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προεφυλάξατο. This motive is probable in itself (but v. i.), and is confirmed by E. I. H. (vi. 39-56); Nebuchadnezzar knew the value of loyal alliances. He also made the great ‘Median Wall’, 100 feet high (Xen. Anab. i. 7. 15), from the Euphrates to the Tigris, at the point where the two rivers approached each other most nearly. H. does not mention this, probably because it did not quite reach the Euphrates (Grote, iv. 137 n.); his knowledge is mainly confined to Babylon and what he could see from the river.
ἐς τὸν Εὐφρήτην, the reading of all MSS., must mean that travellers from the north became involved in a labyrinth of canals at Ardericca, from which it took them three days to get clear into the Euphrates. It is usual, however, to omit ἐς, in which case H. means that a traveller on the Euphrates passed the same village three times in three days; in this land of marvels he accepted this statement from some waggish fellow-traveller, who hoaxed him. H. probably travelled straight by boat from Thapsacus to Babylon (cf. Grote, u. s.), and the villages he passed were no doubt as much alike as castles on the Rhine to-day. Matzat (p. 445), however, very ingeniously tries to prove that H.'s statement is possible. The river runs thus , each bend being fourteen to eighteen miles long (+ = site of Ardericca; 1, 2, 3 = the position of the boat on three following days). He finds a confirmation of these windings in 179. 4 (q. v.), the distance of Is from Babylon. If Ardericca be a real place, it may be Idikara (cf. Ptol. v. 17. 19), about fifty miles above Sippara, where the course of the Euphrates was much diverted on account of rapids. The ‘Ardericca’ of vi. 119 (near Susa) is a different place.
ἔλυτρον. The ‘reservoir’ (cf. iv. 173. 1) at Sippara, also the work of Nebuchadnezzar, is meant; it lay ‘along, a little distance from the river’. But really it was not ‘far above’ Babylon; H. is either making a mistake, or he is calculating by the time spent on his journey down stream; he writes as if his boat had made the circuit of the reservoir (περίοδος, § 6), which can hardly have been the fact. Abydenus (fr. 9, F. H. G. iv. 283) makes it 40 parasangs, i.e. 1,200 stades, in circumference and 20 fathoms deep. There is no trace of this reservoir now, but an inscription of Hammurabi says, ‘I set a marsh around and dug a canal and made a protecting quay’ (at Sippara).’ This work was renewed by the father of Nebuchadnezzar (V. Scheil, Sippara, 1902, pp. 23, 65). It was intended for irrigation (cf. the reservoir at Assuan), but no doubt could also be used to flood the country against an invader. This must be the meaning of ὄρυγμα πᾶν ἕλος (§ 6), but H. has quite failed to understand his informant, and so his own account is most obscure. He seems to confuse the canals, along which his boat may well have travelled, with the great ‘basin’ which he only saw, and the uses of which were described to him. ἐς τὸ ὕδωρ, ‘to the water level’; the phrase is Chaldaean (E. I. H. vii. 60).
κρηπῖδα. Abydenus (u. s.) speaks of ‘great sluice-gates’ (ἐχετογνώμονες). H.'s account bears all the marks of an eyewitness; but possessed as he is by the Median terror, he pays no regard to the pacific use of the reservoir; hence he contradicts himself; he thinks of it as a marsh (v.s. and cf. 191. 3), but also as navigable.
κατὰ τοῦτο. Translate ‘In this way she wrought (in that part of) her country where were the entrances, and the shortest way from Media’; cf. iv. 136. 2 for τὰ σύντομα. The territory of Assyria was now in the Median hands (cf. for its being called ‘Media’ Xen. Anab. ii. 4. 27), and so the natural line of attack (ἐσβολαί) would be down the right bank of the Tigris.
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