Historical Reprints History History of Antiquity

History of Antiquity

History of Antiquity
Catalog # SKU3660
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 10.00 lbs
Author Name Max Duncker, Evelyn Abbott
ISBN 10: 0000000000
ISBN 13: 0000000000000


History of Antiquity

Six Volume Set

Professor Max Duncker
Translated by Evelyn Abbott

Fifty years ago, the opinion was held by some that we could watch, in the tradition of the most ancient realms of the East, the first awkward steps in the childhood of the human race, while others believed that it was possible to discover there the remnants of an original wisdom, received by mankind at the beginning of their course immediately from the hand of heaven. The monuments of the East, subsequently discovered and investigated by the combined labour of English, German, and French scholars, have added an unexpected abundance of fresh information to the Hebrew Scriptures and the narratives of the Greeks, which, till then, were almost our only resource. No one can any longer be ignorant that Hither Asia at a very remote period was in possession of a rich and many-sided civilisation. The earliest stages of that civilisation in the valley of the Nile, of the Euphrates and the Tigris, on the coasts and in the interior of Syria are, it is true, entirely hidden from our knowledge; even the far more recent culture of the Aryan tribes we can only trace with the help of the Veda and the Avesta back to the point at which they were already acquainted with agriculture, and possessed considerable artistic skill.

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The Story of Ninus and Semiramis.

About the middle course of the Tigris, where the mountain wall of the Armenian plateau steeply descends to the south, there is a broad stretch of hilly country. To the west it is traversed by a few water-courses only, which spring out of the mountains of Sindyar, and unite with the Tigris; from the east the affluents are far more abundant. On the southern shore of the lake of Urumiah the edge of the plateau of Iran abuts on the Armenian table-land, and then, stretching to the south-east, it bounds the river valley of the Tigris toward the east. From its vast, successive ranges, the Zagrus of the Greeks, flow the Lycus and Caprus (the Greater and the Lesser Zab), the Adhim and the Diala. The water, which these rivers convey to the land between the Zagrus and the Tigris, together with the elevation of the soil, softens the heat and allows olive trees and vines to flourish in the cool air on the hills, sesame and corn in the valleys between groups of palms and fruit-trees. The backs of the heights which rise to the east are covered by forests of oaks and nut trees. Toward the south the ground gradually sinks-on the west immediately under the mountains of Sindyar, on the east below the Lesser Zab-toward the course of the Adhim into level plains, where the soil is little inferior in fertility to the land of Babylonia. The land between the Tigris and the Greater Zab is known to Strabo and Arrian as Aturia. The districts between the Greater and Lesser Zab are called Arbelitis and Adiabene by western writers. The region bounded by the Lesser Zab and the Adhim or the Diala is called Sittacene, and the land lying on the mountains rising further toward the east is Chalonitis. The latter we shall without doubt have to regard as the Holwan of later times.

According to the accounts of the Greeks, it was in these districts that the first kingdom rose which made conquests and extended its power beyond the borders of its native country. In the old time-such is the story-kings ruled in Asia, whose names were not mentioned, as they had not performed any striking exploits. The first of whom any memorial is retained, and who performed great deeds, was Ninus, the king of the Assyrians. Warlike and ambitious by nature, he armed the most vigorous of his young men, and accustomed them by long and various exercises to all the toils and dangers of war.

After collecting a splendid army, he combined with Ariaeus, the prince of the Arabs, and marched with numerous troops against the neighbouring Babylonians. The city of Babylon was not built at that time, but there were other magnificent cities in the land. The Babylonians were an unwarlike people, and he subdued them with little trouble, took their king prisoner, slew him with his children, and imposed a yearly tribute on the Babylonians. Then with a still greater force he invaded Armenia and destroyed several cities. Barzanes, the king of Armenia, perceived that he was not in a position to resist. He repaired with costly presents to Ninus and undertook to be his vassal. With great magnanimity Ninus permitted him to retain the throne of Armenia; but he was to provide a contingent in war and contribute to the support of the army. Strengthened by these means, Ninus turned his course to Media. Pharnus, king of Media, came out to meet him with a strong force, but he was nevertheless defeated, and crucified with his wife and seven children, and Ninus placed one of his own trusty men as viceroy over Media. These successes raised in Ninus the desire to subjugate all Asia as far as the Nile and the Tanais.

He conquered, as Ctesias narrates, Egypt, Phoenicia, Coele Syria, Cilicia, Lycia and Caria, Lydia, Mysia, Phrygia, Bithynia, and Cappadocia, and reduced the nations on the Pontus as far as the Tanais.

Then he made himself master of the land of the Cadusians and Tapyrians, of the Hyrcanians, Drangians, Derbiccians, Carmanians, Chorasmians, Barcians, and Parthians. Beside these, he overcame Persia, and Susiana, and Caspiana, and many other small nations. But in spite of many efforts he failed to obtain any success against the Bactrians, because the entrance to their land was difficult and the number of their men of war was great. So he deferred the war against the Bactrians to another opportunity, and led his army back, after subjugating in 17 years all the nations of Asia, with the exception of the Indians and Bactrians. The king of the Arabians he dismissed to his home with costly presents and splendid booty; he began himself to build a city which should not only be greater than any other then in existence, but should be such that no city in the future could ever surpass it. This city he founded on the bank of the Tigris, in the form of an oblong, and surrounded it with strong fortifications. The two longer sides measured 150 stades each, the two shorter sides 90 stades each, so that the whole circuit was 480 stades. The walls reached a height of 100 feet, and were so thick that there was room in the gangway for three chariots to pass each other.

These walls were surmounted by 1500 towers, each of the height of 200 feet. As to the inhabitants of the city, the greater number and those of the most importance were Assyrians, but from the other nations also any who chose could fix his dwelling here, and Ninus allotted to the settlers large portions of the surrounding territory, and called the city Ninus, after his own name.

When the city was built Ninus resolved to march against the Bactrians. He knew the number and bravery of the Bactrians, and how difficult their land was to approach, and therefore he collected the armies of all the subject nations, to the number of 1,700,000 foot soldiers, 210,000 cavalry, and towards 10,600 chariots of war. The narrowness of the passes which protect the entrance to Bactria compelled Ninus to divide his army. Oxyartes, who at that time was king of the Bactrians, had collected the whole male population of his country, about 400,000 men, and met the enemy at the passes. One part of the Assyrian army he allowed to enter unmolested; when a sufficient number seemed to have reached the plains he attacked them and drove them back to the nearest mountains; about 100,000 Assyrians were slain. But when the whole force had penetrated into the land, the Bactrians were overcome by superior numbers and scattered each to his own city. The rest of the cities were captured by Ninus with little trouble, but Bactra, the chief city, where the palace of the king lay, he could not reduce, for it was large and well-provisioned, and the fortress was very strong.

When the siege became protracted, Onnes, the first among the counsellors of the king and viceroy of Syria, who accompanied the king on this campaign, sent for his wife Semiramis to the camp. Once when he was inspecting the flocks of the king in Syria, he had seen at the dwelling of Simmas, the keeper of these flocks, a beautiful maiden, and he was so overcome with love for her that he sought and obtained her as a wife from Simmas. She was the foster-child of Simmas. In a rocky place in the desert his shepherds had found the maiden about a year old, fed by doves with milk and cheese; as Simmas was childless he had taken the foundling as his child, and given her the name of Semiramis Onnes took her to the city of Ninus. She bore him two sons, Hyapates and Hydaspes, and as she had everything which beauty requires, she made her husband her slave; he did nothing without her advice, and everything succeeded admirably.

She also possessed intelligence and daring, and every other gift likely to advance her. When requested by Onnes to come to the camp, she seized the opportunity to display her power. She put on such clothing that it could not be ascertained whether she was a man or a woman, and this succeeded so well that at a later time the Medes, and after them the Persians also, wore the robe of Semiramis. When she arrived in the camp she perceived that the attack was directed only against the parts of the city lying in the plain, not against the high part and the strong fortifications of the citadel, and she also perceived that this direction of the attack induced the Bactrians to be careless in watching the citadel. She collected all those in the army who were accustomed to climbing, and with this troop she ascended the citadel from a deep ravine, captured a part of it, and gave the signal to the army which was assaulting the walls in the plain. The Bactrians lost their courage when they saw their citadel occupied, and the city was taken. Ninus admired the courage of the woman, honoured her with costly presents, and was soon enchained by her beauty; but his attempts to persuade Onnes to give up Semiramis to him were in vain; in vain he offered to recompense him by the gift of his own daughter Sosana in marriage. At length Ninus threatened to put out his eyes if he did not obey his commands.

The terror of this threat and the violence of his own love drove Onnes out of his mind. He hung himself. Thus Semiramis came to the throne of Assyria. When Ninus had taken possession of the great treasures of gold and silver which were in Bactra, and had arranged everything there, he led his army back. At Ninus Semiramis bore him a son, Ninyas, and at his death, when he had reigned 52 years, Ninus bequeathed to her the sovereign power. She buried his corpse in the royal palace, and caused a huge mound to be raised over the grave, 6000 feet in the circuit and 5400 feet high, which towered over the city of Ninus like a lofty citadel, and could be seen far through the plain in which Ninus lay.

As Semiramis was ambitious, and desired to surpass the fame of Ninus, she built the great city of Babylon, with mighty walls and towers, the two royal citadels, the bridge over the Euphrates, and the temple of Belus, and caused a great lake to be excavated to draw off the water of the Euphrates. Other cities also she founded on the Euphrates and the Tigris, and caused depots to be made for those who brought merchandise from Media, Paraetacene, and the bordering countries. After completing these works she marched with a great army to Media and planted the garden near Mount Bagistanon. The steep and lofty face of this mountain, more than 10,000 feet in height, she caused to be smoothed, and on it was cut her picture surrounded by 100 guards; and an inscription was engraved in Syrian letters, saying that Semiramis had caused the pack-saddles of her beasts of burden to be piled on each other, and on these had ascended to the summit of the mountain. Afterwards she made another large garden near the city of Chauon, in Media, and on a rock in the middle of it she erected rich and costly buildings, from which she surveyed the blooming garden and the army encamped in the plain. Here she remained for a long time, and gave herself up to every kind of pleasure. She was unwilling to contract another marriage from fear of losing the sovereign power, but she lived with any of her warriors who were distinguished for their beauty. All who had enjoyed her favours she secretly put to death. After this retirement she turned her course to Egbatana, caused a path to be cut through the rocks of Mount Zagrus, and a short and convenient road to be made across them, in order to leave behind an imperishable memorial of her reign.

In Egbatana she erected a splendid palace, and in order to provide the city with water she caused a tunnel to be made through the lofty mountain Orontes at its base, which conveyed the water of a lake lying on the other side of the heights into the city. After this she marched through Persia and all the countries of Asia which were subject to her, and caused the mountains to be cut through and straight and level roads to be built everywhere, while in the plains she at one place raised great mounds over her dead generals, and in another built cities on hills; and wherever the army was encamped eminences were raised for her tent so that she might overlook the whole. Of these works many are still remaining in Asia and bear the name of Semiramis. Then she subjugated Egypt, a great part of Libya, and nearly the whole of Ethiopia, and finally returned to Bactra.

2040 pages - in 6 volumes - 8½ x 11 softcover

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