The Library of History

Page 59

Page 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.

Bibliotheca Historica

The first five books