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The whole of Mesopotamia formerly belonged to the Assyrians, being covered with nothing but villages, with the exception of Babylonia1 and Ninus.2 The Macedonians formed these communities into cities, being prompted thereto by the extraordinary fertility of the soil. Besides the cities already mentioned, it contains those of Seleucia,3 Laodicea,4 Artemita;5 and in Arabia, the peoples known as the Orei6 and the Mardani, besides Antiochia,7 founded by Nicanor, the governor of Mesopotamia, and called Arabis. Joining up to these in the interior is an Arabian people, called the Eldamani, and above them, upon the river Pallaconta, the town of Bura, and the Arabian peoples known as the Salmani and the Masei. Up to the Gordyæi8 join the Aloni, through whose territory runs the river Zerbis, which falls into the Tigris; next are the Azones, the Silici, a mountain tribe, and the Orontes, to the west of whom lies the town of Gaugamela,9 as also Suë, situate upon the rocks. Beyond these are the Silici, surnamed Classitæ, through whose district runs the river Lycus on its passage from Armenia, the Absithris10 running south-east, the town of Accobis, and then in the plains the towns of Diospage, Polytelia,11 Stratonice, and Anthermis.12 In the vicinity of the Euphrates is Nicephorion, of which we have13 already stated that Alexander, struck with the favourable situation of the spot, ordered it to be built. We have also similarly made mention14 of Apamea on the Zeugma. Leaving that city and going eastward, we come to Caphrena, a fortified town, formerly seventy stadia in extent, and called the "Court of the Satraps." It was to this place that the tribute was conveyed; now it is reduced to a mere fortress. Thæbata is still in the same state as formerly: after which comes Oruros, which under Pompeius Magnus formed the extreme limit of the Roman Empire, distant from Zeugma two hundred and fifty miles. There are writers who say that the Euphrates was drawn off by an artificial channel by the governor Gobares, at the point where we have stated15 that it branches off,16 in order that it might not commit damage in the city of Babylonia, in consequence of the extreme rapidity of its course. The Assyrians universally call this river by the name of Narmalcha,17 which signifies the "royal river." At the point where its waters divide, there was in former times a very large city, called Agranis, which the Persæ have de- stroyed.

Babylon, the capital of the nations of Chaldæa, long enjoyed the greatest celebrity of all cities throughout the whole world: and it is from this place that the remaining parts of Mesopotamia and Assyria received the name of Babylonia. The circuit of its walls, which were two hundred feet in height, was sixty miles. These walls were also fifty feet in breadth, reckoning to every foot three fingers' breadth beyond the ordinary measure of our foot. The river Euphrates flowed through the city, with quays of marvellous workmanship erected on either side. The temple there18 of Jupiter Belus19 is still in existence; he was the first inventor of the science of Astronomy. In all other respects it has been reduced to a desert, having been drained of its population in consequence of its vicinity to Seleucia,20 founded for that purpose by Nicator, at a distance of ninety miles, on the confluence of the Tigris and the canal that leads from the Euphrates. Seleucia, however, still bears the surname of Babylonia: it is a free and independent city, and retains the features of the Macedonian manners. It is said that the population of this city amounts to six hundred thousand, and that the outline of its walls resembles an eagle with expanded wings: its territory, they say, is the most fertile in all the East. The Parthi again, in its turn, founded Ctesiphon,21 for the purpose of drawing away the population of Seleucia, at a distance of nearly three miles, and in the district of Chalonitis; Ctesiphon is now the capital of all the Parthian kingdoms. Finding, however, that this city did not answer the intended purpose, king Vologesus22 has of late years founded another city in its vicinity, Vologesocerta23 by name. Besides the above, there are still the following towns in Mesopotamia: Hipparenum,24 rendered famous, like Babylon, by the learning of the Chaldæi, and situate near the river Narraga,25 which falls into the Narroga, from which a city so called has taken its name. The Persæ destroyed the walls of Hipparenum. Orchenus also, a third place of learning of the Chaldæi, is situate in the same district, towards the south; after which come the Notitæ, the Orothophanitæ, and the Grecichartæ.26 From Nearchus and Onesicritus we learn that the distance by water from the Persian Sea to Babylon, up the Euphrates, is four hundred and twelve miles; other authors, however, who have written since their time, say that the distance to Seleucia is four hundred and forty miles: and Juba says that the distance from Babylon to Charax is one hundred and seventy-five. Some writers state that the Euphrates continues to flow with an undivided channel for a distance of eighty-seven miles beyond Babylon, before its waters are diverted from their channel for the purposes of irrigation; and that the whole length of its course is not less than twelve hundred miles. The circumstance that so many different authors have treated of this subject, accounts for all these variations, seeing that even the Persian writers themselves do not agree as to what is the length of their schœni and para- sangœ, each assigning to them a different length.

When the Euphrates ceases, by running in its channel, to afford protections27 to those who dwell on its banks, which it does when it approaches the confines of Charax, the country is immediately infested by the Attali, a predatory people of Arabia, beyond whom are found the Scenite.28 The banks along this river are occupied by the Nomades of Arabia, as far as the deserts of Syria, from which, as we have already stated,29 it takes a turn to the south,30 and leaves the solitary deserts of Palmyra. Seleucia is distant, by way of the Euphrates, from the beginning of Mesopotamia, eleven hundred and twenty- five; from the Red Sea, by way of the Tigris, two hundred and twenty; and from Zeugma, seven hundred and twenty-three, miles. Zeugma is distant from Seleucia31 in Syria, on the shores of our sea, one hundred and seventy-five32 miles. Such is the extent of the land that lies in these parts between the two seas.33 The length of the kingdom of Parthia is nine hundred and eighteen miles.

1 The great seat of empire of the Babylonio-Chaldæan kingdom. It either occupied the site, it is supposed, or stood in the immediate vicinity of the tower of Babel. In the reign of Labynedus, Nabonnetus, or Bel- shazzar, it was taken by Cyrus. In the reign of Augustus, a small part only of Babylon was still inhabited, the remainder of the space within the walls being under cultivation. The ruins of Babylon are found to commence a little south of the village of Mohawill, eight miles north of Hillah.

2 Nineveh. See c. 16 of the present Book.

3 On the left bank of the Euphrates, opposite to the ford of Zeugma; a fortress of considerable importance.

4 Its site is unknown. Dupinet confounds it with the place of this name mentioned in the last Chapter, calling them by the name of Lor.

5 Pliny is wrong in placing Artemita in Mesopotamia. It was a city of Babylonia, in the district of Apolloniatis. The modern Sherbán is supposed to occupy its site.

6 Burnouf, having found the name of these people, as he supposes, in a cuneiform inscription, written "Ayura," would have them to be called Aroei. The Orei are also mentioned in B. v. c. 20.

7 This Antioch does not appear to have been identified.

8 The mountains of the Gordyæi are mentioned in c. 12.

9 This, as previously mentioned in a Note to c. 16, was the scene of the last great battle between Alexander and Darius, and known as the battle of Arbela. It has been suggested that it may perhaps be represented by a place now called Karnelis. See p. 27.

10 According to Ansart, now called the Lesser Zab, and by the inhabitants the Altun-su, meaning the "Golden river."

11 According to Parisot, the modern name is Calicala.

12 Strabo speaks of the Aborras, or modern Khabur, as flowing in the vicinity of Anthemusia, the district probably in which the town of Anthermis was situate. According to Isidorus of Charax, it lay between Edessa and the Euphrates. Its site does not appear to have been any further identified. It is called Anthemusia in B. v. c. 21.

13 In B. v. c. 21.

14 In B. v. c. 21.

15 In B. v. c. 21.

16 This canal, leading from the Euphrates to the Tigris, is by some thought, according to Hardouin, to have been the river Chobar, mentioned in Ezekiel, c. i. v. 3.

17 For Arar-Melik, meaning the "River King," according to Parisot.

18 As to the identity of this, see a Note at the beginning of this Chapter.

19 Meaning Jupiter Uranius, or "Heavenly Jupiter," according to Parisot, who observes that Eusebius interprets baal, or bel, "heaven." According to one account, he was the father of king Ninus and son of Nimrod. The Greeks in later times attached to his name many of their legendary fables.

20 The city of Seleucia ad Tigrin, long the capital of Western Asia, until it was eclipsed by Ctesiphon. Its site has been a matter of considerable discussion, but the most probable opinion is, that it stood on the western bank of the Tigris, to the north of its junction with the royal canal (probably the river Chobar above mentioned), opposite to the mouth of the river Delas or Silla (now Diala), and to the spot where Ctesiphon was afterwards built by the Parthians. It stood a little to the south of the modern city of Baghdad; thus commanding the navigation of the Tigris and Euphrates, and the whole plain formed by those two rivers.

21 Ammianus, like Pliny, has ascribed its foundation to the Parthians under Varanes, or Vardanes, of whom, however, nothing is known. It stood in the south of Assyria, on the eastern or left bank of the Tigris. Strabo speaks of it as being the winter residence of the Parthian kings, who lived there at that season, owing to the mildness of the climate. In modern times the site of this place has been identified with that called by the Arabs Al Madain, or the "two cities."

22 Or Vologeses. This was the name of five kings of Parthia, of the race of the Arsacidæ, Arsaces xxiii., xxvii., xxviii., xxix., xxx. It was the first of these monarchs who founded the place here mentioned by Pliny.

23 Or the "City of Vologesus;" certa being the Armenian for "city."

24 Nothing appears to be known of this place; but Hardouin thinks that it is the same with one called Maarsares by Ptolemy, and situate on the same river Narraga.

25 Parisot says that this river is the one set down in the maps as falling into the Tigris below its junction with the Euphrates, and near the mouths of the two rivers. He says that near the banks of it is marked the town of Nabrahan, the Narraga of Pliny.

26 There is great doubt as to the correct spelling of these names.

27 Against the attacks of robbers dwelling on the opposite side; the Attali, for instance.

28 Or "dwellers in tents," Bedouins, as we call them.

29 B. v. c. 20 and 21

30 Towards Mahamedieh.

31 Near Antioch and the Orontes: now Seleukeh, or Kepse, near Suadeiah.

32 See B. v. c. 13.

33 The Mediterranean and the Red Sea; the latter including the modern Red Sea and the Persian Gulf.

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