Myths of Babylonia and Assyria

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Ashur-nirari IV appears to have been a monarch of somewhat like character to the famous Akhenaton of Egypt--an idealist for whom war had no attractions. He kept his army at home while his foreign possessions rose in revolt one after another. Apparently he had dreams of guarding Assyria against attack by means of treaties of peace. He arranged one with a Mesopotamian king, Mati-ilu of Agusi, who pledged himself not to go to war without the consent of his Assyrian overlord, and it is possible that there were other documents of like character which have not survived to us. During his leisure hours the king engaged himself in studious pursuits and made additions to the royal library. In the end his disappointed soldiers found a worthy leader in one of its generals who seized the throne and assumed the royal name of Tiglath-pileser.

Ashur-nirari IV was the last king of the Middle Empire of Assyria. He may have been a man of high character and refinement and worthy of our esteem, although an unsuitable ruler for a predatory State.

[464] The Land of the Hittites, J. Garstang, p. 354.
[465] The Old Testament in the Light of the Historical Records and Legends of Assyria and Babylonia, T.G. Pinches, p. 343.
[466] Nat. Hist., v, 19 and Strabo xvi, 1-27.
[467] The Mahabharata: Adi Parva, sections lxxi and lxxii (Roy's translation, pp. 213 216, and Indian Myth and Legend, pp. 157 et seq.
[468] That is, without ceremony but with consent.
[469] The Golden Bough (The Scapegoat), pp. 369 et seq., (3rd edition). Perhaps the mythic Semiramis and legends connected were in existence long before the historic Sammu-rammat, though the two got mixed up.
[470] Herodotus, i, 184.
[471] De dea Syria, 9-14.
[472] Strabo, xvi, 1, 2.
[473] Diodorus Siculus, ii, 3.
[474] Herodotus, i, 105.
[475] Diodorus Siculus, ii, 4.
[476] De dea Syria, 14.
[477] This little bird allied to the woodpecker twists its neck strangely when alarmed. It may have symbolized the coquettishness of fair maidens. As love goddesses were "Fates", however, the wryneck may have been connected with the belief that the perpetrator of a murder, or a death spell, could be detected when he approached his victim's corpse. If there was no wound to "bleed afresh", the "death thraw" (the contortions of death) might indicate who the criminal was. In a Scottish ballad regarding a lady, who was murdered by her lover, the verse occurs:
'Twas in the middle o' the night
The cock began to craw;
And at the middle o' the night
The corpse began to thraw.
[478] Langdon's Sumerian and Babylonian Psalms, pp. 133, 135.
[479] Introduction to Lane's Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians.
[480] Tammuz is referred to in a Sumerian psalm as "him of the dovelike voice, yea, dovelike". He may have had a dove form. Angus, the Celtic god of spring, love, and fertility, had a swan form; he also had his seasonal period of sleep like Tammuz.
[481] Campbell's Superstitions of the Scottish Highlands, p. 288.
[482] Indian Myth and Legend, p. 95.
[483] Ibid., pp. 329-30.
[484] Crete, the Forerunner of Greece, C.H. and H.B. Hawes, p. 139
[485] The Discoveries in Crete, pp. 137-8.
[486] Religion of the Semites, p. 294.
[487] Egyptian Myth and Legend, p. 59.
[488] Including the goose, one of the forms of the harvest goddess.
[489] Brand's Popular Antiquities, vol. ii, 230-1 and vol. iii, 232 (1899 ed.).
[490] Ibid., vol. iii, 217. The myrtle was used for love charms.
[491] The Golden Bough (Spirits of the Corn and of the Wild), vol. ii, p. 293 (3rd ed.).
[492] Herodotus, ii, 69, 71, and 77.
[493] Brand's Popular Antiquities, vol. iii, p. 227.
[494] Cited by Professor Burrows in The Discoveries in Crete, p. 134.
[495] Like the Egyptian Horus, Nebo had many phases: he was connected with the sun and moon, the planet Mercury, water and crops; he was young and yet old--a mystical god.
[496] Aspects of Religious Belief and Practice in Babylonia and Assyria, pp. 94 et seq.
[497] Babylonian Magic and Sorcery, L.W. King, pp. 6-7 and 26-7.
[498] 2 Kings, xiii, 3.
[499] 2 Kings, xiii, 14-25.
[500] 3 Kings, xiii, 5, 6.
[501] The masses of the Urartian folk appear to have been of Hatti stock--"broad heads", like their descendants, the modern Armenians.
[502] It is uncertain whether this city or Kullani in north Syria it the Biblical Calno. Isaiah, x, 9.

Chapter XIX. Assyria's Age of Splendour


Tiglath-pileser IV, the Biblical Pul--Babylonian Campaign--Urartian Ambitions in North Syria--Battle of Two Kings and Flight of Sharduris-- Conquest of Syro-Cappadocian States--Hebrew History from Jehu to Menahem --Israel subject to Assyria--Urartu's Power broken--Ahaz's Appeal to Assyria--Damascus and Israel subdued--Babylonia united to Assyria--Shalmaneser and Hoshea--Sargon deports the "Lost Ten Tribes"--Merodach Baladan King of Babylonia--Egyptian Army of Allies routed--Ahaz and Isaiah--Frontier Campaigns--Merodach Baladan overthrown--Sennacherib and the Hittite States--Merodach Baladan's second and brief Reign--Hezekiah and Sennacherib--Destruction of Assyrian Army--Sack of Babylon-- Esarhaddon--A Second Semiramis--Raids of Elamites, Cimmerians, Scythians, and Medes--Sack of Sidon--Manasseh and Isaiah's Fate--Esarhaddon conquers Lower Egypt--Revolt of Assyrian Nobles--Ashurbanipal.