Medes and Persians,
Macedonians and Grecians
Late Principal of the University of Paris
Professor of Eloquence in The Royal College
And Member of the Royal Academy
Of Inscriptions and Belles Letters
Translated From The French
In Six Volumes
Illustrated With Maps and Other Engravings
Printed for Longman And Co., J. M. Richardson,
Hamilton And Co., Hatchard And Son, Simpkin And Co.,
Rivingtons, Whittaker And Co., Allen And Co.,
Nisbet And Co., J. Bain, T. And W. Boone, E. Hodgson,
T. Bumpus, Smith, Elder, And Co., J. Capes, L. Booth,
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Wilson And Sons, York, G. And J. Robinson, Liverpool,
And A. And C. Black, Edinburgh
Preface. Book The First. The Ancient History Of The Egyptians. Part The First. Description of Egypt. Chapter I. Thebais. Chapter II. Middle Egypt, or Heptanomis. Chapter III. Lower Egypt. Part The Second. Of the Manners and Customs of the Egyptians. Chapter I. Concerning The Kings And Government. Chapter II. Concerning the Priests And Religion Of The Egyptians. Chapter III. Of The Egyptian Soldiers And War. Chapter IV. Of Their Arts And Sciences. Chapter V. Of Their Husbandmen, Shepherds, and Artificers. Chapter VI. Of The Fertility Of Egypt. Part The Third. The History of the Kings of Egypt. Book The Second. The History Of The Carthaginians. Part The First. Character, Manners, Religion, Government. Part The Second. The History of the Carthaginians. Chapter I. The Foundation of Carthage. Chapter II. The History of Carthage. Book the Third. The History of the Assyrians. Chapter I. The First Empire of the Assyrians. Chapter II. The Second Assyrian Empire, both of Nineveh and Babylon. Chapter III. The History of the Kingdom of the Medes. Chapter IV. The History of the Lydians. Maps. Footnotes
Charles Rollin. Born 1661. Died 1741.
[Transcriber's Note: The French original of this work was published 1730-38. The translation was done by Robert Lynam.]
A Letter written by the Right Reverend Dr. FRANCIS ATTERBURY, late Lord Bishop of Rochester, to M. ROLLIN, in commendation of this Work.
Reverende atque Eruditissime Vir,
Cum, monente amico quodam, qui juxta aedes tuas habitat, scirem te Parisios revertisse; statui salutatum te ire, ut primum per valetudinem liceret. Id officii, ex pedum infirmitate aliquandiu dilatum, cum tandem me impleturum sperarem, frustra fui; domi non eras. Restat, ut quod coram exequi non potui, scriptis saltem literis praestem; tibique ob ea omnia, quibus a te auctus sum, beneficia, grates agam, quas habeo certe, et semper habiturus sum, maximas.
Revera munera ilia librorum nuperis a te annis editorum egregia ac perhonorifica mihi visa sunt. Multi enim facio, et te, vir praestantissime, et tua omnia quaecunque in isto literarum genere perpolita sunt; in quo quidem Te caeteris omnibus ejusmodi scriptoribus facile antecellere, atque esse eundem et dicendi et sentiendi magistrum optimum, prorsus existimo; cumque in excolendis his studiis aliquantulum ipse et operae et temporis posuerim, libere tamen profiteor me, tua cum legam ac relegam, ea edoctum esse a te, non solum quae nesciebam prorsus, sed etiam quae antea didicisse mihi visus sum. Modeste itaque nimium de opere tuo sentis, cum juventuti tantum instituendae elaboratum id esse contendis. Ea certe scribis, quae a viris istiusmodi rerum haud imperitis, cum voluptate et fructu legi possunt. Vetera quidem et satis cognita revocas in memoriam; sed ita revocas, ut illustres, ut ornes; ut aliquid vetustis adjicias quod novum sit, alienis quod omnino tuum: bonasque picturas bona in luce collocando efficis, ut etiam iis, a quibus saepissime conspectae sunt, elegantiores tamen solito appareant, et placeant magis.
Certe, dum Xenophontem saepius versas, ab illo et ea quae a te plurimis in locis narrantur, et ipsum ubique narrandi modum videris traxisse, stylique Xenophontei nitorem ac venustam simplicitatem non imitari tantum, sed plane assequi: ita ut si Gallice scisset Xenophon, non aliis ilium, in eo argumento quod tractas, verbis usurum, non alio prorsus more scripturum judicem.
Haec ego, haud assentandi causa, (quod vitium procul a me abest,) sed vere ex animi sententia dico. Cum enim pulchris a te donis ditatus sim, quibus in eodem, aut in alio quopiam doctrinae genere referendis imparem me sentio, volui tamen propensi erga te animi gratique testimonium proferre, et te aliquo saltem munusculo, etsi perquam dissimili, remunerari.
Perge, vir docte admodum et venerande, de bonis literis, quae nunc neglectae passim et spretae jacent, bene mereri: perge juventatem Gallicam (quando illi solummodo te utilem esse vis) optimis et praeceptis et exemplis informare.
Quod ut facias, annis aetatis tuae elapsis multos adjiciat Deus! iisque decurrentibus sanum te praestet atque incolumem. Hoc ex animo optat ac vovet
Tui observantissimus FRANCISCUS ROFFENSIS.
Pransurum te mecum post festa dixit mihi amicus ille noster qui tibi vicinus est. Cum statueris tecum quo die adfuturus es, id illi significabis. Me certe annis malisque debilitatum, quandocunque veneris, domi invenies.
6 deg. Kal. Jan. 1731.
A Letter written by the Right Reverend Dr. FRANCIS ATTERBURY, late Lord Bishop of Rochester, to M. ROLLIN, in commendation of this Work.
Reverend and most Learned Sir,
When I was informed by a friend who lives near you, that you were returned to Paris, I resolved to wait on you, as soon as my health would admit. After having been prevented by the gout for some time, I was in hopes at length of paying my respects to you at your house, and went thither, but found you not at home. It is incumbent on me therefore to do that in writing, which I could not in person, and to return you my acknowledgments for all the favours you have been pleased to confer upon me, of which I beg you will be assured, that I shall always retain the most grateful sense.
And indeed I esteem the books you have lately published, as presents of exceeding value, and such as do me very great honour. For I have the highest regard, most excellent Sir, both for you, and for every thing that comes from so masterly a hand as yours, in the kind of learning you treat; in which I must believe that you not only excel all other writers, but are at the same time the best master of speaking and thinking well; and I freely confess that, though I had applied some time and pains in cultivating these studies, when I read your volumes over and over again, I was instructed in things by you, of which I was not only entirely ignorant, but seemed to myself to have learnt before. You have therefore too modest an opinion of your work, when you declare it composed solely for the instruction of youth. What you write may undoubtedly be read with pleasure and improvement by persons not unacquainted with learning of the same kind. For whilst you call to mind ancient facts and things sufficiently known, you do it in such a manner, that you illustrate, you embellish them; still adding something new to the old, something entirely your own to the labours of others: by placing good pictures in a good light, you make them appear with unusual elegance and more exalted beauties, even to those who have seen and studied them most.
In your frequent correspondence with Xenophon, you have certainly extracted from him, both what you relate in many places, and every where his very manner of relating; you seem not only to have imitated, but attained the shining elegance and beautiful simplicity of that author's style: so that had Xenophon excelled in the French language, in my judgment he would have used no other words, nor written in any other method, upon the subject you treat, than you have done.
I do not say this out of flattery, (which is far from being my vice,) but from my real sentiments and opinion. As you have enriched me with your fine presents, which I know how incapable I am of repaying either in the same or in any other kind of learning, I was willing to testify my gratitude and affection for you, and at least to make you some small, though exceedingly unequal, return.
Go on, most learned and venerable Sir, to deserve well of sound literature, which now lies universally neglected and despised. Go on, in forming the youth of France (since you will have their utility to be your sole view) upon the best precepts and examples.
Which that you may effect, may it please God to add many years to your life, and during the course of them to preserve you in health and safety. This is the earnest wish and prayer of
Your most obedient Servant, FRANCIS ROFFEN.
P.S.—Our friend, your neighbour, tells me you intend to dine with me after the holidays. When you have fixed upon the day, be pleased to let him know it. Whenever you come, you will be sure to find one so weak with age and ills as I am, at home.
December 26, 1731.
The Usefulness of Profane History, especially with regard to Religion.
The study of profane history would little deserve to have a serious attention, and a considerable length of time bestowed upon it, if it were confined to the bare knowledge of ancient transactions, and an uninteresting inquiry into the aeras when each of them happened. It little concerns us to know, that there were once such men as Alexander, Caesar, Aristides, or Cato, and that they lived in this or that period; that the empire of the Assyrians made way for that of the Babylonians, and the latter for the empire of the Medes and Persians, who were themselves subjected by the Macedonians, as these were afterwards by the Romans.
But it highly concerns us to know, by what methods those empires were founded; by what steps they rose to that exalted pitch of grandeur which we so much admire; what it was that constituted their true glory and felicity; and what were the causes of their declension and fall.
It is of no less importance to study attentively the manners of different nations; their genius, laws, and customs; and especially to acquaint ourselves with the character and disposition, the talents, virtues, and even vices of those by whom they were governed; and whose good or bad qualities contributed to the grandeur or decay of the states over which they presided.
Such are the great objects which ancient history presents; causing to pass, as it were, in review before us, all the kingdoms and empires of the world; and at the same time, all the great men who were any ways conspicuous; thereby instructing us, by example rather than precept, in the arts of empire and war, the principles of government, the rules of policy, the maxims of civil society, and the conduct of life that suits all ages and conditions.
We acquire, at the same time, another knowledge, which cannot but excite the attention of all persons who have a taste and inclination for polite learning; I mean the manner in which arts and sciences were invented, cultivated, and improved. We there discover, and trace as it were with the eye, their origin and progress; and perceive, with admiration, that the nearer we approach those countries which were once inhabited by the sons of Noah, in the greater perfection we find the arts and sciences; whereas they seem to be either neglected or forgotten, in proportion to the remoteness of nations from them; so that, when men attempted to revive those arts and sciences, they were obliged to go back to the source from whence they originally flowed.
I give only a transient view of these objects, though so very important, in this place, because I have already treated them at some length elsewhere.(1)
But another object of infinitely greater importance, claims our attention. For although profane history treats only of nations who had imbibed all the absurdities of a superstitious worship; and abandoned themselves to all the irregularities of which human nature, after the fall of the first man, became capable; it nevertheless proclaims universally the greatness of the Almighty, his power, his justice, and above all, the admirable wisdom with which his providence governs the universe.
If the inherent conviction of this last truth raised, according to Cicero's observation,(2) the Romans above all other nations; we may, in like manner, affirm, that nothing gives history a greater superiority to many other branches of literature, than to see in a manner imprinted, in almost every page of it, the precious footsteps and shining proofs of this great truth, viz. that God disposes all events as supreme Lord and Sovereign; that he alone determines the fate of kings and the duration of empires; and that he transfers the government of kingdoms from one nation to another, because of the unrighteous dealing and wickedness committed therein.(3)
We discover this important truth in going back to the most remote antiquity, and the origin of profane history; I mean, to the dispersion of the posterity of Noah into the several countries of the earth where they settled. Liberty, chance, views of interest, a love for certain countries, and similar motives, were, in outward appearance, the only causes of the different choice which men made in these various migrations. But the Scriptures inform us, that amidst the trouble and confusion that followed the sudden change in the language of Noah's descendants, God presided invisibly over all their counsels and deliberations; that nothing was transacted but by the Almighty's appointment; and that he alone guided(4) and settled all mankind, agreeably to the dictates of his mercy and justice: "The Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of the earth."(5)
It is true indeed that God, even in those early ages, had a peculiar regard for that people, whom he was one day to consider as his own. He pointed out the country which he designed for them; he caused it to be possessed by another laborious nation, who applied themselves to cultivate and adorn it; and to improve the future inheritance of the Israelites. He then fixed, in that country, the like number of families, as were to be settled in it, when the sons of Israel should, at the appointed time, take possession of it; and did not suffer any of the nations, which were not subject to the curse pronounced by Noah against Canaan, to enter upon an inheritance that was to be given up entirely to the Israelites. Quando dividebat Altissimus gentes, quando separabat filios Adam, constituit terminos populorum juxta numerum filiorum Israel.(6) But this peculiar regard of God to his future people, does not interfere with that which he had for the rest of the nations of the earth, as is evident from the many passages of Scripture, which teach us, that the entire succession of ages is present to him; that nothing is transacted in the whole universe, but by his appointment; and that he directs the several events of it from age to age. Tu es Deus conspector seculorum. A seculo usque in seculum respicis.(7)
We must therefore consider, as an indisputable principle, and as the basis and foundation of the study of profane history, that the providence of the Almighty has, from all eternity, appointed the establishment, duration, and destruction of kingdoms and empires, as well in regard to the general plan of the whole universe, known only to God, who constitutes the order and wonderful harmony of its several parts; as particularly with respect to the people of Israel, and still more with regard to the Messiah, and the establishment of the church, which is his great work, the end and design of all his other works, and ever present to his sight; Notum a seculo est Domino opus suum.(8)
God has vouchsafed to discover to us, in holy Scripture, a part of the relation of the several nations of the earth to his own people; and the little so discovered, diffuses great light over the history of those nations, of whom we shall have but a very imperfect idea, unless we have recourse to the inspired writers. They alone display, and bring to light, the secret thoughts of princes, their incoherent projects, their foolish pride, their impious and cruel ambition: they reveal the true causes and hidden springs of victories and overthrows; of the grandeur and declension of nations; the rise and ruin of states; and teach us, what indeed is the principal benefit to be derived from history, the judgment which the Almighty forms both of princes and empires, and consequently, what idea we ourselves ought to entertain of them.
Not to mention Egypt, that served at first as the cradle (if I may be allowed the expression) of the holy nation; and which afterwards was a severe prison, and a fiery furnace to it(9); and, at last, the scene of the most astonishing miracles that God ever wrought in favour of Israel: not to mention, I say, Egypt, the mighty empires of Nineveh and Babylon furnish a thousand proofs of the truth here advanced.
Their most powerful monarchs, Tiglath-Pileser, Shalmanezer, Sennacherib, Nebuchadnezzar, and many more, were, in God's hand, as so many instruments, which he employed to punish the transgressions of his people. "He lifted up an ensign to the nations from far, and hissed unto them from the end of the earth, to come and receive his orders."(10) He himself put the sword into their hands, and appointed their marches daily. He breathed courage and ardour into their soldiers; made their armies indefatigable in labour, and invincible in battle; and spread terror and consternation wherever they directed their steps.
The rapidity of their conquests ought to have enabled them to discern the invisible hand which conducted them. But, says one of these kings(11) in the name of the rest, "By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom; for I am prudent: And I have removed the bounds of the people and have robbed their treasures, and I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man. And my hand hath found as a nest the riches of the people: and as one gathereth eggs that are left, have I gathered all the earth, and there was none that moved the wing, or opened the mouth, or peeped."(12)
But this monarch, so august and wise in his own eye, how did he appear in that of the Almighty? Only as a subaltern agent, a servant sent by his master: "The rod of his anger, and the staff in his hand."(13) God's design was to chastise, not to extirpate his children. But Sennacherib "had it in his heart to destroy and cut off all nations."(14) What then will be the issue of this kind of contest between the designs of God, and those of this prince?(15) At the time that he fancied himself already possessed of Jerusalem, the Lord, with a single blast, disperses all his proud hopes; destroys, in one night, an hundred four score and five thousand of his forces; and putting "a hook in his nose, and a bridle in his lips",(16) (as though he had been a wild beast,) he leads him back to his own dominions, covered with infamy, through the midst of those nations, who, but a little before, had beheld him in all his pride and haughtiness.
Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, appears still more visibly governed by a Providence, to which he himself is an entire stranger, but which presides over all his deliberations, and determines all his actions.
Being come at the head of his army to two highways, the one of which led to Jerusalem, and the other to Rabbah, the chief city of the Ammonites, this king, not knowing which of them it would be best for him to strike into, debates for some time with himself, and at last casts lots. God makes the lot fall on Jerusalem, to fulfil the menaces he had pronounced against that city, viz. to destroy it, to burn the temple, and lead its inhabitants into captivity.(17)
One would imagine, at first sight, that this king had been prompted to besiege Tyre, merely from a political view, viz. that he might not leave behind him so powerful and well-fortified a city; nevertheless, a superior will had decreed the siege of Tyre.(18) God designed, on one side, to humble the pride of Ithobal its king, who fancying himself wiser than Daniel, whose fame was spread over the whole East; and ascribing entirely to his rare and uncommon prudence the extent of his dominions, and the greatness of his riches, persuaded himself that he was "a god, and sat in the seat of God."(19) On the other side, he also designed to chastise the luxury, the voluptuousness, and the pride of those haughty merchants, who thought themselves kings of the sea, and sovereigns over crowned heads; and especially, that inhuman joy of the Tyrians, who looked upon the fall of Jerusalem (the rival of Tyre) as their own aggrandizement. These were the motives which prompted God himself to lead Nebuchadnezzar to Tyre; and to make him execute, though unknowingly, his commands. Idcirco ecce ego adducam ad Tyrum Nabuchodonosor.
To recompense this monarch, whose army the Almighty had caused "to serve a great service against Tyre"(20) (these are God's own words;) and to compensate the Babylonish troops, for the grievous toils they had sustained during a thirteen years' siege; "I will give,"(21) saith the Lord God, "the land of Egypt unto Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon; and he shall take her multitude, and take her spoil, and take her prey, and it shall be the wages for his army."(22)
The same Nebuchadnezzar, eager to immortalize his name by the grandeur of his exploits, was determined to heighten the glory of his conquests by his splendour and magnificence, in embellishing the capital of his empire with pompous edifices, and the most sumptuous ornaments. But whilst a set of adulating courtiers, on whom he lavished the highest honours and immense riches, make all places resound with his name, an august senate of watchful spirits is formed, who weigh, in the balance of truth, the actions of kings, and pronounce upon them a sentence from which there lies no appeal. The king of Babylon is cited before this tribunal, in which there presides the Supreme Judge, who, to a vigilance which nothing can elude, adds a holiness that will not allow of the least irregularity. Vigil et sanctus. In this tribunal all Nebuchadnezzar's actions, which were the admiration and wonder of the public, are examined with rigour; and a search is made into the inward recesses of his heart, to discover his most hidden thoughts. How will this formidable inquiry end? At the instant that Nebuchadnezzar, walking in his palace, and revolving, with a secret complacency, his exploits, his grandeur and magnificence, is saying to himself, "Is not this great Babylon that I built for the house of the kingdom, by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?"(23) in this very instant, when, by vainly flattering himself that he held his power and kingdom from himself alone, he usurped the seat of the Almighty: a voice from heaven pronounces his sentence, and declares to him, that "his kingdom was departed from him, that he should be driven from men, and his dwelling be with the beasts of the field, until he knew that the Most High ruled in the kingdoms of men, and gave them to whomsoever he would."(24)
This tribunal, which is for ever assembled, though invisible to mortal eyes, pronounced the like sentence on those famous conquerors, on those heroes of the pagan world, who, like Nebuchadnezzar, considered themselves as the sole authors of their exalted fortune; as independent on authority of every kind, and as not holding of a superior power.
As God appointed some princes to be the instruments of his vengeance, he made others the dispensers of his goodness. He ordained Cyrus to be the deliverer of his people; and, to enable him to support with dignity so glorious a function, he endued him with all the qualities which constitute the greatest captains and princes: and caused that excellent education to be given him, which the heathens so much admired, though they neither knew the author nor true cause of it.
We see in profane history the extent and swiftness of his conquests, the intrepidity of his courage, the wisdom of his views and designs; his greatness of soul, his noble generosity; his truly paternal affection for his subjects; and, on their part, the grateful returns of love and tenderness, which made them consider him rather as their protector and father, than as their lord and sovereign. We find, I say, all these particulars in profane history; but we do not perceive the secret principle of so many exalted qualities, nor the hidden spring which set them in motion.
But Isaiah discloses them, and delivers himself in words suitable to the greatness and majesty of the God who inspired him, He represents this all-powerful God of armies as leading Cyrus by the hand, marching before him, conducting him from city to city, and from province to province; "subduing nations before him, loosening the loins of kings, breaking in pieces gates of brass, cutting in sunder the bars of iron," throwing down the walls and bulwarks of cities, and putting him in possession "of the treasures of darkness, and the hidden riches of secret places."(25)
The prophet also tells us the cause and motive of all these wonderful events.(26) It was in order to punish Babylon, and to deliver Judah, that the Almighty conducts Cyrus, step by step, and gives success to all his enterprises. "I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways.—For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel mine elect."(27) But this prince is so blind and ungrateful, that he does not know his master, nor remember his benefactor. "I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.—I girded thee, though thou hast not known me."(28)
Men seldom form to themselves a right judgment of true glory, and the duties essential to regal power. The Scripture alone gives us a just idea of them, and this it does in a wonderful manner, under the image of a very large and strong tree, whose top reaches to heaven, and whose branches extend to the extremities of the earth.(29) As its foliage is very abundant, and it is bowed down with fruit, it constitutes the ornament and felicity of the plains around it. It supplies a grateful shade, and a secure retreat to beasts of every kind: animals, both wild and tame, are safely lodged beneath it, the birds of heaven dwell in its branches, and it supplies food to all living creatures.
Can there be a more just or more instructive idea of the kingly office, whose true grandeur and solid glory does not consist in that splendour, pomp, and magnificence which surround it; nor in that reverence and exterior homage which are paid to it by subjects, and which are justly due to it; but in the real services and solid advantages it procures to nations, whose support, defence, security, and asylum it forms, (both from its nature and institution,) at the same time that it is the fruitful source of blessings of every kind; especially with regard to the poor and weak, who ought to find beneath the shade and protection of royalty, a sweet peace and tranquillity, not to be interrupted or disturbed; whilst the monarch himself sacrifices his ease, and experiences alone those storms and tempests from which he shelters all others?
I think that I observe this noble image, and the execution of this great plan (religion only excepted) realized in the government of Cyrus, of which Xenophon has given us a picture, in his beautiful preface to the history of that prince. He has there specified a great number of nations, which, though separated from each other by vast tracts of country, and still more widely by the diversity of their manners, customs, and language, were however all united, by the same sentiments of esteem, reverence, and love for a prince, whose government they wished, if possible, to have continued for ever, so much happiness and tranquillity did they enjoy under it.(30)
To this amiable and salutary government, let us oppose the idea which the sacred writings give us of those monarchs and conquerors so much boasted by antiquity, who, instead of making the happiness of mankind the sole object of their care, were prompted by no other motives than those of interest and ambition. The Holy Spirit represents them under the symbols of monsters generated from the agitation of the sea, from the tumult, confusion, and dashing of the waves one against the other; and under the image of cruel wild beasts, which spread terror and desolation universally, and are for ever gorging themselves with blood and slaughter; bears, lions, tigers, and leopards.(31) How strong and expressive is this colouring!
Nevertheless, it is often from such destructive models, that the rules and maxims of the education generally bestowed on the children of the great are borrowed; and it is these ravagers of nations, these scourges of mankind, they propose to make them resemble. By inspiring them with the sentiments of a boundless ambition, and the love of false glory, they become (to borrow an expression from Scripture) "young lions; they learn to catch the prey, and devour men—to lay waste cities, to turn lands and their fatness into desolation by the noise of their roaring."(32) And when this young lion is grown up, God tells us, that the noise of his exploits, and the renown of his victories, are nothing but a frightful roaring, which fills all places with terror and desolation.
The examples I have hitherto mentioned, extracted from the history of the Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, and Persians, prove sufficiently the supreme power exercised by God over all empires; and the relation he has thought fit to establish between the rest of the nations of the earth and his own peculiar people. The same truth appears as conspicuously under the kings of Syria and Egypt, successors of Alexander the Great: between whose history, and that of the Jews under the Maccabees, every body knows the close connection.
To these incidents I cannot forbear adding another, which though universally known, is not therefore the less remarkable; I mean the taking of Jerusalem by Titus. When he had entered that city, and viewed all the fortifications of it, this prince, though a heathen, owned the all-powerful arm of the God of Israel; and, in a rapture of admiration, cried out, "It is manifest that the Almighty has fought for us, and has driven the Jews from those towers; since neither the utmost human force, nor that of all the engines in the world, could have effected it."(33)
Besides the visible and sensible connection of sacred and profane history, there is another more secret and more distinct relation with respect to the Messiah, for whose coming the Almighty, whose work was ever present to his sight, prepared mankind from far, even by the state of ignorance and dissoluteness in which he suffered them to be immersed during four thousand years. It was to make mankind sensible of the necessity of our having a Mediator, that God permitted the nations to walk after their own ways; while neither the light of reason, nor the dictates of philosophy, could dispel the clouds of error, or reform their depraved inclinations.
When we take a view of the grandeur of empires, the majesty of princes, the glorious actions of great men, the order of civil societies, and the harmony of the different members of which they are composed, the wisdom of legislators, and the learning of philosophers, the earth seems to exhibit nothing to the eye of man but what is great and resplendent; nevertheless, in the eye of God it was equally barren and uncultivated, as at the first instant of the creation. "The earth was WITHOUT FORM AND VOID."(34) This is saying but little: it was wholly polluted and impure, (the reader will observe that I speak here of the heathens), and appeared to God only as the haunt and retreat of ungrateful and perfidious men, as it did at the time of the flood. "The earth was corrupt before God, and was filled with iniquity."(35)
Nevertheless the Sovereign Arbiter of the universe, who, pursuant to the dictates of his wisdom, dispenses both light and darkness, and knows how to check the impetuous torrent of human passions, would not permit mankind, though abandoned to the utmost corruptions, to degenerate into absolute barbarity, and brutalize themselves, in a manner, by the extinction of the first principles of the law of nature, as is seen in several savage nations. Such an obstacle would have too much retarded the rapid progress, promised by him to the first preachers of the doctrine of his Son.
He darted from far, into the minds of men, the rays of several great truths, to dispose them for the reception of others more important. He prepared them for the instructions of the Gospel, by those of philosophers; and it was with this view that God permitted the heathen professors to examine, in their schools, several questions, and establish several principles, which are nearly allied to religion; and to engage the attention of mankind, by the brilliancy of their disputations. It is well known, that the philosophers inculcate, in every part of their writings, the existence of a God, the necessity of a Providence that presides over the government of the world, the immortality of the soul, the ultimate end of man, the reward of the good and punishment of the wicked, the nature of those duties which constitute the band of society, the character of the virtues that are the basis of morality, as prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance, and other similar truths, which, though incapable of guiding men to righteousness, were yet of use to scatter certain clouds, and to dispel certain obscurities.
It is by an effect of the same providence, which prepared, from far, the ways of the gospel, that, when the Messiah revealed himself in the flesh, God had united together almost all nations, by the Greek and Latin tongues; and had subjected to one monarch, from the ocean to the Euphrates, all the people not united by language, in order to give a more free course to the preaching of the apostles. The study of profane history, when entered upon with judgment and maturity, must lead us to these reflections, and point out to us the manner in which the Almighty makes the empires of the earth subservient to the establishment of the kingdom of his Son.
It ought likewise to teach us how to appreciate all that glitters most in the eye of the world, and is most capable of dazzling it. Valour, fortitude, skill in government, profound policy, merit in magistracy, capacity for the most abstruse sciences, beauty of genius, delicacy of taste, and perfection in all arts: These are the objects which profane history exhibits to us, which excite our admiration, and often our envy. But at the same time this very history ought to remind us, that the Almighty, ever since the creation, has indulged to his enemies all those shining qualities which the world esteems, and on which it frequently bestows the highest eulogiums; while, on the contrary, he often refuses them to his most faithful servants, whom he endues with talents of an infinitely superior nature, though men neither know their value, nor are desirous of them. "Happy is that people that is in such a case: Yea, happy is that people, whose God is the Lord."(36)
I shall conclude this first part of my preface with a reflection which results naturally from what has been said. Since it is certain, that all these great men, who are so much boasted of in profane history, were so unhappy as not to know the true God, and to displease him; we should therefore be cautious and circumspect in the praises which we bestow upon them. St. Austin, in his Retractions, repents his having lavished so many encomiums on Plato, and the followers of his philosophy; "because these," says he, "were impious men, whose doctrine, in many points, was contrary to that of Jesus Christ."(37)
However, we are not to imagine, that St. Austin supposes it to be unlawful for us to admire and praise whatever is either beautiful in the actions, or true in the maxims, of the heathens. He only advises us to correct whatever is erroneous, and to approve whatever is conformable to rectitude and justice in them.(38) He applauds the Romans on many occasions, and particularly in his books De Civitate Dei,(39) which is one of the last and finest of his works. He there shows, that the Almighty raised them to be victorious over nations, and sovereigns of a great part of the earth, because of the gentleness and equity of their government (alluding to the happy ages of the Republic); thus bestowing on virtues, that were merely human, rewards of the same kind, with which that people, blind on this subject, though so enlightened on others, were so unhappy as to content themselves. St. Austin, therefore, does not condemn the encomiums which are bestowed on the heathens, but only the excess of them.
Students ought to take care, and especially we, who by the duties of our profession are obliged to be perpetually conversant with heathen authors, not to enter too far into the spirit of them; not to imbibe, unperceived, their sentiments, by lavishing too great applauses on their heroes; nor to give into excesses which the heathens indeed did not consider as such, because they were not acquainted with virtues of a purer kind. Some persons, whose friendship I esteem as I ought, and for whose learning and judgment I have the highest regard, have found this defect in some parts of my work, on the Method of Teaching and Studying the Belles Lettres, &c.; and are of opinion, that I have gone too great lengths in the encomiums which I bestow on the illustrious men of paganism. I indeed own, that the expressions on those occasions are sometimes too strong and too unguarded: however, I imagined that I had supplied a proper corrective to this, by the hints which I have interspersed in those four volumes; and, therefore, that it would be only losing time to repeat them; not to mention my having laid down, in different places, the principles which the Fathers of the Church establish on this head, declaring, with St. Austin, that without true piety, that is, without a sincere worship of the true God, there can be no true virtue; and that no virtue can be such, whose object is worldly glory; a truth, says this Father, acknowledged universally by those who are inspired with real and solid piety. Illud constat inter omnes veraciter pios, neminem sine vera pietate, id est, veri Dei vero cultu, veram posse habere virtutem; nec eam veram esse, quando gloriae servit humanae.(40)
When I observed that Perseus had not resolution enough to kill himself,(41) I do not thereby pretend to justify the practice of the heathens, who looked upon suicide as lawful; but simply to relate an incident, and the judgment which Paulus AEmilius passed on it. Had I barely hinted a word or two against that custom, it would have obviated all mistake, and left no room for censure.
The ostracism, employed in Athens against persons of the greatest merit; theft connived at, as it appears, by Lycurgus in Sparta; an equality of goods established in the same city, by the authority of the state, and things of a like nature, may admit of some difficulty. However, I shall pay a more immediate attention to these particulars,(42) when the course of the history brings me to them; and shall avail myself with pleasure of such lights as the learned and unprejudiced may favour me by communicating.
In a work like that I now offer the public, intended more immediately for the instruction of youth, it were heartily to be wished, that not one single thought or expression might occur that could contribute to inculcate false or dangerous principles. When I first set about writing the present history, I proposed this for my maxim, the importance of which I perfectly conceive, but am far from imagining that I have always observed it, though it was my intention to do so; and therefore on this, as on many other occasions, I shall stand in need of the reader's indulgence.
As I write principally for young persons, and for those who do not intend to make very deep researches into ancient history, I shall not burthen this Work with a sort of erudition, that might have been naturally introduced into it, but does not suit my purpose. My design is, in giving a continued series of ancient history, to extract from the Greek and Latin authors all that I shall judge most useful and entertaining with respect to the transactions, and most instructive with regard to the reflections.
I should wish to be able to avoid, at the same time, the dry sterility of epitomes, which convey no distinct idea to the mind; and the tedious accuracy of long histories, which tire the reader's patience. I am sensible that it is difficult to steer exactly between the two extremes; and although, in the two parts of history of which this first volume consists, I have retrenched a great part of what we meet with in ancient authors, they may still be thought too long: but I was afraid of spoiling the incidents, by being too studious of brevity. However, the taste of the public shall be my guide, to which I shall endeavour to conform hereafter.
I was so happy as not to displease the public in my first attempt.(43) I wish the present Work may be equally successful, but dare not raise my hopes so high. The subjects I there treated, viz. polite literature, poetry, eloquence, and curious and detached pieces of history, gave me an opportunity of introducing into it from ancient and modern authors, whatever is most beautiful, affecting, delicate, and just, with regard both to thought and expression. The beauty and justness of the things themselves which I offered the reader, made him more indulgent to the manner in which they were presented to him; and besides, the variety of the subjects supplied the want of those graces which might have been expected from the style and composition.
But I have not the same advantage in the present work, the choice of the subjects not being entirely at my discretion. In a connected history, an author is often obliged to relate a great many things that are not always very interesting, especially with regard to the origin and rise of empires; and these parts are generally overrun with thorns, and offer very few flowers. However, the sequel will furnish matter of a more pleasing nature, and events that engage more strongly the reader's attention; and I shall take care to make use of the valuable materials which the best authors will supply. In the mean time, I must entreat the reader to remember that in a wide-extended and beautiful region, the eye does not everywhere meet with golden harvests, smiling meads, and fruitful orchards; but sees, at different intervals, wild and less cultivated tracts of land. And, to use another comparison, furnished by Pliny,(44) some trees in the spring emulously shoot forth a numberless multitude of blossoms, which by this rich dress (the splendour and vivacity of whose colours charm the eye) proclaim a happy abundance in a more advanced season: while other trees,(45) of a less gay appearance, though they bear good fruits, have not however the fragrance and beauty of blossoms, nor seem to share in the joy of reviving nature. The reader will easily apply this image to the composition of history.
To adorn and enrich my own, I will be so ingenuous as to confess, that I do not scruple, nor am ashamed, to rifle from all quarters, and that I often do not cite the authors from whom I transcribe, because of the liberty I occasionally take to make some slight alterations. I have made the best use in my power of the solid reflections that occur in the second and third parts of the bishop of Meaux's(46) Universal History, which is one of the most beautiful and most useful books in our language. I have also received great assistance from the learned Dean Prideaux's Connection of the Old and New Testament, in which he has traced and cleared up, in an admirable manner, the particulars relating to ancient history. I shall take the same liberty with whatever comes in my way, that may suit my design, and contribute to the perfection of my Work.
I am very sensible, that it is not so much for a person's reputation, thus to make use of other men's labours, and that it is in a manner renouncing the name and quality of author. But I am not over fond of that title; and shall be extremely well pleased, and think myself very happy, if I can but deserve the name of a good compiler, and supply my readers with a tolerable history; who will not be over solicitous to inquire whether it be an original composition of my own, or not, provided they are but pleased with it.
I cannot determine the exact number of volumes which this Work will make; but am persuaded there will be no less than ten or twelve.(47) Students, with a very moderate application, may easily go through this course of history in a year, without interrupting their other studies. According to my plan, my Work should be given to the highest form but one. Youths in this class are capable of pleasure and improvement from this history; and I would not have them enter upon that of the Romans till they study rhetoric.
It would have been useful, and even necessary, to have given some idea of the ancient authors from whence I have extracted the facts which I here relate. But the course itself of the history will naturally give me an opportunity of mentioning them.
In the mean time, it may not be improper to take notice of the superstitious credulity with which most of these authors are reproached, on the subject of auguries, auspices, prodigies, dreams, and oracles. And indeed, we are shocked to see writers, so judicious in all other respects, lay it down as a kind of law, to relate these particulars with a scrupulous accuracy; and to dwell gravely on a tedious detail of trifling and ridiculous ceremonies, such as the flight of birds to the right or left hand, signs discovered in the smoking entrails of beasts, the greater or less greediness of chickens in pecking corn, and a thousand similar absurdities.
It must be confessed, that a sensible reader cannot, without astonishment, see persons among the ancients in the highest repute for wisdom and knowledge; generals who were the least liable to be influenced by popular opinions, and most sensible how necessary it is to take advantage of auspicious moments; the wisest councils of princes perfectly well skilled in the arts of government; the most august assemblies of grave senators; in a word, the most powerful and most learned nations in all ages; to see, I say, all these so unaccountably weak, as to make to depend on these trifling practices and absurd observances, the decision of the greatest affairs, such as the declaring of war, the giving battle, or pursuing a victory, deliberations that were of the utmost importance, and on which the fate and welfare of kingdoms frequently depended.
But, at the same time, we must be so just as to own, that their manners, customs, and laws, would not permit men, in these ages, to dispense with the observation of these practices: that education, hereditary tradition transmitted from immemorial time, the universal belief and consent of different nations, the precepts, and even examples of philosophers; that all these, I say, made the practices in question appear venerable in their eyes: and that these ceremonies, how absurd soever they may appear to us, and are really so in themselves, constituted part of the religion and public worship of the ancients.
This religion was false, and this worship mistaken; yet the principle of it was laudable, and founded in nature; the stream was corrupted, but the fountain was pure. Man, assisted only by his own light, sees nothing beyond the present moment. Futurity is to him an abyss invisible to the most keen, the most piercing sagacity, and exhibits nothing on which he may with certainty fix his views, or form his resolutions. He is equally feeble and impotent with regard to the execution of his designs. He is sensible, that he is dependent entirely on a Supreme Power, that disposes all events with absolute authority, and which, in spite of his utmost efforts, and of the wisdom of the best concerted schemes, by raising only the smallest obstacles and slightest disappointments, renders it impossible for him to execute his measures.
This obscurity and weakness oblige him to have recourse to a superior knowledge and power: he is forced, both by his immediate wants, and the strong desire he has to succeed in all his undertakings, to address that Being who he is sensible has reserved to himself alone the knowledge of futurity, and the power of disposing it as he sees fitting. He accordingly directs prayers, makes vows, and offers sacrifices, to prevail, if possible, with the Deity, to reveal himself, either in dreams, in oracles, or other signs which may manifest his will; fully convinced that nothing can happen but by the divine appointment; and that it is a man's greatest interest to know this supreme will, in order to conform his actions to it.
This religious principle of dependence on, and veneration of, the Supreme Being, is natural to man: it is imprinted deep in his heart; he is reminded of it, by the inward sense of his extreme indigence, and by all the objects which surround him; and it may be affirmed, that this perpetual recourse to the Deity, is one of the principal foundations of religion and the strongest band by which man is united to his Creator.
Those who were so happy as to know the true God, and were chosen to be his peculiar people, never failed to address him in all their wants and doubts, in order to obtain his succour, and to know his will. He accordingly vouchsafed to reveal himself to them; to conduct them by apparitions, dreams, oracles, and prophecies; and to protect them by miracles of the most astonishing kind.
But those who were so blind as to substitute falsehood in the place of truth, directed themselves, for the like aid, to fictitious and deceitful deities, who were not able to answer their expectations, nor recompense the homage that mortals paid them, any otherwise than by error and illusion, and a fraudulent imitation of the conduct of the true God.
Hence arose the vain observation of dreams, which, from a superstitious credulity, they mistook for salutary warnings from Heaven; those obscure and equivocal answers of oracles, beneath whose veil the spirits of darkness concealed their ignorance; and, by a studied ambiguity, reserved to themselves an evasion or subterfuge, whatever might be the event. To this are owing the prognostics with regard to futurity, which men fancied they should find in the entrails of beasts, in the flight and singing of birds, in the aspect of the planets, in fortuitous accidents, and in the caprice of chance; those dreadful prodigies that filled a whole nation with terror, and which, it was believed, nothing could expiate but mournful ceremonies, and even sometimes the effusion of human blood: in fine, those black inventions of magic, those delusions, enchantments, sorceries, invocations of ghosts, and many other kinds of divination.
All I have here related was a received usage, observed by the heathen nations in general; and this usage was founded on the principles of that religion of which I have given a short account. We have a signal proof of this in that passage of the Cyropaedia,(48) where Cambyses, the father of Cyrus, gives that young prince such noble instructions; instructions admirably well adapted to form the great captain, and great king. He exhorts him, above all things, to pay the highest reverence to the gods; and not to undertake any enterprise, whether important or inconsiderable, without first calling upon and consulting them; he enjoins him to honour the priests and augurs, as being their ministers and the interpreters of their will, but yet not to trust or abandon himself so implicitly and blindly to them, as not, by his own application, to learn every thing relating to the science of divination, of auguries and auspices. The reason which he gives for the subordination and dependence in which kings ought to live with regard to the gods, and the benefit derived from consulting them in all things, is this: How clear-sighted soever mankind may be in the ordinary course of affairs, their views are always very narrow and bounded with regard to futurity; whereas the Deity, at a single glance, takes in all ages and events. "As the gods," says Cambyses to his son, "are eternal, they know equally all things, past, present, and to come. With regard to the mortals who address them, they give salutary counsels to those whom they are pleased to favour, that they may not be ignorant of what things they ought, or ought not, to undertake. If it is observed, that the deities do not give the like counsels to all men; we are not to wonder at it, since no necessity obliges them to attend to the welfare of those persons on whom they do not vouchsafe to confer their favour."
Such was the doctrine of the most learned and most enlightened nations, with respect to the different kinds of divination; and it is no wonder that the authors who wrote the history of those nations, thought it incumbent on them to give an exact detail of such particulars as constituted part of their religion and worship, and was frequently in a manner the soul of their deliberations, and the standard of their conduct. I therefore was of opinion, for the same reason, that it would not be proper for me to omit entirely, in the ensuing history, what relates to this subject, though I have however retrenched a great part of it.
Archbishop Usher is my usual guide in chronology. In the history of the Carthaginians I commonly set down four aeras: The year from the creation of the world, which, for brevity's sake, I mark thus, A.M.; those of the foundation of Carthage and Rome; and lastly, the year before the birth of our Saviour, which I suppose to be the 4004th year of the world; wherein I follow Usher and others, though they suppose it to be four years earlier.
We shall now proceed to give the reader the proper preliminary information concerning this Work, according to the order in which it is executed.
To know in what manner the states and kingdoms were founded, that have divided the universe; the steps whereby they rose to that pitch of grandeur related in history; by what ties families and cities were united, in order to constitute one body or society, and to live together under the same laws and a common authority; it will be necessary to trace things back, in a manner, to the infancy of the world, and to those ages in which mankind, being dispersed into different regions, (after the confusion of tongues,) began to people the earth.
In these early ages every father was the supreme head of his family; the arbiter and judge of whatever contests and divisions might arise within it; the natural legislator over his little society; the defender and protector of those, who, by their birth, education, and weakness, were under his protection and safeguard, and whose interests paternal tenderness rendered equally dear to him as his own.
But although these masters enjoyed an independent authority, they made a mild and paternal use of it. So far from being jealous of their power, they neither governed with haughtiness, nor decided with tyranny. As they were obliged by necessity to associate their family in their domestic labours, they also summoned them together, and asked their opinion in matters of importance. In this manner all affairs were transacted in concert, and for the common good.
The laws which paternal vigilance established in this little domestic senate, being dictated with no other view than to promote the general welfare; concerted with such children as were come to years of maturity, and accepted by the inferiors with a full and free consent; were religiously kept and preserved in families as an hereditary polity, to which they owed their peace and security.
But different motives gave rise to different laws. One man, overjoyed at the birth of a first-born son, resolved to distinguish him from his future children, by bestowing on him a more considerable share of his possessions, and giving him a greater authority in his family. Another, more attentive to the interest of a beloved wife, or darling daughter whom he wanted to settle in the world, thought it incumbent on him to secure their rights and increase their advantages. The solitary and cheerless state to which a wife would be reduced in case she should become a widow, affected more intimately another man, and made him provide beforehand, for the subsistence and comfort of a woman who formed his felicity. From these different views, and others of the like nature, arose the different customs of nations, as well as their rights, which are infinitely various.
In proportion as every family increased, by the birth of children, and their marrying into other families, they extended their little domain, and formed, by insensible degrees, towns and cities.
These societies growing, in process of time, very numerous; and the families being divided into various branches, each of which had its head, whose different interests and characters might interrupt the general tranquillity; it was necessary to intrust one person with the government of the whole, in order to unite all these chiefs or heads under a single authority, and to maintain the public peace by an uniform administration. The idea which men still retained of the paternal government, and the happy effects they had experienced from it, prompted them to choose from among their wisest and most virtuous men, him in whom they had observed the tenderest and most fatherly disposition. Neither ambition nor cabal had the least share in this choice; probity alone, and the reputation of virtue and equity, decided on these occasions, and gave the preference to the most worthy.(49)
To heighten the lustre of their newly-acquired dignity, and enable them the better to put the laws in execution, as well as to devote themselves entirely to the public good; to defend the state against the invasions of their neighbours, and the factions of discontented citizens; the title of king was bestowed upon them, a throne was erected, and a sceptre put into their hands; homage was paid them, officers were assigned, and guards appointed for the security of their persons; tributes were granted; they were invested with full powers to administer justice, and for this purpose were armed with a sword, in order to restrain injustice, and punish crimes.
At first, every city had its particular king, who being more solicitous to preserve his dominion than to enlarge it, confined his ambition within the limits of his native country.(50) But the almost unavoidable feuds which break out between neighbours; jealousy against a more powerful king; a turbulent and restless spirit; a martial disposition, or thirst of aggrandizement; or the display of abilities; gave rise to wars, which frequently ended in the entire subjection of the vanquished, whose cities were possessed by the victor, and increased insensibly his dominions. Thus, a first victory paving the way to a second, and making a prince more powerful and enterprising, several cities and provinces were united under one monarch, and formed kingdoms of a greater or less extent, according to the degree of ardour with which the victor had pushed his conquests.(51)
But among these princes were found some, whose ambition being too vast to confine itself within a single kingdom, broke over all bounds, and spread universally like a torrent, or the ocean; swallowed up kingdoms and nations; and fancied that glory consisted in depriving princes of their dominions, who had not done them the least injury; in carrying fire and sword into the most remote countries, and in leaving every where bloody traces of their progress! Such was the origin of those famous empires which included a great part of the world.
Princes made a various use of victory, according to the diversity of their dispositions or interests. Some, considering themselves as absolute masters of the conquered, and imagining they were sufficiently indulged in sparing their lives, bereaved them, as well as their children, of their possessions, their country, and their liberty; subjected them to a most severe captivity; employed them in those arts which are necessary for the support of life, in the lowest and most servile offices of the house, in the painful toils of the field; and frequently forced them, by the most inhuman treatment, to dig in mines, and ransack the bowels of the earth, merely to satiate their avarice; and hence mankind were divided into freemen and slaves, masters and bondmen.
Others introduced the custom of transporting whole nations into new countries, where they settled them, and gave them lands to cultivate.
Other princes again, of more gentle dispositions, contented themselves with only obliging the vanquished nations to purchase their liberties, and the enjoyment of their laws and privileges by annual tributes laid on them for that purpose; and sometimes they would suffer kings to sit peaceably on their thrones, upon condition of their paying them some kind of homage.
But such of these monarchs as were the wisest and ablest politicians, thought it glorious to establish a kind of equality betwixt the nations newly conquered and their other subjects; granting the former almost all the rights and privileges which the others enjoyed: and by this means a great number of nations, that were spread over different and far distant countries, constituted, in some measure, but one city, at least but one people.
Thus I have given a general and concise idea of mankind, from the earliest monuments which history has preserved on this subject; the particulars whereof I shall endeavour to relate, in treating of each empire and nation. I shall not touch upon the history of the Jews, nor that of the Romans.
The history of the Carthaginians, that of the Assyrians, and the Lydians, which occurs in the second volume, is supported by the best authorities; but it is highly necessary to review the geography, the manners, and customs of the different nations here treated of; and first with regard to the religion, manners, and institutions of the Persians and Grecians; because these show their genius and character, which we may call, in some measure, the soul of history. For to take notice only of facts and dates, and confine our curiosity and researches to them, would be imitating the imprudence of a traveller, who, in visiting many countries, should content himself with knowing their exact distance from each other, and consider only the situation of the several places, their buildings, and the dresses of the people; without giving himself the least trouble to converse with the inhabitants, in order to inform himself of their genius, manners, disposition, laws, and government. Homer, whose design was to give, in the person of Ulysses, a model of a wise and intelligent traveller, tells us, at the very opening of his Odyssey, that his hero informed himself very exactly of the manners and customs of the several people whose cities he visited; in which he ought to be imitated by every person who applies himself to the study of history.
As Asia will hereafter be the principal scene of the history we are now entering upon, it may not be improper to give the reader such a general idea of it, as may at least make him acquainted with its most considerable provinces and cities.
The northern and eastern parts of Asia are less known in ancient history.
To the north are ASIATIC SARMATIA and ASIATIC SCYTHIA, which answer to Tartary.
Sarmatia is situated between the river Tanais, which separates Europe and Asia, and the river Rha, or Volga. Scythia is divided into two parts; the one on this, the other on the other side of mount Imaus. The nations of Scythia best known to us are the Sacae and the Massagetae.
The most eastern parts are, SERICA, Cathay; SINARUM REGIO, China; and INDIA. This last country was better known anciently than the two former. It was divided into two parts; the one on this side the Ganges, included between that river and the Indus, which now composes the dominions of the Great Mogul; the other part was that on the other side of the Ganges.
The remaining part of Asia, of which much greater mention is made in history, may be divided into five or six parts, taking it from east to west.
I. UPPER ASIA, which begins at the river Indus. The chief provinces are GEDROSIA, CARMANIA, ARACHOSIA, DRANGIANA, BACTRIANA, the capital of which was Bactra; SOGDIANA, MARGIANA, HYRCANIA, near the Caspian sea; PARTHIA, MEDIA, its chief city Ecbatana; PERSIA, the cities of Persepolis and Elymais; SUSIANA, the city of Susa; ASSYRIA, the city of Nineveh, situated on the river Tigris; MESOPOTAMIA, between the Euphrates and Tigris; BABYLONIA, the city of Babylon on the river Euphrates.
II. ASIA BETWEEN THE PONTUS EUXINUS AND THE CASPIAN SEA. Therein we may distinguish four provinces. 1. COLCHIS, the river Phasis, and mount Caucasus. 2. IBERIA. 3. ALBANIA; which two last-mentioned provinces now form part of Georgia. 4. The greater ARMENIA. This is separated from the lesser by the Euphrates; from Mesopotamia by mount Taurus; and from Assyria by mount Niphates. Its cities are Artaxata and Tigranocerta, and the river Araxes runs through it.
III. ASIA MINOR. This may be divided into four or five parts, according to the different situation of its provinces.
1. Northward, on the shore of the Pontus Euxinus; PONTUS, under three different names. Its cities are, Trapezus, not far from which are the people called Chalybes or Chaldaei; Themiscyra, a city on the river Thermodon, and famous for having been the abode of the Amazons. PAPHLAGONIA, BITHYNIA; the cities of which are, Nicaea, Prusa, Nicomedia, Chalcedon opposite to Constantinople, and Heraclea.
2. Westward, going down by the shores of the AEgean sea; MYSIA, of which there are two. The LESSER, in which stood Cyzicus, Lampsacus, Parium, Abydos opposite to Sestos, from which it is separated only by the Dardanelles; Dardanum, Sigaeum, Ilion, or Troy; and almost on the opposite side, the little island of Tenedos. The rivers are, the AEsepus, the Granicus, and the Simois. Mount Ida. This region is sometimes called Phrygia Minor, of which Troas is part.
The GREATER MYSIA. Antandros, Trajanopolis, Adramyttium, Pergamus. Opposite to this Mysia is the island of LESBOS; the cities of which are, Methymna, where the celebrated Arion was born; and Mitylene, which has given to the whole island its modern name Metelin.
AEOLIA. Elea, Cumae, Phocaea.
IONIA. Smyrna, Clazomenae, Teos, Lebedus, Colophon, Ephesus, Priene, Miletus.
CARIA. Laodicea, Antiochia, Magnesia, Alabanda. The river Maeander.
DORIS. Halicarnassus, Cnidos.
Opposite to these four last countries, are the islands CHIOS, SAMOS, PATHMOS, COS; and lower, towards the south, RHODES.
3. Southward, along the Mediterranean;
LYCIA, the cities of which are, Telmessus, Patara. The river Xanthus. Here begins mount Taurus, which runs the whole length of Asia, and assumes different names, according to the several countries through which it passes.
PAMPHYLIA. Perga, Aspendus, Sida.
CILICIA. Seleucia, Corycium, Tarsus, on the river Cydnus. Opposite to Cilicia is the island of Cyprus. The cities are, Salamis, Amathus, and Paphos.
4. Along the banks of the Euphrates, going up northward;
The LESSER ARMENIA. Comana, Arabyza, Melitene, Satala. The river Melas, which empties itself into the Euphrates.
CAPPADOCIA; the cities whereof are, Neocaesarea, Comana Pontica, Sebastia, Sebastopolis, Diocaesarea, Caesarea, otherwise called Mazaca, and Tyana.
LYCAONIA and ISAURIA. Iconium, Isauria.
PISIDIA. Seleucia and Antiochia of Pisidia.
LYDIA. Its cities are, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia. The rivers are, Caystrus and Hermus, into which the Pactolus empties itself. Mount Sipylus and Tmolus.
PHRYGIA MAJOR. Synnada, Apamia.
IV. SYRIA, now named Suria, called under the Roman emperors the East, the chief provinces of which are,
1. PALESTINE, by which name is sometimes understood all Judea. Its cities are, Jerusalem, Samaria, and Caesarea Palestina. The river Jordan waters it. The name of Palestine is also given to the land of Canaan, which extended along the Mediterranean; the chief cities of which were, Gaza, Ascalon, Azotus, Accaron, and Gath.
2. PHOENICIA, whose cities are, Ptolemais, Tyre, Sidon, and Berytus. Its mountains, Libanus and Antilibanus.
3. SYRIA, properly so called, or ANTIOCHENA; the cities whereof are, Antiochia, Apamia, Laodicea, and Seleucia.
4. COMAGENA. The city of Samosata.
5. COELESYRIA. The cities are, Zeugma, Thapsacus, Palmyra, and Damascus.
V. ARABIA PETRAEA. Its cities are, Petra, and Bostra. Mount Casius. DESERTA. FELIX.
It is observable, that in all ages and in every country, the several nations of the world, however various and opposite in their characters, inclinations and manners, have always united in one essential point; the inherent opinion of an adoration due to a Supreme Being, and of external forms calculated to evince such a belief. Into whatever country we cast our eyes, we find priests, altars, sacrifices, festivals, religious ceremonies, temples, or places consecrated to religious worship. Among every people we discover a reverence and awe of the Divinity; an homage and honour paid to him; and an open profession of an entire dependence upon him in all their undertakings, in all their necessities, in all their adversities and dangers. Incapable of themselves to penetrate into futurity and to ensure success, we find them careful to consult the Divinity by oracles, and by other methods of a like nature; and to merit his protection by prayers, vows, and offerings. It is by the same supreme authority they believe the most solemn treaties are rendered inviolable. It is that which gives sanction to their oaths; and to it by imprecations is referred the punishment of such crimes and enormities as escape the knowledge and power of men. On all their private concerns, voyages, journeys, marriages, diseases, the Divinity is still invoked. With him their every repast begins and ends. No war is declared, no battle fought, no enterprise formed, without his aid being first implored; to which the glory of the success is constantly ascribed by public acts of thanksgiving, and by the oblation of the most precious of the spoils, which they never fail to set apart as appertaining by right to the Divinity.
No variety of opinion is discernible in regard to the foundation of this belief. If some few persons, depraved by false philosophy, presume from time to time to rise up against this doctrine, they are immediately disclaimed by the public voice. They continue singular and alone, without making parties, or forming sects: the whole weight of the public authority falls upon them; a price is set upon their heads; whilst they are universally regarded as execrable persons, the bane of civil society, with whom it is criminal to have any kind of commerce.
So general, so uniform, so perpetual a consent of all the nations of the universe, which neither the prejudice of the passions, the false reasoning of some philosophers, nor the authority and example of certain princes, have ever been able to weaken or vary, can proceed only from a first principle, which forms a part of the nature of man; from an inward sentiment implanted in his heart by the Author of his being; and from an original tradition as ancient as the world itself.
Such were the source and origin of the religion of the ancients; truly worthy of man, had he been capable of persisting in the purity and simplicity of these first principles: but the errors of the mind, and the vices of the heart, those sad effects of the corruption of human nature, have strangely disfigured their original beauty. There are still some faint rays, some brilliant sparks of light, which a general depravity has not been able to extinguish utterly; but they are incapable of dispelling the profound darkness of the gloom which prevails almost universally, and presents nothing to view but absurdities, follies, extravagancies, licentiousness, and disorder; in a word, a hideous chaos of frantic excesses and enormous vices.
Can any thing be more admirable than these principles laid down by Cicero?(52) That we ought above all things to be convinced that there is a Supreme Being, who presides over all the events of the world, and disposes every thing as sovereign lord and arbiter: that it is to him mankind are indebted for all the good they enjoy: that he penetrates into, and is conscious of, whatever passes in the most secret recesses of our hearts: that he treats the just and the impious according to their respective merits: that the true means of acquiring his favour, and of being pleasing in his sight, is not by employing of riches and magnificence in the worship that is paid to him, but by presenting him with a heart pure and blameless, and by adoring him with an unfeigned and profound veneration.
Sentiments so sublime and religious were the result of the reflections of some few who employed themselves in the study of the heart of man, and had recourse to the first principles of his institution, of which they still retained some valuable relics. But the whole system of their religion, the tendency of their public feasts and ceremonies, the essence of the Pagan theology, of which the poets were the only teachers and professors, the very example of the gods, whose violent passions, scandalous adventures, and abominable crimes, were celebrated in their hymns or odes, and proposed in some measure to the imitation, as well as adoration, of the people; these were certainly very unfit means to enlighten the minds of men, and to form them to virtue and morality.
It is remarkable, that in the greatest solemnities of the Pagan religion, and in their most sacred and venerable mysteries, far from perceiving any thing which can recommend virtue, piety, or the practice of the most essential duties of ordinary life, we find the authority of laws, the imperious power of custom, the presence of magistrates, the assembly of all orders of the state, the example of fathers and mothers, all conspire to train up a whole nation from their infancy in an impure and sacrilegious worship, under the name, and in a manner under the sanction, of religion itself; as we shall soon see in the sequel.
After these general reflections upon Paganism, it is time to proceed to a particular account of the religion of the Greeks. I shall reduce this subject, though infinite in itself, to four articles, which are, 1. The feasts. 2. The oracles, auguries, and divinations. 3. The games and combats. 4. The public shows and representations of the theatre. In each of these articles, I shall treat only of what appears most worthy of the reader's curiosity, and has most relation to this history. I omit saying any thing of sacrifices, having given a sufficient idea of them elsewhere.(53)
Of the Feasts.
An infinite number of feasts were celebrated in the several cities of Greece, and especially at Athens, of which I shall describe only three of the most famous, the Panathenea, the feasts of Bacchus, and those of Eleusis.
This feast was celebrated at Athens in honour of Minerva, the tutelary goddess of that city, to which she gave her name,(54) as well as to the feast of which we are speaking. Its institution was ancient, and it was called at first the Athenea; but after Theseus had united the several towns of Attica into one city, it took the name of Panathenea. These feasts were of two kinds, the great and the less, which were solemnized with almost the same ceremonies; the less annually, and the great upon the expiration of every fourth year.
In these feasts were exhibited racing, the gymnastic combats, and the contentions for the prizes of music and poetry. Ten commissaries, elected from the ten tribes, presided on this occasion, to regulate the forms, and distribute the rewards to the victors. This festival continued several days.
In the morning of the first day a race was run on foot, in which each of the runners carried a lighted torch in his hand, which they exchanged continually with each other without interrupting their race. They started from the Ceramicus, one of the suburbs of Athens, and crossed the whole city. The first that came to the goal, without having put out his torch, carried the prize. In the afternoon they ran the same course on horseback.
The gymnastic or athletic combats followed the races. The place for that exercise was upon the banks of the Ilissus, a small river, which runs through Athens, and empties itself into the sea at the Piraeus.
Pericles first instituted the prize of music. In this dispute were sung the praises of Harmodius and Aristogiton who, at the expense of their lives, delivered Athens from the tyranny of the Pisistratidae; to which was afterwards added the eulogium of Thrasybulus, who expelled the thirty tyrants. The prize was warmly disputed, not only amongst the musicians, but still more so amongst the poets; and it was highly glorious to be declared victor in this contest. AEschylus is reported to have died with grief upon seeing the prize adjudged to Sophocles, who was much younger than himself.
These exercises were followed by a general procession, wherein was carried, with great pomp and ceremony, a sail, embroidered with gold, on which were curiously delineated the warlike actions of Pallas against the Titans and Giants. This sail was affixed to a vessel which bore the name of the goddess. The vessel, equipped with sails, and with a thousand oars, was conducted from the Ceramicus to the temple of Eleusis, not by horses or beasts of draught, but by machines concealed in the bottom of it, which put the oars in motion, and made the vessel glide along.
The march was solemn and majestic. At the head of it were old men, who carried olive-branches in their hands, θαλλοφόροι, and these were chosen for the symmetry of their shape, and the vigour of their complexion. Athenian matrons, of great age, also accompanied them in the same equipage.
The grown and robust men formed the second class. They were armed at all points, and had bucklers and lances. After them came the strangers that inhabited Athens, carrying mattocks, instruments proper for tillage. Next followed the Athenian women of the same age, attended by the foreigners of their own sex, carrying vessels in their hands for the drawing of water.
The third class was composed of the young persons of both sexes, selected from the best families in the city. The young men wore vests, with crowns upon their heads, and sang a peculiar hymn in honour of the goddess. The maids carried baskets, κανηφόροι, in which were placed the sacred utensils proper to the ceremony, covered with veils to keep them from the sight of the spectators. The person, to whose care those sacred things were intrusted, was bound to observe a strict continence for several days before he touched them, or distributed them to the Athenian virgins;(55) or rather, as Demosthenes says, his whole life and conduct ought to have been a perfect model of virtue and purity. It was a high honour for a young woman to be chosen for so noble and august an office, and an insupportable affront to be deemed unworthy of it. We shall see that Hipparchus offered this indignity to the sister of Harmodius, which extremely incensed the conspirators against the Pisistratidae. These Athenian virgins were followed by the foreign young women, who carried umbrellas and seats for them.
The children of both sexes closed the pomp of the procession.
In this august ceremony, the ῥαψωδοι were appointed to sing certain verses of Homer; a manifest proof of the estimation in which the works of that poet were held, even with regard to religion. Hipparchus, son of Pisistratus, first introduced that custom.
I have observed elsewhere,(56) that in the gymnastic games of this feast a herald proclaimed, that the people of Athens had conferred a crown of gold upon the celebrated physician Hippocrates, in gratitude for the signal services which he had rendered the state during the pestilence.
In this festival the people of Athens put themselves, and the whole republic, under the protection of Minerva, the tutelary goddess of their city, and implored of her all kind of prosperity. From the time of the battle of Marathon, in these public acts of worship, express mention was made of the Plataeans, and they were joined in all things with the people of Athens.
Feasts of Bacchus.
The worship of Bacchus had been brought out of Egypt to Athens, where several feasts had been established in honour of that god; two particularly more remarkable than all the rest, called the great and the less feasts of Bacchus. The latter were a kind of preparation for the former, and were celebrated in the open field about autumn. They were named Lenea, from a Greek word(57) that signifies a wine-press. The great feasts were commonly called Dionysia, from one of the names of that god,(58) and were solemnized in the spring within the city.
In each of these feasts the public were entertained with games, shows, and dramatic representations, which were attended with a vast concourse of people, and exceeding magnificence, as will be seen hereafter: at the same time the poets disputed the prize of poetry, submitting to the judgment of arbitrators, expressly chosen for that purpose, their pieces, whether tragic or comic, which were then represented before the people.
These feasts continued many days. Those who were initiated, mimicked whatever the poets had thought fit to feign of the god Bacchus. They covered themselves with the skins of wild beasts, carried a thyrsus in their hands, a kind of pike with ivy-leaves twisted round it; had drums, horns, pipes, and other instruments calculated to make a great noise; and wore upon their heads wreaths of ivy and vine-branches, and of other trees sacred to Bacchus. Some represented Silenus, some Pan, others the Satyrs, all drest in suitable masquerade. Many of them were mounted on asses; others dragged goats(59) along for sacrifices. Men and women, ridiculously dressed in this manner, appeared night and day in public; and imitating drunkenness, and dancing with the most indecent gestures, ran in throngs about the mountains and forests, screaming and howling furiously; the women especially seemed more outrageous than the men; and, quite out of their senses, in their furious(60) transports invoked the god, whose feast they celebrated, with loud cries; εὐοῖ Βάκχε, or ὦ Ἴακχε, or Ἰόβακχε, or Ἰὼ Βάκχε.
This troop of Bacchanalians was followed by the virgins of the noblest families in the city, who were called κανηφόροι, from carrying baskets on their heads, covered with vine leaves and ivy.
To these ceremonies others were added, obscene to the last excess, and worthy of the god who chose to be honoured in such a manner. The spectators gave into the prevailing humour, and were seized with the same frantic spirit. Nothing was seen but dancing, drunkenness, debauchery, and all that the most abandoned licentiousness can conceive of gross and abominable. And this an entire people, reputed the wisest of all Greece, not only suffered, but admired and practised. I say an entire people; for Plato, speaking of the Bacchanalia, says in direct terms, that he had seen the whole city of Athens drunk at once.(61)
Livy informs us,(62) that this licentiousness of the Bacchanalia having secretly crept into Rome, the most horrid disorders were committed there under cover of the night, and the inviolable secresy which all persons, who were initiated into these impure and abominable mysteries, were obliged, under the most horrid imprecations, to observe. The senate, being apprized of the affair, put a stop to those sacrilegious feasts by the most severe penalties; and first banished the practisers of them from Rome, and afterwards from Italy. These examples inform us, how far a mistaken sense of religion, that covers the greatest crimes with the sacred name of the Divinity, is capable of misleading the mind of man.(63)
The Feast of Eleusis.
There is nothing in all Pagan antiquity more celebrated than the feast of Ceres Eleusina. The ceremonies of this festival were called, by way of eminence, "the mysteries," from being, according to Pausanias, as much above all others, as the gods are above men. Their origin and institution are attributed to Ceres herself, who, in the reign of Erechtheus, coming to Eleusis, a small town of Attica, in search of her daughter Proserpine, whom Pluto had carried away, and finding the country afflicted with a famine, invented corn as a remedy for that evil, with which she rewarded the inhabitants. She not only taught them the use of corn, but instructed them in the principles of probity, charity, civility, and humanity;(64) from whence her mysteries were called Θεσμοφόρια, and Initia. To these first happy lessons fabulous antiquity ascribed the courtesy, politeness, and urbanity, so remarkable amongst the Athenians.
These mysteries were divided into the less and the greater; of which the former served as a preparation for the latter. The less were solemnized in the month Anthesterion, which answers to our November; the great in the month Boedromion, which corresponds to August. Only Athenians were admitted to these mysteries; but of them, each sex, age, and condition, had a right to be received. All strangers were absolutely excluded, so that Hercules, Castor, and Pollux, were obliged to be adopted as Athenians in order to their admission; which, however, extended only to the lesser mysteries. I shall consider principally the great, which were celebrated at Eleusis.
Those who demanded to be initiated into them, were obliged, before their reception, to purify themselves in the lesser mysteries, by bathing in the river Ilissus, by saying certain prayers, offering sacrifices, and, above all, by living in strict continence during a certain interval of time prescribed them. That time was employed in instructing them in the principles and elements of the sacred doctrine of the great mysteries.
When the time for their initiation arrived, they were brought into the temple; and to inspire the greater reverence and terror, the ceremony was performed in the night. Wonderful things took place upon this occasion. Visions were seen, and voices heard of an extraordinary kind. A sudden splendour dispelled the darkness of the place, and, disappearing immediately, added new horrors to the gloom. Apparitions, claps of thunder, earthquakes, heightened the terror and amazement; whilst the person to be admitted, overwhelmed with dread, and sweating through fear, heard, trembling, the mysterious volumes read to him, if in such a condition he was capable of hearing at all. These nocturnal rites gave birth to many disorders, which the severe law of silence, imposed on the persons initiated, prevented from coming to light, as St. Gregory Nazianzen observes.(65) What cannot superstition effect upon the mind of man, when once his imagination is heated? The president in this ceremony was called Hierophantes. He wore a peculiar habit, and was not permitted to marry. The first who served in this function, and whom Ceres herself instructed, was Eumolpus; from whom his successors were called Eumolpidae. He had three colleagues; one who carried a torch;(66) another a herald,(67) whose office was to pronounce certain mysterious words; and a third to attend at the altar.
Besides these officers, one of the principal magistrates of the city was appointed to take care that all the ceremonies of this feast were exactly observed. He was called the king,(68) and was one of the nine Archons. His business was to offer prayers and sacrifices. The people gave him four assistants,(69) one chosen from the family of the Eumolpidae, a second from that of the Ceryces, and the two last from two other families. He had besides ten other ministers to assist him in the discharge of his duty, and particularly in offering sacrifices, from whence they derived their name.(70)
The Athenians initiated their children of both sexes very early into these mysteries, and would have thought it criminal to have let them die without such an advantage. It was their general opinion, that this ceremony was an engagement to lead a more virtuous and regular life; that it recommended them to the peculiar protection of the goddesses (Ceres and Proserpine,) to whose service they devoted themselves; and procured to them a more perfect and certain happiness in the other world: whilst, on the contrary, such as had not been initiated, besides the evils they had to apprehend in this life, were doomed, after their descent to the shades below, to wallow eternally in dirt, filth, and excrement. Diogenes the Cynic believed nothing of the matter,(71) and when his friends endeavoured to persuade him to avoid such a misfortune, by being initiated before his death—"What," said he, "shall Agesilaus and Epaminondas lie amongst mud and dung, whilst the vilest Athenians, because they have been initiated, possess the most distinguished places in the regions of the blessed?" Socrates was not more credulous; he would not be initiated into these mysteries, which was perhaps one reason that rendered his religion suspected.
Without this qualification none were admitted to enter the temple of Ceres;(72) and Livy informs us of two Acarnanians, who, having followed the crowd into it upon one of the feast-days, although out of mistake and with no ill design, were both put to death without mercy. It was also a capital crime to divulge the secrets and mysteries of this feast. Upon this account Diagoras the Melian was proscribed, and had a reward set upon his head. It very nearly cost the poet AEschylus his life, for speaking too freely of it in some of his tragedies. The disgrace of Alcibiades proceeded from the same cause. Whoever had violated this secresy, was avoided as a wretch accursed and excommunicated.(73) Pausanias, in several passages, wherein he mentions the temple of Eleusis, and the ceremonies practised there, stops short, and declares he cannot proceed, because he had been forbidden by a dream or vision.(74)
This feast, the most celebrated of profane antiquity, was of nine days' continuance. It began the fifteenth of the month Boedromion. After some previous ceremonies and sacrifices on the first three days, upon the fourth in the evening began the procession of "the Basket;" which was laid upon an open chariot slowly drawn by oxen,(75) and followed by a long train of the Athenian women. They all carried mysterious baskets in their hands, filled with several things, which they took great care to conceal, and covered with a veil of purple. This ceremony represented the basket into which Proserpine put the flowers she was gathering when Pluto seized and carried her off.
The fifth day was called the day of "the Torches:" because at night the men and women ran about with them in imitation of Ceres, who having lighted a torch at the fire at mount AEtna, wandered about from place to place in search of her daughter.
The sixth was the most famous day of all. It was called Iacchus, which is the same as Bacchus, the son of Jupiter and Ceres, whose statue was then brought out with great ceremony, crowned with myrtle, and holding a torch in its hand. The procession began at the Ceramicus, and passing through the principal places of the city, continued to Eleusis. The way leading to it was called "the sacred way," and lay across a bridge over the river Cephisus. This procession was very numerous, and generally consisted of thirty thousand persons.(76) The temple of Eleusis, where it ended, was large enough to contain the whole of this multitude; and Strabo says, its extent was equal to that of the theatres, which every body knows were capable of holding a much greater number of people.(77) The whole way reechoed with the sound of trumpets, clarions, and other musical instruments. Hymns were sung in honour of the goddesses, accompanied with dancing, and other extraordinary marks of rejoicing. The route before mentioned, through the sacred way, and over the Cephisus, was the usual one: but after the Lacedaemonians, in the Peloponnesian war, had fortified Decelia, the Athenians were obliged to make their procession by sea, till Alcibiades reestablished the ancient custom.