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But of individual instances I have heard tile following stories:—Ctesias, in the third book of his History of Persia, says, that all those who were ever kings in Asia devoted themselves mainly to luxury; and above all of them, Ninyas did so, the son of Ninus and Semiramis. He, therefore, remaining in-doors and living luxuriously, was never seen by any one, except by his eunuchs and by his own women. And another king of this sort was Sardanapalus, whom some call the son of Anacyndaraxes, and others the son of Anabaxarus. And so, when Arbaces, who was one of the generals under him, a Mede by birth, endeavoured to manage, by the assistance of one of the eunuchs, whose name was Sparamizus, to see Sardanaplus; and when he with difficulty prevailed upon him, with the consent of the king himself,—when the Mede entered and saw him, pointed with vermilion and adorned like a woman, sitting among his concubines carding purple wool, and sitting among them with his feet up, wearing a woman's robe, and with his beard carefully scraped, and his face smoothed with pumice-stone (for he was whiter than milk, and pencilled under his eyes and eyebrows; and when he saw Arbaces, he was just putting a little more white under his eyes), most historians, among whom Duris is one, relate that Arbaces, being indignant at his countrymen being ruled over by such a monarch as that, stabbed him and slew him. But Ctesias says that he went to war with him, and collected a great army, and then that Sardanapalus, being dethroned by Arbaces, died, burning himself alive in his palace, having heaped up a funeral pile four plethra in extent, on which he placed a hundred and fifty golden couches, and a corresponding number of tables, these, too, being all made of gold. And he also erected on the funeral pile a chamber a hundred feet long, made of wood; and in it he had couches spread, and there he himself lay down with his wife, and his concubines lay on other couches around. For he had sent on his three sons and his daughters, when he saw that his affairs were getting in a dangerous state, to Nineveh, to the king of that city, giving them three thousand talents [p. 848] of gold. And he made the roof of this apartment of large stout beams, and then all the walls of it he made of numerous thick planks, so that it was impossible to escape out of it. And in it he placed ten millions of talents of gold, and a hundred millions of talents of silver, and robes, and purple garments, and every kind of apparel imaginable. And after that he bade the slaves set fire to the pile; and it was fifteen days burning. And those who saw the smoke wondered, and thought that he was celebrating a great sacrifice; but the eunuchs alone knew what was really being done. And in this way Sardanapalus, who had spent his life in extraordinary luxury, died with as much magnanimity as possible.
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