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τὰ βασιλήια. The question of the palaces and temples of Babylon is one of the most disputed in H. The following facts may be taken as fairly certain:

(1) That there were three palaces: (a) That on the right bank built by Nebuchadnezzar, in which Alexander died. (τὰ πέραν βασίλεια, Plut. Alex. 76; Arr. Anab. vii. 25. These authorities are specially important as quoting αἱ βασίλειοι ἐφημερίδες as to Alexander's last days.) (b) That on the left bank, close to the temple of Merodach (cf. E. I. H. viii. 31 seq.). (c) Another built by Nebuchadnezzar to the north. As this was built in fifteen days (E. I. H. cols. 8 and 9, and Berosus, F. H. G. ii. 507) it was less important.

(2) That there were two pre-eminent temples, that of Bel Merodach or Marduk in Babylon proper, on the left bank of the river (the ‘Esagila’), and that of Bel Nebo in Borsippa, on the right bank of the river (the ‘Ezida’).

(3) That one palace (viz. 1 b above) has been proved to be identical with the mound of El Qasr, and the ‘Esagila’ temple (less certainly) with Tell Amran.

(4) That Xerxes destroyed the great temple of Bel-Marduk in the centre of Babylon (Arr. Anab. vii. 17. 2); Strabo (738) calls it τοῦ Βήλου τάφος, but this is obviously the terraced tower, the ziggurat, the most important part of the Esagila.

There are, the, two main difficulties in the account of H.:

(1) He mentions only one palace and one temple, although in this there is a lower shrine κάτω νηός (183. 1), distinct from the great ziggurat of c. 181.

(2) He claims to have seen the temple; but if, as is probable, Xerxes had destroyed the Esagila, he could not have seen it.

Three explanations may be given (disregarding that of Sayce, that H. had never been in Babylon):

(1) Baumstark in P. W. thinks the ‘palace’ of H. is that on the right bank, and that he does not mention the palace on the left bank, because he considers it part of the Esagila temple; it actually was close to it (v. s.). How H. could describe a temple which had probably ceased to exist, Baumstark does not explain; presumably this is one of the ‘suspicious confusions’ of which he speaks.

(2) Hommel (in Hastings, D. B. s. v. Babel) says that Arrian and Strabo were mistaken. Because Xerxes removed the statue from Esagila (cf. 183. 3), they thought he had destroyed the temple. This explanation is possible; a brick building dismantled about 480 B.C. would speedily fall into decay, and though H. might have seen it in fair repair circ. 450 B.C., it might well need rebuilding, as Alexander proposed, in 323 (Strabo, Arrian, u. s.).

(3) The most probable explanation, however, is that of Lehmann (Klio, i. 273-5), that by the ‘temple of Belus’ H. means the Nebo temple in Borsippa. H. distinctly says his temple was on the other side of the river (ἐν τῷ ἑτέρῳ) from the palace; and as both Marduk and Nebo were called Bel (‘Lord’), H. may well have confused them, and transferred the story of the statue to the Nebo temple. In fact it is not unlikely that the priests told him falsely that the perished statue had been in their temple, though it had never belonged to them. It will be seen (184 n.) that H. had special knowledge of the Nebo temple, and that he carefully avoids saying where the statue had stood; he leaves it ἐν τῷ τεμένεϊ (183. 2).

The Borsippa temple is the best preserved of the ruins of Babylon, because of the imperishable material, blue slag, of which its uppermost story was formed. The present mound, Birs-Nimrud, is 153 feet high; its circumference is given variously, by Rich, 762 yards; by Rawlinson, 694 (ii. 582); H. gives 811 (four stades, § 3) for the lowest story, or rather for the brick platform on which it was raised. It may be noted that H. does not give the absurd height (606 feet) which Strabo (738) gives to the τάφος Βήλου. The ἱρόν, which is eight stades round (δύο σταδίων πάντῃ), is the sacred τέμενος in which the tower stood.

It will be noticed that H. says nothing (in this agreeing with E. I. H.) of the famous hanging gardens attributed to Nebuchadnezzar by Berosus (F. H. G. ii. 507); cf. 185. 1 n.

πύργος. For the eight stories cf. the Cyrus tomb at Murghab (125. 3 n.). H. is undoubtedly describing a tower with one story set upon another, each decreasing in size, and thus the ziggurat is usually restored (cf. Rawlinson, ii. 583-4, for picture). But Meyer, i. 380 n., says it was a rounded cone, with a sloping way winding about it to the top; he follows E. Herzfeld (Samarra, 1907), who gives a beautiful picture of the still-existing minaret of the Samarra mosque, which, he claims, embodies the idea of the old ziggurat. The form is certainly very primitive, and Herzfeld maintains that the sun-burned bricks were not strong enough for such a tower as H. describes. The Babylonians had, however, kiln-baked bricks as well, and there is no sufficient reason for describing H.'s view as mistaken.

For the table of Bel cf. the story of Bel and the Dragon in the Apocrypha; for the deity consuming his offerings cf. viii. 41. 2 n. and Tylor, P. C. ii. 380 seq., who quotes parallels among modern savages. For divine amours cf. Josephus, Antiq. xviii. 3. 4 (of Anubis at Rome); and Strabo 816 (at Thebes). The carvings at Luxor and Deir el Bahari support the story (cf. ii. 143. 4 n.). It is possible, however, that H. may be misled by Egyptian titles; connected with the temple of Amon were his ‘singing women’, chief among whom was ‘the wife of the god’. These are to be distinguished from the ἱερόδουλοι, and were often women of good position, e.g. Psammetichus I made his daughter ‘wife of the god’; cf. Erman, Egypt, 295-6. If these are referred to, H. is wrong is saying (182. 2) they were unmarried. Frazer (Kingship, p. 170) considers H.'s evidence very important, as bearing on the supposed ‘divine’ origin of kings; he thinks the human bride was one of the ‘brides of Marduk’ referred to in the code of Hammurabi.

Χαλδαῖοι. The original home of this people was on the Persian Gulf (the ‘Chaldeans’ of Xen. Anab. v. 5. 17 are a different tribe near Armenia, though Rawlinson, ad loc., thinks them the same); thence they pushed north, amalgamating with the earlier inhabitants. Their prince, Merodach Baladan II, ascended the throne of Babylon in 721 B.C.; the rivalry between his house and race and the priests of the older races was one of the great causes of the weakness of Babylonia (cf. 185. 1 and App. II, § 5). By a curious change of meaning, the Greeks later called the wise priestly class ‘Chaldeans’, and so a tribal name became a caste name (cf. ‘Magi’ 101 n.). For this use, which is not native, cf. Daniel (pass.), Strabo 739, &c., and for Roman times Mayor, ad Juv. x. 94.

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    • Xenophon, Anabasis, 5.5.17
    • Plutarch, Alexander, 76
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