Charles Bucke.

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

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and expect from him, as a reward of my baseness and
meanness of spirit, the government of some province
which he may condescend to leave ? No ! It never
shall be in the power of any man, either to take
away, or fix upon my head, the diadem I wear.
The same power shall put a period to my reign and
life. If you have all the same courage and reso-
lution, which I can no longer doubt, I assure
myself that ,you shall retain your liberty, and not be
exposed to the pride and insults of the Macedonians.
You have in your own hands the means either to
revenge or terminate all your evils." Having ended
this speech, the whole body replied with shouts, that
they were ready to follow him in all fortunes.

Nabarzanes and Bessus soon showed the unfor-
tunate king how little confidence is to be placed in
man. They and other traitors seized upon Darius,
bound him in chains of gold, placed him in a covered
chariot, and set out for Bactriana, with the design
of delivering their master up to Alexander. They
afterwards murdered him.

Plutarch says of Alexander, that he traversed all
the province of Babylon, which immediately made
its submission ; and that in the district of Ecbatana,
he saw a gulf of fire, which streamed continually,
as from an inexhaustible source. He admired, also,

Kfl.NS Hi

a flood of naphtha, nut far from the ulf, whu-h
llowed in such abundance that it formed a hike. Tho
naphtha, in many respects, resembles tin- bitumen,
but is much more inflammable. Before any fire touches
it, it catches 1 i-jht from a flame at some distance, and
often kindles all the immediate air. Tin- 1>arl>ariuns,
to show the king its force, and the subtlety of its
nature, scattered some drops of it in the st:
which led to his lodging ; and standing at one end,
they applied their torches to some of the first drops ;
for it was night. The flame communicated itself
swifter than thought, and the street was instan-
taneously all on fire.

On his arrival, Alexander offered magnificent
sacrifices to the deities, in thanksgiving for the suc-
cess that had crowned his arms. Gymnic games and
theatrical representations succeeded, and universal fes-
tivities reigned in the Grecian army. But in the midbt
of these rejoicings, the king had the misfortune to
lose the friend he loved the most. He was engaged
in presiding at the games, when he was suddt uly
and hastily sent for ; but before he could reach tho
bed-side of IIepha>stion, his friend had expired.

The king gave himself up to sorrow many days.
At length, when he had recovered his self-command,
he gave orders for a magnificent funeral, the ex-
pense of which is said to nave amounted to not less
than 10,000 talents, that is, about two millions !
All the Oriental subjects were charged to put on
mourning ; and it is even affirmed, that, to gratify
Alexander's affection, several of his companions
dedicated themselves and arms to the deceased fa-
vourite. The folly of Alexander went even farther.
lie wrote to Cleomenes, his governor in Egypt, a
person of an inordinate bad character, command-
ing him to erect two temples to liephiestion ; one at
Alexandria, and another in the island of Pharos :
* If I tiud these temples erected, when I return into


Egypt, I will not only forgive all thy past deeds,
but likewise all thou mayest hereafter commit ! "

Plutarch says : When he came to Ecbatana, in
Media, and had despatched the most urgent affairs,
he employed himself in the celebration of games,
and other public solemnities ; for which purpose
3000 artificers, lately arrived from Greece, were very
serviceable to him. But, unfortunately, Hephzes-
tion fell sick of a fever in the midst of this festivity.
As a young man and a soldier, he could not bear to
be kept to strict diet ; and taking the opportunity
to dine when his physician Glaucus was gone to the
theatre, he ate a roasted fowl, and drank a flagon
of wiue, made as cold as possible ; in consequence of
which he grew worse, and died a few days after.

Plutarch and Quintus Curtius relate, that when
Darius offered Alexander all the country which lies
on the west of the Euphrates, with his daughter
Statira in marriage, and a portion of 10,000 talents
of gold, Parrnenio having been present at this offer,
and having been required to state his opinion in
regard to it, answered, that if it were he, he
would accept it ; " so would I," answered Alexan-
der, " were I Parmenio."

Sometime after this, the life of this excellent
friend and consummate general, as well as that of
his son, was sacrificed to a mean and wanton ac-
cusation made against him of treason against his
master's person ; dying in the height of his pros-
perity, in the 70th year of his age. At Ecbatana,
it was commonly observed in the army to which he
belonged, that Parmenio had gained many victories
without Alexander, but that Alexander had gained
none without Parmenio.

Ecbatana is supposed to have been situated where
the modern Hameden now stands ; that is, in the
province of Iriic-Agemi, winding between Bagdad

288 ui'iis- .

and Ispahan, 240 miles each. It st.unl- at
the foot of a mountain, whence i - m -tie.mi-, that
water the country. The adjacent parts are fertile,
and productive of corn and rice. Tin; air is healthy,
but the winter is said to be intense. Its climate,
however, was so fine in ancient times, that the IVr-
sian kind's preferred it to Ispahan or Snsa ; hence it
acquired the title of the " Royal City."

"Ecbatana," says Rennell, "was unquest'miiahlynn,
or near, the site of Hamedcn in Al Jebel. A great
number of authorities concur in proving this; although
many refer to Tauris, orTebrix, in Aderhi^ian ; Mr.
Gibbon and Sir William Jones among the rest. The
authorities are too numerous to be adduced here.
We shall only mention that Isidore of Charax places
it on the road from Seleucia to Parthia ; that Pliny
says Susa is equi-distant from Seleucia and Echa-
tana ; and that Ecbatana itself lies in the road from
Nineveh to Rages or Ray." "The situation of llame-
den," says Mr. Moricr, "so much unlike that of other
Persian cities, would of itself be sufficient to establish
its claim to a remote origin, considering the propen-
sity of the ancients to build their cities on elevated
positions. Ispahan, Schiraz, Teheran, Tabris, Khoi,
&c., are all built on plains ; but Hameden occupies
a great diversity of surface, and, like Rome and Con-
stantinople, can enumerate the hills over which it is
spread. Its locality, too, agrees with that of Ecba-
tana, built on the declivity of the Orontes, according
to Polybius*, and is also con form able to Herodotust;
who, in describing the walls, rising into circles one
above another, says, 'this mode of building was
favoured by the situation of the place.' "

" I had not expected to see Ecbatana," says Sir
Robert Ker Porter, "as Alexander found it; neither in

Lib. x. 21. f Clio, 98.


the superb ruin, in which Timour had left it ; but,
almost unconsciously to myself, some indistinct ideas
of what it had been floated before me ; and when I
actually beheld its remains, it was with the appalled
shock of seeing a prostrate dead body, where I had
anticipated a living man, though drooping to decay.
Orontes, indeed, was there, magnificent and hoary-
headed ; the funeral remnant of the poor corpse
beneath." The extensive plain of Hameden stretched
below, and the scene there was delightful. Number-
less castellated villages, rising amidst groves of the
noblest trees. The whole tract appeared as a carpet
of luxuriant verdure, studded by hamlets and watered
by rivulets. " If the aspect of this part of the coun-
try," thought the traveller, " now presents so rich a
picture, when its palaces are no more, what must it
have been when Astyages held his court here ; and
Cyrus, in his yearly courses from Persepolis, Susa,
and Babylon, stretched his golden sceptre over this
delicious plain ? Well might such a garden of na-
ture's bounties be the favourite seat of kings, the
nursery of the arts, and all the graceful courtesies of
life. '

The site of the modern town, Sir Robert goes on
to observe, like that of the ancient, is on a gradual
ascent, terminating near the foot of the eastern side
of the mountain. It bears many vestiges of having
been strongly fortified. The sides and summits are
covered with large remnants of great thickness, and
also of towers, the materials of which were bricks,
dried in the sun.

When it lost the name of Ecbatana in that of
Hameden, it seems to have lost its honours too ; for
while it preserved the old appellation of the capital,
whence the great kings of the Kaianian race had
dictated their decrees ; and where " Cyrus, the king,
had placed, in the house of the rolls of its palace, the

VOL. I. u

290 RUINS 01 t I ITIES.

record wherein was written his order for thi
building of Jerusalem," it seems, with the retention
of its name, to have preserved some memory of its
consequence, even so far into modern times as three
cvntnries of " the Christian era." " It was then,"
continues our accomplished traveller, " that Tiridates
attempted to transfer its glories to his own capital ;
and, according to Ebn Haukel, the gradual progress
of six hundred years mouldered away the archil, o-
tural superiority of the ancient city. Towards tin-
end of the fourteenth century, Tamerlane sacked,
pillaged, and destroyed its proudest buildings, ruined
the inhabitants, and reduced the whole, from being
one of the most extensive cities of the East, to hardly
a parsang in length and breadth*. In that dismantle!
and dismembered state, though dwindled to a mere
day-built suburb of what it was, it possessed iron
gates, till within these fifty years ; when Aga Ma-
homed Khan, not satisfied with the depth of so great
a capital's degradation, ordered every remain of past
consequence to be destroyed." The result ? " His
commands were obeyed to a tittle. The mud alleys,
which now occupy the site of ancient streets or
squares, are narrow, interrupted by large holes or
hollows, in the way, and heaps of the fallen crumbled
walls of deserted dwellings. A miserable bazaar or
two are passed through in traversing the town ; and
large lonely spots are met with, marked by broken
low mounds over older ruins ; with here and there a
few poplars or willow trees, shadowing the border

Rcbatana was taken by Nmdir Sliah. Nadir marched against
the Turk* as toon as bis troops were refreshed from the fatigue*
they bad endured in the pursuit of the Afghauns. He encountered
the force of two Turkish pachas on the plains of llamedcn, over-
threw them, and made himself master, not only of that city, but
of all the country in the Ticinity. Meerza Melxly's Hist. Sir
William Jones's works, vol. T. 112; Malcolm's Hist, of Persia,
Tl. ii. 51. 4to.


of a dirty stream, abandoned to the meanest uses ;
which, probably, flowed pellucid and admired, when
these places were gardens, and the grass-grown heap
some stately dwelling of Ecbatana."

In one or two spots may be observed square plat-
forms of large stones, many of which are chiselled
over with the finest Arabic characters. These, how-
ever, are evidently tomb-stones of the inhabitants
during the caliphs' rule ; the register of yesterday.
" As I passed through the wretched hovelled streets,
and saw the once lofty city of Astyages, shrunk
like a shrivelled gourd, the contemplation of such a
spectacle called forth more saddening reflections than
any that had awakened in me on any former ground
of departed greatness. In some I had seen moulder-
ing pomp, or sublime desolation ; in this, every object
spoke of neglect, and hopeless poverty. Not majesty
in stately ruin, pining to find dissolution on the spot
where it was first blasted; but beggary, seated on
the place which kings had occupied, squalid with
rags, and stupid with misery. It was impossible to
look on it and not exclaim, " O Ecbatana, seat of
princes ! How is the mighty fallen, and the weapons
of war perished ! "

Sir Robert saw, not far from the remains of a for-
tress to the south, the broken base and shaft of a
column ; which, on examination, proved to him that
the architecture of Persepolis and Ecbatana had been
the same.

Hameden is to be seen for several miles before
reaching Surkhahed, for several stages. Mr. Morier
saw nothing in Persia that, wore such an appear-
ance of prosperity ; for the plain, about nine miles
in breadth and fifteen in length, was one continued
series of fields and orchards. Hameden itself is
one of the best watered places in Persia. All the
habitations are interspersed with trees The most


conspicuous building is a large mosque, railed
Mojtd Jumah, now falling into decay; and there
was to be seen, every morning, before tlic sun i
a numerous body of ]X?asants, with spades in their
hands, waiting to be hired for the day, to work in
the surrounding fields.* Near the Mosque, in a
court, tilled with tents, stands a building, called
the sepulchre of Esther and Mordecai. It is of an
architecture of the earliest ages of Mohannm di-m.
It was erected in the year of the Creation 4474, by
two devout Jews of Kasham.

Translation of the inscription on the marble slab in
the sepulchre of Esther and Mordecai.

" Mordecai, beloved and honoured by a king, was
great and good. His garments were those of a
sovereign. Ahasuerus covered him with this rich
dress, and also placed a golden chain around his
neck. The city of Susa rejoiced at his honours, and
his high fortune became the glory of the Jews."

On a steep declivity of the Otontes are to be seen
two tablets, each of which is divided into three
longitudinal compartments, inscribed by the arrow-
headed character of Persepolis. In the northern
skills of the city, Mr. Morier found another monu-
ment of antiquity. This is the base of the column,
which we noticed just now; and this, Mr. Morier
is equally certain with Sir Robert, is of the identical
order of the columns of Persepolis, and of the same
sort of stone. This, says Mr. Morier, led to a dis-

* " This custom," says Mr. Morier, " which I had never teen
in any other port of Asia, forcibly itruck me u a mot happy illus-
t ration of our Saviour's parable of the labourer in the vineyard ;
particularly, when passing by the same place, late in the day, we
still found others ttanding idle, and remembered his word-,
Why ."in ml ye here all the day idle? as most applicable to
their Mtiiution ; for in putting the question to them, they auswtred
' Ilccaute no one hat hired ut.' "


covery of some importance ; for, adjacent to this
fragment is a large but irregular terrace, evidently
the work of art, and perhaps the ground-plan of
some great building; of the remains of which its
soil must be the repository. Mr. Morier is induced
to believe, that the situation of this spot agrees with
that Polybius* would assign to the palace of the
kings of Persia, which, he says, was below the

Besides these, there are many other antiquities ;
but as they all belong to Mohammedan times, they
do not come within the sphere of our subject. There
are some hopes that this city may, one day, assume
a far different rank than what it now holds ;t
for, within a few years, it has been created a royal
government, and committed to the care of Moham-
med AH Mirza. Palaces, therefore, have been erect-
ed, and mansions for his ministers, new bazaars and
mercantile caravanserais.

We shall close this account with Sir Robert's de-
scription of the view that is to be seen from Mount
Orontes, now called Mount Elwund. "It is one of the
most stupendous scenes I had ever seen! I stood on the
eastern park. The apparently intermediate peaks of
the Courdistan mountains spread before me far to the
north-west ; while continued chains of the less tower-
ing heights of Louristan stretched south-east ; and

Lib x. c. 24.

t " The habitations of the people here (at Hameden) were
equally mean as those of the villages through which we had passed
before. The occupiers of these last resembled, very strongly, the
African Arabs, or Moors, and also the mixed race of Egypt, in their
physiognomy, complexion, and dress. The reception, given by
these villagers to my Tartar companions, was like that of the most
abject slaves to a powerful master ; and the manner in which the
yellow-crowned courtiers of the Sublime Porte treated their enter-
tainers in return, was quite as much in the spirit of the despotic
mil tan whom they served." Buckingham's Travels in Meso-
potamia, vol. ii. p. 18.


linking themselves with the more lofty piles of tho
Bactiari, my eye followed their receding summits till
lost in tho hot and tremulous haze, of an Asiatic sky.
The general hue of this endless mountain region
murky red ; to which in many parts the arid glare
of the atmosphere gave so preternatural a brightness,
that it might well have been called a land of fire.
From the point on which I stood, I beheld the whole
mass of country round the unbroken concave : it
was of enormous expanse; and although, from tin-
clearness of the air, and the cloudless state of the hea-
vens, no object was clouded from my sight ; yet, from
the immensity 'of the height whence I viewed tho
scene, the luxuriancy of the valleys was entirely lost in
the shadows of the hills ; and nothing was left to the
beholder from the top of Elwund, but the bare and
burning summits of countless mountains. Not a drop
of water was discernible of all the many stream;-.
which poured from the bosom into the plains below.
In my life I had never beheld so tremendous a spec-
tacle. It appeared like standing upon the stony cnist
of some rocky world, which had yet to be broken up
by the Almighty word, and unfold to the beneficent
mandate the fructifying principles of earth and water,
bursting into vegetation and terrestrial life*."


THIS was a town of Attica, equally distant from
Megara and the Piraus ; greatly celebrated for the
observance, every fifth year, of the greatest festival in
Greece, called the Eleusinian ; a festival sacred to
Ceres and Proserpine ; every thing appertaining to
which was a secret, or mystery ; to divulge any of

Herodotus; Diodonis Sictilui ; Plutarch; Arrian; Quintu*
Curtiui ; Ilollin ; lU-nuell ; Moricr ; Sir 11. Kcr Porter J Buck-


which was supposed to call down an immediate judg-
ment from heaven.

"Ceres," says an Athenian orator, "wandering in
quest of her daughter Proserpine, came into Attica,
where some good offices were done her, which it is
unlawful for those who are not initiated to hear. In
return, she conferred two unparalleled benefits : the
knowledge of agriculture, by which the human race
is raised above the brute creation ; and the mysteries,
from which the partakers derive sweeter hopes than
other men enjoy, both in the present life and to

There is nothing in all the Pagan antiquity more
celebrated than the mysteries and feasts of Ceres
Eleusina*. Their origin and institution are attributed
to Ceres herself, who in the reign of Erechtheus,
coming to Eleusis, a small town of Attica, in search
of her daughter Proserpine, whom Pluto had carried
away, and finding the country afflicted with a famine,
she not only taught them the use of corn, but in-
structed them in the principles of probity, charity,
civility, and humanity. These mysteries were divided
into the less and the greater, of which the former served
as a preparation for the latter. Only Athenians were
admitted to them ; but of them each sex, age, and
condition had a right to be received. All strangers
were absolutely excluded. We shall consider prin-
cipally the greater mysteries, which were celebrated
at Eleusis.

Those who demanded to be initiated into them,
were obliged, before their reception, to purify them-
selves in the lesser mysteries, by bathing in the
river Ilissus, by saying certain prayers, offering sacri-
fices, and, above all, by living in strict continence
during an interval of time prescribed them. That
time was employed in instructing them in the prin-
* Rollin.


i iples and elements of the sacred doctrine of the L
i.iy-tcri I,

When the time for their initiation arrived, they
were brought into the temple ; and to inspire the
greater revt ivnee an<l terror, the ceremony was pcr-
fonned in the night. Wonderful things passed upon
this occasion. Visions were seen, and voices heard,
of nn extraordinary kind. A sudden splendour
]>elled the darkness of the place ; and disappearing
immediately, added new horrors to the gloom. Appa-
ritions, claps of thunder, earthquakes, improved tin-
terror and am a /A- in en t ; whilst the person admitted,
stupified, sweating through fear, heard trembling the
mysterious volumes read to him. These noctuma i
were attended with many disorders, which the H
law of silence, imposed on the persons initiated, pre-
vented from coming to light. The president in this
t-eremony was called a Hierophant. He wore a peeu-
liar habit, and was not admitted to marry. He had
tliree colleagues ; one who carried a torch ; another,
a herald, whose office was to pronounce certain
mysterious words ; and a third, to attend at the

Besides these officers, one of the principal magis-
trates of the city was appointed to take care that all
the ceremonies of this feast were exactly observed.
He was called the king, nnd was one of the nine
Archons. His business was to ofVer prayers and
sacrifices. The people gate him four assistants. IIo
had, besides, ten other ministers to assist him in tin-
discharge of his duty, and particularly in offering

The Athenians initiated their children of both sexes
very early into these mysteries, and would have
thought it criminal to have let them die without such
an advantage.

It was regularly celebrated every fifth year ; that


is, after a revolution of four years : and history
records, that it was never interrupted, except upon
the taking of Thebes by Alexander the Great. It
was continued down to the time of the Christian
emperors ; and Valentinian would have abolished it,
if Pnvtextatus, the proconsul of Greece, had not re-
presented in the most lively and affecting terms the
universal sorrow which the abrogation of that feast
would occasion among the people ; upon whicli it was
suffered to subsist. It is supposed to have been
finally suppressed by Theodosius the Great.

At this place there were several sacred monuments,
such as chapels and altars ; and many rich citizens of
Athens had pleasant and beautiful villas there*. The
great temple at Eleusis was plundered by the Spartan
king Cleomenes, and it was burnt by the Persians,
in their flight after the battle of Plata?a. It was
afterwards rebuilt by Iktinos ; but nearly entirely
destroyed by Alaric. After this Eleusis became an
inconsiderable village. It is now inhabited by a few
poor Albanian Christians. The temple of Ceres and
Proserpine was built under the administration of
Pericles. It was of the marble of Pentelicus. It
was equally vast and magnificent. Its length, from
north to south, was about three hundred and eighty-
six feet, and its breadth about three hundred and
twenty-seven ; and the most celebrated artists were
employed in its construction and decoration.

" In the most flourishing times of Athens," says
Whaler, ''Eleusis was one of their principal towns, but
is now crushed down under their hard fortune, having
been so ill treated by the Christian pirates, more
inhuman than the very Turks, that all its inhabitants
have left it ; there being now nothing remaining but
ruins. The place is sitxiated-upon a long hill, stretched
out near to the sea, north-east and north-west, not


far distant from the mountain Cierata. The \vhnlo
hill seems to have Iteen built U|X)n, lut chii-tlv
towards the sea, where the first thing we ranir to
was the stately temple of (Yres, now jirostrate upon
the ground ; I cannot say, l not having one stone
upon another,' for it lieth all in a confused heap
together, the beautiful pillars buried in the rubbish
of its dejected roof and walls, and its goodly carved
and polished cornices used with no more respect than
the worst stone of the pavement. It lies in such a
rude and disorderly manner, that it is not possible to

Online LibraryCharles BuckeRuins of ancient cities : with general and particular accounts of their rise, fall, and present condition (Volume 1) → online text (page 23 of 36)