BOOK II - The Library of History

Bibliotheca historica
The first five books
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BOOK V







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



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