Copyright
Charles Bucke.

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

. (page 22 of 36)
Online LibraryCharles BuckeRuins of ancient cities : with general and particular accounts of their rise, fall, and present condition (Volume 1) → online text (page 22 of 36)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


depth is at least equal to its height. " The wings
leading out on each side of the central arch," con-
tinues Mr. Buckingham, " to extend to the front of
the building, are now merely tliiek walls; but these
had originally apartments behind them, as may be
seen from undoubted marks that remain, as well as
two side doors leading from them into the great
central hall." The walls which form these wings in
the line of the front were built on the inclined slope,
being in thickness about twenty feet at the base ; but
only ten at the summit. The masonry is altogether
of burnt bricks, of the size, form, and composition of
those seen in the ruins of Babylon ; but none of them
have any writing or impression of any kind. The
cement is white lime, and the layers are much thicker
than is seen in any of the burnt brick edifices at
Babylon ; approaching nearer to the style of the
Greek and Roman masonry found among the mins
of Alexandria, where the layers of lime are almost as
thick as the bricks themselves. At Babylon the
cement is scarcely perceptible. The symmetry of the
work hears considerable resemblance, however, both
to the Blrs and the fine fragments of brick-masonry of
the age of the Caliphf, still remaining at Bagdad.

The wings, though not perfectly uniform, are
similar in their general construction ; " but the great
extent of the whole front," says our accomplished
traveller, " with the broad and lofty arch of its centre,
and the profusion of recesses and pilasters on each



nuixs OF ANCIENT CITIES. 273

side, must have produced an imposing appearance,
when the edifice \vas perfect ; more particularly if
the front was once coated, as tradition states it to have
been, with white marble ; a material of too much
value to remain long in its place after the desertion
of the city." The arches of the building are described
to be all of a Roman form, and the architecture of the
Roman style, though with less purity of taste ; the
pilasters having neither capital nor pedestal, and a
pyramidal termination is given to some of the long
narrow niches of the front.

There is a circumstance, in regard to the position
of this pile, very remarkable. The front of it, though
immediately facing the Tigris, lies due east by com-
pass ; the stream winding here so exceedingly, that
this edifice, though standing on the icest of that por-
tion of the river flowing before it, and facing the
east, is yet on the eastern side of the Tigris, in its
general course. Another curiosity of the same kind
is exhibited ; that in regard to the sailing of boats,
the stream being so serpentine, that those which are
going up by it to Bagdad are seen steering south-
south-west through one reach, and north-west through
another above it. Nor ought we to close here. Sir
R. K. Porter furnishes a beautiful anecdote. " The
history of Persia, from the Royut-ul-Suffa," says he,
" gives an interesting anecdote of this palace. A
Roman ambassador, who had been sent to Chosroes
with rich presents, was admiring the noble prospect
from the window of the royal palace, when he re-
marked a rough piece of ground ; and making inquiry
why it was not rendered uniform with the rest, the
person to whom he spoke replied, ' It is the property
of an old woman, who, though often requested to sell
it to flie king, has constantly refused ; and our mon-
arch is more willing to have his prospect spoiled,
than to perfect it by an act of violence.' ' That rough

VOL. I. 1



i?74 RUINS OF moron on

spot,' cried the Roman, 'consecrated by justice, now
appears to me more beautiful than all the sumnuxl-
ing scene '." *

NO. XXXI. DELPIIOS.

CASTING the eye over the site of ancient Delphost,
one cannot imagine what has become of the walls of
the numerous buildings, which are mentioned in the
history of its former magnificence. With the excep-
tion of a few terraces, nothing now appears. AVe do
not even see any swellings or risings in the ground,
indicating the graves of the temple. All, therefore,
ift mystery; and the Greeks may truly say, "Where
btood the walls of our fathers ? Scarce their mossy
tombs remain ! " But

Though here no more Apullo haunts his grot,
And ihou, the Muses' Bout, art now their grave,

Sonic gentle spirit till pcmuics the spot,
Sighs in the gale, kcrps silence in the cave,
And glides with glassy foot o'er you melodious wave.

Delphos is now sunk into a village, a village of
wretchedness, known by the name of Castri.

Delphos was built in the form of a kind of amphi-
theatre, and was divided into three parts ; one rising,
as it were, above the other. It was universally be-
lieved by the ancients to be situated in the middle
of the earth ; in consequence of which it was called
the " navel of the world."

It stood under Parnassus. It was not defended
by walls, but by precipices, which environed it on
all sides. It had temples dedicated to Latona, Diana,
and Minerva Providence; also one dedicated to
Apollo. This edifice was built, for the most part, of
a very beautiful stone ; but the frontispiece was of
Parian marble, and the vestibule was decorated

Roilin ; Gibbon; Porter; Buckingham,
f Williams.



RUINS OF ANCIENT CITIES. 275

with paintings. On the walls were moral sentences.
In the interior was a statue of the god, and such a
multitude of precious things, that it is impossible to
describe them. We must refer to Plutarch, Strabo,
Pausanias, and other ancient writers ; and more parti-
cularly to Barthelcmy's " Travels of Anacharsis,"since
he has collected all the principal circumstances in
regard to it. Our business is to state the condition
to which it is reduced. Before we do this, however,
we must admit something of what has been written
of this celebrated place.

Delphos was an ancient city of Phocis, in Achaia.
It stood upon the declivity, and about the middle of
the mountain Parnassus, built upon a small extent of
even ground, and surrounded by precipices, which
fortified it without the aid of art. Diodorus says,
that there was a cavity upon Parnassus, whence an
exhalation arose, which made the goats skip about,
and intoxicated the brain. A shepherd having ap-
proached it, out of a desire to know the causes of so
extraordinary an effect, was immediately seized with
violent agitations of the body, and pronounced words
which indicated prophecy. Others made the same
experiment, and it was soon rumoured throughout
the neighbouring countries. The cavity was no
longer approached without reverence. The exhala-
tion was concluded to have something divine in it.
A priestess was appointed for the reception of its
inspirations, and a tripod was placed upon a vent, from
whence she gave oracles. The city of Delphos rose
insensibly round about the cave, where a temple was
erected, which at length became very magnificent.
The reputation of this oracle very much exceeded that
of all others.

The temple being burned about the fifty-eighth
Olympiad, the Amphyctious took upon themselves
tl.e care of rebuilding it. They agreed with the
T 2



J7t> iirixs or AVH:NT ci i

architect, for three hundred tulcnts. Tin- cities of
Greece were to furnish th;t sum. The Dt-lphians
were taxed a fourth part of it, and made ^itlnr-
ings in all parts, even in foreign nations, for that
purpose.

Gyges, king of Lydia, and Croesus, one of hi>
successors, enriched tho temple of Delphos with an
incredible number of presents. Many other princes,
cities, and private persons, by their example, in a
kind of emulation of each other, had heaped up in
it tripods, vessels, tables, shields, crowns, chariots,
and statues of gold and silver of all sizes, equally
infinite in number and value. Tin presents of gold
which Croesus alone made to this temple amounted,
according to Herodotus, to upwards of 254 talents
(about 35,5001. sterling) ; and perhaps those of silver
to as much. Most of those presents were in bein<: in
tho time of Herodotus. Piodorus Siculus, adding
those of other princes to them, makes the amount
10,000 talents (about 1,300,0000-

It is not less surprising than true*, that one of the
most celebrated edifices in the world has been so
entirely destroyed, that sufficient traces are scarcely
left by which the traveller can form even a conjec-
ture as to its position.

During the Sacred war, the people of Phocis seized
from it 10,000 talents to maintain their armies
against their powerful opponents. Sylla plundered
it ; and Nero carried away no less than five hundred
statues of brass, partly of the gods, and partly of
the most illustrious heroes. It had been plundered
no less than eleven times before.

It is not known when this celebrated oracle ceased.

Lucian says that answers were given in his time :

but most of the Grecian oracles were annihilated

when Constantino relinquished the errors of poly-

*~Dodweil.~



RUINS OF ANCIENT CITIES. 277

theism. Indeed Constantino the Great proved a
more fatal enemy to Apollo and Delphos, than either
Sylla or Nero : he removed the sacred tripods to
adorn the hippodrome of his own city. Afterwards
Julian sent Oribesius to restore the temple, but he
was admonished by an oracle to represent to the
emperor the deplorable condition of the place. " Tell
him, the well-built court is fallen to the ground.
Phoebus has not a cottage ; nor the prophetic laurel ;
nor the speaking fountain (Cassotis) ; but even the
beautiful water is extinct."

The temple was situated in a very romantic situa-
tion ; rendered still more striking by the innumerable
echoes, which multiplied every sound, and increased
the veneration of superstitious visitants. But even
its form is unknown ; though painters, for the most
part, have delineated it as circular, amongst whom may
be mentioned Claude Lorrain, and Gaspar Poussin.

The Apollo Belvidere is supposed to be a copy
from the statue in this temple.

The Castalian spring, however, still exists, and
equally clear as in ancient times. It is ornamented
with ivy, and overshadowed by a large fig-tree, the
roots of which have penetrated the fissures of the
rock. At the front is a majestic plane-tree.

The remains of the town wall are a little to the
east of the Castalian spring ; but no part of it is left
but the interior mass, which consists of an exceed-
ingly hard composition of small stones and mortar.

When Pausanias visited Delphos, there were four
temples and a gymnasium in the vicinity of the
eastern gate ; and several ruins and fragments may
now be seen : some fine blocks of marble, some with
inscriptions, a marble triglyph, and other Doric re-
mains. There are none, however, of the hippodrome ;
in which ten chariots are said to have been able to
start at the same moment.



nriNs M A\( ir\r (i

The temple has vanished like a dre.nn, leaving not a
trace behind ; insomuch, that Mr.Dodwcll's opinion ia,
that the site of this far-famed edifice must he smi_-lit
for under the hunihle cottages of Castri, as tli whole
village probably stands within its ancient peril
In some places, however, are blocks of considerable
iiKiir'iitude ; and some ancient foundations, supposed
to be those of the Lesche, which contained the paint-
ings of Polygnotus ; and near the Aga's house are
several remains of some fluted marble columns, of the
Doric order, and of large dimensions. Some inscrip-
tions, too, have been observed. One in marble is in
honour of the Emperor Hadrian: " The council of the
Amphictyont, under the superintendence of the j>ri .</
Plutarch, from Delphi, commemorate the Emperor?
Another: " The council of Amphietyons and Achai-
ant, in honour of Polycratea, high prie*tet of the
Achaian Council, and daughter of Polycrate* and
Diogeneia." Another states that " The father and
mother of Amaritw Nepo, honoured by the Senate
of Corinth trith regards, due to him at tcn<if->r mid
overseer of the Forum, put their ton under the pro-
tection of the Pythian Apollo."

The remains of the gymnasium are principally be-
hind the monastery. The- foundations were sustained
by an immense bulwark of hewn stone. There is
also some part of a stadium. The marble posts
remain. Its length is 660 feet. " I was surprised."
says Mr. Dodwell, " to find few fragments of marble
among the ruins of Delphos. The town was small ;
but it was a concentration of great opulence and
splendour. "What can have become of the materials
which adorned its public edifices ? Several curiosities
are no doubt buried below the village : though the
soil is in general so thin and so rocky, that great
masses cannot be concealed beneath the sup"Hi
They have, no doubt, crumbled away. The fato,



RUINS OP ANCIENT CITIES. 279

however, of Delphos has been greatly aggravated of
late years ; for in consequence of some dispute be-
tween the agents of Ali Pacha and the inhabitants of
Castri, the Pacha laid the village under contribution
to pay him the sum of 15,000 piastres. This they
were unable to do ; in consequence of which every-
thing was taken from them ; and this serves to explain
the ruined state of the place. " In its present condi-
tion," says Dr. Clarke, " there is not in all Lapland a
more wretched village than Castri*."

NO. XXXII. ECBATANA.

THIS city, which Heraclius says was as large as
Athens, was founded by one of the most illustrious
princes that ever adorned the earth Dejoces, King of
the Medes. Not that we mean to vindicate or approve
all that he did ; but, "taking him for all in all," history
has but few characters that can be placed in compe-
tition with him.

It is not our intention to write the history of this
celebrated prince anew, his story being almost una-
nimously allowed : we have only to copy. We shall,
therefore, select the account, compiled by Rollin, from
the testimony of Herodotus ; ours being an abstract.

The Medes were a people divided into tribes. They
dwelt almost entirely in villages ; but Dejoces, find-
ing with how great an inconvenience such a mode of
life was attended, erected the state into a monarchy.
The methods he took to accomplish this, exhibited
the consummate wisdom with which his mind was
endowed. When he formed the design, he laboured
to make the good qualities that had been observed in
him more conspicuous than ever ; and he succeeded
so well, that the inhabitants of the district in which
he lived, made him their judge. His conduct fully
answered the expectation of those who elected him.

# Jtollin ; Bartbeleni ; Chandler ; Clarke ; Dodwell ; Williams.



RUINS OP LNOIBlfT 01

II' brought the association into a regular mode
of life ; and this being observed by a multitude of
other villages, they soon began to make him ail 'ii la-
tor for them. a< lit- had lx>en for tlie fu>t. ^ When
he found himself thus advanced," says the historian,
*' he judged it a proper time to set his last eiiL
to work for compassing his point, lie, then-fore,
retired from business, pretending to be over-fatigued
with the multitude of people that resorted to him
from all quarters; and would not exercise the office of
judge any longer, notwithstanding all the importu-
nity of such as wished well to the public tranquillity.
When any person addressed themselves to him, he
told them, -that his own domestic affairs would not
allow him to attend to those of other people."

The consequence of this withdrawal was, that the
various communities relapsed into a worse state than
they had been before ; and the evil increased so ra-
pidly, from day to day, that the Medes felt them-
selves constrained to meet, in order to endeavour to
find some remedy for it. This was what Dei
had foreseen. He sent emissaries, therefore, to the
assembly, with instructions in what manner to act.
When the turn came for those persons to speak, they
declared their opinion, that unless the face of the
republic was entirely changed, the whole country
would be entirely uninhabitable. " The only means,"
said they, " left for us is, to elect a king. Having
elected a sovereign, with authority to restrain vio-
lence, and make laws, every one can prosecute his
own affairs in peace and security." This opinion was
seconded by the consent of the whole assembly. All
that remained then was to find out a proper person.
This did not require much time. Dejoces was the
man to whom all eyes were instantly turned. He
was, therefore, immediately elected king with the
consent of dll present. " There is," says the author



RUINS OF ANCIENT CITIES. 281

from whom we borrow, " nothing nobler or greater,
than to see a private person, eminent for his merit
and virtue, and fitted by his excellent talents for the
highest employments, and yet, through inclination
ami modesty, preferring a life of obscurity and re-
tirement ; thus to see such a man sincerely refuse the
oftrr made to him of reigning over a whole nation,
and at last consent to undergo the toil of government
upon no other motive than that of being useful .to his
fellow citizens. Such a governor was Numa at Rome,
and such have been some other governors, whom the
people have constrained to accept the supreme power.
But," continues he in a strain of great wisdom,
" to put on the mask of modesty and virtue, in order
to satisfy one's ambition, as Dejoces did ; to affect
to appear outwardly what a man is not inwardly ; to
refuse for a time, and then accept with a seeming
repugnancy what a man earnestly desires, and what
he has been labouring by secret, underhand, prac-
tices to obtain ; this double dealing has so much
meanness in it, that it goes a great way to lessen our
opinion of the person, be his talents never so great or
extraordinary."

The method by which Dejoces gained his ambi-
tion to be king, greatly disenchants us of his merits.
But having attained it, he acted in a manner few
men have been found to adopt, even when they have
arrived at the throne by the most legitimate of me-
thods. He set himself to civilise and polish his
subjects ; men who, having lived perpetually in vil-
lages, almost without laws and without polity, had
contracted rude manners and savage dispositions.

Thus animated, he selected a hill, the ascent of
which was regular on every side, and having marked
out, with his own hands, the circumference of the
walls, he laid the foundation of a city, which became
the capital of the dominions of which he had been



282 in INS OK Axnrvr CITII>.

(! sovereign. When lie li;nl done this, lie con-
structed walls after the following manner. Their
nuniher was seven; all disposed in such a manner,
that the outermost did not hinder the parapet of the
second from being seen ; nor the second that of the
third, and so of all the rest. Within the last and
smallest inclosure he erected his own palace ; and
there he kept all his treasures. The first and lar<je>t
inclosure is supposed to have been of about the size
of Athens, when at its greatest height. The palaee
was at the foot of the citadel, and about seven fur-
longs in circumference. The wood- work was of cedar
or cypress ; the beams, the ceilings, the columns of
the porticoes, and the peristyles, were plated with
either gold or silver ; the roofs were covered with
silver tiles.

This city the founder called ECBATANA*. The as-
pect of it was beautiful and magnificent ; and, having
completed it to his satisfaction, he employed himself
in composing laws for the good of the community.
In order to do this with greater effect, and with .1
view to keep up the respect which nearness of view
is apt to impair with rude and ignorant persons, he
secluded himself almost entirely from the people at
large. All was done through the medium of agents

In Judith, Dejoces is called Arpliaxad : " 1. In the twelfth
of the reign of Nabuchodnnosor, who reigned in Nineveh, the great
city ; in the days of Arphoxad, which reigned over the Medea in
EcbaUna.

2. And built in EcUbana walls round about of ttonei hewn,
three cubits broad and six cubits long, and made the height of the
walls seventy cubits, and the breadth thereof fifty cubits.

3. And set the towers thereof upon the gates of it, an hundred
cubits high, and the breadth thereof in the foundation thereof three
score cubits.

4. And he made the gates thereof, even gntcs that were raised
to the height of seventy cubits, and the breadth of them was forty
cubits, for the going forth of hit mighty armies, and for the setting
in array of his footmen."



RtlNS OF ANCIENT CITIES. 283

and servants. lie knew all that was passing. lie
marie a multitude of wise laws. He became literally
the true father of his people ; for so entirely did he
give himself up to the contemplation of their benefit,
that though he reigned not less than fifty-three years,
he had no reason to complain of any of the neigh-
bouring kingdoms ; and so satisfied was he of the
good belonging to his own fortune, that he never
once engaged in any enterprise against them.

Dejoces was succeeded by his son Phraortes, of
whom it is not necessary to say more than that he
enlarged the city his father had built. He was suc-
ceeded by Cyaxares I., who reigned forty years.
He made himself master of all the cities of the king-
dom of Assyria, except Babylon and Chalda>a.
Astyages was the next king of the Medes, he who
is called in scripture Ahasuerus.* He married his
daughter, Mandana, to Cambyses king of Persia ;
and thereby became grandfather to the great Cyrus,
one of the most remarkable princes in all history.
He was succeeded by Cyaxares II., called in scrip-
ture Darius the Mede ; who, under the generalship
of Cyrus, having taken Babylon, Cyrus, on the
death of his father Cambyses, and his uncle, whom
he had made governor of Babylon, united the empires
of the Medes and Persians under one and the same
authority. Ecbatana, therefore, from that time ceased
to be the chief seat of authorityt.

* It is said, in Esther, that Ahasuerus roigned over one hundred
and twenty-seven princes ; from India to Ethiopia.

f According to Herodotus, the reign of

Dejoces was 53 years.

Phraortes 22

Cyaxares 12

The Scythians 28

Astyages 35

Total , 150



284 KlINS OP ANCIF.NT CITIKS.

Dimlonis Siculus relates, that when S.-miraiuis
eame t<> Keliatana, " which," says In-, " is sin
in a low and even plain," she built a stately palace
then-, aii'l bestowed more care upon that city than
she had done upon any other. For the city wanting
water (there leing no spring near it), she plentifully
supplied it with such as was good, which she brought
thither in this manner. There is a mountain called
Orontes, twelve furlongs distant from the city, ex-
ceedingly high and steep for the space of twenty -five
furlongs up to the top. On the other side of this
mount there is a large mere, or lake, which empties
itself into the river.. At the foot of this mount she
dug a canal fifteen feet in breadth and forty in depth,
through which she conveyed water to the city in
great abundance *.

Alexander being in pursuit of Darius, came within
three days' march of Ecbatana, where he was met
by the son of Ochus, who informed him that Darius
had left that city five days before, carrying with
him five thousand talents (about one million five
hundred thousand pounds), from the Median trea-
sury. When Alexander took possession of the city,
he laid up all the treasure he had got from Persis
and Susiana. It was in this city that Darius made
the following remarkable speech to the principal
officers of his army. lie had lost Persepolis and
Pasagarda : " Dear companions, among so many
thousand men who composed my army, you only
have not abandoned me during the whole course of
my ill-fortune ; and, in a short time, nought but your
fidelity and constancy will be able to make me fancy
myself a king. Deserters and traitors now govern

* Some authors have made a strange mistake : they have con.
fuwd this city with that of the tame name in Syria, at the foot of
Mount Canncl ; and Mill more often with that which was called
the " City of the Magi."



RUINS OF ANCIENT CITIES. 285

in my cities. Not that they are thought worthy of
the honour bestowed upon them ; but rewards are
given them only in the view of tempting you, and
staggering your perseverance. You still chose to follow
my fortune rather than that of the conqueror ; for
which you certainly have merited a recompense from
the gods ; and I do not doubt but they will prove
beneficent towards you, in case that power is denied
me. With such soldiers and "officers I would brave,
without the least dread, the enemy, how formidable
soever he may be. What ! would any one have me
surrender myself up to the mercy of the conqueror,



Online LibraryCharles BuckeRuins of ancient cities : with general and particular accounts of their rise, fall, and present condition (Volume 1) → online text (page 22 of 36)