The Library of History

Page 66

Page 66 Being thus corrupt in his Morals, he not only came to a miserable end himself, but utterly overturn'd the Assyrian Monarchy, which had continu'd longer than any we read of.

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.

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