Myths and Legends of Babylonia and Assyria
Page: 12According to Sir James Frazer, then, the real Sardanapalus may have been one of those mock kings who led a short but merry existence before a sacrifice ended their convivial career. We have analogous instances in the sacrifice of Sandan at Tarsus and that of the representative of the Mexican god, Tezcatlipoca. The legend of Sardanapalus is thus a distorted reminiscence of the death of a magnificent king sacrificed in name of a god.
When the real Assur-bani-pal succeeded Esar-haddon as King of Assyria, his brother Samas-sum-yukin was created Viceroy of Babylonia, but shortly after he claimed the kingship itself, revived the old Sumerian language as the official tongue of the Babylonian court, and initiated a revolt which shook the Assyrian empire from one end to the other. A great struggle ensued between the northern and southern powers, and at last Babylon was forced to surrender through starvation, and Samas-sum-yukin was put to death.
Assur-bani-pal, like Sardanapalus, his legendary[Pg 35] counterpart, found himself surrounded by enemies. Having conquered Elam as well as Babylonia, he had to face the inroads of hordes of Scythians, who poured over his frontiers. He succeeded in defeating and slaying one of their chiefs, Dugdamme, whom in an inscription he calls a "limb of Satan," but shortly after this he died himself. His empire was already in a state of decay, and had not long to stand.