The Library of History

Page 55

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

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