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Ruins of ancient cities : with general and particular accounts of their rise, fall, and present condition (Volume 1) online

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be either lost or destroyed by the way, he would
oblige them to find others at their own cost* ; a

* Rollin.


saying deservedly ridiculed by all persons of sense, as
a most egregious solecism in taste and delicacy*.

It is amusing to observe the difference between
Mummius and Scipio ; the one the conqueror of
Corinth, the other of Carthage ; both in the same
yeart. Scipio, to the courage and virtue of ancient
heroes, joined a profound knowledge of the sciences,
with all the genius and ornaments of wit. His pa-
tronage was courted by every one who made any
figure in learning. Panaetius, whom Tully calls the
prince of the Stoics, and Polybius the historian, were
his bosom friends, the assisters of his studies at home,
and the constant companions of his expeditions
abroad. To which may be added, that he passed the
more agreeable hours of his life in the conversation of
Terence, and is even thought to have taken part in
the composition of his comedies.

The period in which the Isthmian games were to
be celebrated being at hand, the expectation of what
was to be transacted drew thither an incredible
multitude of people, and persons of the highest
rank. The conditions of peace, which were not
yet entirely made public, were the topic of all
conversations, and various constructions were put
upon them ; but very few could be persuaded that
the Romans would evacuate all the cities they
had taken. All Greece was in this uncertainty,
when the multitude being assembled in the stadium
to see the games, a herald comes forward, and
publishes with a loud voice : " The senate and
people of Rome, and Titus Quintius the general,
having overcome Philip and the Macedonians, ease
and deliver from all garrisons and taxes and im-

* Demens ! qui nimbos et non imitabile fulmen,

JEre et coruipedum cursu simularet squorum. VIRG.
f Kennet.

KM- < II:\T i i ,

-, tht> Corinthians, the Loeriaiis, the
tlii- KuluiMiH, the Phthint Aehaiaiis the Maijne-

-. the The^alians, and the lVrrlni-l>ians ; de-
clare them free, and ordain that they shall be gov-

1 by their respective laws and usages."
At these words all tho spectators were filled with

vuve joy. They gazed upon and questioned one
another with astonishment, and could not believe
either eyes or ears ; so like a dream was what they
saw and heard. But being at last assured of their
happiness, they abandoned themselves again to the
highest transports of joy, and broke out into such loud
acclamations, that the sea resounded them to a dis-
tince ; and some ravens, which happened to fly that
instant over the assembly, fell down into the sta-
dium ; so true it is, that of all the blessings of this life,
none are so dear as that of liberty !

Corinth, nevertheless, remained after this in a
ruined and desolate state many years. At length,
Czpsar, after he had subdued Africa, and while his
fleet lay at anchor at Utica, gave order for rebuild-
ing Carthage ; and soon after his return to Italy,
he likewise caused Corinth to be rebuilt. Straht
and Plutarch agree in ascribing the rebuilding <>f
Carthage and Corinth to Julius Caesar ; and I'lu-
tarch remarks this singular circumstance with regard
to these cities, viz. that as they were taken and
destroyed in the same year, they were rebuilt and
repeopled at the same time.

Under the eastern emperors, Corinth was tho sec
of an archbishop, subject to the patriarch of Con-
stantinople. Roger, king of Naples, obtained posses-
sion of it under the empire of Emanucl. It had,
afterwards, its own sovereign, who ceded it to the
Venetians ; from whom it was taken by Mahomet
II., A.I). \45*. The Venetians retook it in 1687,
and held it till the year 1715, when they lost it to


the Turks, in whose possession it remained till, a few
vears since, Greece was erected into an indepen-
dent state. The grand army of the Turks* (in 1715)
under the prime vizier, to open themselves a way
into the heart of the Worea, attacked Corinth, upon
which they made several attacks. The garrison, being
weakened, and the governor, seeing it was impos-
sible to hold out against a force so superior to
their own, beat a parley ; but while they were treat-
ing about the articles, one of the magazines in the
Turkish camp, wherein they had 600 barrels of
powder, blew up by accident, whereby between 600
and 700 men were killed ; which so enraged the in-
fidels, that they would not grant any capitulation,
but stormed the place with so much fury that they
took it, and put most of the garrison, with the
governor, Signior Minotti, to the sword. The rest
they made prisoners of war. This subject formed
the foundation of Lord Byron's poem of the Siege of

The natural consequences of an extensive com-
merce were wealth and luxury. Fostered in this
manner, the city rose in magnificence and grandeur ;
and the elegant and magnificent temples, palaces,
theatres, and other buildings, adorned with statues,
columns, capitals, and bases, not only rendered it
the pride of its inhabitants and the admiration of
strangers, but gave rise to that order of architecture
which still bears its name.

Corinth lias preserved but few monuments of its
Greek or Roman citizens. The chief remains are at
the southern corner of the town, and above the bazaar;
eleven columns, siipporting their architraves, of the
Doric order, fluted, and wanting in height near half
the common proportion to the diameter. Within
them, to the western end, is one taller, though entire,
* Historv ot the Turks.

nriNs m- \M n NT < mi :-.

which, it is likely, contributed to sustain the roof.
They are of stun-. This ruin is probably of
antiquity, and ft portion of a fabric, erected mostly
before the Greek city was destroyed, but before the
Doric order had attained to maturity.

Mr. l).)dvv.>ll, nevertheless, observed no remains of
the order of archil -cttiro which is said to have li-cn
invented at Corinth, nor did lie perceive in any part
of the isthmus the acanthus plant, which forms the
principal distinctive character of the Corinthian

Corinth*, says Mr. Turner, contain-, within its
walls, remains of antiquity, but some small masses of
ruined walls and seven columns, with part of the frieze
of a temple, of which some columns wen- pulled down
to make room for a Turkish house to which it joins.

As there is nothing approaching to an intelligible
building of antiquity, we may exclaim with the

Where i thy grandeur, Corinth ! shrunk from sight,
Thy ancie nt treasure*, ami thy ramparts' height,
Tliy god-like func anil palace* ! Oh where,
Thy m .'lit) myriads and majestic fair !
Relentless war ho* poured around thy wall,
And hardly parcd the traces of thy fall.

There are several shapeless and uninteresting
masses of Roman remains composed of bricks, one of
which seems to have been a bath, resembling, in
some respects, that of Dioclesian at Rome, but
little more than the lower walls and foundations are
remaining. The only Grecian ruin which, at pre-
sent, remains at Corinth, is that of a Doric temple.
"When Du Loir travelled there (1654), there wen-
twelve columns of this temple standing. In the time
of Chandler there were also eleven; but now then-
are only seven. To what god this temple was dedi-
cated is unknown. The columns arc each composed


of one black calcareous stone, which being of a porous
quality, were anciently covered with stucco of great
hardness and durability. From its massive and in-
elegant proportions, Mr. Dodwell is disposed to
believe, that this ruin is the most ancient remaining
in Greece.

In the narrowest part of the isthmus, about three
miles from Corinth, and therefore probably in the
place where the games were celebrated, are seen the
spacious remains of a theatre and stadium ; and less
than a mile from Corinth, in the same direction, the
circuit and arena are still visible.

The Acropolis, however, is one of the finest objects
in Greece, and before the introduction of artillery, it
was deemed almost impregnable, and had never been
taken except by treachery or surprise. In the time
of Aratus it was defended only by four hundred sol-
diers, fifty dogs, and fifty keepers. It shoots up
majestically from the plain to a considerable height,
and forms a conspicuous object at a great distance ;
as it is clearly seen from Athens, from which it is
not less than forty-four miles in a direct line. From
its summit is a glorious prospect. Strabo thus de-
scribes it : " From the summit of the Acropolis,
Parnassus and Helicon are seen covered with snow.
Towards the west is the gulf of Krissa, bordered by
Phocis, Boeotia, Megaris, Corinthia, and Sicyonia.
Beyond are the Oneian mountains, extending to
Boeotia and Mount Cithaeron." The entire view
forms, on the whole, a panorama of the most cap-
tivating features, and of the greatest dimensions,
comprehending six of the most celebrated states of
Greece; Achaia, Locris, Phocis, Boeotia, Attica,
and Argolis *.

The Corinthian order having been invented at
Corinth, we cannot refuse ourselves the satisfaction

264 \

of quoting ft pottage from l>r. H:
Civil Architecture : " The artists of (irecia Proper,
ivinjr that in the Ionic order the severity of the
Doric hail been departed from, by one happy effort
invented a third, which much surpassed the Ionic
in delicacy of proportion and richness of duo-
rations. This was named the Corinthian order.
The merit of this invention is ascribed to CaUima-
clius of Athens, who is said to have had the idea
suggested to him by observing acanthus 1
growing round a basket, which had l>een placed
with some favourite trinkets upon the grave of a
young lady; the stalks which rose among the 1
having been formed into slender volutes by a square
tile which covered the basket. It is possible that*
a circumstance of this nature may have caught the
fancy of a sculptor who was contemporary with
Phidias ; and who was, doubtless, in that age of com-
petition, alive to every thing which promised dis-
tinction in his profession. But in the warmth of our
devotion for the inspiration of Greek genius, we
must not overlook the facts, that, in the pillars of
several temples in Upper Egypt, whose shafts repre-
sent bundles of reeds or lotus, bound together in
several places by fillets, the capitals arc formed by
several rows of delicate leaves. In the splendid
ruins of Vellore in Hindostan, the capitals are, also,
composed of similar ornaments ; and it is well known,
that the Persians, at their great festivals, were in
the habit of decorating with flowers the tops of their
pillars which formed the public apartments. It is,
therefore, not improbable, that these circumstances,
after so much intercourse with other countries, might
have suggested ideas to Callimachus, which enabled
him to surpass the capital of Ionia*."

Herodotus; Pliny the Nat.; Du Loir; Kollin ; Kennct ;
Know Irs Wliclcr; Chandler; Ikrthelcmy ; Stuart; Dud well ;
Quin ; Turner.


At Corinth, too, the art of portrait painting is said
to have been first practised.

" Blest be the pencil! whose consoling power,
Soothing soft Friendship in her pensive hour,
Dispels the cloud, with melancholy fraught,
That absence throws upon her tender thought.
Blest be the pencil ! whose enchantment gives
To wounded Love the food on which he lives.
Rich in this gift, though cruel ocean bear
The youth to exile from his faithful fair,
He in fond dreams hangs o'er her glowing cheek,
Still owns her present, and still hears her speak.
Oh ! LOVE, it was thy glory to impart
Its infant being to this sweetest art !
Inspired by thee, the soft Corinthian maid,
Her graceful lover's sleeping form portray'd ;
Her boding heart his near departure knew,
Yet long'd to keep his image in her view.
Pleased she beheld the steady shadow fall,
By the clear lamp upon the even wall.
The line she traced, with fond precision true,
And, drawing, doted on the form she drew :
Nor, as she glow'd with no forbidden fire,
Conceal'd the simple picture from her sire.
His kindred fancy, still to nature just,
Copied her line, and form'd the mimic bust.
Thus from thy inspiration, LOVE, we trace
The modell'd image, and the pcncill'd face !'' *


THE Parthian inonarchs delighted in the pastoral
life of their Scythian ancestors ; and the royal camp
was frequently pitched- in the plain of Ctesiphon, on
the eastern bank of the Tigris, at the distance of
only three miles from Seleucia. It was, then, no
other than a village. By the influx of innumerable
attendants on luxury and despotism, who resorted

* The story of the maid of Corinth may be found in Pliny,
lib. xxxv. ; and in Athenagoras, with this additional circumstance,
that the lover, while his outiiues were taken, is described to have
been asleep.

266 nriNs or \M n:M < i ;

to the court, this village insensibly swelled into a
large city ; and there the Parthian Kings, acting l>y
Scleucia as the Greeks, who built that place, had
done by Babylon, built a town, in order to dispeople
and impoverish Seleueia. Many of the material*,
however, were taken from Babylon itself; so that
from the time the anathema was pronounced against
that city, k> it seems," says Roll in, " as if those
very persons, that ought to have protected her, were
become her enemies ; as if they had all thought it
their duty to reduce her to a state of solitude, by
indirect means, though without using any violence ;
that it might the more manifestly appear to he the
hand of God, rather than the hand of man, that
brought about her destruction."

This city was for some time assailed by Julian*,
who fix< d his camp near the ruins of Seleueia, and
secured himself by a ditch and rampart, against the
sallies and enterprising garrison of Coche. In this
fruitful and pleasant country the Romans were sup-
plied with water and forage ; and several forts,
which might have embarrassed the motions of tin-
aim y, submitted, after some resistance, to the efforts
of their valour. The fleet passed from the Euphrates
in an artificial diversion of the river, which forms
a copious and navigable stream into the Tigris,
at a small distance leloic the great city. Had they
followed this royal canal, which bore the name of
Nahar-Malchat, the immediate situation of Coche
would have separated the fleet and army of Julian ;
and the vast attempt of steering against the current


\ The royal canal (Nahar-Malcha) might be successively re-
stored, altered, divided, &e. (Ccllarius (icograph. Antiq. torn. ii.
p. 453) : and these change* may serve to explain the seeming con-
tradictions of antiquity. In the tiino of Julian, it roust have fallen
into the Euphrates, below Clcsiphon.


of the Tigris, and forcing their way through the midst
of a hostile capital, must have been attended with
the total destruction of the Roman army. As Julian
had minutely studied the operations of Trajan in the
same country, he soon recollected that his warlike
predecessor had dug a new and navigable canal,
which conveyed the waters into the Tigris, at some
distance above the river. From the information of
the peasants, Julian ascertained the vestiges of this
ancient work, which were almost obliterated by
design or accident. He, therefore, prepared a deep
channel for the reception of the Euphrates : the flood
of waters rushed into this new bed ; and the Roman
fleet steered their triumphant course into the Tigris.
He soon after passed, with his whole army, over the
river : sending up a military shout, the Romans
advanced in measured steps, to the animating notes
of military music ; launched their javelins, and
rushed forwards with drawn swords, to deprive the
barbarians, by a closer onset, of the advantage of
their missile weapons. The action lasted twelve
hours : the enemy at last gave way. They were
pursued to the gates of Ctesiphon, and the con-
querors, says the historian from whom we have
borrowed this account, might have entered the dis-
mayed city, had not their general desired them to
desist from the attempt ; since, if it did not prove
successful, it must prove fatal. The spoil was ample:
large quantities of gold and silver, splendid arms and
trappings, and beds, and tables of massy silver. The
victor distributed, as the reward of valour, some
honourable gifts civic and mural, and naval crowns:
and then considered what new measures to pursue :
for, as we have already stated, his troops had not
ventured to attempt entering the city. He called
a council of war; but seeing that the town was


'lefended 1>y the river, l"fty walls*, and
impa.-sal'le nun-asses, he cam. to the determination
of in it bivle^iiii.' it ; holding it a fruitless and
iiicious undertaking. This occurred A.D. 363.

In this city Chosroes, king of Persia, built a
palace; supposed to have been once the most magni-
ficent structure in the East.

In process of time Seleucia and Ctesiphon became
united, and identified under the name of At Jlfodain,
or the two cities. This union is attributed to the
judgment of Adashir Babigan (the father of the
>a.-sanian line). It afterwards continued a favourite
capital with most of his dynasty, till the race perished
in the person of Yezdijerd ; and Al Motlain was
rendered a heap of ruins, by the fanatic Arabs, in
the beginning of the seventh century.

At that period (A.D. G37), those walls, which had
minted the battering rams of the Romans, yielded
to the darts of the Saracens. Said, the lieutenant of
Omar, passed the Tigris without opposition ; the
capital was taken by assault ; and the disorderly
resistance of the people gave a keener edge to the
sabre of the Moslems, who shouted in religious
transport, " This is the white palace of Chosroes :
this is the province of the apostle of God."

" The spoils," says Abulfeda, " surpassed the esti-
mate of fancy, or numbers;" and Elmaein defines
the untold and almost infinite mass by the fabulous
computation of three thousands of thousands of thou-
sands of pieces of goldt.

These \vork were erected by Orodc, one of the Anacidmn
' '-

f " I suspect," says Mr. Gibbon, " that the extravagant numbers
of Elmarin may be the error, not of the text, but of the vcriion.
The lx-n translators from the Greek, for instance, 1 tind to be very
poor nrithuicticikus."


One of the .apartments of the palace was decorated
with a carpet of silk, 60 cubits in length, and as
many in breadth ; a paradise, or garden, was depicted
on the ground ; the flowers, fruit?, and shrubs, were
imitated by the figures of the gold embroidery, and
the colours of the precious stones ; and the ample
square was encircled by a verdant and variegated
border. The conqueror (Omar) divided the prize
among his brethren of Medina. The picture was
destroyed ; but such was the value of the material,
that the share of Ali was sold for 20,000 drachms.
The sack was followed by the desertion and gradual
decay of the city. In little more than a century
after this it was finally supplanted by Bagdad under
the Caliph Almanzor.

" The imperial legions," says Porter, " of Rome and
Constantinople, with many a barbaric phalanx besides,
made successive dilapidation on the walls of Seleucia
and Ctesiphon ; but it was reserved for Omar and
his military fanatics to complete the final overthrow.
That victorious caliph founded the city of Kufa on
the western shore of the Euphrates ; whilst the defeat,
which the Persians sustained from one of his best
generals in the battle of Cadesia, led to the storming
of Al-Maidan, and an indiscriminate massacre of all
its Guebre inhabitants. In after times the caliph
Almanzor, taking a dislike to Kufa, removed the
seat of his government to Bagdad ; the materials for
the erection of which he brought from the battered
walls of the Greek and Parthian city ; so as Babylon
was ravaged and carried away for the building of
Seleucia and Ctesiphon, in the same manner did they
moulder into ruin before the rising foundations of
Bagdad." Little more remains of Seleucia but the
ground on which it stood ; showing, by its unequal
surface, the low moundy traces of its former inhabit-
ants. Small as these vestiges may seem, they are


daily wasting away, and POOH nothing would !>< left
to mark the site of Seleucia, wire it not for the aji-
j'.ir-mly impcri>hahlo canal of Nebuchadnezzar, the
Nahar Malcha, whose capacious bosom, noble in
ruins, opens to the Tigris, north of win-re the city
stood." ,

What remains of the palace of Chosrocs is thus
ilc-rribed by the same hand. " Having pawed the
Diala, a river which flows into the Tigris, the lofty
palace of Chosroes, at Modain, upon the site of the
ancient Ctesiphon, became visible to us ; looking
exceedingly large through the refracting atni-j.hcrr
of the southern horizon, above the even line of
which it towered as the most conspicuous object any
where to be seen around us. It looked from hence
much larger than Westminster Abbey, when seen
from a similar distance ; and in its general outline it
resembled that building very much, excepting only in
its having no towers. The great cathedral of the
Crusaders, still standing on the ancient Orthosia, on
the coast of Syria, is a perfect model of it in general
appearance; as that building is seen when approaching
from the southward, although there is no one feature
of resemblance between those edifices in detail."

On the northern bank of the Diala, Mr. Buckingham
saw nothing but some grass huts, inhabited by a few
families, w-lio earned their living by transporting
travellers across the river ; and to the westward, near
the Tigris, a few scattered tents of Arab shepherd*.
On the south bank a few date-trees were seen ; but,
besides these, no other signs of fertility or cultivation

When Mr. Buckingham reached the mounds of
Ctesiphon, he found them to be of a moderate height,
of a light colour, and strewed over with fragments of
those invariable remarks of former population, broke n
pottery. The outer surface of the mounds made them


appear as mere heaps of earth, long exposed to the
atmosphere ; hut he was assured by several well
acquainted with the true features of the place, that
on digging into the mounds, a masonry of unburnt
bricks was found, with layers of reed between them,
as in the ruins at Akkerhoof and the mounds of
Meklooba at Babylon. The extent of the semicircle
formed by these heaps, appears to be nearly two
miles. The area of the city, however, had but few
mounds throughout its whole extent, and those were
small and isolated ; the space was chiefly covered
with thick heath, sending forth, as in the days of
Xenophon, a highly aromatic odour, which formed a
cover for partridges, hares, and gazelles, of each of
which the traveller saw considerable numbers.

After traversing a space within the walls, strewed
with fragments of burnt bricks and pottery, he came
to the tomb of Selman Pauk. " This Selman Pauk*,"
says Mr. Buckingham, " was a Persian barber, who,
from the fire-worship of his ancestors, became a
convert to Islam, under the persuasive eloquence of
the great prophet of Modain himself; and, after a
life of fidelity to the cause he had embraced, was
buried here in his native city of Modain. The
memory of this beloved companion of the great head
of their faith is held in great respect by all the
Mahometans of the country ; for, besides the annual
feast of the barbers of Bagdad, who in the month of
April visit his tomb as that of a patron saint, there
are others who come to it on pilgrimage at all seasons
of the year."

The large ruin, which forms the principal attraction
of this place, is situated about seven hundred paces to
the south of this tornb. It is called by the natives
Tank Kesra (the Arch of Kesra). It is composed of
two wings and one large central hall, extending all
* Seluiaii the Pure.

itrr ( IENT n;

the depth of the building. Its front is nearly perfect ;
1.. in_ two hundred ami sixty fret in length, :m<l
upwards of oiu- hundred feet in height. Of this t'mut
the great arched hall occupies the centre ; its entrance
being of an equal height and breadth with the hall
it- If. The arch is thus about ninety feet in breadth,
and rising above the general line of the front, is at
I'a-t one hundred and twenty feet high, while it-

Online LibraryCharles BuckeRuins of ancient cities : with general and particular accounts of their rise, fall, and present condition (Volume 1) → online text (page 21 of 36)