Myths and Legends of Babylonia and Assyria

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Tiglath then begins to boast about his gorgeous new residence with all the vulgarity of a nouveau riche. He says that his house was decorated like a Syrian palace for his glory. He built gates of ivory with planks of cedar, and seems to have had his prisoners, the conquered kings of Syria, on exhibition in the palace precincts. At the gates were gigantic lions and bulls of clever workmanship which he describes as "cunning, beautiful, valuable," and this place he called 'The Palaces of Rejoicing.'

Capture of Sarrapanu by Tiglath-Pileser II.—Evelyn Paul.

In a fragment which relates the circumstances of his Eastern expeditions he tells how he built a city called Humur, and how he excavated the neighbouring river Patti, which had been filled up in the past, and along its bed led refreshing waters into certain of the cities he had conquered. He complains in one text that Sarduri, the King of Ararat, revolted against him along with others, but Tiglath captured his camp and Sarduri had perforce to escape upon a mare. Into the rugged mountains he rode by night[Pg 301] and sought safety on their peaks. Later he took refuge with his warriors in the city of Turuspa. After a siege Tiglath succeeded in reducing the place. Afterwards he destroyed the land of Ararat, and made it a desert over an area of about 450 miles. Tiglath dedicated Sarduri's couch to Ishtar, and carried off his royal riding carriage, his seal, his necklace, his royal chariot, his mace, and lastly a 'great ship,' though we are not told how he accomplished this last feat.

Poet or Braggart?

It is strange to notice the inflated manner in which Tiglath speaks in these descriptions. He talks about people, races, and rulers 'sinning' against him as if he were a god, but it must be remembered that he, like other Assyrian monarchs, regarded himself as the representative of the gods upon earth. But though his language is at times boastful and absurd, yet on other occasions it is extremely beautiful and even poetic. In speaking of the tribute he received from various monarchs he says that he obtained from them "clothing of wool and linen, violet wool, royal treasures, the skins of sheep with fleece dyed in shining purple, birds of the sky with feathers of shining violet, horses, camels, and she-camels with their young ones."

He appears, too, to have been in conflict with a Queen of Sheba or Saba, one Samsi, whom he sent as a prisoner to Syria with her gods and all her possessions.

The Autobiography of Assur-bani-pal

In a former chapter we outlined the mythical history of Assur-bani-pal or Sardanapalus, and in this place[Pg 302] may briefly review the story of his life as told in his inscriptions. He commences by stating that he is the child of Asshur and Beltis, but he evidently intends to convey that he is their son in a spiritual sense only, for he hastens to tell us that he is the "son of the great King of Riduti" (Esar-haddon). He proceeds to tell of his triumphal progress throughout Egypt, whose kings he made tributary to him. "Then," he remarks in a hurt manner, "the good I did to them they despised and their hearts devised evil. Seditious words they spoke and took evil counsel among themselves." In short, the kings of Egypt had entered into an alliance to free themselves from the yoke of Assur-bani-pal, but his generals heard of the plot and captured several of the ringleaders in the midst of their work. They seized the royal conspirators and bound them in fetters of iron. The Assyrian generals then fell upon the populations of the revolting cities and cut off their inhabitants to a man, but they brought the rulers of Egypt to Nineveh into the presence of Assur-bani-pal. To do him justice that monarch treated Necho, who is described as 'King of Memphis and Sars,' with the utmost consideration, granting him a new covenant and placing upon him costly garments and ornaments of gold, bracelets of gold, a steel sword with a sheath of gold; with chariots, mules, and horses.