and Buffels, and many other Creatures of a double Shape, partaking of several Natures; which would require a long Discourse to describe every one of them particularly. For its very reasonable to conceive that by the vivifying Heat of the Sun in the Southern Parts of the World many sorts of wonderful Creatures are there bred. And upon this Account it is that there are Crocodiles and River-horses in Egypt; and great Numbers and divers sorts of Elephants, Serpeuts and other Beasts, and (amongst the rest) Dragons of an unusual Bigness and Fierceness in Ethiopia and the Deserts of Africa; and for the same Reason it is that there are Elephants in India more than elsewhere for their Number, and excelling all others in Strength and the Bulk of their Bodies. In these Parts also are produc'd by the Influence of the Sun, not only several kinds of living Creatures, but divers sorts of precious Stones commendable both for the Variety of their Colours, and their sparkling Lustre and Beauty.
Crystal (they say) is produc'd of the purest Water congeal'd and hardned, not by Cold, but by the Power of the Sun; so that it continues for ever, and receives many Shapes and Colours according as the Spirits are exhal'd.
The Smaragdos and Beryl (as they are call'd) which are found in the Copper-Mines are said to have their Colour from their Mixture with Sulphur: And that the Chrysolite produc'd by the Heat of the Sun, receives its Tincture from an hot and fiery Exhalation. And therefore its said that those Stones call'd Pseudocrists are made of Crystal calcin'd by the Goldsmiths Fire. By the Heat of the Sun likewise are produc'd Rubies, which differ one from another as there is more or less Light inclos'd in them in the Concretion. And for the same Reason Birds Feathers differ in Colour, so that some are all over of a Purple Dye, others only spotted here and there. For some things seem red, others yellow, some green, and many of a golden Colour, according to their Position to the Light. To conclude, innumerable sorts of Colours (very difficult to be reckon'd up) are occasion'd by this Means; which we see is done by the Reflection of the Sun's Beams upon the Rainbow. Whence the Naturalists do agree, that even the various Colours of Things above proceed from their Diversity of Heat, the lively Operation of the Sun causing their several Forms and Shapes; and that the various Colours of Flowers, and even of the Earth it self proceed from the Efficacy of the Sun, whose natural Operations the Arts of Men (as Nature's Scholars) do imitate, framing Variety of Colours in Painting and Embroidery: And that as Colours are form'd by Light, so Smells of Fruits, Variety of Tastes, Greatness of living Creatures, and the natural Constitution of every Thing, and the several Properties of the Earth are caus'd by the Heat of the Sun, which makes both the Earth and Water fruitful with its cherishing Heat, and is the Parent of every Creature; and therefore neither the Marble of Paros, nor any other Stone (tho' never so admirable) are comparable to the Stones in Arabia, which exceed all others for Lustre, Weight and Delicacy. This singular Property (as I have said) every thing is cloath'd with by the Power of the Sun in this Region: For by its Heat it concretes, by Exhalation hardens, and by its Light beautifies.
Hence it is that Birds are of a hot Nature, swift of Flight, and deck'd most with Variety of Colours in those Regions that are directly under the Scorching Heat of the Sun.
For in the Province of Babylon are bred many Peacocks, beautify'd with various Colours; and in the furthest Parts of Syria, Parrots, Porphyrios, Meleagrides, and many strange Birds of various Natures and Colours. The like may be said of other Parts of the World, where the Climate is the same; as of India, the Parts about the Red Sea, of Ethiopia, and Page 81 some Parts of Africa. But the Eastern Parts being richer and more fruitful breed larger and more noble Creatures.
Those Creatures that are bred in other Countries have Natures agreeable to the Goodness of the Soyl. So as to the Trees, the Palm Trees of Africa bear but small and indigested Fruit: But in Coelo-Syria the Dates which they call Cariots, excel all others for pleasant Juice, Sweetness and Largeness. Yet in Arabia and in the Province of Babylon grow far larger than those, in Quantity fix Fingers round, some of a yellow, some scarlet, and others of a purple Dye, delightful both to the Eye and grateful to the Taste. The Palm Trees are very tall, streight and smooth to the Top. The Branches grow near to the Head, but not all in the like Manner. For some have their Branches growing round them on every side here and there and between them, the Fruit bursting out in Clusters through the Bark. Others represent a burning Lamp, their spiring Branches surrounding only one Part near the Top. Others whose Boughs clasp on every Part round the Tree, and guarded on both sides with a double row of tender Sprouts, represent something painted or inscrib'd.
That Part of Arabia lying to the South is call'd Arabia the Happy; the Arabians that inhabit the inner Parts, live Pastoral Lives, and in Tents. They have great Herds of Cattle, and are continually in vast and large Pastures. That Region which lyes between them and Arabia the Happy, is Desert, without Water, as we have before observ'd. The Places towards the West are sandy Deserts, so that all that travel there direct their Course (as Mariners at Sea) by the BearStar. The other Part of Arabia stretching towards Syria is full of Husbandmen and divers sorts of Merchants. These by their Traffic and Merchandize by importing and exporting plentifully furnish all other Parts round about, with what things they want. That Part bordering upon the Ocean lyes about Arabia the Happy, and there (by many Rivers falling down together) are made many large Ponds and Lakes up and down in the Country: And because large Tracts of Ground are water'd by the Rivers and the Rains that fall in the Summer time, they have a double Harvest. This Place breeds Troops of Elephants and other Beasts of vast Proportion, and likewise of double Shapes and strange Kinds; and also abundance of tame Cattle, especially Oxen and Sheep, which have very great and thick Tales. There are there bred in like manner a sort of Camels far beyond all others (both bare and rough) and the Bulch upon their Backs twice as big as any others, and therefore they are call'd Dityles. Some of these bring in great Profit both by their Milk and their Flesh. Others, accustom'd to Burthens, will carry twenty Bushels of Corn upon their Backs; which being of smaller Bodies, but swifter than the rest, are us'd to running, and dispatch a vast Tract of Ground, especially in the dry and desert Country.
These Beasts are useful in times of War; for in Battles they carry two Archers sitting back to back, the one to oppose them that attack them in the Front, and the other to repulse such as fall upon them in the Rear. Although this Discourse of Arabia and the Things there bred and produc'd may perhaps seem to be too tedious, yet the observing Reader may find in it many things worthy to be known.
And now we purpose to say something briefly of a certain Island lying in the Southern Ocean, and of the Wonders there, giving first an exact Account by what Means it came to be discover'd.
There was one Iambulus, from his Youth studious and learn'd. After the Death of his Father (who was a Merchant) he apply'd himself likewise to that Calling; but as he travell'd through Arabia to that Part of the Country where Spices most abounded, he and all his Company fell into the Hands of Thieves.
And first he was made a Shepherd, together with another of his Fellow Captives. Afterwards he was again taken by Ethiopian Skulkers, and carry'd away into the Maritime Parts of Ethiopia. And they were thus stolen and carried away, that (being Strangers) by them they might purge and expiate the Land. For the Ethiopian Inhabitants there had a Custom anciently us'd among them, and appointed by the Oracles of the Gods Twenty Generations before, that is, Six Hundred Years (every Generation comprehending Thirty Years) that the Land should be purg'd by Two Men that were Strangers. They prepar'd therefore Page 82 a little Ship, yet sufficient to endure the Storms at Sea, and easily to be govern'd by Two Men: Upon this Ship they put the Men on Board, with Six Months Provision, that (according to the direction of the Oracle) they might sail away in a direct Course towards the South, in order to arrive at a Fortunate Island, where they might find People that were gentle and kind, with whom they might live happy lives. And that if they arriv'd safe at the Island (they told them) their own Nation, from whence they came, should enjoy Peace and Prosperity for Six Hundred Years to come.
But if they were affrighted with the length of the Voyage, and should return again, they told them, that like impious Wretches, and destructive to the Nation, they should undergo most severe Punishments. Then they say the Ethiopians kept a Festival upon the Sea-shoar, and after splendid Sacrifices, crown'd the Purgators with Garlands, and sent them away, and so perfected the Purgation of the Nation. These Two Men (they say) being tossed for Four Months together, having pass'd over a vast Ocean (after many Storms and hardships at Sea) at last arriv'd at the Island design'd in the Fourth Month.
The Island is of a round Form, Five Thousand Furlongs in Compass. When the Men drew near to Shoar, some of the Inhabitants came to meet them, and brought the Ship into Harbour: Whereupon many more flockt in, and throng'd about the Strangers, wondring how ever they got thither; however they courteously receiv'd them, and entertain'd them with what their Country could afford.
The Inhabitants are much unlike to us in these Parts of the World, both as to their Bodies, and their way of living; but among themselves, they are for Form and Shape like one to another, and in stature above Four Cubits high. They can bend and turn their Bones somewhat like unto Nerves; and as the Nervous Parts after motion ended, return to their former state and position, so do their Bones. Their Bodies are very tender, but their Nerves far stronger than ours, for whatever they grasp in their Hands, none are able to wrest out of their Fingers. They have not the least Hair in any part of their Bodies, but upon their Heads, Eye-brows, Eye-lids and Chins; all other Parts are so smooth, that not the least Down appears any where. They are very comely and well shap'd, but the Holes of their Ears are much wider than ours, and have something like little Tongues growing out of them. Their Tongues have something in them singular and remarkable, the Effect both of Nature and Art; for they have partly a double Tongue, naturally a little divided, but cut further inwards by Art, so that it seems two, as far as to the very Root, and therefore there's great variety of Speech among them, and they not only imitate Mans Voice in articulate Speaking, but the various Chatterings of Birds, and even all sorts of Notes as they please; and that which is more wonderful than all, is, that they can speak perfectly to two Men at once, both in answering to what is said, and aptly carrying on a continu'd Discourse relating to the subject Matter in hand; so that with one part of their Tongue they speak to one, and with the other part to the other.
This Island is under a most excellent and moderate Climate (lying under the Aequator) neither scorcht with Heat, nor pincht with Cold; there they have ripe Fruit all the Year long, as the Poet says,
The Days and Nights are there always of an equal length; neither is there any Shadow at Noon-day, because the Sun is directly in the Zenith over head. They live divided into Tribes, according to their Kindred, and into distinct Societies; yet so as that there are not above Four Hundred admitted into any one Tribe or Society. They live in Meadows where they are plentifully supply'd with all things necessary for Food by what the Earth produces. For the Fertility of the Soyl, and the Temperature of the Air is such, that Corn (more than enough) grows there of it self. Plenty of Calamus likewise is produc'd there, whose Fruit is like to white Vetches: When they have gather'd it, they steep in it hot Page 83 Water, till it puffs up to the bigness of a Pigeons Egg; then bruising it, and rubbing it skilfully in their Hands, they knead it into Dough, and then bake and eat it, being exceeding sweet and delicious Bread to the Taste. There are there both hot and cold large Baths, both for the curing and preventing of Distempers, being exceeding sweet and pleasant. They are learn'd in all sorts of Sciences, especially in Astrology. They use Eight and Twenty particular Letters, for the signifying what they mean, and Seven Characters, every one of which are form'd Four manner of ways. They live long generally, without ever being Sick, to an Hundred and Fifty Years of Age.
Those that are lame, or have any other weakness or infirmity of Body (according to the severe Law of their Country) they put to Death. They write not cross over the Sheet as we do, but begin at the top of the Leaf, and go on in one direct Line down to the Bottom. They have a Law that they may live to such a certain number of Years, and when those are run up, they dispatch themselves by a strange kind of Death; for there's an Herb of a double nature, that grows among them, upon which, if any one lies down, he silently passes away and dies, without any sense of pain, as if he were in a sweet Sleep. They never marry, but make use of Women promiscuously, and breed up the Children so begotten (as common to them all) with equal care and affection to one as well as to another. The Children while they are tender Infants are often chang'd by the Nurses, that they cannot be known by their Mothers; and therefore by that means there being no Ambition among them, they live in great concord and amity, without any Seditions or Tumults. There are Beasts among them very small, but of an admirable property as to their Flesh, and the excellent virtue that is in their Blood. Their Bodies are round, and something like to a Tortoise, divided by Two Streaks which run down the Back; at each end of every Streak they have an Eye and a Mouth; so that they have Four Eyes to see with, and Four Mouths to feed with; but the Meat they eat, is convey'd through one Throat, and hence into the Belly, the common Receptacle of all: And so in like manner they have but one Gut, nor but one of every other of the inner Parts: They have many Feet plac'd round their Bodies, and make use of them to go on what side they will. There's a marvelous virtue in the Blood of this little Creature, for it presently at an instant closes all Cuts and gaping Wounds in every Body that has still life in it; and if a Hand, or any other Member of that kind (that is not Vital) be cut off, by the application of this Blood (while the Wound continues green) it heals up again.
Each Society of these Inhabitants do keep many great Birds of a singular Nature, by which they try the Courage of their Children; for they place them upon the Birds Backs, and as many of them as sit fast when the Birds take their Flight, they bring up; but those that faint and are terrify'd, they throw away, as such that can never indure hardship any long time, nor have any generous Spirit in them.
In every Tribe or Society, the eldest governs the rest as King, and all yield him perfect Obedience: If the first put himself to Death (according to the Law) after he has liv'd a Hundred and Fifty Years, the next to him in age succeeds in the chief Command and Authority.
The Sea that surrounds this Island is very rough, and causes very great and high Tides, but the Water is fresh and sweet. The Bear Star, and many other visible with us, are never seen here.
These Islands are Seven in number, equal in bigness one to another, and of the same distance one from another, and the same Laws and Customs are us'd in all of them: And though these Islands afford plenty of Provision out of the natural growth of the Country to all the Inhabitants, yet they use them not luxuriously, but are frugal, and gather only so much as will serve their turns. They do indeed cook for themselves Flesh-meat, and all other sorts of Victuals both rosted and boil'd, but as for Sauces, and other delicate Inventions of that kind by Cooks, and the various Tasts and Savours contriv'd for curious Pallats, they are altogether ignorant of them.
For Gods they worship especially the whole frame of Heaven, because it comprehends all things; and next to that the Sun, and then all the Celestial Bodies. By various ways of Fishing and Fowling, they catch Fish and Fowl of all sorts. There are among them abundance of Fruit-Trees, and Vines, and Olive-Trees, whence they draw great quantity of Oil and Wine.
Page 84 Here are exceeding great Serpents, which yet do no harm to any; nay, their Flesh is good Meat and very sweet. They make their Garments of a soft and fine Cotton, contain'd in certain Reeds and Canes. This Cotton they dye with the Shell-Fishes call'd Ostreses, made up in Balls, and mixt and wrought amongst the Wool, and so with great pains make themselves Garments of a Purple Colour.
It produces living Creatures of different Natures from all others, and even incredible because they are unusual.
Their way of Feeding is according to a prescrib'd Rule; for they do not eat all sorts of Meats together at one and the same time, nor the same always; but upon some certain Days Fish, other Fowl, sometimes the Flesh of Land-Cattel, at other times Olives, and on other Days, very low and mean Diet. They help one another in their Callings and Imployments by turns: Some imploy themselves in Fishing; others in Manufactures, and others in other things useful and profitable to the Commonwealth. Some at certain times do exercise publick Offices, except those that are grown old. Upon their Festival Days, and times of Invocation upon their Gods, they celebrate their Praises both in Acclametions and Songs; especially the Sun, to whom they devote themselves and their Islands.
Their Dead they carry to the Sea-shoar at the Fall of the Tide, covering them with a little Sand, that at the time of Full Sea heaps of Sand may be rais'd higher upon them.
Those Canes whence they gather Fruit to eat, are the Compass of a Crown in thickness; they say, that towards the Full of the Moon they increase, and towards the New Moon they proportionably decrease.
The Water of their hot Springs is sweet and wholsom, and ever continues warm, never growing cold, unless it be mixt with Wine or cold Water.
After Iambulus with his Companion had continu'd in this Island Seven Years, they were (as wicked and vile Fellows) ejected. Having therefore their Ship fitted out, and furnish'd with Provision, they set Sail, and after they had continu'd their Voyage for above Four Months together, they fell at length upon the Sandy shallows of India, where Iambulus his Companion was drown'd, and he himself was afterwards cast upon a certain Village, and forthwith carried away by the Inhabitants of the Place, to the King, then at a City call'd Polybothia, many Days Journey distant from the Sea; where he was kindly receiv'd by the King, who had a great love for the Grecians, and was very studious in the liberal Sciences. At length (having obtain'd Provision from the King) he first sail'd into Persia, and thence safely arriv'd in Greece. This Iambulus committed all these Adventures to Writing, and gave an account of many things relating to the Affairs of India, before unknown to Strangers. But having now perform'd what we promis'd in the beginning of this Book, we shall here make an end.
The Histories of Herodotus written in 440 BC is considered to be the founding work of history in Western literature. His history included stories and fables but he claimed to have traveled extensively and learned about many countries through direct observation.
The thesis of Stolen Legacy is that the Egyptians created what is wrongly called Greek philosophy. Dr. James argues that the African origin of Greek Philosophy is well known but rarely discussed. Ancient Greek historians such as Herodotus and Diodorus the Sicilian wrote in significant detail about the contributions of Egypt. Egyptian technology and libraries were unmatched and Greek philosophers such as Pythagoras and Plato studied there. The contribution of Africa to the intellectual foundation of modern knowledge is tremendous but unacknowledged.
The Library of History by Diodorus the Sicilian is one of the most highly regarded universal histories in antiquities. His work includes the history of Egypt, Asia, Africa, Greece and Europe. His book is a must read for research of ancient history.
Bible Study The King James Bible (kjv), World English Bible (web) and Bible in Basic English (bbe) are all examples of public domain books. The King James Bible (kjv) online uses the content from these books and open source software to enhance Bible study capabilities. The site includes the verse of the day, search tools, christian literature and links to related content. It demonstrates the use of open source to create a valuable service.