The Library of History

Page 67

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

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