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Entertaining Knowledge.



No. 4.

(Communicated for the Monthly Repository.)

« Look behind thee-cities hid

In the night of treacherous story,
Many a crumbling pyramid,

Many a pile of senseless glory, in
Temples into ruin hurl'd,
(Fragments of an earlier world,)

Broken fanes, and altars hoary."

PALMYRA, a splendid and noble city of ancient Syria,' was situated about 15 miles east of Damascus, and 120 from Tarabolos or Tripoli. It was the metropolis of Palmyrene, a once fertile province of Syria, but surrounded on all sides by frightful deserts. This province was noted for its large and splendid cities-for its gorgeous palaces, its numerous temples, and the accomplishment and suavity of its inhabitants, insomuch that its fame spread throughout all the regions round about. But those cities, and palaces, and temples, have yielded to the “crumbling tooth of time”--they have perished from among the cities of the earth, and scarcely a vestige of their former greatness and grandeur is left for the contemplation of the inquiring traveller.

The capital of this once fertile province was called Palmara by the Greeks and Romans, Tadmor in the Wilderness in the Scriptures, Palmyra and Thadamor by Josephus. Of its origin we know but little ; some learned historians suppose that it was founded by Solomon. It flourished for many years, and was unfortunately the cause of frequent and bloody conflicts and contentions between the Romans and Parthians. It

was destroyed by Antiochus, rebuilt and beautifully adorned by Aurelian; but when the barbarous and ignorant and bigotted Turks acquired the mastery of the country, it was most shamefully destroyed. According to the statements of travellers, the ruins of this once fair and celebrated place, are of the most interesting character, consisting of palaces, temples, and porticoes, of Grecian architecture. They now cover an extent of several square miles, and present a melancholy spectacle. Ruin and desolation are stampt on every object. The Temple of the Sun, (or rather its ruins,) which attracts particular notice, covers a square of 220 yards, with a high and massive wall, adorned within and with. out with pilasters, 124 of which are remaining. The Turks, by beating down the cornices, have deprived the world of the finest works of the kind. In this square 58 pillars are entire, 37 feet high, with capitals of the finest carving. In the middle of this inclosure stood the temple, encompassed with another row of pillars, 50 feet high. The Temple was one of the most splendid and glorious edifices in the world. To the north of the temple is a stately obelisk, 50 feet high, of wreathed work, the sculpture of which is extremely fine; to the west of which is a spacious entrance to a noble piazza, about a quarter of a mile in length, and 40 feet broad, formed by two rows of marble pillars 26 feet high, and 9 feet in circumference. There were originally 560 of these pillars, 129 of which are now standing. But among the venerable ruins which attract attention, none are so interesting as the costly sepulchres, which are square towers, 4, 5, and 6 stories high, on each side of a hollow way, towards the north end of the city. They are beautified with lively carvings and paintings. In the middle is a walk crossing from north to south; each vault was divided in like manner, and the division on either hand subdivided into six apartments. Such was the magnificent abodes, and such the sepulchres of the Palmyrenians, a city not more noted for the beauty of her buildings than for the extraordinary personages whom she produced. Aug. 1830.

N, M. T.


NATIONS. OF THE ASSYRIAN MONARCHY. As we intend to give a complete illustration of uni. versal history, we shall now proceed to describe the four great empires, viz. the Assyrian, the Persian the Grecian, and the Roman. These, on account of their including so large and important a part of history in general, have usually been denominated the four monarchies; and it will be seen, that from one or the other of these we shall be able to trace the rise and foundation of those histories which we shall describe in the subsequent numbers of this work.

The Assyrian monarchy is the most ancient. Ofits government and constitution we know but little. In the most flourishing period of the history, their princes appear to have been purely despotic and the succession hereditary.

Belus is placed at the head of the series of Assyrian kings, and is supposed to have been the founder of the city of Babylon. He afterwards made himself master of Assyria, and, by the moderation of his government, became very popular among his new subjects; he built several considerable cities, of which the most magnifi. cent was the celebrated Nineveh, where he founded the monarchy in the year 790 before Christ.*

* M. Rollin and many other writers suppose Belus to be the same with Nimrod, the great-grand-son of Noah. M. Rollin, however, was aware that the exploits of Ninus and Semiramis, the immediate successors of Belus, but ill accorded with times so near the flood. He, however, willing to defend his own theory, supposed that the Greek historians had, through ignorance of, or inattention to chrono logy, ascribed to these ancient kings enterprises and exploits which in fact had been achieved by those who flourished in latter times. See Rollin's Anc. Hist. vol. II. Sir Isaac Newton, however, admitting that Nimrod did found a kingdom at Babylon which might extend into Assyria, supposes that it was not very large, nor enjoyed a long duration, it being the custom in those early days for every father to divide his territories amongst his sons. Thus Noah was monarch of the world : Cham was king of Africa, and Japhet of all Europe and Asia minor; but they left no standing kingdoms. And after the days | Belus was succeeded by his son Ninus, in honour of whom Nineveh had received its name; and he, in gratitude to his father, obliged his subjects to pay divine honours to the memory of Belus, who was probably the first king that the people deified on account of his great actions. Nineveh, which was finished during this reign, has been greatly celebrated for its extent and magnificence. The wall which surrounded the city was sixty miles in length, an hundred feet high, and of a thickness sufficient for three chariots to go upon it abreast. This wall was fortified and adorned with fifteen hundred towers.' .

Ninus made wär upon many other nations, for the sake of extending his empire ; he reduced the greater part of Asia, and totally subdued Bactria, the northern province of Persia, now known by the name of Choraffan. After this he returned to Nineveh, and married Semiramis, by whom he had a son named Ninyas. Ninus appears to have been the first prince who united the spirit of conquest with political science. He divided the Assyrian empire into provinces ;-instituted three councils and three tribunals, by which the government was administered, and justice distributed. He died about the year 760, B. C.

Semiramis assumed the sovereign power during the minority of her son, and swayed the sceptre with great dignity for the space of forty years. She enlarged her empire, and visited every part of her vast domains ; built cities in various districts of the Assyrian kingdom; cut roads through mountains, in order to facilitate the intercourse between contiguous provinces. Encouraged by her various successes, she attacked India with an armed force. On this occasion her army consisted of three hundred thousand foot, and fifty thousand horse, besides camels and chariots. The Indian monarch having notice of her approach, sent ambassadors to inquire who she was, and by what right she came to at

of Nimrod we hear no more of an Assyrian empire till tbe reign of Pul or Belus. See Newton's Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms amended.

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